BIG NEWS - SUNDAY AUGUST 29...
JASON KUBEL CALLED UP TO TWINS!!
Monday August 30, 2004
TWINS LOSE 2 OF 3 TO ANGELS
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
RANDOM OLYMPIC THOUGHTS
One quick note - On Friday, I discussed the Twins postseason roster options and what I would do. I posted who would make my 25 man roster. However, as it was pointed out to me by dedicated, daily reader Jason Bain, I only included 24 men on that roster. I came up one short. The 25th player I would have on my roster would be Joe Mauer, and if he can't go, then they would have to keep Rob Bowen on the playoff roster. So, thanks Jason.
GRAND (SLAM) WEEKEND!!
Good morning and Happy Monday to everyone!
Well, as I mentioned Friday, I had a bit of a road trip this weekend, but based on what happened, it was well worth the 16 hours in a car! I know that I primarily discuss the Twins and their minor league affiliates on this site, but I find it absolutely necessary to give the Wolf Lake team a little notoriety around the state and country because I think they deserve it! So, please read this and then below you will find my thoughts on the Twins and their affiliates.
I went to the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament, played in Jordan and Belle Plaine. My brother Justin plays for the Wolf Lake Wolfpack. The previous week, they had defeated St Francis 12-3.
The amateur state tournament (Class C) is a 32 team tournament (two teams from each of 16 regions). The first two rounds are single-elimination. That brings you to the final 8. Those teams play a double-elimination tournament.
So, Wolf Lake needed to win on Saturday afternoon to ensure coming back the following weekend. Lets just say I witnessed two incredible baseball games! Games in which the Grand Slam played a big role.
Saturday afternoon - Wolf Lake versus St. Charles Sting
Wolf Lake is scheduled to play St. Charles in the 2nd round at 11:00 a.m. in Jordan. The ball park in Jordan is very impressive. It is actually almost dug into the ground. The top of the left field fence is barely above ground level and there is a road and a railroad track beyond it. If you were to look in from left field past the first base line, there is a huge hill that provides a very nice back drops. They have a nice bleachers but a lot of people just sit on the hill along the left field line.
OK, to the game. Wolf Lake was the visitors on the scoreboard. Their starting pitcher, Shane Hendrickson, is also their leadoff hitter. He took a 2-0 fastball and drove it about 375 over the left field fence for a 1-0 lead. But the Wolfpack exploded for six runs in the 3rd inning to jump to a 7-0 lead. The big blow of that inning came off the bat of Ron Litzau. He deposited a fastball well over the left field fence for a grand slam!! I have written in the past about how he is the smartest player I have ever played ball with, as well as being an absolutely incredible person. The other part about Ron is that he is a pretty good baseball player.
The Wolfpack had plenty of run support for Hendrickson who pitched the complete game. He had also pitched a complete game the week before. They added an insurance run and won 8-0 to advance to double-elimination play.
Now, the starting pitcher for St. Charles was no slouch. Andy Kreidermacher who had pitched for Viterbo (WI) College. He spent his previous summers pitching in the Northwoods League. On the year, he was 7-1 and averaged 16 strikeouts a game. In their first game the week before, he had pitched in their win against Roseau, and had struck out 17. His scouting report (not that amateur teams have scouting reports, but from reading pro scouting reports) on Kreidermacher was that he has the stuff to beat anyone. He was reportedly clocked at 89 mph in his previous start, and from my angle, he was throwing that on Saturday, but with a sharp slider to go with it. The question with him was always control. And Wolf Lake made him work, and he walked a few.
Wolf Lake 8, St. Charles 0.
Sunday afternoon - Wolf Lake versus Elko Express
So, Wolf Lake had advanced into the eight-team double-elimination tournament. In 2003, the team had won their first two state games and got to this point. However, they lost their next two games. This year would be just as difficult. This game was going to be played in Belle Plaine.
