Friday, June 13, 2003
The Secret of Their Success
I think the Twins found the perfect formula to winning games! Get a scoreless first inning pitched by the starter (in last nightís case, Kenny Rogers), then score 7 runs in the bottom of the first. Thatís called getting things off on the right foot. For the crowd, thereís not much better than a lead-off single (this time by Lew Ford) followed by a Cristian Guzman ball in the gap for a triple! Corey Koskie walked. After Bobby Kielty got out, Doug Mientkiewicz walked to load the bases. Dustan Mohr singled in Koskie for the 3rd run of the inning. That brought up AJ Pierzynski who proceeded to absolutely crush a Darren Oliver pitch well over the baggie in right field. That gave the Twins the 7-0 lead.
Just a comment about Darren Oliver. I used to think he was a pretty good pitcher, and he wasnít really terrible until the last few years. But now, wow! Heís throwing a fastball between 84 and 87 miles per hour. He may have a little bit of a cutter, moving in on righties, and a pretty easy to pick up curve ball. That said, the Twins didnít score another run off Oliver the next four innings.
In the bottom of the 6th inning, AJ led off with a double. With 2 strikes, oft-maligned Luis Rivas grounded out to second base, advancing Pierzynski to third base. Lew Ford drilled a single to left field to score AJ for the Twins 8th run. Luis Rivas gets bashed a lot because his numbers arenít up-to-par. He doesnít walk enough so his on-base percentage isnít real high, and heís primarily a slap-singles hitter, so his slugging percentage isnít real high. However, if Rivas does the little things that a slap-style hitter should do, like advancing runners, he can still be productive and help the team win ball games even with sub-par numbers.
In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Rockies brought in Javier Lopez, a submarining southpaw. He gave up an infield single to Corey Koskie, followed up by a home run to Matthew Lecroy. After Bobby Kielty grounded out, Doug Mientkiewicz singled to left, Dustan Mohr singled to center, and AJ Pierzynski hit another long bomb. Another no-doubter! Luis Rivas singled up the middle, and Lew Ford hit a single for his 4th hit of the game. Corey Koskie added a double scoring both Rivas and Ford (Twins lead 15-2). Previous to this outing, Lopez had given up 12 hits in 30+ innings and his ERA was 0.72. He gave up 8 last night in just 2/3 of an inning. His ERA is now 3.16. At this point, they finally were nice enough to take him out of the game in favor of former Twin Todd Jones.
Now, I didnít even mean to mention how well (or non-well as the case may be) Lopez pitched tonight. The point of me even bringing his name up was to clarify that he does not double as the Atlanta Braves catcher Javier (Javy) Lopez. That Javy is having an absolute monster season so far. Maybe I notice how well heís playing because he is the catcher for both of my fantasy baseball teams. He has been struggling with injuries the last four seasons, but came back healthy this season and down 25 pounds from last season. Last year, his numbers were way down (.233/.299/.372, with 11 home runs) from his career average over 11 seasons (.281/.332/.478, with 171 home runs). This year, heíll probably go to his 3rd All-Star game because he is having an amazing comeback season! His numbers to this point of the season are .314/.335/.728 with 19 home runs. At that pace (and barring further injury), heíll end the season 49 home runs and 96 RBI. Now, I donít think the Braves even expect that.
As a matter of fact, Lopez becomes a 10/5 man in mid-July. (this means a player who has played 10 seasons in the major leagues including 5 consecutive with his current team. At that point, heíll have earned the right to say no to being traded. Lopez came up for cups of coffee with the Braves in 1992 and 1993 before coming up for good in 1994.) Apparently, theyíre working the phones in an attempt to trade Lopez before that time. In the offseason, they traded Kevin Millwood to the Phillies for C Johnny Estrada. Yes, the Braves got ripped off. But, Estrada could be very good! His numbers at Richmond, the AAA affiliate of the Braves are very impressive (.356/.429/.540) with 5 home runs and 34 RBI in 163 ABís. Lopez is doing one of two things: Either he is earning a big contract in the offseason, or, heís increasing his trade value for the Braves. Itís a situation worth watching!
By the way, Kenny Rogers performance tonight was great, just what the Twins needed. Their bullpen has been taxed the last few weeks, especially LaTroy Hawkins. Rogers gave the Twins 8 quality innings, giving up just 3 runs. Tony Fiore was used again in the mop up role for the 9th inning.
Anyway, final score: Twins 15, Rockies 3 (And another series win!). Great game, and good rest for not only the bullpen, but for starters Jacque Jones and Torii Hunter. AJ was 3-4, with a double, 2 homers and 7 RBIs! Matthew Lecroy added a homer and was 3-5. Hunterís CF replacement Lew Ford went 4-5, raising his batting average from .222 to .375. Cristian Guzman, Corey Koskie and Dustan Mohr had 2 hits a piece.
By the way, Twins Fans, we can thank Barry Bonds. Yes, Thank Barry Bonds. Down 4-2 in the 9th inning to the White Sox, Bonds hit a 2 run homer off Bartolo Colon to tie the game. Later, Rich Aurilia hit a grand slam to give the Giants an 8-4 win. Led by the resurgence of Frank Thomas, the White Sox have actually been playing well lately.
The Royals were rained out after 3 innings of their game with the Diamondbacks. No make up date is scheduled, but if it looks like itíll affect either teamís playoff chances, theyíll play it in September.
So, updated standing show the Twins still in first place heading into their weekend series with the Diamondbacks. They have a 5 game lead over the Royals and an 8 game lead on the White SoxÖ
Whatís up for the weekend?
Here are the pitching matchups versus the Diamondbacks.
Friday night - Johan Santana (3-1, 2.49 ERA) vs. Brandon Webb (3-1, 2.20 ERA)
Saturday night - Joe Mays (7-3, 5.21 ERA) vs. Miguel Batista (3-3, 2.87 ERA)
Sunday afternoon - Brad Radke (5-6, 5.61 ERA) vs. Elmer Dessens (4-4, 5.24 ERA)
Both Randy Johnson (knee) and Curt Schilling (hand) are on the Disabled List, so we may think the Twins are lucky, and they are. I mean, add Pedro Martinez, and you have the 3 most dominant pitchers in baseball today. But, look again at the ERAís of the D-Backs starters, especially Webbís and Batistaís. Brandon Webb is a rookie who has been called up a couple of times this year already, and every time done quite well. Miguel Batista may be better known for throwing at Tino Martinez earlier this season and being suspended 10 games for their brawl. However, he continues to pitch quite well, regardless of what position Arizona manager, Bob Brenly, puts him in. As always, winning 2 out of 3 would be a success!
Roger Clemens (6-4, 3.81 ERA) will make his fourth attempt at career win number 300 when he pitches Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals and Jason Simontacchi (4-3, 6.56 ERA) in Yankees Stadium.
Game 5 of the NBA Finals is Friday night! All tied up at 2 games a piece, itís down to a 3 game series the San Antonio Spurs and the New Jersey Nets. In said 3 game series, game 1 will be in San Antonio, game 2 in New Jersey, and if necessary, game 3 would be back in San Antonio. I predicted last week that the Nets would win the series in 6 games, so I could still be right. Fact is, whoever wins game 5 Friday night should win the series, but for the first time in a few years, we actually have a series worth watching (just not when the Twins are on! Good thing I have 2 TVs in my living room!).
Well, this is short, but itís another Friday and the weekend is soon upon us!! I hope everyone has a great weekend!!!
Again, any feedback would be great and appreciated! So, if you have anything to say, please e-mail me!
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