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Hey Twins Fans, the Twins showed tonight that it may take a little extra time and extra work, but the team could in fact beat the Toronto Blue Jays. In the bottom of the 11th inning, Joe Crede doubled off of the centerfield wall which scored Justin Morneau from first base with the game-winning run. A night after a brutal-to-watch Twins loss, the Twins and Jays gave baseball fans a great game to watch. Here are some thoughts:
· Justin Morneau again led the offense. The first baseman went 3-5 with a double. He probably would have had a second double if not for the strange play by Alex Rios against the baggy in right field. His hustle in scoring the winning run from 1B on Crede’s double was impressive. His defense continues to be underappreciated. He saved Nick Punto an error with a tremendous scoop play on a throw in the dirt.
· Joe Crede had the game winning double in the 11th inning, but he had another double earlier. He also again made some very solid plays with his glove.
· Alexi Casilla laid down a nice bunt between the pitcher’s mound and 1B in the middle innings after Denard Span had stolen second. It was a good bunt in between the pitcher and 1B and Casilla ended up with a hit. Morneau followed with the ball off the baggy which advanced Span to 3B and Casilla to 2B. I was shocked that Span did not score. Why? Because I didn’t realize that Span had inexplicably not advanced to 3B on Casilla’s bunt single. Clearly it was a sacrifice bunt attempt called by the dugout so Span knew it was coming. I have no clue why he did not advance. An argument could be made that the bunt should have been down the 3B line. That’s valid, but with a right-handed throwing 1B (Kevin Millar), a bunt to 1B was also fine. Span has been one of the top two or three hitters for the Twins this season, so to point out one flaw isn’t exactly fair, and I don’t want to make too big a deal out of that, but that play would have meant another run for the Twins, a possible Win for Glen Perkins, and two less innings pitched by the bullpen.
· The top story of this game, other than the game winning hit, had to be the performance of Glen Perkins. He pitched eight innings for the second time in two starts. He gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk. He again struck out four. Perkins deserved the Win, again, but he has to be thrilled with the start to his 2009 season. The coaching staff and Twins fans should be as well.
· Could Ron Gardenhire have removed Perkins from the game when Vernon Wells came up with Alex Rios on 2B in the 8th inning to try to maintain their 2-1 lead. They could have gone to Jesse Crain or even Joe Nathan. Perkins had just hit the 100 pitch count, so that move could have been made. In retrospect, maybe that move should have been made, but I have to admit that I really liked the idea of Gardy sticking with the guy that got them there. I had zero problem with sticking by Perkins there. Wells didn’t hit the ball terribly hard, but it went into the right spot for the game-tying single. The decision could be second guessed, but then again if Gardy makes that move and the reliever gives up the tying run, we would still be second guessing that decision. So, you likely won’t see me complaining about that kind of situation too often
· It was interesting to see the starting lineups shown before the game. Coming into the game, eight of the nine Blue Jays starters had (small sample size!) batting averages of .333 or better. The Twins starting lineup had one player, Nick Punto, hitting .333. The Twins also had four players with batting averages below .200!
· The Twins continued a pattern of not being able to hit pitchers that they haven’t seen previously. Ricky Romero, a lefty making just his second big league start, was able to go eight innings for the Jays. He gave up two runs on eight hits. He walked none and struck out just two.
· The performance of Jesse Crain has to be mentioned. He threw two perfect innings. I was finally able to listen to John Bonnes, The Twins Geek, on last night’s MNGameNight.com podcast. One of the topics he mentioned was that Crain has now given up just one hit in 4.2 innings this season.
· Another comment that John has made throughout the offseason and even in the last couple of days is that Carlos Gomez should spend a couple of months in Rochester figuring out how to hit. We heard so much about him working on pitch recognition and taking pitches and walking. So far this season, he’s got one walk and nine strikeouts. After an 0-4 last night, Gomez is now hitting .115 (3-26) on the season. The elephant in the room is that if Gomez were to spend even a month or six weeks in Rochester, he would likely not be Super-2 arbitration-eligible after the season. Now, I would be against that being the reason to send him down, but he clearly has earned the demotion. I know it’s early in the season. They probably should give him another couple of weeks to see if he can figure things out, but it just isn’t pretty at all.
I will be back in a bit to post the minor league game reports and a few other minor league notes. Be sure to check back for that. But what did you think about the game tonight? What stood out in your mind? Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.