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Tag:T-Unit
Posted on: July 6, 2009 8:27 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2009 8:36 pm
 

It took the Tigers 16 innings...

It took the Tigers 16 innings to keep the Twins from tying them for 1st in the division. 

By: Christopher Torola

The three game series the Twins played against the Tigers is what baseball is all about. Each game was relatively close, with the possible exception of Sundays game. It seemed that any mistake a player made at any point was likely to cause your team the game.

The Tigers took the series opener in what was truly a marathon of a game. Kevin Slowey pitched only three innings and gave up six runs, putting the Twins behind right out of the gate. Slowey has since been put on the disabled list, and will have his strained wrist looked at. After giving up a couple runs Tigers manager, Jim Leyland, replaced starting pitcher Luke French with Zack Miner so as not to let the game get away from his team. Miner was able to close out the fifth inning, but only recorded one out while giving up five runs to tie the game. Then in the fourteenth inning, Twins super reliever of June, R.A. Dickey gave up a RBI hit to Placido Polanco one pitch after Poloanco fouled a pitch into his own family jewels. In the top half of the inning Michael Cuddyer hit a RBI single scoring Joe Mauer; however, Justin Morneau got thrown out at third base trying to advance on the throw. Dickey then gave up three more earned runs to Polanco in the sixteenth. The Twins were only able to score one unearned in the top half of the inning, losing a heart-breaker to the Tigers.

Fortunately for the Twins they were able to take the next two games, reducing the Tigers lead in the division to just two games.

Justin Morneau is on a complete tear. He was named player of the week for last week, hitting just shy of .500 and blasting four home runs (including a fountain shot in Kansas City). He was also named to his third straight All-Star game. Although the "fans" selected Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, the players made Justin their top choice.  Joe Nathan, like all pitchers, was selected as one of the coaches picks, and Joe Mauer was picked by the fans to start the game. The only player to receive more votes than Mauer was Derek Jeter, take away what you will from that. Some local fans are upset with the "life-time achievement" pick of Tim Wakefield over over Nick Blackburn, who has lowered his era below the 3.00 mark.

The Twins still have two tough series to get through before the All-Star break though, hosting the Yankees and the White Sox. They will need to play well to hold serve with Detroit, as the Tigers will be hosting the Royals and the Indians.

Posted on: June 29, 2009 6:36 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2009 7:26 pm
 

A big next two weeks for the Twins!

Take what you can get.

By: Christopher Torola

The Minnesota Twins finished inter-league play on a high-note, taking two out of three games against both the Brewers and the Cardnials. Now they move on to some big games. The three game series at Kansas City is important for the Twins. They need to start really beating up on the weaker teams in the division. A sweep of the Royals on the road would do well to get some momentum going into a tough home stand, which may be needed when the Twins welcome the Tigers, Yankees, and White Sox before All-Star weekend.

The Twins had several positive occurrences take place over the last road trip. Francisco Liriano put together a great game, throwing six strike outs and only two earned runs over seven innings for his second win in as many starts. If he can turn around his season in the second half, the Twins pitching staff could make the move from good to formidable. 

The team also seem to get healthy over this trip. Denard Span rejoined the team Friday and picked up right where he left off, scoring five runs over the last four games. Joe Crede played in all six of the last games, getting eight hits, including a home run deep into the left field stands. Michael Cuddyer also played in all six of the last games, scoring three runs and driving in two more.

There is one Twin that just can't manage to stay healthy. After hurting his ribs sliding head first into first base during the first game of the Milwaukee series, Nick Punto met up with the team in Kansas City, after missing the last five games, but is scheduled to play in tonight's game. Despite the fact that Matt Tolbert, who with some regular at-bats last week is now in the midst of a four game hitting streak.

Now that the Twins are back to playing American League games, we can see Jason Kubel go back to DHing, while Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez replace the pitchers in the batting order. This seems to be the healthiest the Twins have been in a long time, and with a tough set of games going into the All-Star break, we should get a good look at what this team is made of.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 28, 2009 11:11 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2009 8:07 pm
 

Where should Go-Go go?