And, Elko was throwing another quality pitcher at them in Andrew Lyke. Lyke had pitched (and been quite successful) for four years at Northern State University (the school that produced the Twins 26th round draft pick and Elizabethton star - see below - Deacon Burns) . Lyke didn't throw quite as hard (although probably still up in the mid-80s), but he had some serious movement on his cut fastball (the pitch that makes Mariano Rivera).
On the mound for Wolf Lake was 44 year old veteran Greg Scmid. The people sitting behind me kept looking at him in amazement. On more than one occasion, I heard them utter, "This pitcher is 44 years old, but he doesn't look like it at all." And, he was great! He was throwing hard and mixing in his incredible cutter with a curveball and hitting spots. He gave up 2 runs in 6 1/3 innings. Jake Stoll struck out the lone batter he faced and Pete Marjama went the rest of the way.
Let's just jump to the bottom of the 8th. Down 2-0 and with just five hits on the game, Wolf Lake needed to get a couple runs if they wanted a win. Justin Stohs led off with a single to right field. The next two batters got out. 9-hitter Boone Caughey drilled a single to right center for his second hit of the game. The next move was a second-guessers dream, Elko brought in a relief pitcher. When he was warming up, he threw fairly hard, but it was all straight. Shane Hendrickson came up and drilled the first pitch to left field for a single, loading the bases, still with two outs and still down 2-0.
Luther Kangas came to the plate. Now, if I can say anything about Luther, he is a SABRmetrician's type of player. Takes a lot of pitches, fights off some tough pitches, takes walks, puts the ball in play. He's also a traditional scout's type of player. Short, compact swing, fast, fundamentally sound, and can play all over the field. The sweet swinging lefty earlier had a single up the middle and one to left field. But this at bat, he chose to do something that stat-heads hate; he jumped all over the first pitch...
Now, let me say a quick word about the Belle Plaine field. The dimensions down the right-field line are 305, but they had a taller wall. Centerfield is 435 feet from home plate, and the wall gets deep fast.
OK, Luther Kangas jumped all over the first pitch and drilled a shot about 380 feet into the right centerfield gap. As soon as the ball landed, I saw that two runners had already scored and Hendrickson was approaching third base and heading home, scoring easily. The centerfielder was at the wall, grabbed the ball and relayed the ball into the infield. When player/manager Jeremy Kovash saw this, he sent Kangas home and he scored standing up.
In the bottom of the 9th, Pete Marjama walked the first batter, but dominated the next three to record the win.
But seriously, an insider-the-park grand slam in the bottom of the 8th inning of a state tournament game... that may have been the most exciting baseball play I have ever seen in person, and I have watched a lot of baseball! I literally had goosebumps!
I talk about the pitchers from the other teams, but Wolf Lake has a lot of guys that played well at college themselves. No fewer than seven played at my alma mater, Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. (Isaac Hjermstad, Ben Kvidt, Ron Litzau, Luther Kangas, Jeremy Kovash, Greg Schmid, Justin Stohs)
Ryan Breitbach and draftee (from Midway) Chris Baso were both top-notch performers at North Dakota State University.
Wolf Lake 4, Elko 2.
Well, the Wolf Pack will play in Jordan at 5:00 on Friday night against another non-metro team, the Moorhead Brewers who beat Melrose 11-4 thanks to a 3-3, 2 walk, 2 HR, 8 RBI game from catcher Chris Clemenson. If they win, they will play on Sunday at 11. If they lose, they will play at 7:30 on Saturday night.
Sunday's game finished at about 1:00. We were on the road at 1:15, and I got to my house at 8:45. And, because they won, I will make that trek again next weekend! Might as well, right?
Do you have any questions or comments on this tournament, players, teams, anything? Any thoughts on this at all? E-mail me.
TWINS LOSE 2 OF 3 TO ANGELS
The Angels came into this series as arguably the hottest team in baseball, and they showed why, beating the Twins twice in three games. However, the two losses were reasonably close and barring just a pitch or play in each, the Twins could have won. So Twins fans should in no way feel bad about this series.
