Wednesday, May 5, 2004
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
KINGS STEAL HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
Pictures I took from Friday night's Twins/Angels game at the Metrodome. Check them out!
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Night Owls in Minnesota
Last night, the Timberwolves Game 1 against the Sacramento Kings started about 8:45, but was actually done by about 11:15. That wasn't so bad. The Twins game was just entering the 9th inning, and I was thinking I could be in bed by midnight. But NO, the Twins and Mariners had to play a marathon game! If you stayed up and listened or watched the game, you are either a real, die-hard Twins fan... or you're CRAZY... or, maybe you're Both, like me!! Here are some thoughts on all that.
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TWINS/MARINERS PLAY MARATHON
The Twins had an off day on Monday, so they figured they would play some extra innings last night. IF you want to read some great thoughts on last night's game, be sure to check out the Dickie Thon Twins Forum game thread.
Jamie Moyer started for the Mariners. In 8 innings, the Twins only had three hits off of him. Cristian Guzman hit a solo home run in the 4th inning. Torii Hunter hit a solo home run in the 5th inning. Doug Mientkiewicz also had a double. Kyle Lohse did alright too. He gave up a 2-run homer to Raul Ibanez and again had to find a way out of a couple of tough situations. A 6th inning single by Randy Winn scored Dan Wilson from 2B to give the M's a 3-2 lead which they took into the 9th inning.
Former Twins close Eddie Guardado came in for Seattle. He got Shannon Stewart to take a called third strike before Cristian Guzman reached on an infield single. Doug Mientkiewicz flew out to center for Out #2. Corey Koskie singled with Guzman going to 2B. Torii Hunter came up and drilled a double to score Guzman, however, Koskie was throw out at home, and then thrown out of the game for arguing. It sounds as though he had a case. John Strubel of Baseball Interactive IM'd me and said that he saw 5 or 6 different angles of the play and in each case, Koskie was clearly safe. Even the Mariners radio broadcaster said that Koskie was clearly safe. so, the Twins lost Koskie, and Hunter came out of the game with a slight hamstring pull.
Baserunning continued to hurt the Twins. Lew Ford was thrown out at home in the 10th inning. After a double, he tried to score on a 2 out single by Michael Cuddyer, but was thrown out easily. Not Ford's fault as much as 3B coach Al Newman.
In the 11th inning, things were really ugly for the Twins. Shannon Stewart led off with a walk. Cristian Guzman was supposed to sacrifice him to second, but bunted it too hard at John Olerud who fielded and threw to 2B to force out Stewart for the 1st out. Doug Mientkiewicz then hit a line drive that landed clearly in front of Ichiro in RF. Guzman, who was off with the pitch, apparently thought that Ichiro had caught the ball, so he turned around, re-touched 2B, and ran toward 1B. Ichiro threw the ball in to second and forced Guzman out. Mientkiewicz ends up with a fielder's choice. Two pitches later, Mientkiewicz was picked off at 1B. Just not a good inning.
The bullpen was absolutely incredible. After Kyle Lohse left with two outs in the 6th inning, Aaron Fultz got the third out and pitched the 7th. Juan Rincon got the first two outs of the 8th and Terry Mulholland got the third out and got two outs in the 9th. Joe Roa walked the only batter he faced to load the bases in the ninth. JC Romero was brought in with the bases loaded and two outs and with a full count, Romero got John Olerud to ground out. Romero then pitched scoreless 10th and 11th innings. Joe Nathan pitched a perfect 12th inning, striking out two. Nathan gave up a hit in the 13th, but again the Mariners did not score.
In the top of the 14th, the Twins had a chance. Cristian Guzman got on by an error on Bret Boone. The Mariners brought in lefty Ron Villone. Doug Mientkiewicz bunted but Guzman was forced at 2B. Nick Punto walked before Mike Ryan hit a slow grounder to Boone for the second out. Jacque Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Lew Ford flew out to centerfield to end the inning.
For the bottom of the 14th inning, Seth Greisinger came in. I am sure that he was going to go the rest of the game so that no other pitchers would be used. Well, that and the fact that there were no other relievers. He walked Scott Speizio to lead off the inning. Bret Boone struck out. Raul Ibanez hit into a fielder's choice. Edgar Martinez struck out looking to end the inning.
(Here we go to the 15th Inning. I'm ready for this game to be done!!! I am posting now because everything else is done. I will just continue to update this game until it is over.)
Henry Blanco popped up. Michael Cuddyer flew out to the fence in right field for the 2nd out. Shannon Stewart flew out to right field to end the inning.
John Olerud led off the bottom of the 15th inning with a single. Rich Aurilia grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Ben Davis struck out to end the inning. To the 16th we go...
