May 20, 2008

Twins use 20 players to get the win

It was a very interesting game, to say the least. Michael Cuddyer started in center field, Alexi Casilla hit his first major league home run, a pitcher had to hit, and the team still got the win with 7 runs despite Justin Morneau and Cuddyer combining to go 0-10 at the plate.

Boof Bonser pitched better than in his past 3 starts, but had to exit the game after throwing just 79 pitches because the Rangers stated teeing off against him. After he left, the Twins used 6 relievers, everyone but Brian Bass, before they could get the win. Jesse Crain, Joe Nathan and Bobby Korecky were all great, whereas Matt Guerrier, Dennys Reyes and Juan Rincon all struggled. Korecky was nails, coming into a tough situation, bases loaded and one out in the 11th inning with Ian Kinsler and a career .360 hitter with the bases loaded in Michael Young up to bat. He got set both of them down, keeping the game tied when it looked like the Twins might lose it.

Korecky then had to come on in the bottom of the 11th inning to hit, as the Twins forfeited the DH option after Brendan Harris (the original DH) came into the game as a defensive replacement. It was the first time that Korecky has had to hit in a game since 2003, but looked like Dustin Pedroia and knocked a single into right field. Unfortunately, it proved to be worthless as both Justin Morneau & Michael Cuddyer failed to drive him in from 3rd base.

Carlos Gomez got an infield single to lead off the 12th inning for the Twins and was moved over to 2nd on a Delmon Young grounder to shortstop. After Mike Lamb was intentionally walked, Howie Clark stepped to the plate and hit a walk-off double just over Josh Hamilton's head to give the Twins, and Korecky, the win. It was a very eventful game, and if you want to see how the Twins used 20 different players, make sure to check out the boxscore.

Brendan Harris, Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel accounted for 7 of the teams 13 hits in the game. Mauer had two RBI singles, one of which tied the game up in the 9th inning to put the game into extra innings. Alexi Casilla went 1-4 with a three-run home run, his first of his career. Delmon Young hit his 3rd triple of the season, and his 2nd in as many games.

Michael Cuddyer started the game in center field, and held his own, but it will be nice to see Gomez back there (hopefully) tomorrow.

Game Ball
Bobby Korecky - Relief Pitcher

I could have easily picked Howie Clark for this, but I had to choose Korecky. The 28-year-old rookie relieved Juan Rincon in the top of the 11th inning with the game tied and the bases loaded with one out and got Ian Kinsler to pop out to Michael Cuddyer before striking out Michael Young. And then, he came on in the bottom of the inning and was forced to bat and came through with a single. He then set down Josh Hamilton, Milton Bradley, and David Murphy in a row in the 12th before Howie Clark gave the team the walk-off win, giving Korecky his first win as a Major Leaguer.

What's going on in the minors?

Joe Benson is catching fire in Beloit. With his RBI single in the 7th inning of last nights game, he extended his hitting streak to 9 games in which he's hitting .400 (14-35) with 5 doubles, 2 triples and 7 RBI's. He's now hitting .317/.386/.540 in May. The one alarming thing about Benson is still his plate discipline. He now has 50 strikeouts in 155 AB's (42 games) and has walked just 15 times.

Speaking of Beloit, Benson's teammate Ben Revere is also on fire. By going 3-4 last night, Revere is now hitting .432 with a 1.051 OPS through 81 at bats since arriving in Beloit in late April. Over his last 6 games, Revere is 15-27 with 2 doubles, a triple, 6 RBI's and 3 stolen bases. If he keeps this up, I believe the Twins won't be able to keep him in Beloit all season (although I'm sure they'd like to) and could be in Ft. Myers sometime around the All-Star break.

Jay Rainville pitched his best game this season, going 7 strong innings and giving up an unearned run on 3 hits while striking out 8. Rainville picked up his 3rd win of the season, but still has 5 loses and a 7.53 ERA.

Danny Valencia missed his 4th game in a row with a hand injury. He's currently hitting .396/.448/.717 in May with 7 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs and 17 RBI in 14 games. Valencia was promoted with Johnny Woodard and Brian Dinkelman on June 22nd of last year, so he almost has a full season in Ft. Myers and should be getting to New Britain sometime within the next month (as should Dinkelman if there is room in the infield), if he can come back from this injury.

With a 3-4 performance last night, Trevor Plouffe improved his average to .328 in the month of May. He has 6 multi-hit games in his last 10 games and has really made himself a strong candidate to move up to Rochester where they are thin in the infield.

Zach Ward continued to dominate from the bullpen in New Britain, with two more scoreless innings of relief, he now has a 0.32 ERA through 28 innings this season. He has only given up one earned run in 17 appearances. With his dominance in the bullpen, I don't believe the team is going to even consider putting him in the rotation anytime soon.