Friday - Twins 6, Angels 9
If you look at Brad Radke's numbers, they look awful, and well, they are awful, but if not for a Shannon Stewart gaff, the game is far closer. With runners on 1st and 2nd and ONE out, Radke recorded a fly out to left field. Bother runners advanced, but when it was clear that Stewart thought that was the third out, the runner scored from 2nd base. The Angels went on to score five more runs in that inning and take a big lead. Two points then are 1.) Radke wasn't as bad as his numbers looked, but 2.) a pitcher still needs to pick up his defense when these types of things happen.
Shannon Stewart did go 2-5 and led the game off with his 9th home run of the year.
Jacque Jones was 2-4 with his 21st homer.
Matthew LeCroy hit his 7th home run, his first in a LONG time.
Torii Hunter and Cristian Guzman each had two hit.
Jesse Crain gave the Twins 2 1/3 innings of one-hit ball.
Corey Koskie was hurt again when Curtis Pride slid into 3B. It is listed as a mid-to-high ankle sprain, and if you have ever had one, you can imagine how much that hurts and how long it takes to even feel better. If you saw the play it happened on and saw the immense pain Koskie was in, you can understand. He is expected to miss a week to ten days, but could also be put on the Disabled List. Don't be surprised if Terry Tiffee is called up from AAA in the next couple of days.
And, please don't talk to me about how 'injury prone' Corey Koskie is. I understand that the definition of 'injury prone' is one who gets hurt frequently. But, like Ken Griffey Jr., you can in no way blame Koskie for any of his injuries. They have been happening, to both players, while playing the game right. I just think that "fans" are too hard on these players as individuals because of their injury histories. Be upset at the injury, not at the player!
And, it's not like the Twins could do too much. I mean, Aaron Sele was the opposing pitcher and he always wins against the Twins!
Saturday - Twins 7, Angels 1
Hottest team in baseball meet the best pitcher in the game... what do they say, "Good pitching beats good hitting?" Well, that's exactly what happened on Saturday. Johan Santana was incredible (yes, again!). He went 7 innings and gave up a run on four hits and a walk. The Angels don't strike out much meaning Santana had just six strikeouts.
The fact that the game was nationally televised may help Santana's Cy Young chances.
Juan Rincon and Grant Balfour each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
Augie Ojeda started at 2B The light-hitting utility infielder came through with a 3-4 day, including a 9th inning home run.
Jacque Jones had two "Web Gems" and hit his 22nd homer, a three run shot.
Shannon Stewart, Michael Cuddyer and Torii Hunter each had two hits.
Sunday - Twins 2, Angels 4
Adam Kennedy just has the Twins numbers. Yesterday, it was a game winning, two run homer off Juan Rincon in the bottom of the 9th. Two years ago, he hit three homers in the final game of the ALCS to almost single-handedly eliminate the Twins. And in between, he continues to hit well, including some big, "clutch" hits.
A lot of times, people use the term "Twins Killer" too often. I mean, Mike Mussina is a Twins Killer, but he is great no matter who he pitches against. I remember people talking about how Edgar Martinez just kills the Twins. Well, he can hit. Period. Against anyone. To use the term "Twins Killer" in my opinion, a player has to be non-good in general, but seem to come up big against the Twins. Adam Kennedy fits that mold. The one I remember killing the Twins when I was younger was Lance Johnson.
Carlos Silva gave up a run in five innings. Joe Roa wasn't good giving up doubles to Vlad Guerrero and Jose Guillen to score a run. JC Romero got five outs and only walked one. Juan Rincon pitched a perfect, three-strikeout 8th inning, but walked Troy Glaus with an out in the 9th before giving up the Kennedy homer.
Cristian Guzman was the only Twin with multiple hits. He was 2-3 with an RBI.
Justin Morneau is too good! Sure, he was just 1-8 in the series, but the home run alone was impressive, and I know Aaron Sele didn't want to throw him a strike in Game 1.