I just threw on my new Doug Mientkiewicz jersey, maybe it'll bring good luck!! Cristian Guzman grounds out to third. Mientkiewicz has a 7 pitch at bat before grounding out to 2B. At this point, I'm thinking that instead of a 4 ball-3 strike count, they should go to 3 ball-2 strike counts!!! Nick Punto struck out looking. (Hey, I'm getting some bills paid, so that's good!)
Randy Winn is hit by the first pitch of the inning. Ichiro singled to right field and Winn went to 3B. The Twins decide to pitch to Scott Speizio, and he hit into a fielder's choice meaning that the Twin lose 4-3 as Randy Winn beat the off target throw from Mientkiewicz.
I could go on and on about the performance of the Twins bullpen. I could discuss the chances the Twins had to win this game but just couldn't get the big hit. But that's just baseball. That's how it goes. The Mariners had even more chances. I could probably go on and on about all the player's whose batting averaged were hurt by a 16 inning game. But, the fact is, I am dead tired. It's almost 2:00 in the morning and I will now go sleep!! That just seems important now, for some reason!
And Ron Gardenhire didn't see much of it as he was thrown out in the first inning for arguing balls and strikes. Any thoughts on the Twins? E-mail me. Here are the starters. I am sure both teams would like to get some innings out of them.
Tonight - 9:05 - Carlos Silva (4-0, 4.02) vs Joel Pineiro (1-3, 8.26)
Thursday - 9:05 - Brad Radke (2-2, 4.37) vs Freddy Garcia (0-1, 2.27)
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Rochester Report - Last night, the Redwings got a 7-6 win over Buffalo, the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Carlos Pulido went 3 1/3 innings, gave up 8 hits and two walks for 5 earned runs. That dropped his ERA to 31.58! Jeromy Palki went 2 2/3 innings without giving up a run. Jesse Crain pitched a scoreless 9th for his fourth save. He struck out two. Alex Prieto went 3-4 to jump up to .300. Jason Bartlett had two hits, including a triple. Michael Restovich had two doubles in five at bats. Matt Scanlon was 2-4 with a homer. Brian Simmons had a homer in 5 at bats.
Justin Morneau was named the International League Player of the Month for April. Matt Guerrier was named the league's Pitcher of the Month.
New Britain Report - Rick Helling finally made his start for the Rockcats and performed far better than was expected. He went 7 innings and gave up just two hits (And walked two). He threw 105 pitches, which seems a little excessive to me. However, if he is able to throw that many pitches and be that successful in a AA game, there is no reason for him to stay down in the minors and should be called up right away. That said, I would like to see him get one more start before the call up.
On the offensive side, Jason Kubel led again. He went 3-4 with a walk, a double, a home run and two RBI. Kevin West went 3-5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI. C Bryan Kennedy was 2-3 with a walk. 3B Jake Mauer went 2-4 with a double and 2 RBI.
Oh, by the way, the Rockcats won 7-0.
Ft. Myers Report - The Miracle won a 1-0 game over Port St. Lucie. They've been shut out so many times this year, it's nice to see them on the other side of that. Brett Tamburrino had a pinch hit single to score Danny Matienzo for the game's lone run. CF Ron Perodin went 2-4. But the story was clearly the pitching. Matt Yeatman went the first 6 innings, giving up 4 hits and walking two, while striking out five. Travis Bowyer, Jason Miller and Justin Olson (who got the win) completed the shutout.
Quad Cities Report - The Swing lost 6-5 yesterday against Lansing. 2B JR Taylor went 2-4 with a double. Fergus Falls (MN) native Justin Arneson went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts. His average is now down to .048.
Kings Steal Home Court Advantage
It was an ugly game, but to put it into context, at least there were more than 200 points scored, unlike most Eastern Conference games. The Wolves fought to come back frequently, but in the end, it was too much Mike Bibby and Doug Christie.
Before the game, Kevin Garnett was presented the NBA MVP award by commissioner David Stern. After receiving the award, he called his teammates to center court to share in the moment with him. Now, he received the award yesterday. I understand presenting it officially in front of his fans, but it has to be a distraction.
Anyway, the game started ugly for the Wolves. Before the first TV timeout, Sam Cassell had two turnovers and took two forced shots. Mike Bibby had two three pointers and a steal. At the end of the first quarter, the Kings were ahead 34-27. Bibby had 14 points and Vlade Divac had 10. For the Wolves, Trenton Hassell had 7, while Ervin Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell each had 6.
Early in the 2nd quarter, the Wolves were down 40-29 when Garnett grabbed an offensive rebound and got it to Latrell Sprewell for a three pointer. The team continued to claw back. With 2 seconds left in the first half, Sam Cassell hit a jumper to cap off an 11-2 Wolves run and leave the Wolves down just 47-48. At that point, Mike Bibby was up to 18 points. Kevin Garnett was just 5-13 for 10 points, but also had 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Hassell continued to contribute with 11 points and four rebounds. Sam Cassell had ten points.
