Monday, May 2, 2005
THIS JUST IN - RINCON SUSPENDED
Twins reliever Juan Rincon today became the 5th player to be suspended for violating the leagueís performance-enhancing drug policy. Heís the first actual good player to be suspended.
I guess the good news in this is that Scott Baker will be recalled by the Twins for the time being.
First, I donít think that anyone should be surprised by this. I am surprised at who was suspended, but it would be naÔve to think that the Twins did not have anyone. Maybe it was a false positive. We can hold on to that hope. That said, I think that many people would be surprised that a pitcher would need/use steroids. The assumption is that it is just hitters who would want to bulk up. Fact is, it is probably just as prevalent among pitchers.
I received an e-mail last fall from someone that told me that there were a few Twins pitchers that were using such drugs. I, of course, chose to overlook the comment for a couple of reasons. First, I didnít want to believe it. I mean, these are the Twins. Second, I didnít really know the source at all. Third, I just didnít care. I am still of the belief that you have to still play the game and I donít think that it has a huge impact on the game itself.
Well, Rincon has been caught. It doesnít take away, in my mind, the thought that he is the best set up man in baseball. However, now his name is out there. He is in the spotlight. One of the things about the suspension is simply that it will hopefully embarrass the player by making this public. Hopefully this will do just that.
As for Baker, I suspect he would have been called up shortly either way. I wouldnít be at all surprised if Kyle Lohse is either put on the Disabled List or moved to the bullpen and Baker is installed into the rotation. He has been great since his first outing.
Rincon is said to be Ďstunnedí by the results of the test.
Anyway, do you have any thoughts on Rincon? Do you feel somehow personally hurt by the fact that a member of the Twins tested positive? Any other thoughts? E-mail me.
Twins Minor League Report
COLON BLASTS SANTANA'S STREAK
Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a terrific weekend!
Well, all good things must come to an end, and for the Twins and Johan Santana, that day was yesterday. We all knew that he would eventually lose again (right?). I think we all realized that it would take a great pitching performance from his opponent to beat him though. That is what happened when Detroit's Jason Johnson shut out the Twins in Santana's previous loss, last July 11th. Yesterday, it was Bartolo Colon of the Angels that did the job to give Santana that first loss. If you look back at my preseason predictions, I had Santana as my choice for Cy Young, but had Colon finishing second. So, there was certainly reason for concern heading into the Sunday morning matchup. I was actually really excited to see the pitching performance. And, as some of you may have guessed, I had to do a little pitch charting of both pitchers. So, let's take a look at the game from a few different angles:
First, let's look at the basic numbers from the pitchers:
IP H R ER BB K HR
Santana 8 2 2 2 2 7 2
Colon 7.1 2 0 0 0 7 0
So you can see from there, both pitchers were on. Santana's two hits allowed were both home runs and because of it, he takes the loss. Let's take a look at Pitch Selection by the two "aces." (average mph in parentheses)
1st Inning - 14 pitches - 10 fastballs (92.3), 2 changeups, 2 sliders
2nd Inning - 11 pitches - 9 fastballs (91.6), 1 changeup, 1 slider
3rd Inning - 13 pitches - 9 fastballs (91.4), 1 changeup, 3 sliders
4th Inning - 16 pitches - 9 fastballs (92.8), 2 changeups, 5 sliders
5th Inning - 12 pitches - 7 fastballs (92.9), 1 changeup, 4 sliders
6th Inning - 16 pitches - 11 fastballs (93.2), 3 changeups, 2 sliders
7th Inning - 8 pitches - 6 fastballs (92.8), 0 changeups, 2 sliders
8th Inning - 20 pitches - 10 fastballs (93.2), 8 changeups, 2 sliders
Totals - 110 pitches - 71 fastballs (92.5), 18 changeups, 21 sliders
1st Inning - 14 pitches - 12 fastballs (91.9), 2 sliders
2nd Inning - 7 pitches - 5 fastballs (91.8), 1 changeup, 1 slider
3rd Inning - 8 pitches - 6 fastballs (91.7), 1 changeup, 1 slider
4th Inning - 13 pitches - 11 fastballs (89.8), 2 sliders
5th Inning - 11 pitches - 10 fastballs (92.0), 1 slider
6th Inning - 10 pitches - 10 fastballs (93.5)
7th Inning - 10 pitches - 9 fastballs (93.2), 1 slider
8th Inning - 11 pitches - 10 fastballs (93.4), 1 slider
Totals - 84 pitches, 73 fastballs (92.2), 2 changeups, 9 sliders
So, my first thought was that Johan Santana threw more fastballs than in any game that I have charted his pitches. He also did not use his changeup much at all until the 8th inning. I can't imagine why that is the case. The Angels just do not strike out very much, they are notorious for that. Because of that, Santana had a lot of high-pitch at bats, meaning lots of pitches. In contrast, Colon did not throw many pitches at all. It appeared early that the Twins hitters wanted to be patient, but in doing so consistently found themselves behind in the count. So, as the game went on, Colon just threw his two different fastballs. His standard fastball was the one that showed up between 90 and 93 and moved in on a right-handed hitter. As the game went on, he started throwing more hard, but straight fastballs between 96 and 99 mph.
