April 26, 2010

This and that

Francisco Liriano faces off against Justin Verlander tonight in what should be a very interesting battle. This is the first meeting between the Twins and Tigers since game 163 last October. Liriano is off to a great start while Verlander continues his April woes for the third consecutive year. Being as both players are playing out of their "norm," there's really no use in posting their career numbers against the opposition. But I'm excited to see how Liriano fairs against the hot-hitting Tigers. Detroit (as a team) has a .796 OPS over the past seven games, which is fourth highest in the Majors. Minneseota's OPS is 73 points lower over the same span, but they've scored four more runs in one less game.

(Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Heading into Monday, the Twins were the league leader in walks drawn (96) and were tied with the Houston Astros for the fewest walks allowed (47). In 23 1/3 innings, Carl Pavano has only allowed one walk, which is the league leader amongst those who have made at least four starts. Justin Morneau, who is not only possesses a .368 batting average also leads the league in walks with 20. Denard Span is hitting a disappointing .230 from the lead-off spot (which ranks seventh out of the nine qualified lead-off hitters), but he leads all lead-off men with 14 walks drawn.

After hitting doubles in back-to-back games this weekend, Delmon Young already has six extra-base hits on the year. In 2009, Young didn't record his sixth extra-base hit until June 20th. That's a difference of 106 at-bats (159-53). He's hit the ball well this season, driving it several times in Target Field alone that may have been home runs at the Metrodome. The cold air certainly has played a role thus far, but when the air warms up, Young may hit 13 home runs (his 2009 total) by August. He also has only struck out seven times in 53 at-bats. In 2009, Young struck out seven times in his first 19 at-bats. It's obviously too soon to tell, but 2010 is already shaping up to be a big year for Young; despite his .245/.276/.434 tri-slash line.

Nick Nelson wrote a synopsis of the Twins Train. He and a group of other fans made the trek down 35W to Kansas City over the weekend. After hearing several reviews, it sounds like a great time and I hope to make it aboard the Twins Train at some point this season.

I love Ryan Howard as much as the next guy, but the five year, $125 million extension that he signed with the Phillies yesterday is absurd. As usual, Rob Neyer of ESPN.com's opinion is very comparable to mine. I only note this because Joe Mauer's contract extension looks like highway robbery compared to this.

On the farm...

Since starting out 1-31, Aaron Hicks has an eight game hitting streak, hitting .552 (16/29) with two doubles and two home runs. He has also been a better base stealer, swiping four bases in his last five attempts. Obviously it was a horrible start, but Hicks is showing why there's no use in freaking out about stats after just two weeks. For more on Hicks, click here.

On April 7th, I wrote an article titled, "Needing A Miracle." In the article, I wrote about Shooter Hunt making the Ft. Myers Miracle roster (hence the pun). Hunt appeared as a reliever for the Miracle on Opening Day and self-destructed on the mound. The 23-year-old right-hander hit the first batter he faced, walked the next three batters and gave up a grand slam without recording an out. It was hard listening to Alex Margulies announce the game. Hunt literally couldn't find the strike zone and it was hard to not feel sorry for the guy.

But since that appearance, Hunt has been very impressive for the Miracle. In six appearances since then, Hunt has given up five runs (four last night) but what's important is that he has walked only four batters while striking out 17. He hasn't walked a batter in his last three appearances and continues to give signs of optimism. Hopefully he keeps it up.