April 4, 2008

Twins Review/Preview, Liriano Update, Minor League Scores

The Twins started with what was at first a very promising series after an opening day loss, and finished it with 3 straight losses. Yesterday, the Angels beat the Twins 5-4.

Kevin Slowey started the game and cruised through the two innings before getting roughed up in the third for 3 runs. He left the game with a strained bicep in the fourth inning and was replaced by Brian Bass. Bass went on to pitch 3.1 innings out of the bullpen, but gave up 2 runs, both of them off of home runs. Juan Rincon, Dennys Reyes and Matt Guerrier finished off the last 2.1 innings with scoreless relief, but the damage had already been done.

The offense just couldn't get anything strong going, despite having the opportunities. They did manage to score 4 runs, but they had enough opportunities to get at least 6-7 with just another single or two. Joe Mauer was the best hitter of the game, going 2-4 with two doubles and a couple of RBI's. Carlos Gomez went 2-4 and came around to score once. Jason Kubel hit a monster home run to the upper deck for his first home run of the season. Delmon Young, Adam Everett, and Brendan Harris also got hits in the game. Justin Morneau continues his struggles, however he did walk once and hit a sacrifice fly for his first RBI of the season. The sac fly was the first ball he's hit out of the infield this season.

The Twins need to capitalize on their attacks. I've seen numerous times this season that a player gets a leadoff hit and only a few of them have ever come around to score. Michael Cuddyer came on in the 9th inning with the tying run 180 feet away and the winning run 270 feet away and he struck out swinging. He has struggled hitting between Mauer & Morneau, I'm not calling for Gardenhire's head yet, but he will have to make a change sometime soon if he doesn't turn it around. He doesn't figure to be there long term anyways, so why not go with the hot hand which is Young. Cuddyer left 5 men on base yesterday, with the way Mauer & Gomez hit the ball in front of him, that's not acceptable in the 3-hole.

Game Ball
Joe Mauer - Catcher

Line: 2-4, 1 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI

Slowey Update

Kevin Slowey was pulled from yesterday's game with a strained right bicep. When the trainers and Ron Gardenhire went out to check on him, they never touched him. Instead they just talked a bit, he tried moving his arm around and after a few words, he was out of the game. The Twins a calling it a day-to-day thing right now, but he'll be reevaluated today. If the worse happens, and he's placed on the Disabled List, Ron Gardenhire shot down the notion of calling up Francisco Liriano:
“We will not adjust his schedule because of something that happens up here. Liriano is on schedule, and he’s going to do what we set out to do, and we will not make any adjustments. Only when Liriano’s ready, and that’s a couple of starts, at least.”
If he does hit the DL, I believe Philip Humber will be recalled to take his spot. But it looks like the Twins will just skip his next start since there's an off-day on Tuesday. We should know more (hopefully) by this afternoon.

Royals-Twins Series Preview
Friday: (LHP) John Bale (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP) Scott Baker (0-0, 0.00)
Saturday: (RHP) Gil Meche (0-0, 4.50) vs. (RHP) Livan Hernandez (1-0, 2.57)
Sunday: (RHP) Brett Tomko (0-0, 4.50) vs. (RHP) Boof Bonser (0-1, 4.50)
The Royals have a lot of momentum coming into this series, winning three consecutive games against the "Powerhouse" Detroit Tigers. The Royals outscored the Tigers 13-5 in their 3-game sweep. The Twins on the other hand lost the last 3 games of the series against the Angels and were outscored 17-8.

Fortunately, the Twins don't have to face Zach Greinke or Brian Bannister, but they will have their hands full with Gil Meche I am sure. Meche went 1-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 3 starts against the Twins in 2007. On the Twins side, Scott Baker was very impressive against the Royals in 2007. The (then) 25-year-old right hander went 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his 3 starts against Kansas City. In his career, Baker is 3-2 with a 2.81 ERA vs. the Royals.

Players to watch

Craig Monroe - OF:
Monroe surprisingly has raked against the Royals in his career. In 286 career at bats vs. the Royals, Monroe has hit .304/.350/.577 with 21 doubles, 19 HR's and 62 RBI's. Monroe is figured to start Friday against the left-hander Bale, but unless he hits well in that game, it might be his only game of the series.

Joe Mauer - C:
Mauer has also had a great career against the Royals. The 24-year-old catcher has hit .320/.403/.483 in 172 at bats. He has also hit 19 extra-base hits, four of them being home runs. Mauer might DH on Saturday as the Twins play an afternoon game after a night game. However, the Twins might choose to start him both games and just choose to rest him on Sunday.

Minor League Scores

Before I begin, I just want to direct people to a few very informative posts regarding the Twins Minor Leagues:

Rochester Red Wings beat the Richmond Braves, 9-5.

Rochester Red Wings opened their season against the defending International League Champions, the Richmond Braves. Glen Perkins started the game for the Twins but allowed 1 run on 3 hits while walking 4 batters in three innings. It's not exactly the start the organization was looking for, however I'm sure he'll get his control under wraps. Casey Daigle, Heath Totten, Ricky Barrett and Bobby Korecky combined for 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, while Julio DePaula and Mariano Gomez combined to give up 3 runs in 2/3 of an inning. Barrett was credited with the win while Korecky picked up his first of what's believed to be many saves.

