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Following their third straight loss down in Texas, the Twins optioned Anthony Slama to Rochester to make room for their new acquisition, left-handed reliever Randy Flores. Flores was designated for assignment last week by the Colorado Rockies and the Twins claimed him. The Rockies sent him without requiring compensation from the Twins. Flores just turned 35 years old. He debuted in the big leagues in 2002 with the Texas Rangers but was soon sent to the St. Louis Cardinals where he spent several years, including being part of their 2005 and 2006 postseason runs. Believe me, this is not some great signing by the Twins. Flores is not a difference maker. His season ERAs since 2006 have been 5.62, 4.25, 5.26 and 5.25. Somehow this year, his ERA with Colorado was 2.96 with a 1.28 WHIP. But the Twins and we, as fans, should not care about any of that. All we should care about is what he does over the next six weeks of the regular season. Remember last year when the Twins signed Ron Mahay at this time of the season. No one was terribly excited about him. No one was terribly excited about acquiring Jon Rauch from Arizona that same day. Both of them really helped the Twins down the stretch. In his career, right-handed batters have hit .306 with an .850 OPS. Left-handers have hit .266 with a .765 OPS. Strangely, in 2010, right-handers are hitting .229 with a .702 OPS while lefties are hitting .220 with a .776 OPS. Six weeks is a very small sample, so we can just hope he chooses now to have a very good small sample!
Tonight, Francisco Liriano will return to the mound after being pushed back three days due to a ‘tired arm.’ I’m trying not to worry much about the situation. In most previous years, Roy Halladay would be DLd by the Blue Jays with a tired arm, and he could come back just fine. So, let’s hope that Liriano is just fine. If it’s anything more than a tired arm, I would just assume that the Twins DL him rather than have him start. So, from that perspective, it will be an interesting start for Liriano, the Twins and fans. From another perspective, it will be interesting to see how Liriano pitches in a matchup against one of baseball’s best starting pitchers, Cliff Lee. We’ll be able to tell in the first inning. Will his fastball sail up and away to right-handed pitchers? Will his follow-through be wild and all over the place?
Before he was traded, Lee was having a tremendous season with the Seattle Mariners. He was 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. Since coming he Texas, he has made nine starts and is 2-4 with a 4.18 ERA despite a 1.03 WHIP. His last three starts, he has given up four runs in 6.1 innings against the Yankees, six runs in 7.2 innings against the Rays, and eight runs on ten hits (including four home runs) in 5.2 innings against the Orioles. So, either the Twins are catching him at just the right time, or he is due for a really great start.
One thing we know for sure, he won’t walk many. In 174.2 innings this year, he has 11 walks and two of those are intentional. So, should the Twins batters be aggressive, knowing he’ll be around the plate? Or should they try to be patient and get Lee’s pitch count up? It’s a tough question because the second option would be great, but if he gets ahead of everyone early in the count, his pitch count will not be high. Twins batters need to step out and try to fluster Lee. Remember when Carlos Gomez would bunt on him and Lee would talk at Gomez? In 18 career starts against the Twins, he is 8-3 with a 3.40 ERA.
The Twins have lost these three games in Texas, and they are important games in determining (again, assuming these are the teams to win the AL Central and AL West) who is the #2 seed in the playoffs and gets home field advantage in the first round against the Wild Card team from the East. But don’t forget that the Twins swept the Rangers in Target Field earlier this year and the two teams will play three more times in Target Field over Labor Day weekend.
Any other Twins topics you would like to discuss?
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.
Red Wings Report
Rochester 2 Scranton/Wilkes Barre 3 – Matt Fox put together his best start in awhile. In 5.2 innings, he gave up one run on five hits. He walked two and struck out nine. Rob Delaney got a strikeout to get out of the sixth inning. After a scoreless seventh inning, Pat Neshek gave up two runs in the 8th. Alex Burnett got the final two outs. Brendan Harris went 1-3 with his 14th double, and he drove in both runs. D’Angelo Jimenez was 1-2 with two walks and his third triple.
New Britain Notes
New Britain 8, Binghampton 6 – After being swept on Tuesday, the Rockcats got a nice win on Wednesday. Bobby Lanigan started and gave up one run on four hits and two walks in three innings. Mike McCardell came in and gave up two runs on three hits in his three innings. Carlos Gutierrez gave up three runs on five hits and a walk in the next 2.2 innings and Billy Bullock got the game’s final out.
Ft. Myers, Palm Beach – Postponed by rain.
Beloit 3, Kane County 4 – Martire Garcia made another Snapper start and was terrific! The lefty threw six shutout innings. He allowed three hits, walked two and struck out six. Matt Tone came in and gave up one run on one hit and a walk in 1.2 innings. Eliecer Cardenas went the final 1.1 innings but was charged with three unearned runs to take the loss. The Snappers had just six hits. Danny Rams hit his 15th home run. Michael Gonzales (27) and Lance Ray (10) each added a double.
Elizabethton 4, Pulaski 5 – Manuel Solimon gave up four runs (2 earned) on four hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out six. Adrian Salcedo took the loss. He gave up one run on two hits in the final four innings. Jamaal Hawkins was 2-4 with his 10th double. Brandon Henderson was 1-3 with a walk and his sixth double.
GCL Twins Topics
GCL Twins 3, GCL Orioles 2 – Nick Alloway was given a start and came through with a very good outing. In five innings, he gave up two runs on four hits. He walked none and struck out four. Bart Carter came in and struck out five in four scoreless innings. Candido Pimental went 2-3 with a walk. JaDamion Williams hit his third double. Miguel Sano hit his 13th double.
Any thoughts on the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.