May 18, 2008

Twins struggle in Denver

The Minnesota Twins went to Coors Field for the first time in the regular season in the teams history. The Twins took game one off of a great pitching performance by rookie Nick Blackburn to pick up his fourth win of the season, and his first on the road. Blackburn went 7 very strong innings, throwing only 88 pitches. He gave up just two runs on 6 hits to lower his ERA to 3.77. He also struck out 5 to bring his season total to 30. Blackburn is next set to face off against Sidney Ponson and the Rangers on Wednesday night at the Metrodome.

Livan Hernandez pitched well in game two, but still picked up the loss. He carried a no-no into the 6th inning, but gave up 8 hits over the next inning two and 1/3 innings. He ended up giving up 3 runs in the 6th-8th inning and took the loss 3-2. Hernandez now sits at 6-2 with a solid 3.88 ERA and will take on Vincente Padilla and the Rangers in the Thursday matinée.

Kevin Slowey continued the solid pitching on Sunday, but was not quite as good as either Hernandez or Blackburn. Slowey gave up 3 runs in 5 2/3 innings and took the loss, his fourth of the season. Slowey was hit with two solo home runs, one by Clint Barmes in the 3rd inning and one by Todd Helton in the 6th inning. Slowey has given up exactly 3 runs in each of his first 4 starts this season and has yet to pitch over 5 2/3 innings in a game. Slowey's been hit hard by home runs this season, giving up 6 bombs in just under 20 innings. Slowey will take on Armando Galarraga of the Tigers on Friday in Detroit.

Offensively, Delmon Young had a great series. The 22-year-old left fielder came in hitting .263/.309/.296 with 3 doubles and a triple. After going 7-12 with 3 doubles and a triple, Young is now hitting .287/.328/.348. He still has to continue hitting for power, because a .676 OPS is terrible, but it definitely is encouraging after he released this quote just last week:
“It’s usually about 150 at-bats, about May 15, and that’s when I get going. I always have a timing issue with my rocking leg kick, and that’s why it takes a while to get going. And just getting used to the Dome, with the depth perception.”
Well, coming into the series (which was on May 16th) he had 152 at bats, so if he can start going now, I think Twins fans will be very happy.

Justin Morneau went 4-11 with 2 walks and a 2-run home run. He was very frustrated on Sunday and ended up breaking a bat in the dugout in disgust for his teams performance. The Twins came into the series hoping to have a great series, but instead the offense was nearly dead for the series with Young & Morneau accounting for 11 of the teams' 23 hits. On Sunday, the team had 4 times that they had a runner on 2nd or 3rd with less than two outs that they did not execute on. It happened three times in the first three innings.

Despite going 1-7, I was fairly impressed with Adam Everett this series. Despite playing shotty defense on Sunday, he really gave the ball a few nice rides, two times in which I thought they were going to go over the fence. I know that hitting the ball far means nothing if it's caught (ala Jason Kubel), but given that he has never shown power throughout his career, it definitely was nice to see. Everett did have two sac-flys in Friday's game.

The pitchers weren't half bad this series... at the plate. On Friday, Nick Blackburn went 1-3 but would've been 2-3 if he did not get scared when the ball came his way. He hit the ball towards second baseman Jeff Baker and when he threw the ball to first, Blackburn tensed up and slowed down because he thought he was going to get hit by the ball. He later beat out an infield single to shortstop. Livan Hernandez went 1-2 and put down a bunt on the suicide squeeze to pick up an RBI. Slowey almost had a blooper to right on Sunday, but went 0-2 in the game. A 2-7 series was better than Michael Cuddyer who continued his struggles at the plate going 1-12 with a triple.

Game Balls!

Nick Blackburn - Starting Pitcher

7 innings pitched, 6 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks, 5 K's, win, 88 pitches (And also 1-3 at the plate)

Livan Hernandez - Starting Pitcher

7 1/3 innings pitched, 8 hits, 3 runs, 0 walks, 0 K's, loss, 101 pitches (And also 1-2 with an RBI at the plate)

Delmon Young - Left Field

Line: 2-4, double, triple, run

Tonight, the Twins will host the surging Texas Rangers. Opening pitch is set for 7:10 PM with Boof Bonser taking on Scott Feldman. Bonser has struggled over his last 3 starts giving up 16 runs in 16 innings of work. Hopefully Bonser can avoid the "big inning" and pitch a good game to regain some faith for the team and the fans.

Injuries continue...

As I mentioned on Friday, Matt Tolbert has landed on the disabled list and it looks like he may need surgery to repair his injured thumb. Tolbert slid head-first into first base last Thursday and tore a ligament in his thumb on the play. Howie Clark was called up to take his place and went 1-4 with a double on Sunday while starting at 3rd base.

You may be wondering why I did not mention Carlos Gomez in the recaps above. After going 1-5 at the plate, Gomez made an amazing catch to end the game, but payed a price. While catching the ball, he slammed into the wall and injured his right wrist. He sat out Saturday and came in to pinch run on Sunday. Craig Monroe took his place in the lineup and went 0-8 at the plate. If Gomez needs more than another day or two to recover, the Twins may consider putting him on the D.L. to be safe, while calling up Denard Span who has been on fire in AAA-Rochester.

In the minors, Rene Tosoni broke his foot during the 6th inning of Friday's game against the Tampa Yankees and will likely be done for the season. It's really a shame. Tosoni is a 2nd year player who played just 2 games of Single-A last season before opening the season in Ft. Myers. He was hitting .325/.430/.452 with 7 doubles, 3 triples, and a home run in 126 at bats. Hopefully he can recover and come back strong next season. Luckily, Eli Tintor is eligible to play on May 27th after his 50-game suspension is up.

Down on the Farm

For information on the Twins Minor Leagues, make sure to go to Seth Speaks for game recaps from Yesterday, and Friday & Saturday.