Jose Offerman came off the bench and had a great at bat which resulted in a single.
The Twins now will enjoy an off day before starting a series at the Dome against the Texas Rangers. Jason Kubel has already been called up, with Jesse Crain being sent back down to Rochester. Since the Redwings season ends in just a week, he will be back up shortly. Because of the rules of playoff rosters, it is possible that Jesse Crain could still be on that roster. He could take Joe Mays' spot.
AL Central Standings
Minnesota Twins 72-58
Cleveland Indians 66-66 7.0
Chicago White Sox 63-65 8.0
It will be an interesting couple of days. Will the Twins try to make a claim and make a trade? Any thoughts on the Twins, e-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Friday - REDWINGS 3, Ottawa 5 - Scott Baker started and went six innings. He allowed five earned runs on seven his and two walks, and struck out three. Joe Beimel and Willie Eyre each pitched a scoreless relief inning. Kevin West (pictured)went 3-4 with his third homer and a double. Terry Tiffee had a double.
Saturday - REDWINGS 3, Ottawa 1 - The Redwings had just two hits but still managed to squeak out a win. Michael Restovich hit his 20th homer and drove in two of the runs. JD Durbin came back from an embarrassing start with a solid one. He went six innings and gave up just an unearned run on seven hits and three walks. Aaron Fultz three two scoreless innings. Beau Kemp pitched a perfect ninth for his 2nd save.
Sunday - REDWINGS 3, Ottawa 0 - Dave Gassner recorded his International League Leading 15th win. He pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk. Joe Beimel and Willie Eyre combined for a perfect innings.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Friday - ROCKCATS 4, Bowie 2 - Francisco Liriano has pitched well since moving up to AA. But yesterday, he finally recorded his first Win there. He went 5 innings and gave up two runs on 8 hits and 2 walks while striking out five. Jason Miller was perfect the next two innings, with three strikeouts. Bobby Korecky picked up his 27th Save with two perfect innings with five strikeouts. Seth Davidson was 2-4 with a triple. Garrett Jones was 2-4 with his 31st double and 26th home run.
Saturday - ROCKCATS 1, Bowie 5 - Ryan Owens had a double, the lone extra-base hit among five Rockcat hits. Colby Miller went 7 innings and gave up five runs on eight his and three walks. Jim Abbott pitched a scoreless 8th.
Sunday - ROCKCATS 4, Bowie 3 - Henry Bonilla improves to 11-9 with his seven inning, three run performance. He gave up five his but walked none. Again, not a strikeout pitcher, Bonilla recorded just two Ks. Travis Bowyer pitched a scoreless 8th. Bobby Korecky, the Twins minor league player of the week, was perfect in the 9th for his 28th save. James Tomlin went 2-5. Ryan Owens was 2-4 with his 6th homer. Garrett Jones was 2-4 with his 27th homer. Jake Mauer was 2-3 with a double.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Friday - MIRACLE 2, Dunedin 1 - Justin Olson started, but went just 1 1/3 innings. Manny Tejada replaced him and pitched the next 6 1/3 innings. He gave up one run on four hits and a walk. He struck out 8 in improving to 4-4 with a 3.65 ERA. Pat Neshek grabbed his 10th save with 1 1/3 innings of one-hit ball.
Saturday - MIRACLE 1, Dunedin 4 - Nick Blackburn pitched some innings Saturday. He went 6 2/3 innings and gave up three runs on 8 hits and a walk. Jannio Gutierrez was 4-4 against batters he faced. Matthew Hines gave up a run in his inning. Felix Molina had two of the Miracles five hits.
Sunday - MIRACLE - NO GAME SCHEDULED
SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
Friday - SWING 2, Peoria 5 - The Swing had just six hits. Kyle Phillips' double was the only extra-base hit. Errol Simonitsch went 3 innings and didn't give up a run. Chris Schutt came in and went 2.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. Julio DePaula went the next 1.2 innings and gave up two runs on three hits and two walks. Eric Brandon went 1.2 innings and gave up a run.
