Wednesday Night, April 4, 2007
The Debut of Ramon
I know I am not normal in the fact that I have always been a fan of Ramon Ortiz. I'm not really sure why. He has never been great. But he is a little guy with a whip for an arm. He pitches with energy, and maybe that has hurt him in his career, but I like that. He pitched well in the spring. He gives the team innings. The quality of the innings will be the question. I don't know about you, but I am excited to see Ramon Ortiz make his Twins debut tonight against Jaret Wright and the Orioles. (throughout the game, I will have occasional posts, so check back)
Here are the lineups:
2b Brian Roberts
3b Melvin Mora
rf Nick Markakis
ss Miguel Tejada
dh Aubrey Huff
lf Jay Gibbons
1b Chris Gomez
cf Corey Patterson
c Paul Bako
2b Luis Castillo
3b Nick Punto
c Joe Mauer
rf Michael Cuddyer
1b Justin Morneau
cf Torii Hunter
lf Rondell White
dh Jason Kubel
ss Jason Bartlett
The Twins are going with the same starting lineup they have so far (with the DH exception). I think that is unusual because typically Ron Gardenhire and Tom Kelly before him liked to get the reserves in right away. Jason Tyner has played in both games, but Chris Heintz, Mike Redmond and Luis Rodriguez are yet to get an at bat. Of course, these have been three night games. Had their been an afternoon game today on get-away day, the lineup likely would have been different.
By the way, isn't it usually a good idea to make a solid first impression, particularly with a new team in baseball? Well, here is how it went today for former Twin JD Durbin in his debut with the Diamondbacks against the Rockies. He came into the 8th inning of the game with Arizona losing by two. He did get two outs (one via the strikeout) in the inning. However, he also gave up seven runs on seven hits and a walk. Here is how the Play-by-Play looked:
Can you say "OUCH!?"
UPDATE - Immediately following the game, Durbin was Designated for Assignment. The Diamondbacks have 10 days to trade him or he will go back on waivers. Durbin says that he would like to stay with the organization and stay in Arizona.
Check out Pat Neshek's 4/407 blog entry. He talks about Opening Night at the Dome, but he also links to a really interesting article by Jonah Keri of ESPN.com called The 83 Story lines of the season. As he says, you will definitely want to check out #6, but #s 25, 26, 27, 70 and 80 are also Twins-related.
Top 1 - Ramon Ortiz got the first two Orioles batters out, then walked Nick Markakis on four pitches before getting Miguel Tejada to pop up to 3B.
Bottom 1 - With one out, Nick Punto worked out a walk. That brought Joe Mauer to the plate. The first pitch was an 89 mph fastball right down the middle. Uggh! The second pitch was about the same thing, but he turned on it and drilled a double down the right field line. Michael Cuddyer came up and had an 0-2 count in no time. That is just how it goes, I guess. But, the next pitch, he took a down and way curveball and slapped it to right field. Things like that are how a guy gets 100 RBI in a season. Justin Morneau then struck out on a 91 mph belt high fastball for strike three. Torii Hunter grounded out to 2B to end the inning. Should score two in that situation, but then you just have to give the pitcher credit sometimes.
Top 2 - Things started a little ominous with a solid single up the middle by Aubrey Huff. But then Jay Gibbons hit a comebacker that Ortiz and Jason Bartlett turned into a double play. Somebody was focused during his PFP this spring! Former Twin Chris Gomez (who if not for a knee injury would have been the Twins regular 2B in mid-2003) struck out to end the inning.
Bottom 2 - Rondell White grounded out weekly to SS. Jason Kubel took two outside fastballs, for strikes before grounding out to 1B. Jason Bartlett worked a five-pitch walk, but Luis Castillo grounded out to 2B to end the inning. Twins 1, Orioles 0.
Cole Hamels with seven shutout innings including eight strikeouts against the Braves. Tim Hudson has given up just one hit in six innings, but it was a home run by Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.
Top 3 - Corey Patterson popped up to SS. (The is four infield pop outs already) Paul Bako lined a two-strike single up the middle. Good pitch, down and away. On the first pitch, Brian Roberts popped out, but it went all the way to LF. Melvin Mora then lined out to CF on a slider that Ortiz may have been lucky to get back.
