Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Oh What a Night!
(The Word Press page for this article can be found here)
Last night was an excellent night for the Minnesota Twins. It was an excellent night on so many levels, not the least of which was that I got to attend the game. But more on that later. Here are several thoughts on the Twins game.
First and foremost, Glen Perkins gave the Twins exactly what they needed. Perkins started and worked eight innings and left the game with the lead. The fact that it was eight shutout innings was really just a bonus. Star of the Game? Without question, it goes to Perkins. In my mind, the key was the very first inning. After getting the first two outs, He gave up singles to Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez. However, he was able to get Xavier Nady to fly out to Denard Span in RF. That was one key. Then right away in the second inning, he allowed the first two runners, Robinson Cano and Richie Sexson to reach base. Runners were on 1st and 3rd with nobody out. An Ivan Rodriguez pop up to shallow CF meant one out. A Melky Cabrera double play ground ball on the next pitch got him out of the inning without allowing a run. After that just three of the remaining twenty batters Perkins faced reached base and one of them was erased on a double play ball. Great game for Perkins.
Great game because no one so much as got up in the bullpen until Joe Nathan started warming up in the bottom of the 8th inning. That was probably the most important thing about the Perkins performance. That bullpen has got to be worn out. It has been said here (and other places) before that the perfect equation is for the starter to go seven innings, have a set up man pitch the eighth and go to Joe Nathan in the 9th. If the starter can give seven innings and keep his team in the game, then Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain can take turns pitching the 8th inning. If the starter goes eight inning, then the non-Crain/Guerrier relievers can pitch in the 'other' situations (big leads, big deficits). What the Twins need tonight is another strong starting performance from Nick Blackburn, preferably seven or even eight strong innings.
It took me just one game of watching Adam Everett in person to be back on his bandwagon. Oh, what? He never really had a bandwagon? Well, you know what I mean. Obviously his two run homer in the second inning off of Sidney Ponson was pretty exciting. It gave the Twins a 2-0 lead and got the crowd into the game. He struck out and hit about a six foot grounder that the catcher fielded and threw him out at 1B in his other two at bats. But watching him play defense in last night's game was incredibly impressive. The way he made that second inning double play so routinely was object #1. In the third inning, Bobby Abreu hit a hard ground ball that Everett went to his left and fielded and threw him out for the third out. I actually wrote the word Wow in my scorebook. I know he hasn't been what we all hoped. But then again, did we ever expect offense from him? No. We expected the defense. He hasn't been able to provide it first because of his shoulder injury, and second because said injury has kept him out of the lineup. But since he has returned, his shortstop defense has been pretty impressive, minus a couple of obvious examples. I would like to see Everett, if he is in the lineup, batting second, instead of Nick Punto. Why? Because Everett has shown the ability to do the little things, like actually lay down a sacrifice bunt, or put the ball in play on the ground, that Nick Punto has not shown the ability to do all year. Sometimes it is best to just admit that you are wrong.
That said, Nick Punto did lay down a perfect sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the sixth, right after Denard Span led off with a double to the left centerfield gap. Joe Mauer then came up with a line out to LF that scored Span on a close play and gave the Twins a 3-0 lead. I am not a fan of the sacrifice bunt in many situations, but that was certainly a time for it.
In the bottom of the 8th, Carlos Gomez led off with a bunt single down the 1B line. I was shocked all game that he hadn't tried it before that at bat. With Sidney Ponson on the mound and Richie Sexson playing relatively deep at 1B, he could have had a couple of bunt hits.
After Gomez's single, Denard Span grounded to third base for a tailor-made double play. Or, at least it appeared to be, but the speed of Span made it just a fielder's choice. With Nick Punto up, Span stole second base. Then Punto grounded out to third base for the second out. After Sidney Ponson unintentionally intentionally walked Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau grounded up the middle on a full count. Derek Jeter fielded the ball very deep and had no chance to throw out Morneau at 1B. But because it was a full count pitch, the runners took off with the pitch. Jeter smartly knew he didn't have a play at first, immediately looked home to make sure that Span didn't try to score on the play, but Span was already sliding past home plate with the insurance run. Just a very exciting play.
Then Joe Nathan came into the game in a non-save situation. Nathan has not been used a lot and struggled in his most recent appearance Friday night in Kansas City. Along with the fact that no other reliever even threw a warm-up pitch, Nathan got the ninth. I feared that it would be one of those tough, long appearances that closers so frequently have when they enter a non-save situation. The middle of the Yankees lineup, Abreu, A-Rod and Nady, was coming up, but Nathan made short work of them, striking out all three to close the game. Very impressive outing!
Unlike the Kansas City series where they left a lot of runners on base, the Twins didn't do a lot against Ponson, but got a couple of big hits when they needed them.
Finally, the game was done in about 2 1/2 hours!
I watched the game from Section 220 with the great Howard Sinker. It was very fun to sit and watch another ball game with him. He has experienced a lot of baseball with the Twins. As you know, he was the Twins beat writer from late in the 1983 season through that magical 1987 World Series run. He now writes a blog at the Star Tribune called A Fan's View from Section 220. Well, that is one of the many things he does!
