Sunday, September 19, 2009
Sunday Morning Notes
Good Sunday morning!! Well, our favorite baseball team (The Minnesota Twins, in case youíre new) has done its best to make me look like an idiot. I mean, I can do pretty well at that myself, but Iíve been saying the Twins were done for over a month. Why? Well, the Twins simply had not shown an ability to play consistently well enough to put together a string of wins. And when the Twins had won 12 out of 16 games, they were not able to make up any ground on the Tigers. This nine game home stand started with two losses to the Oakland Aís and the news that Justin Morneau would be lost for the rest of the season. So what happened? The Twins have won six games in a row, their longest streak of the season.
On Friday night, it was seven shutout innings from Brian Duensing that set the tone. He was able to wiggle out of some tough situations. Michael Cuddyer gave the Twins a 2-0 lead with a big, two run homer.
On Saturday afternoon, Carl Pavano gave up a lot of singles, but just two runs over his seven innings. He left down 2-1. But in the seventh inning, Jason Kubel came to the plate with the bases loaded following an intentional walk to Joe Mauer (who had hit a line drive into the upper deck in right first for his 28th home run which at the time tied the game at 1-1). With Justin Verlander already over 120 pitches, Kubel blooped a well-placed single to left field that scored Denard Span and Orlando Cabrera who got a great read on the ball. There was a pitching change, and then Michael Cuddyer added to his amazing week by crushing a home run to dead center field to give the Twins their 6-2 win.
†Here are a few thoughts:
∑ Joe Mauer came out of a small mini-slump. I felt the need to be redundant there because most players would not even consider it a slump. Heís been amazing all year, but has really stepped it up.
∑ Michael Cuddyer has completely replaced Justin Morneau at 1B. He has been just fine with the glove, and offensively, he has come up with some big hits and big power numbers. He has hit six homers and driven in 18 runs in September. He has hit four home runs in his last five games. He has driven in 13 runs in his past six games.
∑ Nick Punto has been good in September. He has an OPS of .788 in the month. Again, you are looking for players to step up and do a little bit better than they have. Punto has done that.
∑ The Bullpen Ė Bill Smith deserves a lot of credit for this. Adding Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay has certainly helped the bullpen. Maybe you disagree, but with Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Rauch and Mahay, I donít get quite as nervous, or cynical, when the starters leave with a lead.
∑ Jesse Crain has been terrific! He has not allowed a run in 11.2 innings spanning back to August 25th.
∑ Carl Pavano has made six straight quality starts.
∑ Brian Duensing has four quality starts in his last five starts. The other? Three runs in five innings.† He has completely outpitched what his minor league numbers would indicate he should be, but who cares? Itís something that you just have to run with at this point! Good for him, and Great for the Twins.
Winning on Sunday and keeping the momentum will still be important. Following the game today, the Twins will embark upon a ten game road trip. They will play three games in Chicago against the White Sox, then three games in Kansas City before starting a four game series in Detroit against the Tigers. They will then come home to play their final three games against the Royals. There is still a ton of season left to go. If the Tigers win today, they will have done what they likely hoped to do, avoid a sweep. They will head to Cleveland for three games before going to play three games against the White Sox. They will end their season with seven home games, four against the Twins and three against the White Sox.
World Cup Update:
o Trevor Plouffe went 1-5.
o Rene Tosoni went 0-5 with five strikeouts. Thatís not a great game.
o Luke Hughes was 2-4 with his 2nd double.
o James Beresford went 2-3 with his 4th double and two RBI.
o Liam Hendriks gave up four runs on seven hits in two innings. †
o Nelvin Fuentes struckout one and walked one in 1.1 scoreless innings for Puerto Rico. What a great opportunity for the young pitcher. He is joined on the Puerto Rico by several former big leaguers including Luis Matos, Jose Valentin, Ruben Gotay, Raul Casanova and Alex Cintron.
o Tom Stuifbergen threw seven shutout innings against Great Britain. He allowed five hits, walked none and struck out five.
o Rene Tosoni went 3-5 with his third double and two RBI. †
o Luke Hughes went 3-3 with a walk, his third double and a stolen base.
o James Beresford went 0-4.
o Rene Tosoni was 1-4 with two walks.
o Trevor Plouffe went 1-5.
o Terry Tiffee was 4-5 with his fourth double and two RBI.
∑ Roger, in his Weekly Twins Minor League Report, handed out top hitter and top pitcher awards for each of the Twins affiliates.
∑ Travis †(Travis Twins Talk) began his look at the Twins minor league hitters and pitchers of the year earlier with his selections for Rochester, New Britain and Ft. Myers. Travis also added his choices for each teamís top rookie, biggest surprise and biggest disappointment.
∑ @DarrenWolfson has the Tweet of the Day already this morning: ďBaseball prospectus playoff odds: Det. = 67.5%. #Twins = 30.2%. Note from J. Stark: Twins days spent under .500 this yr (86), over .500 (43)Ē
∑ Minnesota Versus Detroit Day. The Twins hope to sweep the Tigers while the Vikings hope to get an easier win in Detroit against the Lions than they got last year! What will happen?
If you have any opinions, comments or updates, please leave them in the Comments section.