Bottom 3 - Nick Punto led off with a second walk of the game. Joe Mauer followed with a four-pitch walk. (Side Note - This would be a good time for Michael Cuddyer to unload one well into the LF seats!) Of course, the count got to 1-2 for Cuddyer. However, Cuddyer fought off a tough pitch, took a close pitch and blooped a single to LF to score Punto. Did I mention that that is how a guy gets to 100 RBI? Then Justin Morneau came to the plate and walked on four pitches. Torii Hunter came to the plate with the bases loaded and promptly popped up to 2B. Rondell White then got his first hit of the year, a solid single up the middle to score two runs. The throw bounced off the pitcher's mound which allowed Justin Morneau to 3B. Jaret Wright's day is over, and former prospect Jeremy Guthrie is now in to face Jason Kubel. Kubel took a called third strike. Have I ever mentioned how much I HATE called third strikes. Jason Bartlett walked to re-load the bases. Luis Castillo, on 3-2 count, popped a ball down the 3B line that Jay Gibbons dropped. New Life... On the next pitch, Castillo slapped a ball to the left side of the infield that Miguel Tejada tried to short-hop. It was called a two-run single. Should have been an error! Nick Punto grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning. Twins 6, Orioles 0. (A laugher would be good to allow some of the others to play, and Joe Nathan to stay at the hospital with his wife!)
You may or may not have seen it, but here is a really good article on Matthew Lecroy.
Top 4 - Ramon Ortiz started the 4th just like you would like him to after being given a six run cushion, he struck out Nick Markakis. Next, Miguel Tejada hit another infield pop to 3B. Aubrey Huff then struck out. Great inning by Ortiz!
Here is a very good article about Trevor Plouffe being the only first-rounder on the New Britain Rockcats Opening Day Roster.
American Idol Update - Haley Scarnato, Gina Glocksen and Phil Stacy are in this week's bottom three. Of course, Sanjaya is safe. (Messed up!) Gina Glocksen has been eliminated from the show. She was actually quite good this week. It is tough because really we are just working our way down to Melinda Doolittle and Jordin Sparks and probably Blake Lewis in the Overall Top 3. I guess the rank of 4-10 still mean that they get to tour. It is just too bad that VoteForTheWorst.com exists.
Bottom 4 - Joe Mauer grounded out to 1B on a hanging curveball for the first out. Michael Cuddyer worked the count to 1-2 (again) before fouling off several pitches before ripping a hanging curveball for a single to left. However, Justin Morneau grounded up the middle and Miguel Tejada grabbed it, (maybe) slid over the bag and threw to first for the inning-ending double play.
Top 5 - Jay Gibbons grounded out to 2B for the first out. Chris Gomez then blooped a single to left field. It looked as though Rondell White may have dove for the ball if the game was closer. I don't think he would have caught it anyway. Corey Patterson then flew out to the warning track in CF for the second out. Quick outs. Working quick. Keeping the defense on their toes. I like this! Paul Bako then weakly grounded to 1B for the 3rd out!
Bottom 5 - Torii Hunter leads off against Jeremy Guthrie. On a 3-1 count, Torii took an inside fastball and drilled a liner right down the 3B line for a double. On the first pitch, Rondell White advance Hunter to 3B with a fly out to the wall in right field. On the first pitch to Jason Kubel, a slow curveball that was caught outside was called a strike. Kubel doesn't get any calls. Oh well, he got over it and drilled a 1-1 pitch to the corner in right field for an RBI double. Jason Bartlett then lined out to Markakis in right. Luis Castillo then hit a ball off of Guthrie's back foot that went toward second and he beat the throw to first for an infield single. Kubel advanced to 3B. Nick Punto then flew out to center to end the inning. Twins 7, Orioles 0.
Top 6 - On the first pitch, Brian Roberts hit a triple just beyond the reach of Torii Hunter in CF for a triple. (will that "just out of Hunter's reach" be said as frequently as we hear "just out of Jeter's reach"?) Melvin Mora then short-hopped the baggy in right field (over Jason Tyner who entered the game for Michael Cuddyer... which doesn't make sense) for a double that scored Roberts. (they just announced that Cuddyer has a 'small laceration' and will get some stitches in the Twins dugout.) (Just announced that Riley Grace Nathan was born '17 minutes ago (which would be 8:34 p.m. central time) Congratulations!) Nick Markakis flew out, just shy of the warning track, for the first out, but because Rondell White has the arm of Johnny Damon, Mora was easily able to tag and advance to 3B. Miguel Tejada saw the first pitch to him just about hit his head. Makes you wonder if there is any AL West history between the two. On a 2-0 pitch, Tejada drilled a shot that Nick Punto made a diving play that made me say "WOW!" He threw to first for the 2nd out. The runs scored which was not the primary concern there. Aubrey Huff then grounded a 2-0 pitch to 2B for the third out.
Bottom 6 - Lefty John Parrish comes into the game and will face three consecutive lefties (now that Tyner replaced Cuddyer). Joe Mauer singled sharply to left. Jason Tyner then hit a hard one-hopped that hit the pitcher and bounced high toward 2B. Brian Roberts tried to bare hand it, but couldn't handle it. Justin Morneau then came up and struck out. Torii Hunter then popped up the first pitch to first base. Finally Rondell White struck out to end an inning that had so much potential.