There was an interesting observation that I made (that those of you who watched it may or may not agree with). Santana relies on his stuff. He has excellent control, as far as not walking batters. But sometimes he is able to get away with hanging a changeup, and it's slow enough that batters swing right through it. Yesterday, Bartolo Colon was spot on, the whole game. Clearly they had a game plan to work the outside corner, and if he missed, it was off the plate. It was as if the Twins hitters never really caught on. They kept trying to pull the ball off of him. But Shannon Stewart's single was slapped to right. Michael Cuddyer's hit went to right. I thought Colon's control was impeccable. The 98 mph fastball on the outside corner that struck out Justin Morneau to end the 7th was the perfect illustration for that.
There were other differences. Santana threw 72 of his 110 pitches for strikes. That is 65.4%, which is slightly below where he normally is. Bartolo Colon threw 62 of his 84 pitches for strikes, which is an impressive 73.8%. Santana threw first-pitch strikes to just 19 of 29 batters (65.5%) while Colon did to 18 of 24 (50%) batters. One huge contrast was how the pitchers got hitters out. Both struck out seven hitters. 13 of the other 15 outs that Colon got were on groundouts whereas just four of 15 other outs that Santana got were on the ground.
So, now Santana has a loss and The Streak has come to an end. As a Twins fan, it was certainly fun to follow. However, this may be the best thing for the Twins season. Why? Because now it should no longer factor into managerial decisions. The last two games, Santana has completed eight innings and thrown over 110 pitches. Why? Well, in part because the streak was in jeopardy. Now, Gardy can make decisions that are best for the team and for Santana.
Lost in Santana's loss was that the Twins had another good series win for the Twins. Over the weekend, they took two out of three from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They are currently atop the AL West and are the team I predicted to win the World Series this year. In other words, they are a very good team, full of talented hitters and pitchers.
Here are a few highlights followed by a few other thoughts:
Friday night - Twins 7, Angels 4
Carlos Silva got hit early, but settled down and worked out of jams. 7 Innings, 11 hits, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. JC Romero scoreless inning. Joe Nathan perfect 9th for 7th save. Justin Morneau was 3-4 with a double. Lew Ford was 2-3 with a walk and 2 RBI. Michael Cuddyer went 2-4 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI.
Saturday night - Twins 4, Angels 2
Brad Radke didn't give up a 1st inning run. In 7.1 innings, he gave up 2 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits. He walked none and struck out 5. Juan Rincon got two out to finish the 8th. Joe Nathan with another perfect 9th for his 8th save. Justin Morneau was 2-4 with a triple and homer and 2 RBI. His first inning home was measured at 456 feet. Joe Mauer was 2-3 with a walk and an RBI. Nick Punto started his 5th straight game at 2B.
Sunday afternoon - Twins 1, Angels 2
Johan Santana pitched well but took his first loss. Two runs on two hits (HRs) in 8 innings of work. The Twins, however, had just four hits. Two were by Shannon Stewart, who hit a solo homer off of Francisco Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth.
The Twins now have an off-day today before starting a three game series at home against the Cleveland Indians. The Indians have really started slowly this season. They are 9-15 so far, and just lost two out of three this weekend to the Kansas City Royals. They have lost eight of their last eleven games. Hopefully they can stay cold for another three games.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Friday - REDWINGS 1, Syracuse 3 - Scott Baker appears to be ready. Remember he had a rough first start of the season and because of it, David Gassner was the one called up when Carlos Silva was put on the Disabled List. Baker has not had a bad outing since. On this night, he went seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits and a walk, and struck out seven. He did get a no decision because Beau Kemp came in for the 8th and gave up three runs on a hit and two walks. Jason Tyner and Josh Rabe both went 2-4.
Saturday - REDWINGS, Syracuse - Rained Out.
Sunday - Game 1 - REDWINGS 4, Syracuse 2 - Boof Bonser continues to pitch well and improved to 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA by going six innings and giving up just two earned runs. He allowed four hits and walked one. He also struck out seven. Travis Bowyer came in and struck out three in an inning for his second save. Todd Dunwoody hit his second homer.
