April 1, 2008

Twins win opener

The Twins beat the Los Angeles Angels yesterday in the season opener, riding a strong performance from newly acquired starting pitcher, Livan Hernandez. Hernandez went 7 very strong innings and gave up just 2 runs on 7 hits. He didn't walk any batters, but only struck out one. Being at the game, it was hard to miss his extreme change in velocity. I saw the radar gun hit 89 a few times, never 90 (although I do admit I did not check every time) but he fooled batters by changing velocity. I saw the radar as low as 58, and he'd then turn around and throw a 89 MPH fastball. His 58 mph pitch was likely a Eephus, which is an incredibly slow curve ball. He made a few batters look very silly with his change in velocity, and it was a great outing from the Twins number one starter. It was Hernandez's first win as a Twin.

Offensively, I think that everyone knows who impressed the most, and that is the newcomers. Carlos Gomez went 2-3 with a double, two runs scored, and two stolen bases. He played strong defense and made the opposing defense stay on their toes while he was at the plate and on base. He had a great game and the Twins have to feel good about what they saw from their 22-year-old center fielder. Both Brendan Harris and Delmon Young also had two hits (apiece) at the plate. Young scored a run, while Harris hit a double. Mike Lamb went 1-3 with an RBI and a walk. All four of them certainly had great debuts with the team.
Interesting side note: I saw Carlos Gomez, Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, Delmon Young, and Matt Tolbert shag fly balls after the game. None of them really seemed to have a problem with the lights and ceiling of the dome, but it was interesting to see those guys immediately start practicing after the game.
Both Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer went 1-4 with an RBI. Jason Kubel relieved the hitless Craig Monroe at the plate and hit a blooping double that dropped in front of Garrett Anderson.

Justin Morneau, Monroe and Adam Everett all went hitless at the plate. Everett almost broke the game open in the 8th inning with the bases loaded, he hit a line drive down the left field line that went over the fence no more than 5 feet from the foul poll. It would have been a big treat for the Twins to have Everett (of all players) hit a grand slam to assure the win.

Player of the Game
Carlos Gomez, Center Field

Game: 2-3, 2 R, 2B, 2 SB

Next Game: Tonight against the Los Angeles Angels @ 7: 10 PM (CT)
Boof Bonser will face a familiar face as ex-White Sox pitcher Jon Garland takes the hill for the Angels. Should be a good game with two pitchers trying to turn over new chapters in their careers.

Player to Watch
Jason Kubel - Designated Hitter. In 17 at bats against Jon Garland, Jason Kubel has 7 hits (.412 average). 3 of the hits were home runs and add that with the strong finish from last year and the nice hit last night, I think there's no question that Kubel has a lot to prove this season. Hopefully he can start proving it tonight against Garland. Craig Monroe's hitless performance last night almost assures that Kubel will start at designated hitter tonight.