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On Thursday at 9:20 a.m., I’ll again be joining Paul Allen on KFAN, its affiliates and www.KFAN.com. Talking Twins is always fun! Also, check out my newest TwinsCentric blog at StarTribune.com. It takes a look ahead at the Twins 40 man roster decisions.
The Twins won an ugly 2-1 game against the Tampa Bay Rays in 13 innings last night, and if you listen to some Twins fans, you would think it means nothing. There were some missed opportunities. Delmon Young and Denard Span took turns looking really bad defensively. Span and Michael Cuddyer each went 0-6 in the game. There were several situations with a runner on third base and less than two outs where all you need is a medium deep fly ball and the team didn’t come through. Matt Capps blew a save.
If you want to think all negative after a game like that, that’s your prerogative… you can do what you want to do.
But here is how I choose to look at it. The Twins played an imperfect game, on the road, against (arguably, but in my opinion) the best team in baseball, without Justin Morneau and Orlando Hudson, with Joe Mauer only able to DH, against one of the best, young left-handed pitchers in baseball (meaning no Jason Kubel or Jim Thome too) and they still were able to win.
Most important to note is the impressive pitching performance by Scott Baker. Following two, two-run losses to the Rays, the Twins needed a big game from Baker, and he came through. He has not looked that good all year. The fastball was popping a little, and moving a lot. The curveball was as sharp as I’ve seen it. He had good control, and was very impressive. Eight innings. He gave up just three hits and one walk against a good Rays lineup. Despite a couple of bad plays (or non-plays) behind him, he was able to pick up his defense and make big pitches and get big outs. He deserved a “Win” even if I don’t care about that statistic for a starting pitcher in today’s game.
Matt Capps blew the save, so a lot of people thought the sky was falling down. But in reality, if Delmon Young catches that first lazy fly ball, Capps likely saves a 1-0 win for the Twins. But, that didn’t happen. Again, I am not a big fan of Capps, but he did not look bad last night. He does make the 2010 Twins bullpen better, regardless of a blown save. So, we really should not make too much out of that. Also, yes, Young should have caught that ball. No question about that. But in reviewing the tape, he did start out playing very deep. Teams always do that to (ironically) take away doubles. Young hesitated briefly, but not much, and he went a long way to get to that ball. It hit off the tip of his glove, and really, it just looked rather awkward. Should have been caught, but not as easy a play as many are thinking.
But the beauty of baseball is that there is a new game every day, and each at bat and appearance are new. Players and tames have the opportunity to redeem themselves quickly. Young had the play in the 9th inning, and he was 0-5 when he came to the plate with runners on 1st and 3rd in the 13th. He came through with what proved to be the game-winning hit.
On Tuesday night, Matt Guerrier played the role of goat after an awful performance in which he walked two before throwing BJ Upton a 2-0 fastball right down the middle that I think I could have hit out of the park! On Wednesday night, he pitched the 12th and 13th innings and was tremendous.
When asked before this series what I thought the Twins needed to do in this four game series against Tampa, I thought they needed to win one game, and that two wins would have been terrific. Anything more than that would have been pie in the sky. This morning (11 a.m. start time), the Twins can earn a split of the four game series.
Here is a quick glance at what happened on Wednesday in the Twins minor league system:
Red Wings Report
No game scheduled for the Red Wings on Wednesday.
New Britain Notes
The Rockcats beat Erie 13-6. Bobby Lanigan improved to 2-0. The righty gave up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits in 5.2 innings. He walked one and struck out five. Mike McCardell came out of the bullpen and gave up two runs on four hits in 2.1 innings. He did not issue a walk and struck out four. Cole DeVries gave up a run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Juan Portes went 4-5 with his third triple and fifth home run. Erik Lis went 4-5 with his 12th double. Jeff Howell went 3-4 with a walk and his first Rockcats double and home run. Joe Benson was 2-5 with his 17th double. Estarlin de Los Santos went 2-5 with his first triple. It was announced as well that Ben Revere will miss the rest of the season after being hit in the eye, and breaking his eye socket, on Tuesday night.
The Ft. Myers Miracle lost 5-2 to Clearwater. Nick Romero went 2-3. Santos Arias gave up one run on five hits and three walks in five innings. Jhon Garcia gave up one run on two hits in three innings.
Tom Stuifbergen improved to 5-0 in the Snappers 7-2 win over Burlington. The Dutch right-hander gave up two runs on six hits in 6.1 innings. He walked none, hit two batters and struck out five. Andrei Lobanov struck out three in 2.2 scoreless innings. Michael Gonzales has been on fire of late. In this game, he was 2-3 with a walk, his 20th double and his 12th home run. Danny Rams was 3-4 with his fourth triple. Reggie Williams went 2-4.
Brad Stillings, Anderson Hidalgo and Peter Kennelly were put on the Disabled List. Who will replace them? Check out the E-Twins Talkers for my thoughts.
Elizabethton did not play on Wednesday. So, who will be heading up to Beloit? I would say that it would make a lot of sense for the Twins to promote Adrian Salcedo, Martire Garcia and Oswaldo Arcia. All three have performed great for the E-Twins and are likely very ready for a promotion. But I don’t think that is what will actually happen. The E-Twins are going to win their division and advance to the league’s playoffs where they have a strong opportunity to win another Appalachian League title. Those three players will be a big part of that. So, I expect that the Twins will not send their primary players to the Snappers. I could be wrong, but I think they will let the Elizabethton team and fans win again. It is likely that all three will end the season at Beloit, following their playoff run for a few games. According to LaVelle, Pat Dean has been promoted to Elizabethton. It will be interesting to see if he starts, or just continues to throw an inning at a time in the bullpen.
GCL Twins Topics
It was a long day for the Twins Gulf Coast League team. They were able to drive north to Tampa (St. Petersburg) to watch the Twins and the Rays. They got to see 13 innings of that game. They played early in the day and worked a little overtime to beat the Orioles team 6-4 in 11 innings. Max Kepler went 3-4. Matej Hejman was 2-5 with his third double, first home run and three RBI. Eddie Rosario went 2-5 with his ninth double. Justin Parker gave up four runs (just 1 earned) on four hits and a walk in five innings. Derek Christensen threw two scoreless innings. Matt Schuld struck out four in three scoreless innings. Nick Alloway got his second save with a scoreless inning.
On his way to Tampa, LaVelle E. Neal made a quick stop in Ft. Myers and observed the GCL Twins. Here are his notes on several of the players.
Any thoughts on the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.