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The Twins lost 9-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night to fall to 4-7 on the young season. Here are some thoughts on the game, the series and more, including Twins minor league game notes. To hear some of my annoyance, be sure to listen to last night’s MNGameNight.com podcast.
TWINS 2, BLUE JAYS 9
KEYNOTE STORY – We came into the game hoping that we would see a great pitching matchup. Francisco Liriano was starting for the Twins, and Roy Halladay was on the mound for the Blue Jays. If you look at the 9-2 score, you have to assume that there was no pitcher’s dual. That is not the case at all. Liriano went the first six innings. He gave up two runs (just one earned) on seven hits and a walk. He struck out five. He left the game with the Twins down 2-1. Halladay was excellent. He went seven innings and gave up just one run. The Twins managed eight hits off or him, but he came up with some big outs when he needed them. To some degree, the Twins did a nice job of helping him out.
· So we did get to see a good pitching matchup and both starters pitched very well. But once Liriano left the game after six innings, the game turned abruptly:
1. Matt Guerrier has been very good to this point in the season. On this night, he got just two outs. He gave up four runs on four hits.
2. Craig Breslow has been up and down several times already this season. In this game, he had no clue where the ball was going. He faced two batters and walked them both.
3. R.A. Dickey has been solid in whatever role he has been asked to fill to this point, but even a knuckleballer has to get tired, right? Especially one that is thrown harder. The first pitch he threw in this game was deposited into the left field bleachers by Kevin Millar for a grand slam.
4. Luis Ayala got the final out of the seventh frame before giving up a walk and a hit in the 8th.
5. Jesse Crain worked a tidy ninth frame.
· Justin Morneau is still getting the job done. He was 2-4 in this game. So was Brian Buscher who made another start at 3B. Michael Cuddyer went 2-4 including a long 9th inning home run.
· Brendan Harris got the start at SS, and he was 2-3 to raise his early batting average to a robust .462.
· That was a horrible series for the Twins. They won just one out of four, and the Twins were outscored 31-13. I haven’t been that annoyed watching Twins baseball in a long time. But a few things are important to remember:
1. The starting pitchers should be just fine.
2. If the starters are better, the bullpen will be used less, and Jesse Crain and Joe Nathan will pitch more.
3. Jose Mijares has given up one hit and no walks in 5.1 innings so far in AAA this season. Sample size is too small, but he may be close. A AA New Britain, both Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama have started pretty well.
4. Reports continue to tell us that Joe Mauer is getting closer. I was trying to conservatively approximate when Mauer could be back in a Twins uniform. I think May 1 seems pretty fair and logical at this point. Having Mauer back will automatically make the Twins better offensively, defensively and pitching.
· The Twins will now be hosting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for three games. They will face Dustin Moseley, Darren Oliver and Shane Loux. Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and Glen Perkins will start for the Twins. As appealing as those matchups are, the Angels still have a very strong offense, even if Vlad Guerrero will likely miss the series.
With that, here are the reports on the Twins minor league games from Thursday night:
Thursday – Rochester 0, Pawtucket 1 – Anthony Swarzak gave up a run on two doubles in the top of the first inning. That was it. In seven innings, he gave up just the one run on five hits. He walked none and struck out five. Unfortunately, the Red Wings managed to be shutout on four hits. David Winfree had two of them. So, Swarzak falls to 0-2 with just a 0.82 ERA. Bobby Keppel and Jose Mijares each threw a scoreless inning.
Thursday – New Britain 0, New Hampshire 2 – Like the Red Wings, the Rockcats were also unable to score a single run in this game. They had just three hits. Juan Portes and Allan de San Miguel each had a double. Ryan Mullins gave up two runs on seven hits in five innings. He walked none and struck out seven. Frank Mata struck out four in 2.2 scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit. Jose Lugo got the final four outs without another run scoring.
Thursday –Ft. Myers 3, Jupiter 0 – The Miracle were also held scoreless for the first seven innings in this one. But they scored one in the eighth inning to cut the lead to 3-1. Before the 9th inning got going, manager Jeff Smith was ejected. Maybe that got the team going. Danny Berg and Mark Dolenc started things with singles. Jair Fernandez bunted them to second and third. Steve Singleton came in to pinch hit and was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ben Revere came up and doubled in all three runs to give the Miracle the 4-3 victory. Revere was 2-3 with two walks in the game. Rene Leveret went 2-3 and was also hit with a pitch. David Bromberg started and gave up a run on four hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out five. Steve Hirschfeld worked 2.2 scoreless innings. Henry Arias came in and gave up two unearned runs on 0.2 innings. Spencer Steedley came in and got the final two outs of the top of the 9th and was credited with the win.
Thursday – Beloit 0, Quad Cities 3 – I think it is fair to say that, to this point, Dan Osterbrock is not experiencing the same success as last year. He was lit up for the second straight start. The lefty gave up six runs on ten hits and three walks in just 3.2 innings. He struck out four. Danny Rondon came in and went the next 3.1 innings. He gave up a run on four hits and a walk. Danny Hernandez gave up two runs over the last two innings. The offense managed eight hits, but only Evan Bigley (2-4) had more than one hit.
That is it for today. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.