Two minutes into the 2nd half, Sam Cassell hit a runner in the lane to give the Wolves their first lead since early in the game. However, it was followed by a Kings 7-0 run. Mark Madsen played big in the late third quarter. At one point, he made a hook shot to give the Wolves a lead, and then took a charge on the other side of the court. In the 3rd Quarter, Cassell scored 18 of the team's 26 points.
But in the late fourth quarter, the Kings really just made more plays. Cassell knocked down plenty of 3s, but the Kings just hit shots on their way to the win. Mike Bibby led the Kings with 33 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Five other Kings scored between 13 and 15 points. For the Wolves, Cassell scored 40 points on 15-25 from the field and 7-11 from 3-point range. Kevin Garnett had a poor shooting game, but don't listen to anyone who tells you he played a poor game. He scored 16 points, but he also had 18 rebounds and 7 assists. Trenton Hassell was huge. He was left open and he played great. He scored 17 points and grabbed 5 boards. But he also was on Peja Stojacovik much of the game and held him in check.
So, the Kings took home court advantage from the Wolves with the Game 1 win. What does that mean for Timberwolves fans? PANIC!! Just kidding, of course not. It was just one game. To reclaim home court, the Wolves will just have to win Game 2 Saturday night, and then steal a win at Arco Arena in Sacramento. I write that as if that is simple. Obviously it won't be, but this team has beat the Kings twice this year already on the road. So, yes, the Wolves lost, but don't worry yet.
I understand that the playoffs mean tough and rugged basketball, but the refs seemed to swallow their whistles. It is a completely different game. Players know that fouls will rarely be called, so there is a lot of contact. It does not make for better basketball. As a matter of fact, it only does one thing. It makes for much contact and frustration which can lead to fights and arguments in a long series between teams that continue to play against each other.
Kevin Garnett does travel almost every time he makes a move in the lane. I don't know why he continues to do this. OK, I do know, because he was allowed to all season. Now in the playoffs, the refs would rather call traveling than risk calling a foul on anyone, so that is what they do.
Anyway, Sam Cassell will get some credit for his 40 point performance, but don't forget that part of his responsibility was to guard Mike Bibby. Bibby neutralized Cassell's offense. The key will be for the Wolves to get Garnett and Sprewell some better shots in game 2..
Anyway, there are some of my thoughts on the Wolves/Kings Game 1. What do you think? E-mail me.
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
I just wanted to note a few things before I get into my standard post-performance analysis of last night's American Idol. We are down to just five finalists. I think it is important to note that, now that John Stevens is out, all five are very, very good singers. They will probably all perform very well. They may even all be flawless vocally. So, how do you decide who is best or who is worst? To be honest, it will probably be some little things. First, a couple of missed or flat notes will obviously hurt. Second, how tough their song was. Did they show much range or strength? And finally, their performance and interaction with the audience. Each of the five has a little something that makes them different from the rest. The most obvious is George Huff because, well, he's the only guy. LaToya London has the best voice, the most power and range. Fantasia Barrino has her raspy voice much like Macy Gray, which is certainly unique. Diana Degarmo has a good voice, but nowhere near that of the other females. That said, he personality is by far the best remaining in the competition. Jasmine Trias is somewhere in the middle; great voice, not as much personality.
Last night the performers each sang two songs with the accompaniment of a band, commemorating the Big Band Era. So here are my very brief thoughts:
Diana Degarmo - Sang "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Get Happy"
She was flat a bunch, especially on the slow parts in the first song, but generally very good. In the second song, which was more vibrant, she really showed good strength and range.
George Huff - Sang "Cheek to Cheek" and "What a Wonderful World"
Starting with his first note, I said "Wow!" I really didn't think that this would be a good genre for him, but he chose perfect songs for his voice. Second, the Louie Armstrong classic is just that, a Classic, a wonderful song. George was not like Louie, but he was still really good. I would almost call it flawless vocally.
LaToya London - Sang "Too Close for Comfort" and some song from Funny Girl
I didn't write much about her, just sat in awe listening to her. I wrote "So smooth, but so strong and so much range." She's incredible!
Jasmine Trias - Sang "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Almost Like Being in Love"
Very good, just kind of blaa... Better energy in the second song, but then missed some notes.
Fantasia Barrino - Sang "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and some Barbara Streisand song
She is very good, great presence. Just very good. I certainly don't think it warranted Paula Abdul's tears.
So, how would I rank the performances?
1.) LaToya London
2.) Fantasia Barrino
3.) George Huff
4.) Diana Degarmo
5.) Jasmine Trias
Who do I think will be in the final three?
Again, they're all good and all deserve whatever comes to them. But I will say that my bottom three choices, George Huff, Diana Degarmo and Jasmine Trias.
Who do I think will be eliminated?
I think that Diana Degarmo will be done.
What do you think? E-mail me.
That is it for today. I hope all is well! If you have any questions or comments on anything you see above, or anything at all, please feel free to e-mail me.
Have yourself a wonder-filled day!
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