Denard Span (CF) and Alexi Casilla (SS) were 1 & 2 in the lineup and the two speedsters combined for 4 hits and 3 runs. Casilla also had an RBI. Jose Morales started at catcher and went 1-4 with a run and a walk. Garrett Jones was in right field and had a very good opening day. The 26-year-old exiled prospect went 3-4 with 3 runs scored and had 2 RBI's with his first double and first walk of the season. Randy Ruiz batted in 6th spot and went 2 RBI's including an RBI double, he also walked. Jason Pridie and Matt Macri hit in the 8th and 9th spot of the lineup and both went 1-4 with a run scored and an extra base hit. Pridie's was a double, and Macri's was a triple. Brian Buscher played DH and hit in the cleanup spot and Howie Clark started at second base hitting in the 7th spot and both went 0-4 at the plate with a run batted in.

Tonight: (LHP) Brian Duensing (0-0, 0.00) will face off against (LHP) Jo-Jo Reyes (0-0, 0.00) of the Braves.

New Britain Rock Cats lost to the Portland Sea Dogs, 3-0.

The first three pitchers for the Twins were fantastic. Ryan Mullins pitched 5 scoreless innings, surrendering just 2 hits and walks while striking out 3. Zach Ward and Jason Miller followed with scoreless innings of their own. Miller struck out 2 of the three batters he faced. The Rock Cats surrendered their first run in the 8th inning. It was an RBI single off of Armando Gabino. The 9th inning was also rocky for the Rock Cat bullpen while Ben Julianel gave up 2 runs on a single and a double.

The Rock Cats offense was pretty much non-existent. Drew Butera and Matt Moses were really the only bright spots for the Cats. Butera went 2-3 with a walk as the catcher. Moses went 1-4 with a double while playing left field. Trevor Plouffe and Felix Molina were the only other batters to get hits in the game. The "Big Boppers" David Winfree, Brock Peterson and Erik Lis went 0-10 with 6 strikeouts.

Tonight: (RHP) Anthony Swarzak (0-0, 0.00) will face off against (RHP) Michael Bowden (0-0, 0.00) of the Sea Dogs.

Ft. Myers Miracle lost to the Sarasota Reds, 8-3.

I listened to the game and Francisco Liriano's start was far from stellar. The 24-year-old left-hander lasted just 5 1/3 innings and gave up 4 runs on 6 hits and two walks. He did strike out 8 batters however, which is very encouraging. He also worked his pitch count to 82 pitches, 49 of those were thrown for strikes. Obviously he still has plenty of control problems, but that's typical in Tommy John pitchers. Regardless of the line, the Twins were looking at his pitch count, and the fact that he's getting closer to 100 pitches has to encourage the Twins organization.

Cole Devries who will take over for Liriano when he's promoted to Rochester was dreadful in his first appearance in the Florida State League. The former University of Minnesota pitcher gave up 4 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks in just 1 1/3 innings pitched. Julio Lugo and Danny Vais pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings to finish the game.

Offensively, Danny Valencia and Wilson Ramos carried the team while batting 3rd and 4th in the lineup. Valencia started at third base and finished the game 1-3 with 2 runs, 4 RBI's including a 3-run home run with two outs in the 9th inning to bring th Miracle within 2. Ramos went 3-5 with 2 RBI's. He hit his first home run in the FSL which was a 2-run bomb in the first inning. Rene Tosoni who skipped Low-A Ball went 2-4 in his Miracle debut in right field. Whit Robbins had an encouraging game after missing about half of 2007. He went 1-3 with a walk while DHing for the Miracle. Yancarlos Ortiz and Juan Portes both went hitless, but both had a pair of walks and both came around to score.

Tonight: (RHP) Jeff Manship (0-0, 0.00) will pitch against former Twin farmhand out of the Netherlands (LHP) Alexander Scmitt (0-0, 0.00). Click here to see his website.

Beloit Snappers vs. Kane County Cougars

The game was postponed due to bad weather. This is the second straight season opener for the Snappers that has been canceled in Beloit. The game will be made up on Saturday as part of a 7-inning double-header. I'm figuring that last nights starters Chris Italiano (Cougars) and David Bromberg (Snappers) will both start game one on Saturday. But I can't confirm this.

Here was the Snappers opening day lineup: Joe Benson - CF, Steve Singleton - DH, DJ Romero - 3B, Chris Parmelee - RF, Ozzie Lewis - LF, Ramon Santana - 2B, Ben Petsch - 1B, Greg Yersich - C, Garrett Olson - SS.

Tonight: (RHP) Michael McCardell out of Kutztown University is scheduled to make his Midwest League debut against (RHP) Travis Banwart (0-0, 0.00) of the Cougars.

I'm going out of town this weekend, so I don't think I'll get a post up at all. So have a great weekend and GO TWINS!