Sunday - Game 2 - REDWINGS 9, Syracuse 1 - The Redwings completed the sweep with their bats. Josh Rabe went 2-3 with a walk, a double and 2 RBI. Glenn Williams went 2-4 with two RBI. Jason Tyner had two hits. Garrett Jones hit his 6th homer. Kevin West finally got his first home run. He also walked twice. Terry Tiffee had a two run double. Jimmy Anderson was the recipient of the run support. He went five innings and gave up just one run. He gave up four hits and three walks, but also struck out six. Henry Bonilla and Trey Hodges each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Friday - ROCKCATS 5, New Hampshire 8 - On this night, Francisco Liriano had a rough start. He gave up six earned runs in five innings. He gave up just four hits, but also walked four. To be positive, he did strike out eight. He fell to 1-3. Ricky Barrett dropped his ERA to 0.55 with 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out four. Pat Neshek struck out four of the five batters he faced. Luis Jimenez was the offensive star. He went 3-3 with a walk, a double and two home runs. He drove in three runners. James Tomlin and Luis Maza were both 2-5. Danny Matienzo went 2-4 with a double.
Saturday - ROCKCATS, New Hampshire - Rained Out.
Sunday - MIRACLE 5, New Hampshire 1 - Justin Olson got the start and did great. He went seven innings and gave up a run on three hits. He walked four, but struck out five. JT Thomas struck out three in two scoreless innings of relief. Jose Morales went 3-4 with a double. Luis Maza was 2-4. Gil Velazquez went 2-3 with a double and two RBI. Luis Jimenez hit yet another homer, his fourth. James Tomlin went 1-2 with two walks.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Friday - MIRACLE 7, Dunedin 5 - Glen Perkins made his second start of the season for the Miracle. He gave up no runs in three innings. He gave up four hits and walked one while striking out three. Tristan Crawford gave up one run over the next three innings. Peter Tautor came in and faced four batters. He gave up three hits and a walk and all four ended up scoring. Jay Sawatski pitched the final three innings without allowing a run of his own (2 hits and 1 BB).
Saturday - MIRACLE 6, Lakeland 5 - Since I put Matt Moses's profile on the left of this screen, he had gone 0-10. But he came back in this game with a 4-5 effort. He had two doubles and 3 RBI. Brock Peterson went 2-3 with a walk. Felix Molina was 2-4 with a triple and an RBI. Errol Simonitsch went five innings and gave up four earned runs. He gave up nine hits but walked none and struck out two. Julio Depaula went three innings and gave up one run on three hits and a walk. Jan Granado improved to 4-0 by pitching one scoreless inning.
Sunday - MIRACLE 1, Lakeland 8 - The Miracle only had five hits. But Kyle Geiger went 2-4 with his second home run. Scott Tyler started and fell to 1-2. In five innings, he allowed four runs on five hits and two walks. He also struck out four. Josh Gray pitched the next three innings and didn't give up a run on four hits. Peter Tautor came in for an inning, trying to improve on his outing from Friday. Well, he did get three outs. However, he gave up four hits and a walk, and four runs scored.
Friday - SNAPPERS 2, Fort Wayne 5 - Kyle Waldrop started for the Snappers and gave up five runs in five innings. He gave up eight hits and, of course, walked none and struck out four. Kevin Culpepper pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. Kyle Aselton also pitched two scoreless innings, with one strikeout. Paul Rutgers went 2-2 with an RBI.
Saturday - SNAPPERS 2, Fort Wayne 4 - Jay Rainville got the start and pitched well. He gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out eight. John Williams came in and gave up a run on two hit and two walks in his inning. Josh Hill came in and gave up a run in two innings. Jonathon Martinez pitched a scoreless inning. Mark Zamojc went 2-4 and Luke Hughes had an RBI double.
Sunday - SNAPPERS 3, Fort Wayne 5 - Alexander Smit made another start and this time took a loss. He went 4 2/3 innings and gave up three runs. He allowed five hits and walked four hitters. He did strike out five. Kyle Aselton came in and gave up just one hit in 2 1/3 innings. He struck out three. Steven Duguay gave up two runs in an inning. Kevin Culpepper pitched one scoreless. Jeremy Pickrell went 2-4 with a double and an RBI. Chris Brown went 2-4 with an RBI. Angelo Fermin went 1-1 with three walks.
Just a few articles I have read over the weekend that I though people might enjoy:
Here is an excellent article on Matt Moses's fast start at Ft. Myers in The News Press.
In the same paper, their Miracle beat writer played a video baseball game against Denard Span. Twins versus the Miracle. See who won!
Daryl Strawberry gave a speech in Fargo over the weekend on drug and alcohol abuse and dependency.
The University of North Dakota's baseball team has a player who could be drafted in the June baseball draft. DH Ross Olson is having a great year and hitting for power and driving in runs. At 6-5, 240 pounds, he has to remind scouts of Adam Dunn.
According to the Pioneer Press's Charley Walters, former Twins top pick Adam Johnson is now playing with the Puebla Parrots of the Mexican Summer League.
On that note, I am going to call it a day. Thanks again for stopping by this site. If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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