Are the Twins slowing the maturation of Carlos Gomez by not sending him to AAA?


At only 22 years old Carlos Gomez has already shown he is an elite major league center fielder, where so far this year he has a perfect fielding percentage. In his major league career he has more outfield assists then errors. He has also shown the ability to read the ball well off the bat and use his speed to track down hard to get to balls, making several highlight reel catches. He also has a cannon for an arm.

He is showing signs of having excellent base running skills, or at least the raw speed to bunt for base hits, take the extra base, and steal his way into scoring position. In a game against the Red Sox on Wednesday, he attempted to take home in the 7th inning and seeing that Boston catcher George Kottaras was blocking the plate ready to make the tag, Gomez lowered his shoulder and tried to run right through Kottaras. I am not sure how he held onto the ball, but it was great to see the young Twin playing such hard-nosed baseball. It reminded me a lot of former Twins center fielder Torii Hunter. Carlos Gomez has also been compared to A's great Ricky Henderson.

The problem however, is that he has not been able to hit for average at the major league level. Although he has already hit for the cycle in his young career, a sure sign of his raw talent, he has a career batting average of only .250 and a career on base percentage of under .300. So far this year he is hitting just .225, and that leads to the bigger problem...

With the emergence of Denard Span, hitting .317 on the year, Jason Kubel, hitting .340 on the year, and Michael Cuddyer hitting .330 with 7 home runs in May; there just hasn't been much playing time for Gomez. And what he needs is just that, more playing time. He has only started 25 games this year, several of which where as a result of Delmon Young being on bereavement leave for 9 days. Currently Gomez is being used mostly as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.

I believe that the future of the Twins outfield consists of Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, and Delmon Young. The Twins, in my opinion, would be better served sending Gomez down to thier AAA affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings. That way he would get a chance to get a full slate of in game at bats, and continue to work on his excellent potential on the bases. He would then be able work on things like taking pitches and 2 strike hitting with out it costing the big club a win.

As a minor leaguer in the New York Mets system Gomez saw an improvement in batting average every year, at each level. In 2005 playing A ball he has a batting average of .275 and an on base percentage of .331. In 2006 playing AA ball those numbers jumped to a .281 AVG and a .350 OBP. When he played AAA for 36 games in 2007 he got his average up to .286 and his on base percentage to .363. It appears that with work and regular at bats Gomez has shown the ability to make improvements on hitting.

Hopefully the Twins will give their young outfielders all they will need to reach their full potential, because if these emerging stars continue to progress, the Minnesota outfield could be the envy of the bigs for years to come.

Posted on: May 20, 2009 12:15 am
Edited on: May 21, 2009 4:12 pm
 

Twins @ White Sox Games 1 and 2

More of the same In Chicago

Scott Baker and the Twins continue their skid, losing a 5th consecutive game. Baker had one bad inning, giving up 3 earned runs in the second. Including a 2 run homer to Paul Konerko. Mark Buehrle gave up 8 hits, but they were scattered over 7 innings. The Twins had the same problem against the White Sox as they have been having from their #2 hitter. Brendan Harris not only went 0-4, but he also hit into 2 double plays, actually taking away potential runs from Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau

Joe Mauer hit his 7th home run. That is the Twins' 8th of the road trip, and amazingly, they have all been solos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 19, 2009 6:00 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2009 6:04 pm
 

Black hole at the 2 spot

In a year where Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel have been tearing the cover, they seem to be coming up short in the RBI category. That could have a lot to do with the awful play of Twins #2 hitters. Manager Ron Gardenhire has mostly slotted Matt Tolbert, Brendan Harris,  and Alexi Casilla between Span and Mauer. In 161 at bats the 3 have combined for a paltry .192 average, 17 runs, 14 walks, and 36 strike outs. That is more whiffs then walks or hits.

