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The Twins entered the ninth inning down by a score of 4-3. Neftali Feliz, a rookie and yet one of baseball’s best and hardest throwing pitchers, came in to protect the lead. Delmon Young lined out to the warning track in right field. Danny Valencia was robbed of extra bases when Julio Borbon ran down a ball on the warning track in dead center. Ron Gardenhire sent Jim Thome to bat for Alexi Casilla, and Feliz hit Thome in the leg on the first pitch. Jason Repko pinch ran for Thome, and Matt Tolbert stepped to the plate to bat for Drew Butera. Tolbert struck out to end the game. The Twins lost 4-3.
But those final decisions certainly created plenty of discussion.
Point #1 – Since JJ Hardy was not used as a pinch hitter, it is clear that he is more hurt than we thought, that it was more than just a day off for the Twins regular shortstop. That is not a good thing, especially in this case when the bench is so diminished.
Point #2 – Once Thome was on base, should Tolbert have been used as a pinch-runner, with Repko been used as a pinch hitter? Feliz had given up some rockets to right-handed batters to start the inning. Right-handers have hit Feliz a little better over the course of the season than left-handers. Since Tolbert struck out, it’s easy to say Repko could have done better than that. Unlikely since Repko traditionally strikes out much more frequently than Tolbert does. The reality, Jason Repko isn’t a good hitter, and Matt Tolbert is probably a little worse. Neither matchup was ideal.
Point #3 – Maybe Drew Butera should have just batted for himself. First, if he had extended the game, the Twins would not have lost the DH. Since Tolbert and Repko are only slightly better offensive options than Butera, it had to at least be considered.
Point #4 – I haven’t heard many people talk about this, but maybe the Twins should have just let Alexi Casilla bat so that Thome could have batted for Butera with a runner on base. The obvious reason that this is not a good answer is because if (or more likely, when) Casilla got out, then a hitter of the caliber of Jim Thome would not have even had the opportunity to tie the game. However, from the Rangers’ perspective, with Thome pinch hitting and Butera coming up (with Repko/Tolbert as pinch hitting options), why even pitch to Thome? Of course you walk him, or in this case, why not just hit him on the first pitch and take your chances with the Twins triple can’t hit options.
None of those discussion options is a good option. Simply put, there was not a good answer for Ron Gardenhire in that situation. The Rangers have shown through two games why they are dominating the American League West. On Monday, the Twins got to see Rich Harden healthy, and how good he can be when healthy. On Tuesday, we got a better idea of just why the Twins went hard after Colby Lewis this offseason before he signed with the Rangers. Things do not get any easier in the next two games against the Rangers. CJ Wilson gets the nod tonight and Cliff Lee starts on Thursday. After the Twins swept the Rangers earlier in the season at Target Field, it will be tough for the Twins to win a game in Arlington.
SATURDAY IN ST. CLOUD!!
As previously mentioned, the Twins Geek, Sooze and I will be at Howie’s Sports Bar in St. Cloud for the TwinsCentric Viewing Party. The Twins play the Mariners at 3:00, so we’ll be there by 2:30 and throughout the game. There will be drink and appetizer specials, and prizes to be given away. Hopefully by having an event like this in the outstate will allow more people the opportunity to be there and meet many more Twins fans.
Following the TwinsCentric Viewing Party, I am going to stay in St. Cloud and head over the Joe Faber Field. The St. Cloud River Bats of the Northwoods League (a college wood bat league) are hosting the Minnesota Twins alumni game at 7:05. Several former Twins players, including Corey Koskie, Jim Eisenrich, Juan Berenguer, Al Newman and several others will be playing in a game. There will be a lot going on throughout the night. Following the game, the player’s jerseys will be signed and auctioned off. Proceeds from the evening will be going to the Miracle League of Central Minnesota. Check out the River Bats website for much more information.
Hopefully I can meet several of you at both of these events in St. Cloud on Saturday!
Here is a quick glance at what happened on Tuesday in the Twins minor league system. For a ton of information on who is hot, who is not, which teams still could play in the playoffs and much more, please listen to last night’s Twins Minor League Weekly podcast.
Red Wings Report
Rochester 4, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 5 – Kyle Gibson made his third AAA start for the Red Wings. In five innings, he gave up two unearned runs on two hits and two walks. He struck out five. However, of the 81 pitches he threw, just 49 were strikes. Kyle Waldrop gave up one run on three hits in 1.2 innings. Rob Delaney gave up two runs on three hits in 1.1 innings to take the loss. Dustin Martin went 3-5 with his 23rd double. Brendan Harris went 3-5. Brian Dinkelman went 2-5 with his 29th double.
New Britain Notes
Game 1 – New Britain 1, Binghampton 8 – Chris Province gave up eight earned runs on 11 hits and two walks in 3.1 innings. He struck out three. Blake Martin threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and walking two. Mike McCardell got the final two outs. The Rockcats managed just five hits.
Game 2 – New Britain 0, Binghampton 7 – Deolis Guerra started and gave up five runs (3 earned) on four hits and two walks in 3.2 innings. Santos Arias then gave up two runs on four hits in 1.1 innings. Billy Bullock struck out two in a scoreless inning. The Rockcat bats managed just three hits in this game.
Ft. Myers 5, Palm Beach 1 – Bruce Pugh won for the sixth time this season. He gave up one run on three hits and three walks in six innings. He struck out four. Jhon Garcia threw three shutout innings to record the save. Deibinson Romero Yangervis Solarte was 2-3. was 2-4. Nate Hanson went 2-5. Drew Thompson went 1-2 with two walks. Allan de San Miguel hit his fourth homer, and Brian Dozier hit his third homer.
Beloit 8, Burlington 11 – After such a rough start to his season, James Beresford went over the .300 mark on the season when he went 3-5 in this game. Steve Liddle went 2-4 with a walk and his 16th double. Josmil Pinto went 1-2 with two walks and his 17th double. Pedro Guerra got the start and gave up four runs (3 earned) on five hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out three. Nelvin Fuentes then gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in two innings. Sam Spangler came in and walked the two batters he faced. Miguel Munoz came in gave up both of those inherited runs and three more runs in the eighth inning.
Elizabethton 4, Bluefield 5 – Through four innings, Blayne Weller was throwing a shutout. Then he gave up five runs and got just two outs in the 5th inning. At that point, the game was delayed by rain. Michael Tonkin came in when the game resumed and threw 3.1 shutout innings. He gave up just two hits, walked one and hit another batter while striking out three. Brandon Henderson went 2-4 with his fifth double. Andy Leer was 2-3. Danny Ortiz and Nick Lockwood were 2-4.
GCL Twins Topics
GCL Twins 3, GCL Rays 4 – Ricardo Arevalo fell to 0-7. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on eight hits. In 4.1 innings, he gave up four walks, hit a batter and struck out two. Derek Christenson got the final two outs before the game was called on account of rain. Rory Rhodes went 2-3 with his fifth double and second stolen base. Eddie Rosario went 2-3.
Any thoughts on the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.