Monday, June 21, 2010
Monday Morning Notebook
I apologize for some inconsistent blogging of late. Things are crazy and over the weekend, I barely touched the computer, which was nice as well. But I do want to give you something to read on this lovely Monday, the first day of summer. The Twins have an off day today before starting a three game series in Milwaukee against the Brewers. It comes on the heels of a terrific weekend of baseball in Philadelphia.
No, not all was good in the City of Brotherly Love. I mean, the starts of Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey on Friday night and Saturday afternoon left plenty to be desired. Neither was able to get out of the 2nd inning. Fortunately, the Twins got nice, extended performances from Jesse Crain (2.1 shutout innings) on Friday night and Jeff Manship (4.1 innings of 1 run, 2 hit ball) on Saturday. Friday night’s game wasn’t as close as the 9-5 final score would indicate, but the late comeback attempt maybe had some effect. On Saturday, the Twins were behind 9-4 going into the bottom of the 9th inning. Jim Thome came to bat as a pinch hitter and got another standing ovation from the Philly crowd. He proceeded to hit a two-run home run off of Jose Contreras. A Denard Span single cut the lead to two runs. When Joe Mauer came up with a runner on and two outs, the hope was that he could slap another single and give Justin Morneau a chance. Instead, Mauer returned to his 2009 form and drilled a long home run to dead centerfield to tie the game. The game went to the 10th inning and the team was out of pinch hitting options. Drew Butera was on the bench and got to hit for the pitcher to lead off the inning. He proceeded to uncoil for his first home run, a huge shot to left field that gave the Twins a lead. Jon Rauch came in and got the first two outs, but long-time Twins killer Ross Gload came up and drilled a line drive over the fence in right to tie the game. Then in the 11th, after Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau walks, Jon Rauch was asked to bunt. On his third attempt, he was successful. But I have no idea why the Phillies chose to pitch to Delmon Young who hit an infield single to deep shortstop to score Mauer with the go-ahead run. Then Matt Tolbert doubled in two runs to give a 13-10 lead. Rauch was able to finish the job in the bottom of the inning and the Twins had their most improbable win of the year.
We had our monthly TwinsCentric Viewing Party on Saturday and it was well attended. Even when the Twins got behind, it was a fun event and people were talking about baseball and the team. It was a fairly quiet crowd until the top of the 9th inning. When Mauer’s home run ball left his bat, no one responded. It was eerily quiet. Apparently we have all grown accustomed to Target Field’s affect on balls hit to centerfield. When it actually landed, in the outfield seats, the Tavern erupted. Now, I’m not one to react too much while watching games. I generally don’t clap or yell, and just calmly watch. When Butera came to bat in the top of the 10th, Andrew Bryz-Gornia asked the crowd, “Why is he batting?” One pitch later, even I was jumping in the air, yelping and slapping high-fives with the TwinsCentric party crowd. I looked over at Andrew and yelled laughingly, “That’s why!” HA! When Ross Gload came out, it was Dan Wade who said, ‘This guy has been a major Twins killer.” In the 11th, we were all trying to manage along with the game. Do you walk Morneau to bring up Rauch with one out but move Mauer to 2B? Do you have Rauch bunt or just stand there so he doesn’t bunt into a double play. With 1st base open, why pitch to the Twins hottest hitter, Delmon Young?’
And yes, it’s true as Aaron Gleeman tweeted. I missed the final pitch of the game, one that struck out Ryan Howard, because Dan Wade and I were on our phones, looking to find the name of the Amanda Bynes movie that was on one of the other TVs in the room. It was She’s the Man.
As I mentioned in my podcast last night, that may have been the most exciting game since Game 7 of the 1991 World Series!! OK, that may be slight hyperbole and exaggeration, but oh well. It was a lot of fun.
And then the Twins absolutely needed someone to pitch on Sunday, someone who could eat some innings and help rest that bullpen. Carl Pavano definitely did just that. He gave the Twins a nine inning, complete game win against that vaunted Phillies lineup. He mixed and matched and had terrific movement. It was his best start of the season, and maybe of his year in a Twins uniform. It certainly was timely. The Twins were able to knock Phillies starter Roy Halladay around. The right-hander gave up four runs (3 earned) on 11 hits in eight innings. Justin Morneau and Denard Span each homered.
One thing that was obvious was that I now understand how Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and others have such high home run totals over the previous years. That stadium is the anti-Target Field. Popups and not-necessarily-well-hit balls turn into home runs there.
Speaking of the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast, last night’s show was a lot of fun. In fact, I almost wish we had scheduled another hour! Topper Anton of Curve For a Strike helped me out by running the switchboard. He was in Philadelphia for Saturday’s exciting game. Also, Travis Aune of Travis Twins Talk was a guest. The Twins gave us plenty to talk about, so listen to it and enjoy.
Speaking of Travis, be sure to tune in to his Travis Talks Minnesota Sports Podcast tonight where he will talk plenty of Twins, but also discuss the Minnesota Timberwolves draft options.
Here is a quick glance at what happened on Sunday in the Twins minor league system:
Miracle Baseball tweets today that Allan de San Miguel is headed back to AAA while Bruce Pugh and Bobby Lanigan come off the DL. Should we assume that means that Jose Morales is on his way to the Twins? It could. I’m sure that Gardy would love an extra bat in these NL games. But it could just be that Wilson Ramos has a mild strain of his oblique and they may need to give him a couple of days. This weekend, Toby Gardenhire had to catch the remainder of that Saturday game, according to Jim Mandelaro. Toby G is now hitting .279 at AAA.
· With Jeff Manship with the Twins, Jose Lugo had to make a spot start for the Red Wings on Sunday. He gave up three runs in three innings. Tim Lahey threw three shutout innings. Rob Delaney then gave up three runs in two innings. Kyle Waldrop went a scoreless inning.
· Since he returned from the Twins, Trevor Plouffe has homered in both of his games back with the Red Wings. Yesterday, he hit his 7th home run of the year.
· For New Britain, Joe Benson went 2-5 including his 8th home run of the year, with the Rockcats. Add the four he hit in Ft. Myers and he is tied for the organizational lead with Brock Peterson with 12 home runs on the season. Chris Parmelee added his fourth AA home run. He had two in his brief stint in Ft. Myers.
· Deolis Guerra gave up two runs (1 earned) in six innings on Sunday. His battery-mate, Danny Lehmann went 3-4 in the game as well.
· The Miracle didn’t play on Sunday. On Saturday, Shooter Hunt went just 1.2 innings and gave up three runs on no hits. He walked five before being replaced by Andrei Lobanov. The lefty from Moscow came in and threw 4.1 scoreless innings in relief.
· I think it’s fair to say that Angel Morales is working through an adjustment phase in his early Florida State League games. So far, he is 2-14 with nine strikeouts.
· The Midwest League All Star game is on Tuesday night, and their regular season games will begin again on Thursday.
· The Appalachian League schedule begins on Tuesday night. Elizabethton will be in Bristol.
· The GCL League starts on Tuesday as well. The GCL Twins will host the GCL Orioles.
· I will try to get rosters for the two Extended league teams although as more and more draft picks sign, those rosters will continue to change. If Miguel Sano has played in his last DSL Twins game and is on his way to Florida to play for the GCL Twins, he ends with a hitting line of .341/.444/.629 with two doubles, a triple and three home runs. He walked eight times and struck out 14 times in 52 plate appearances. Jorge Polanco is hitting just .213 in the DSL so far.