Monday, August 18, 2008
Monday Game Notes
(The Word Press page for this article can be found here)
I've been to enough Twins games this year that off the top of my head, I can't remember them losing any of the other games, until last night. It was a very frustrating game to watch. It is always fun to be at the ball park though. Here are thoughts on the Twins los and the minor league update.
Note - I will again be heading out of town tomorrow night through the coming weekend. I am going to try to keep the site updated at least through Thursday night as possible, so bear with me. I will try to post here, but also be sure to bookmark and check the other site, the TalkinTwinsBB.wordpress.com site, for updates.
TWINS 2, A'S 3
This game started out with a bang. On the first pitch, Mark Ellis hit a home run over the left field fence. I know a lot of people are upset about that, but really, it's probably something that should happen more often. How often will a leadoff hitter swing at the first pitch? How often, even if a pitch is right down the middle, will a batter hit a home run? All pitchers want to throw the first pitch of the game for a strike. So I am not all that upset that Ellis homered. It was interesting though, I had forgotten until listening to the postgame show while driving home that it was the second straight game Blackburn allowed the game's first batter to homer. Johnny Damon did last week.
Blackburn did give up three runs early, but when he got a double play ball to end the 8th inning, he still had just 99 pitches, 2/3 for strikes. That was a pretty veteran outing by Blackburn that likely goes unnoticed because he isn't a veteran. In other words, had Livan Hernandez given up (only?) three runs in the first few innings and gone eight innings, all we would be hearing about is how he is an innings eater. So all in all, great start for Nick Blackburn even though he did take the loss.
I have to be honest. I'm as big a Jesse Crain supporter as there is, but of late, he is just a notch better than Matt Guerrier. Like Guerrier, Crain has had to be used a lot too. Add to that the reminder that he did miss all of last year with shoulder surgery. He has to be running on fumes. There are the excuses. Tonight, he had me about falling asleep on the railing in front of me. I realize he is a 'maximum effort' pitcher, but geez, throw a strike once in awhile. You've got a 95 mph fastball, an 89-90 mph slider and a good curveball in the upper 70s, throw them over the plate and let the hitter get himself out. How much slower would he throw if he had a somewhat less violent delivery and how much better control would he have? I don't know the answer to those questions, but I think they're worth looking into. He gave up a single and then walked Kurt Suzuki after getting ahead 1-2. I am not worried about Crain (or Guerrier for that matter) long term, but I certainly am in the short-term.
Fortunately, Craig Breslow came in with two on and none out and got a bunt popped up to third base, a broken bat fielder's choice and a strikeout to get the team out of that rough spot.
And that was immediately after the Twins scored their two runs to cut the lead to one. What a crazy play. Joe Mauer tripled over the LF head and the ball rolled back toward the infield. A run was going to score, but Mauer decided to go for third, a risky move. He made it and the ball hit him and went into the dugout, allowing Mauer to score as well.
Hey Delmon, stay down on the ball. It's as if you're swinging to get to your tip toes! Keep your head down too. I hear that helps!
The Twins took four called third strikes. Each one was argued (Mauer, Kubel, Punto and then Harris to end the game). I remember when I played in Little League and really every level growing up... "don't go down looking." If it's close, swing the bat, especially in big situations. I could understand Kubel's. It was early in the game and the team was still learning the strike zone. Punto's was a little less OK. The home plate ump had clearly shown a larger strike zone. Then again, I am certain that if I were to look up most called third strikes over the last three years, Mr. Punto's would certainly be at the top. And then Brendan Harris took a called third strike to end the game. I didn't have the angle, but if it was anywhere near the strike zone, swing the bat!
When the A's brought in Huston Street to replace Alan Embree with Jason Kubel on first and two outs, I fully expected Gardy to pinch hit Mike Lamb for Randy Ruiz. In my mind, that is the role of Mike Lamb on this team and if he isn't going to be brought up in that situation, why is he on the roster? Of course, Ruiz responded with a broken bat double, and Lamb came in to pinch hit for him the next time that spot in the order was due up, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Lamb drew a four pitch walk. So, I disagreed with Gardy and I was wrong.
Adam Everett did have an error in the second inning when he short-hopped Justin Morneau with a throw to first base. But that was a tough play and he had to rush the throw. In the third inning, Mark Ellis hit a ball that had 'Single Up The Middle" written all over it, and Everett got to it, spun and got Ellis at first. That was an incredible play. Of course, with his injury luck this year, Everett's wrist was at the receiving end of a line drive to the dugout, causing him to leave the game.