Before the game, I had a chance to spend a bit of time talking to John Bonnes, aka The Twins Geek. I checked out the new Gameday Magazine (which you will definitely want to pick up if you get out to a game this week!). We talked about plenty of Twins topics, blogs, bloggers and blogging. It was a lot of fun!
The Twins signed former Twin Bobby Kielty yesterday to a minor league contract and assigned him to AAA Rochester. In my opinion, this is a very low risk, very low reward signing. The Red Wings certainly need a bat and an actual OF. Kielty absolutely rakes against left-handed pitching. With Michael Cuddyer now out longer, and maybe the rest of the season, Kielty could become a valuable right-handed (although he is a switch hitter) off the bench for the Twins. I'm sure the Twins will send him to Rochester and if he hits right away, they will not be afraid to bring him up. If he doesn't hit right away but does hit a little later, maybe he's a guy they call up on August 31st and put on the playoff roster. It's also possible that he doesn't do terribly much in Rochester and never gets back to the Twins. So to really revise my previous comments. It is a low-risk, mid-to-average reward for the Twins. It is a no risk, decent reward move for the Red Wings. Either way, is it time for Twins bloggers to write about how wrong we were about Kielty?
In a related move, the Blue Jays released the player that the Twins acquired for Kielty from the Jays in 2003, Shannon Stewart. Stewart really hasn't been very good since those three months he spent with the Twins that year.
The third player in that trade was Dave Gassner who came to the Twins. The now 29 year old lefty signed late this year with the Red Sox organization. He is pitching at AA Portland where he is 5-5 with a 7.14 ERA in 12 starts.
By the way, I don't understand why Twins fans boo Derek Jeter. I mean, in one way, I do. Twins fans like booing the really great opposing players. But why? Derek Jeter has 1.) never said anything negative about the Twins or any of their players, or 2.) Done anything out of the ordinary to cause the Twins to lose in the playoffs. So, why the angst? Because Tim McCarver and every other media member has a huge crush on him? That seems a little ridiculous.
Any other thoughts on the Twins?
Twins Minor League Updates
Monday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Sergio Santos, Rochester Red Wings
Monday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Miguel Munoz, GCL Twins
Monday – Rochester 5, Indianapolis 4 – Sergio Santos led off the bottom of the 9th with a game-winning solo home run. He was 2-4 in the game and also hit his 26th double. Garrett Jones went 3-4 with his 17th homer. Howie Clark went 2-4 with his sixth homer. Jason Pridie went 2-4 with his 17th double. Alejandro Machado was 2-4 with his fifth stolen base. Tom Shearn started and gave up four runs on nine hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. Ricky Barrett went 1.2 innings and despite allowing three hits and walking two was not charged with a run. Bobby Korecky got the win by throwing two shutout innings.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Monday – New Britain– No Game Scheduled.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Monday – Miracle 2, Dunedin 7 – Spencer Steedley was given a start for the Miracle. In four innings, he gave up five runs. The lefty gave up six hits, walked five and struck out just two. Matt Williams then gave up a hit and walked two in three shutout innings. Then Danny Santiesteban was given the final two innings. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on three hits and a walk. Wilson Ramos led the offense by going 3-4 with his 21st double.
Monday – Beloit 2, Peoria 1 – Shooter Hunt was coming off of his first really bad pro outing, and as you would hope, he came back with a much better start. In this game, he got the win with six innings of work. He gave up a run on four hits and three walks. He struck out two. (So, this isn't a great start by any means) Charles Nolte threw two scoreless innings and then Santos Arias recorded his third save with a scoreless ninth. Estarlin de Los Santos went 3-4 in the game. Rene Leveret drove in both of the runs.
Monday – E-Twins 6, Bristol 7 – These two teams actually played two games yesterday. The first was just the completion of a game suspended in early July. I am deciding not to write about it because, in part, one of the pitchers for the E-Twins, Omar Alcala, is no longer in the organization. So, in the second game, the E-Twins gave up four runs in the bottom of the 6th to take the one run loss. Tom Wright gave up two runs (1 earned) in five innings of his first start. He allowed three hits and a walk and struck out four. Then Danny Rondon gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits in two innings. Nathan Fritz came in and didn't get an out yet allowed two runs on two walks. Dan Berlind got the blown save although he gave up just one hit and no runs in one inning. He also struck out four. Jonathan Waltenbury went 3-5 with his 18th double. Dominic de la Osa went 2-4 with a walk and a double. Evan Bigley went 2-4.
GCL TWINS TALK
Monday – GCL Twins 3, GCL Red Sox 1 – Miguel Munoz improved to 4-2 with 6.2 one-run innings. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out six. Bruce Pugh came in and gave up just one hit in the final 2.1 innings for his first save. He struck out three. Juan Sanchez went 3-4 with two RBI. Josmil Pinto was 1-1 with two walks.
Have a great day!