Sunday - Game 1 - SWING 8, Peoria 4 - Saturday's match up was rained out and moved to Sunday. In the first game, Justin Jones got another start. He went 4.2 innings and gave up two runs on three hits. He still walked four and hit one. Angel Garcia went the next 1.1 innings and allowed two more runs. Peter Tautor did pitch a scoreless 7th. The big news of this game was the return to the lineup of Matt Moses. He DHed and went 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Mark Zamojc went 2-2 with 2 walks. Alex Garcia was 2-4. Kyle Phillips hit his 11th home run.
Sunday - Game 2 - SWING 5, Peoria 4 - Adam Harben is a top pitching prospect for the Twins. He improved to 9-7 with a 3.07 ERA. He went five innings and gave up four runs (3 earned) on five hits and five walks, and struckout three. Jay Sawatski picked up his 4th save with two shutout innings. Denard Span went 3-3 with a walk. Brock Peterson was 2-4 with a double. Scott Whitrock hit his 13th home run.
E-TWINS 3, Pulaski 4 - Luke Hughes had two of the E-Twins seven hits. Only a double by Javier Sanchez went for extra-bases. Kyle Waldrop went seven innings. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits and no walks. He struck out six.bn gave up a run in his inning.
E-TWINS 14, Princeton 3 - David Shinskie was the recipient of a lot of run support. He improves to 7-3 after this five inning, two hits, one (unearned) run ball. But the offense was the story. Johnny Woodard was 3-4 with a triple, his 7th homer and four RBI. Deacon Burns was 2-4 with a walk, triple, and his 10th homer, and three RBI. Matt Tolbert batted second and was 2-3 with 3 walks and his third home runs.
E-TWINS 10, Princeton 8 - Trevor Plouffe led with a 4-6 day. Deacon Burns was 3-6 with his 11th homer. Javier Sanchez was 2-5. Johnny Woodard hit his 8th homer on a 2-5 day. Jay Yaconetti was 2-4 with his fourth homer. John Williams started and gave up seven earned runs in just 2.1 innings. Jeff Mousser came in and in 2.2 innings, gave up just one hit. Kevin Culpepper gave up a run on 2 hits and 3 walks in 1.2 innings. Frank Mata gets the win with 2.1 innings of shutout ball, including 3 strikeouts.
DREAM TEAM - Welp, dream team lost to Argentina. It certainly was not a surprise. Team USA was not known for its defense, so who was going to stop Manu Ginobili? Well, they went with no one and Manu scored 29. Team USA did rebound to win the bronze medal, beating Lithuania, a team which had beaten them earlier in the week.
NATIONAL PRIDE, OR ARROGANCE? - Remember when the Olympics was all about goodwill and those human interest stories that make you feel good? Oh, those were the days! Now, it seems it is all about commercialism and medal count. The US is happy because it came away with more than 100 medals. Well, I am more excited for Israel who won just one medal, but it was its first ever. America should win a lot of medals. I mean, there are what 350 million people in this country?
No, to me, the Olympics has become incredibly political. Everything is a scandal. Why should that Hamm guy have to give up his Gold Medal? Let them share it. That's why "sports" that don't keep score shouldn't be considered sports. When it is left to judges, it is set up for controversy! I mean, can you imagine the Twins and Angels going out and playing their designated nine innings, but instead of the scoreboard dictating the winner, a panel of judges get to grade each team and determine who they want to give the win to.
My point, lay off Team USA men's basketball team. And certainly lay off those NBA stars who chose not to play in the Olympics. Lay off the men's and women's 400 meter relay teams. And the media coverage just encourages this attitude. It is rather annoying
Oh, I do have to note that the commercials during the Olympics were generally VERY good!
And that rhythmic floor dancing thingy was pretty interesting!
OK, on that note, I am going to call it a day. Have yourself a great week!
As always, if you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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