Welcome back to the work week. I am happy to report that after a week away, I am back home so hopefully, for the readers of this site and any of my other blogs, there should be a return to normalcy. This blog posting will take a look back at the weekend. The Twins won two out of three games in Cleveland. There were certainly some interesting performances at each of the Twins minor league affiliates. Joe Mauer played three games for the Ft. Myers Miracle. The Rochester Red Wings played a game with a football score on Saturday. Shooter Hunt was back on the mound, which has become a story in itself.
To hear more about the weekend series and look forward to the upcoming home series against Tampa Bay, be sure to tune in to the MNGameNight.com podcast. I joined The Twins Geek and Kyle Eliason to do the show. Instead of doing it over the phone, he set up a studio with cool MacGyver-like microphones, a sound board, and several retakes. But it was a lot of fun, and having listened to the podcast a couple of times, I think it turned out quite well. So please, check it out, listen to it, and then e-mail me any comments that you may have on it.
Speaking of podcasts, be sure to check out the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast tonight at 9:00 p.m. central time. Please note that this is a change as previously I had been posting on Tuesday nights. I am looking forward to this change because Mondays are more frequently off days for the Twins and their affiliates. I do have a couple of confirmed guests for the show. I’ll try to send out a schedule tomorrow afternoon. Be sure to click on the link and set up the RSS Feed for the show.
One other topic for discussion is the Minnesota Vikings selection of Percy Harvin, a WR type from Florida, in the first round (22nd overall) despite reports that he is not one of the best people in the world. However, he can be a dynamic, impact player for the Vikings if he can stay healthy and stay out of trouble. The obvious comparison there is to Randy Moss, who the Vikings were thrilled to take later in the first round. He certainly became an impact player, if not the best WR in NFL history. Some people are trying to force the comparison between Harvin and Twins reliever Jose Mijares. I don’t really get the comp. Yes, they both have some off field issues they needed to address, but for Mijares those were work and worth ethic. For Harvin, those off field problems are legal problems (like failing a drug test at the combine. For Mijares, it has been probably like weight control and composure. So, let me ask this, when is the last time that the Twins signed or drafted a guy with a questionable history. Have there been any?
FRIDAY – TWINS 5, CLEVELAND 1
SATURDAY – TWINS 7, CLEVELAND 1
SUNDAY – TWINS 2, CLEVELAND 4
Before the season, most people thought these were the two teams that would challenge for the AL Central crown. They may still be, but when the series started, they were the bottom two teams in the division. The Twins got two out of three games this weekend. On the road, you have to be thrilled with that.
Here are a few other thoughts from the series:
· Nick Blackburn pitched well. He gave up one run in seven innings on Friday night.
· Kevin Slowey pitched excellent. He threw eight shutout innings on Saturday and fully took advantage of a larger strike zone. He was allowed to go out to the mound for the 9th inning, in an attempt to get a shutout, but three soft singles loaded the bases and Luis Ayala came in to finish the game.
· Joe Crede began the series with a .167 batting average. He went 4-12 in the series, with a home run, to raise his average to .204. That’s still not good, but his defense remains excellent, and although he won’t hit for my batting average, he should hit for some power as the season moves forward. The funny thing is that some fans have already given up on Crede. If that is the case, imagine if the Twins had traded for Mark Derosa. The Cleveland utility player went 0-3 on Sunday to drop his season batting average to .195. Their averages are about the same, but Crede’s defense is significantly better, so I would say that the Twins made the right decision.
· Jose Morales started in the Friday and Sunday games. Not only did he go 2-4 Friday and 4-4 Sunday, but he also threw out his first would-be base stealer, the aforementioned Mark Derosa. I have been asked several times if I think that the Twins should keep Morales up in the big leagues when Joe Mauer comes back. That answer is easy. Of course not, he should go to Rochester and play. Mike Redmond has earned his role on this team over the last three or four seasons. He has an adequate bat (.300 from a backup catcher is just fine!) He has just 31 at bats so far this season, so his .226 batting average would be nearly .300 with just two more hits. Defensively, he is yet to throw anyone out, but he will come around. Also, he does a very good job of game calling. Again, Morales can hit a little bit. As a big leaguer, he will hit for a little average, won’t take many walks and won’t show any power. He could be an adequate backup. But he does have options, Redmond is on the roster and deserves to be, and we will see him again. The bigger questions regarding the catching position comes after the season when the Twins need to determine if they want Mike Redmond on the roster to open Target Field, and where Jose Morales’s defense is, where Drew Butera’s offense is, and how much Wilson Ramos still needs to do.
