Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday Night Lights
TWINS 11, ANGELS 9
KEYNOTE STORY – I mean, really… is there any question who produced tonight’s big story? Jason Kubel came into his 8th inning at bat with a single, a double, and a triple. He had already missed one opportunity to hit for the cycle. The Angels had intentionally walked Justin Morneau in front of Kubel to load the bases. So, with the Twins trailing by two runs, Kubel came to the plate and on the second pitch, he gave himself the cycle and he gave the Twins the lead with a grand slam. Kubel became the ninth player in Twins history to hit for the cycle. Carlos Gomez was the most recent, and he did it in 2008. More importantly, Kubel’s blast completed a comeback that saw the Twins fall behind 8-3, and then 9-4 going into the bottom of the eighth. Kubel’s home run capped a seven run inning. He went 4-5 with five RBI. Here are a few other thoughts on the game:
· Nick Blackburn pitched pretty well. He gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 6.1 innings.
· Unfortunately, the bullpen did not help him out. Five runs scored in that 7th inning for the Angels. Jesse Crain came in with runners on and it didn’t go well. He had to throw 30 more pitches and got just one out before four runs scored on two hits and three walks. Matt Guerrier came in and gave up a run over the next 1.1 innings. Another rough night for the Twins bullpen.
· Once Kubel gave the Twins the lead though, Joe Nathan came on for the ninth inning and pitched a perfect ninth inning.
· For the first time this season, Jason Kubel played in the OF, making the start in LF.
· Denard Span made his second consecutive start in CF which means that Carlos Gomez did not start for the second straight game.
· Span, Mike Redmond and Michael Cuddyer each had two hits.
· Saturday night, the Twins and Angels will play the middle game of this series, starting at 6:05 p.m. The Twins will send Kevin Slowey to the mound to face the Angels lefty Darren Oliver.
HUMBER DFA’d, MORILLO CLAIMED
Hours before last night’s game, the Twins made a couple of transactions. First, they Designated Philip Humber for Assignment. It was time. He got a few opportunities and it was pretty clear that he would not be much help to even the back end of the Twins bullpen. I still contend that given time, he would have been better than Brian Bass, but the Twins bullpen situation requires immediate attention. He will go through the waiver process, and if he is claimed, he will go to the other team. If he is not claimed, the Twins will have ten days to trade him, release him or send him to Rochester. If they are able to, I think it would be great if he could remain in the organization.
Twenty-five year old Juan Morillo was designated for assignment by the Colorado Rockies, and the Twins claimed him. He has pitched in just 8.2 innings out of the bullpen in three stints over the last three years with the Rockies. Last year in AAA, in 59.2 innings, he gave up just 53 hits. He struck out 55. Unfortunately he also walked 56 batters. So why would the Twins want him? Well, that ability to throw 100 mph is something very few people are able to do. He is still very young, and many believe that Rick Anderson can work miracles. Worst case scenario – He never is able to find control, he walks several batters in low leverage situations. He sticks with the Twins for a few weeks, maybe a month, allowing Jose Mijares, Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama a little more time. Best case scenario – Rick Anderson finds something and Morillo gains some control. He pitches well in low leverage situation and gradually starts pitching in the 7th innings, then the 8th inning. Have I mentioned that 100 mph fastball? I see this as an excellent move for the Twins. It is a very low risk and potentially very high reward acquisition.
The last two games, the Twins starters have made solid starts. Then the bullpen has completely lost it. Jesse Crain has now pitched Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That kind of usage is what really hurt Matt Guerrier in 2008. Before being used frequently three straight games (and 14 out of 17 games in one stretch), he had nothing left. Crain and Guerrier are the Twins bullpen hopes to get the ball to Joe Nathan, so they really should not be used like this.
Here is me admitting I was wrong. I still have confidence in Joe Nathan, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier. I think Craig Breslow will be solid most of the time. And R.A. Dickey will be just fine as the mop up man. That means that Luis Ayala is a big question mark. I liked the signing when it happened. I do think he will be alright, and I don’t think anyone was claiming he would be an 8th inning guy, but he has been incredibly hittable to this point. We can’t give up on him yet, but I would also say that he may want to start performing soon because I think Bill Smith has shown he won’t hesitate to let a veteran go.
Juan Cruz would have helped this team. Joe Nelson would have been a great addition. Russ Springer could have helped out a lot. However, if they were being used as much as Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and others in the Twins bullpen are being used to this point, they likely would not be much more productive. And no, I’m not advocating the signing of Pedro Martinez at this point, unless he’ll sign for $2 million or less, and he won’t.
At this point, the guys they have need to be given a month. If at that time, they still are not ready, that is when they should go to Jose Mijares, Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
With that, here are the reports on the Twins minor league games from Friday night, but first, be sure to check out this terrific article on Ben Revere. It discusses from a scout’s perspective what the Twins saw when they were watching him play (and they did a lot) in high school. I think the article gives a very good view of what scouts look for. The picture is of Ben Revere with his five Twins awards presented to him earlier in spring training.
Friday – Rochester 0, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 11 – The Red Wings were shut out for the second straight game despite notching nine hits. David Winfree went 2-4 with his fifth double. Reid Santos started and gave up five runs (3 earned) on eight hits and three walks in five innings. Sean Henn struck out five hitters in two shutout innings. Carmen Pignatiello moved back to the bullpen now that Brian Duensing is back with the Red Wings. He pitched the 8th inning and gave up six runs on five hits and a walk.
Friday – New Britain 1, New Hampshire 11 – After a nice first AA start, this one didn’t go so well for Cole Devries. In 4.1 innings, he gave up five runs on six hits and three walks. But Yohan Pino’s performance was really non-good. In 1.1 innings, he gave up six runs on nine hits, including two home runs. Zach Ward struck out three in 1.2 scoreless innings. Rob Delaney struck out two in 1.2 shutout innings. The Rockcats bats managed just seven hits. Erik Lis went 2-4. Toby Gardenhire went 2-3 with a double.
Friday –Ft. Myers 1, St. Lucie 3 – The Miracle managed just four hits in this game. Ben Revere went 1-3 with a walk and two stolen bases. Steve Singleton went 1-3 with a walk and a double. Tyler Robertson went the first four innings and gave up a run on two hits and three walks. He struck out three. Kyle Waldrop took the loss despite pitching very well. In three innings, he gave up one run on four hits. Spencer Steedley gave up an unearned run on two hits and a walk in his inning.
Friday – Beloit 6, Burlington 5 (10 innings) – Ramon Santana is off to a terrific start for the Snappers this season. Tonight was his best moment yet of this young season. The shortstop went 2-5, but his solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning ended the game and gave the Snappers the win. Nick Romero went 3-5 with a stolen base. Dominic de la Osa went 2-5 with a double and a triple. Michael Harrington went 2-4 with his second double. Nathan Hanson was 2-4. Alexander Soto hit his first home of the year. Bobby Lanigan made the start. He gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in 5.1 innings. Joe Testa walked three and struck out two in two innings. He gave up two runs. Steve Blevins struck out three in 2.2 perfect innings.