During that Jesse Crain time of the game, with my head in my hand, I found myself perusing the lower bowl of the Dome below me. I was noting all of the different Twins jerseys. There were a lot of Mauer's and Morneau's. There were several Gomez's and a bunch of Neshek's. There were a few Killebrews. I would say, however, that the third most popular shirt in the crowd may have been Hannahan. Jack Hannahan has been the A's primary 3B the last two years (with Eric Chavez chronically injured). He, like Joe Mauer, is a Cretin-Derham Hall alum. He went on to star for the Gophers. Anyway, there were a lot of Hannahan fans in attendance with green shirts that had his number, 22, in the back, with "Hannahan" on top of it and 'Is Our Man" on the bottom of it. It was nice to see him get a nice solid single to left in his second at bat.
Speaking of Hannahan, I don't know if he has any children or not, but what if he had a daughter named Hannah? Even better, what if he had twin daughters and named the Anna and Hannah? Tongue-Twisters are fun!
Denard Span was 2-4 and really hit the ball hard three times. After his called third strike in the first inning, Mauer responded with three straight hits.
Typically the gates to the Dome have opened two hours before the first pitch. Last night's game was at 7:10 and the gates didn't open until about 5:35. I couldn't get an explanation for that.
Tomorrow night, the Twins will send Kevin Slowey to the mound looking for his tenth win. He will go against lefty Sean Gallagher, probably the prize acquisition from the Cubs in the Rich Harden trade that also netted the A's Matt Murton and Erik Patterson (who looks - and plays - very similarly to his older brother Corey).
Oh yeah, I know I take a lot of grief for my stance on fans doing The Wave. First, I've never said that they can't, just that it's dumb! Of course they have the right to. Personally, I don't get it, and I don't think it's fun and frequently, it ruins my site of the game. Last night, the crowd again did the wave, but the timing was what bothered me. The wave started with the Twins out in the field. As if it isn't hard enough to pick up a fly ball in the ceiling or find a line drive in the lights, now they have to contend with the distraction of the crowd.
Any other thoughts on the Twins
Twins Minor League Updates
Monday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Evan Bigley, Elizabethton Twins
Monday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Bobby Lanigan, Elizabethton Twins
Monday – Rochester – No Game Scheduled.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Monday – New Britain – No Game Scheduled.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Monday – Miracle – Game Canceled due to concerns over Tropical Storm Fay.
Monday – Beloit 1, Cedar Rapids 8 – How fun must it have been for Snappers fans to get to see Ben Revere followed by Alexi Casilla down in Cedar Rapids last night? I think that would have to be considered a pretty dynamic top of the order. Revere went 2-5 with his 44th stolen base during the game. Casilla went 1-3 with two walks. JimCrikket was at the game and commented that Casilla looked good. His hit came left handed, and he made a great defensive play in which he sprawled on the infield, on his hands and came out alright. Depending on the severity of the Adam Everett injury, Casilla could be called back up sooner than later. Greg Yersich went 2-4. David Bromberg started and gave up two runs (1 earned) on four hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out seven. Chris Anderson then came in and gave up six runs (5 earned) on eight hits and a walk in just 1.1 innings. Danny Hernandez got the final two outs on strikeouts.
Monday – E-Twins 16, Princeton 4 – Evan Bigley certainly is doing his best to move himself up the SethSpeaks.net Top 50 Prospect list! In this game, he hit his 13th and 14th home runs and drove in five runs. Jon Waltenbury went 3-6 with his 21st double. Dominic de la Osa went 2-5 with a walk and his 12th double. Nathan Hanson went 2-5 with a walk. Danny Rams went 2-5 with his eighth double and three RBI. Bobby Lanigan recorded his sixth win with six shutout innings. He gave up just three hits, walked none and struck out seven. Kyle Carr struck out three in two scoreless frames. Nathan Fritz gave up four runs on four hits in one inning.
GCL TWINS TALK
Monday – GCL Twins 8, GCL Pirates 2 – Jean Mijares picked up his first win of the year in this game. The Venezuelan gave up two runs on five hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out eight. Michael Mopas got the three innings save. Daniel Ortiz, the Twins 3rd round choice in 2008 and an OF from Puerto Rico (sound familiar?), went 2-4 with his second homer. Michael Gonzalez went 2-4 with his first triple and three RBI. Juan Sanchez hit his ninth and tenth doubles and walked once. Herbert Lara hit his first home run. Aaron Hicks was 1-3 with a walk and his fourth homer of the season.
Again, thanks for stopping by and always feel free to e-mail me or comment below.