· Jason Kubel continues to impress. On Saturday, he went 3-5 with two home runs in the Twins win. The big question for Twins fans should be, who will lead the Twins in Home Runs in 2009, Justin Morneau or Jason Kubel?
· If 22 year old Carlos Gomez isn’t going to play every day (and he shouldn’t), shouldn’t he be playing every day at Rochester? Doesn’t that just make sense?
· The Twins much maligned bullpen worked six shutout innings over the three game series.
· The Twins will now send Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano and Nick Blackburn to the Metrodome’s mound this week to face Jeff Niemann, James Shields and Scott Kazmir.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
With that, here are the reports on the Twins minor league games from the weekend along with a few other notes:
· By the way, this is something that just needs to be recognized:
1. Rob Delaney 2009 – 9 games, 13.1 innings, 12 hits, 0 walks, 19 strikeouts.
2. Anthony Slama 2009 – 7 games, 7.2 innings, 4 hits, 2 walks, 15 strikeouts.
3. I think all those veterans at Rochester should start filling out their resumes.
· On the polar opposite side of the spectrum are a couple of stories:
1. First, it was reported on Friday that Twins minor leaguer Hank Sanchez, supplemental first round pick in 2005, was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a drug of abuse. Sanchez was supposed to be providing right handed power for the Twins organization, but he has been hurt most of his professional career, and when he has been healthy, he has struck out a ton.
2. The Twins second first round pick last year, Shooter Hunt, pitched again on Sunday afternoon. See how well he threw in the game report below. Here are his complete season stats to this point. He has pitched in 11.2 innings over four starts. He has walked 23 and struck out ten! Not good.
· Be sure to read up on two Twins prospects that had high expectations, didn’t pan out as anticipated, and have started this season very strong. The article by cmathewson is at Twinkie Town.
· Also, be sure to check out Roger’s Weekly Twins Minor League report from this weekend.
Friday – Rochester 2, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 6 – Anthony Swarzak was the tough-luck loser again in this game. He fell to 0-3 with just a 1.59 ERA. Swarzak gave up two runs on five hits and an intentional walk in six innings. Sean Henn struck out two in his scoreless innings. Bobby Keppel then gave up four runs on six hits in just 0.2 innings. Mike Gosling came in and struck out the lone batter he faced to get out of that 8th inning. Carmen Pignatiello struck out two in his scoreless ninth inning. Trevor Plouffe went 2-4 with his third double.
Saturday – Rochester 14, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 17 (13 innings) – The Barons kicked that 13th inning field goal to win this one. What a game. Each team scored one run in the 10th, the 11th and the 12th innings before the game-deciding 13th inning. Reid Santos started and in 4.2 innings, he gave up six runs on six hits and four walks. Ben Julianel gave up an unearned run on a hit in 0.1 innings. Mike Gosling gave up two runs in 2.1 innings. He struck out five. Sean Henn gave up two unearned runs in 1.2 innings. Armando Gabino gave up three runs on five hits and a walk in his three innings. Carmen Pignatiello gave up three runs in the 13th. The bats definitely did their part in this game. Brock Peterson went 3-6 with a walk, two doubles and his first home run. Luke Hughes went 3-6 with a walk, a triple, and two home runs. Matt Macri went 2-7 with his second and third home runs. Dustin Martin was 3-7 with a double. Drew Butera went 2-3 with two walks. Justin Huber made his Red Wings debut and went 2-2 with a double and a home run before getting hurt. He has a sore hamstring that will keep him out of action. To activate him, Tommy Watkins went on the seven-day DL with a “sore hamstring.”
Sunday – Rochester 7, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 3 – As you would imagine, after Saturday’s game, the Red Wings needed some solid pitching, and they got it. Brian Duensing started and gave up three runs on five hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out six. Philip Humber made his first appearance since clearing waivers. He threw two scoreless innings. Bobby Keppel threw two shutout frames. Alejandro Machado went 2-3 with a walk. David Winfree and Jeff Christy each had a double and two RBI.
Friday – New Britain 3, Trenton 6 – Danny Valencia is on fire. In this game, he went 3-4 with his second double and first triple. Wilson Ramos went 2-4. Yancarlos Ortiz went 2-5. Cole Devries started and gave up two runs on three hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. Jose Lugo gave up three runs on three hits. Rob Delaney struck out three in 1.2 scoreless innings. Zach Ward gave up an unearned run on one hit in his inning.