Top 7 - I am almost surprised that Ramon Ortiz is back out for the 7th inning. On a 1-2 pitch, Ortiz threw a fastball about 6 inches outside, but Ortiz hit the glove and got a called third strike against Jay Gibbons for the first out. Thank you very much! Chris Gomez then grounded to SS and Jason Bartlett threw it high and away and luckily Justin Morneau was able to catch the ball so Gomez couldn't advance. That was just a lazy play by Bartlett, something you just don't want to see. Corey Patterson then popped out to Nick Punto near the Twins dugout for the second out. Paul Bako was then hit with the first pitch. On 3-1, Jason Tyner caught a liner at his shoestrings to save a run. Very nice play! Ortiz is excited and showing it, and I think that is great!
Bottom 7 - Jamie Walker is now in for the Orioles. Just think, the O's signed him this offseason for three years and about $13 million. The Twins signed Dennys Reyes for two years and $2 million. Which deal makes more sense. Anyway, Jason Kubel led off the inning by cuing the ball off the end of his bat. You could just tell that Melvin Mora would not be able to make that play. Too much spin, so Mora gets an error and Kubel gets to 1B. Jason Bartlett weakly popped to 1B. Luis Castillo then popped weakly to SS for the second out. I think it has to be hard to maintain intensity in the latter innings of a game that was really over so early. I know that it isn't intentional, but at bats may not be as good. Plays on defense might not happen. It would have to be tough, especially over the course of such a long season. Nick Punto then flew out to RF for the third out. Twins 7, Orioles 2.
Top 8 - Matt Guerrier is finally into a game. Ramon Ortiz was very impressive, I though. Of course we have to remember that it is just one game. He won't be this good every time out, but he showed a lot of very good things. For instance, Ortiz got a lot of weak pop ups. There was very few hard hit balls so he must have had a lot of movement and been sneaky-fast. He hit spots most of the game. (I was actually surprised that just 56 of his 98 pitches were for strikes.) He just needs to keep that focus each game. Guerrier got Melvin Mora to break his bat and ground out on a close play to SS. Nick Markakis flew out to LF. Miguel Tejada popped a ball up between 2B and CF. Torii Hunter had to go a long way, but he didn't really dive, it hit his glove and back in the day, he would have caught it. But, it was ruled a single. After falling behind Aubrey Huff (AH-bree, Bert, not AH-Berry) 3-0, he came back to strike him out to end the inning.
Bottom 8 - Chris Ray is now in the game, making his 2007 debut. He throws 96 with the fastball, and the slider to about 87. He's a closer I am very high on. Joe Mauer bounced a ball over the pitcher's mound that Brian Roberts fielded and threw to first for the first out. Jason Tyner hit a soft liner to 1B for the second out. Justin Morneau flew to the warning track in CF. It was funny because Ray pointed to it, as if it was going to be caught in the middle of the infield. Twins 7, Orioles 2.
Top 9 - Guerrier is still in the game, which is good. I can not understand at all why Joe Mauer is still in the game. This would be a great chance to get either Mike Redmond or Chris Heintz into the game. I think that Joe Mauer is so important to the Twins season that any chance you have to give him a few innings off, they absolutely should. Jay Gibbons grounded a bouncer to Luis Castillo who flipped it to Guerrier covering 1B for the first out. Chris Gomez softly lined out to 3B. And on a horrible check swing call, Corey Patterson struck out to end the game.
SUMMARY - Ramon Ortiz was terrific and gives us all hope. None of us are dumb enough to assume that this is the type of performance that we will see every time out, but it was something to take plenty of positives from. Like I said, I've always liked Ortiz, so I am happy to see him do well. And obviously, I am happy with a Twins win and a Twins sweep! You can't start the season any better than 3-0! (I know, 4-0 is better, but I meant through three games) Michael Cuddyer kept getting two strike counts, but tonight, he put the ball in play and produced. Joe Mauer (.455) and Luis Castillo (.500) each got two more hits. Matt Guerrier did a great job for his two innings. Rondell White had a big hit. The Twins took advantage of a big inning and held the lead. Just a very good game. Congratulations to Joe Nathan and his family which just got bigger tonight. I was almost disappointed to see that he showed up at the end of the game rather than stay at the hospital, but if he and his wife were comfortable with that decision, I have no problem with him sharing his excitement with his teammates.
Thursday is an off day and a travel day for the Twins before starting their three-game weekend series against the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field.
Anyway, if you have any thoughts on the game, please feel free to e-mail me or Comment below.|
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