 

So what needs to be done? Here are a few ideas I have. Play Kubel in left field against righties and Delmon Young against lefties. Kubel is hitting .365 against righties and .179 against righties. Last year Young hit .300 against lefties. That would leave the DH spot open and allow rookie switch hitting catcher Jose Morales to play some games at DH and bat 2nd. Morales is batting .333 in 20 games this year. I hate to say it, but the days of Michael Redmond as a backup catcher for the Twins should be over. It has often been said that he would be a great addition to the coaching staff at some point. I say the sooner the better. His legs are too old, and his throws are 2nd is starting to be abused by opposing base-runners.

 

Another possibilty is batting Delmon Young in the 2 spot. He has not been hitting for power since he became a Twin, but has a respectable
 on base percentage. Much better then we have seen in the two hole this year.


And finally, bring back Alexi Casilla. Casilla has seemed to be a permanent resident in the Gardenhire doghouse and was sent to the minors on May 6th. Two things have happened since then. Firstly, Casilla is hitting in the minors, he has a batting average of .312 and an on-base percentage of .380. The second, Joe Mauer is back with the team. You can expect the #2 hitter to see better pitches hitting in front of Mauer.

 

I doubt Morales will stay with the big club for long, and it is too early to give up on Young's power swing, so it seems like it may be time to give Casilla a 2nd chance. He may not deserve it in Gardenhire's eyes, but the Twins sure seem to need it.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 16, 2009 10:23 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2009 11:06 pm
 

Twins @ Yankees - Deja Vu' all over again

 

Deja Vu' all over againIn the first 3 games the Twins have enjoyed late inning leads; however, they have been unable to hold back the Pinstripers. Friday it was Melky with a 2-RBI single off an overused Joe Nathan. Saturday it was A-Rod's first round-tripper in New Yankee Stadium, for an extra inning win. And finally, in spite of a brilliant defensive play at the plate by Joe Mauer, the Yankees had their third straight walk off win, this one courtesy of a Johnny Damon solo home run in the 10th.  

At least the series finale was a different sort a tough loss for the Twins. Glen Perkins pitched atrociously, allowing 6 runs without getting out of the first inning. R.A Dickey came in to stop the bleeding, and pitched 4 1/3 with out allowing a run. The Twins pecked away at the Yankee lead getting the game within 2, until Mark Teixeira hit a solo homer, his 2nd dinger of the game, in the bottom of the 7th. That would be the difference in the game, as the Twins managed to score 2 more, but lost 7-6, in non-walk-off fashion for a change.

On the bright side, The New M&M boys are littering the bleachers with long balls, unfortunately for the Twins, they all seem to be solo shots.

The Twins always seem to have a tough time going to the Bronx, in recent years they have lost 88% of the games they have played there. That being said, they had a legitimate shot at winning in all of the games of this series. The fact that they didn't win in any of them is maddening. 

For those of you who read my blogs this may start sounding like a broken record (or skipping C.D.), but the Twins are only losing games because they are not hitting with runners in scoring position ( 1 - 25 the 1st 3 games of the series) and the bull pen has been unable to close out tight games (bullpen ERA of 9.45 the 1st 3 games of the series). Until one, if not both of those traits change, the Twins will have a hard time staying near the top of the division.

Next up the Twins head Chicago, where in the past we have faired almost as poorly as in New York.

 

Posted on: February 1, 2008 6:51 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2009 4:47 pm
 

Breaking up is hard to do...

I thought we had a good thing going, Johan and I, but it appears that he is moving on. So i find myself wondering how i do the same. The problem is, I've still got all this ''stuff'' around. A jersey, a t-shirt, a bobble head, a larger then life picture of him with Babe the Blue Ox on my fridge, and even this great avatar. Other then that all I have to show for the last few years is a bunch of prospects. I guess I plan to look back to all the good times. A couple shut-outs, a 17 K game, a couple of Cy Young awards, some division titles, ERA titles, strike out titles.... But that was then and this is now, so what do I do? Do I root for Johan Santana while playing for the Mets, I just feel it won't be the same. It has been a tough year for me as a baseball fan. My loyalties are to my Minnesota Twins. But i have now lost my favorite player. My favorite hitter use to be Miguel Cabrera, but now he i a Tiger and i can't be pulling for a division rival. I guess i will just be hoping that Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano pan out. Either way, breaking up is hard to do.

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com