Saturday – New Britain 5, Trenton 1 – Matthew Fox got his first win of the 2009 season. He started and threw seven shutout innings. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out five. Rob Delaney then gave up a run on two hits in one inning. Anthony Slama struck out the side in the ninth. Rene Tosoni and Toby Gardenhire each went 2-4. Whit Robbins had a double with three RBI.
Sunday – New Britain 11, Trenton 3 – Jeff Manship finally got some run support and recorded his first win of the season. He gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings. Jose Lugo, Frank Mata and Yohan Pino each threw a scoreless inning of relief. Danny Valencia was a single short of the cycle. He hit his third double, second triple and second home run. Juan Portes had two doubles in five at bats. Rene Tosoni went 2-5 with his third home run and three RBI. Wilson Ramos went 2-4 with his second double. Matt Moses went 2-4 with a walk and his third double. Yancarlos Ortiz went 2-4.
So as not to overplay it within each game report, Joe Mauer did play in all three games for the Miracle. He caught Friday night and Saturday night, and he was the DH on Sunday night. What he does at the plate isn’t important, in my mind. He will be just fine with the bat. It is good to see how well he worked with the Miracle pitchers. Be sure to specifically note how well the Miracle starts performed Friday and Saturday, and ask yourself if you think Mauer had anything to do with that.
Friday –Ft. Myers 3, Jupiter 1 – Michael McCardell did not pitch well in his first two starts, so it was great to see him pitch well in this game. The big righty gave up just one hit and one walk in six innings. He struck out six. Kyle Waldrop gave up two hits, but no runs, in his inning. Blair Erickson gave up a run on a hit and a walk in 1.2 innings. Spencer Steedley got the final out and recorded his first save of the season. Joe Mauer went 2-4 with a double and two RBI. Chris Parmelee went 2-4 with the other RBI.
Saturday –Ft. Myers 1, Jupiter 2 (10 innings) – Carlos Gutierrez showed exactly what he could be as a starting pitcher in this game. In seven innings, he gave up just one unearned run on two hits. He walked none and struck out just one. In seven innings, he needed just 73 pitches. He coaxed 17 ground outs, and three fly outs in the game. Henry Arias walked two and struck out two in his inning. Alex Burnett pitched a scoreless ninth before giving up an unearned run in the 10th for the loss. Joe Benson went 2-5 with his third double. Joe Mauer went 0-3.
Sunday –Ft. Myers 1, Jupiter 5 – Deolis Guerra was putting together another solid performance, until the 6th inning. He gave up five runs on six hits and two walks in six innings. Through five, he had given up just two runs on two hits. Santos Arias struck out three in this two scoreless innings. Joe Mauer and Chris Cates went 2-4. Estarlin de Los Santos went 2-5.
Friday – Beloit 7, Quad Cities 5 – Alexander Soto was the story in this game. The catcher went 4-4 with his third double and second home run. Ozzie Lewis went 3-4. Ramon Santana went 2-3 with a walk. Henry Reyes made the start and it didn’t go so well. He gave up five runs on five hits and two walks in just four innings. He struck out five. Danny Rondon struck out two in his three innings. Bruce Pugh gave up two hits and a walk in 1.2 scoreless innings. Matt Williams came in and got the final out.
Saturday – Beloit, Kane County – Postponed by Rain.
Sunday – Game 1 – Beloit 6, Kane County 11 – Michael Allen was a sleeper pick for many this past offseason. This was not a good start. In just 1.1 innings, he gave up eight runs (7 earned) on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter. Dan Belind came in and gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits in 3.2 innings. Joe Testa struck out two in his inning of work. Nick Romero went 3-3 with his second homer and four RBI in the game. Ramon Santana went 2-3 with a walk and his third double. Ozzie Lewis went 2-4 with an RBI.
Sunday – Game 2 – Beloit 7, Kane County 8 – Let’s be honest… when Shooter Hunt pitches, people take notice. It’s that whole “train wreck” thing. In this game, Hunt gave up four runs on one hit, six walks, a hit batter and two wild pitches in just two innings. Steve Blevins then gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in two innings. Danny Rondon then struck out three, but walked three, in two innings. Nick Romero went 2-2 with a walk and two RBI. Ramon Santana went 2-3 with his fourth double. Evan Bigley went 2-4.
That is it for today. Enjoy your week! Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.