also available at www.SethSpeaks.net –
Before getting into my Game Thoughts from the Twins opener, I wanted to mention a couple of things:
· First, there will be a new SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast tonight. The hour-long show will begin at 9:00 central time. If you’re able to listen live, great. If not, remember you can click here to hear the episode after the fact or to download it to you iPod. Confirmed guests at this point include Twins minor league pitcher Tom Stuifbergen. You may recall that the righty was the starting pitcher for The Netherlands when they beat The Dominican Republic in the elimination game of the first round of the WBC. We will talk to him about that experience and what he is looking forward to in 2009. Also, Parker Hageman will be on the last part of the show. He is the blogger who writes at Over the Baggy as well as writing for the Twins page at BaseballDigest.com. I am working on adding one more guest for the show.
· Last night was also the premier episode of the MN Game Night podcast. The podcast comes from the makers of Gameday Magazine and mngameday.com. For last night’s show, I was the host and worked the switchboard. The Twins Geek (John Bonnes) called in after being at the Metrodome for the game. The MNGameNight podcast will be a half-hour podcast available each night. Most shows, we will discuss that day’s game, a couple of special features and what to look for in the next day’s game. It should be a good show to listen to live, but it should be beneficial to Twins fans who are able to listen to it the next day at work, or download it on their iPod.
· Nick Nelson is known as one of the writers of Nick & Nick’s Twins Blog. But now he is the sole author of Nick’s Twins Blog!
· One of my responsibilities as the Content Editor of the Twins page at BaseballDigest.com is to post Game Recaps following each Twins game. Here was my attempt after Game 1. I should note that I posted this before the news that Mike Redmond injured his groin. It will be interesting to see if the Twins have to put him on the Disabled List and bring up Drew Butera.
Opening Day is a wonderful thing, and the Twins did it right. Twins fans packed in the Metrodome for the final Home Opener in the facility. There was plenty of pomp and circumstance accompanying the new beginning. The teams were introduced. The national anthem was sung. The Twins put together a great tribute to their fallen owner, Carl Pohlad, who kept the Twins in Minnesota when he bought the team from Calvin Griffith in 1984. His three sons threw out first pitches to Tom Kelly, Ron Gardenhire and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. Everything was perfect!
And then the game started, and Felix Hernandez stole the show. The young righty of the Mariners threw 97 pitches in eight innings. He gave up just one run on five hits and three walks, while striking out six. The Twins countered with lefty Francisco Liriano. He gave up just four hits and walked none in his seven innings. Unfortunately two of those hits were home runs and accounted for three of the four runs he allowed in the loss. Ken Griffey Jr. hit a solo home run. Later, Franklin Gutierrez hit a two run homer that just eluded the glove of Carlos Gomez.
But again, much of the credit in this one goes to the Mariners starter who didn’t work into trouble often, but worked out of it when he did.
Here are some other thoughts on the Twins Opening Day loss to the Mariners:
· Denard Span had a rough spring. No question about that. But if there was a postive for the Twins offense, it was the Twins leadoff hitter. In his first at bat, he worked a walk. In his second at bat, he laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that he nearly beat out. He coaxed another walk in his third at bat. That is a solid day from a leadoff hitter. He also did a very nice job chasing down fly balls and line drives in the vast left field at Metrodome.
· Delmon Young was the odd man out of the Twins starting lineup on Opening Day. I don’t think that is a surprise to many. I wouldn’t make too much of it as he will certainly be back in the starting lineup on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see whether Denard Span or Jason Kubel sits against lefty Erik Bedard.
· Michael Cuddyer batted third in the game and came up to bat with opportunities in his first two at bats. And he looked horrible in striking out each at bat. But he came to the plate in the 5th with the bases loaded. He came through with a line drive single to centerfield for the team’s lone run. For those of you who care about such things, his batting average with runners in scoring position is now .333. Think big picture! Just because the three (he really looked bad when King Felix struck him out in his fourth at bat) at bats were bad doesn’t mean he is bad or he shouldn’t be the team’s #3 hitter.
· After Cuddyer came through with the RBI single, the bases were still loaded with one out. Justin Morneau hit the first pitch right to 2B and it was an easy double play to end the inning and end the team’s biggest threat. I am actually encouraged that the Twins #3 and #4 hitters came up in big situations. Over the course of the year, they will come through often.
· One of Twins fans’ biggest concerns in the offseason was the state of the bullpen. The Twins lost Boof Bonser to injury (and found out that Pat Neshek would miss the entire season too), and they added only Luis Ayala to the organization. Ayala faced three batters in completing the 8th inning. The ninth inning began with a walk by Jesse Crain. He got the next two hitters out. Lefty Craig Breslow was brought in to face lefty Ken Griffey, and he walked him on four pitches. Matt Guerrier was summoned, and Jose Lopez rolled a single just out of the diving Joe Crede’s range, and just out of the diving Nick Punto’s range. It wasn’t hard hit, but both hitters that got on via the walk scored. That was a deflating inning of work.
· Of course, I can’t help but wonder what happens in that inning if Mike Redmond didn’t allow a Passed Ball on Guerrier’s first pitch. That allowed the runners to advance to second and third. If Lopez hits the same ground ball, it might be an easy, inning-ending double play.
· Jose Morales came in as a pinch hitter with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. On the first pitch, he grounded out to 1B to end the game. The ground out ended his perfect career. Remember, coming into the game, Morales was 3-3 in his big league career (1 game in 2007). He is now a lowly .750 career hitter!
· Joe Crede made his Twins debut. He did a nice job with the glove. He also was credited with his first Twins hit, a single. I have no clue how it was called a single. I mean, it was a two-hopper right at Adrian Beltre and he let it eat him up. But, take the hit, I guess!
Tuesday night at 7:00, the Twins will send right Nick Blackburn to the mound to face the Mariners’ lefty Erik Bedard.
That is it for today. Tonight there is another Twins game and a couple more podcasts. We would love your input. Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.