GameChat – Twins @ Indians #2, postgame FINALLY let me in!  My deepest apologies for the lack of game chat – I had everything ready to go and simply was never able to get the dashboard to login so that I could put up a post until now.

If you were unable to see tonight’s game, you should really check out some pictures in the paper or on the website because both Cleveland and Minnesota were wearing throwback uniforms in honor of the Negro Leagues.  If you watched the game on TV, aren’t you glad you don’t have to play baseball in that every day?! I hope that the weather in Cleveland was cooler than it is here in Minnesota!

 And I gotta say it made Pavano look MASSIVE.  I kind of feel bad for Mauer and the pitchers with all those sleeves.  The Indians unis weren’t nearly as dramatic as the Twins. The Twins were wearing unis modeled after the 1909 St. Paul Gophers – really different than any throwback uni I have ever witnessed before.  Final note on the uniforms: I really liked the HATS!  Now there is a white hat that works!

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 3 1 7 14 2
Cleveland 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 0


Pavano didn’t really appear to like the uniform very much and, like several of the pitchers, appeared to have cut the sleeves off at the elbows.  It wasn’t his BEST appearance but he actually did what I like best in pitchers – he still did the job on a night when he didn’t have his best stuff.  He got through 7 innings and only gave up 2 runs despite several hits and walks.  And the defense behind him wasn’t great.  There were some really beautiful moments and some absolute head-bangers.  Kubel managed to have two incredibly bone-headed fielding efforts that earned him two errors.  But he really tried hard to make up for it at the plate with a double, a homerun and a very timely walk. I would say that, overall, the offense really was the story of this game.  Kubel wasn’t the only one with a HR either.  Trevor Plouffe hit his first MLB homerun and it was a lot of fun to see.  In addition, Mauer was 4/5, Cuddy was 3/5, and even Casilla was 2/2 – until he kind of stepped on the catcher running into home and hurt his ankle.  We’ll see how that goes but it did look like he kind of jammed himself up a bit.  Gardy said that an xray tonight showed a bone chip in the ankle but they’ll get an MRI tomorrow morning to decide if it’s a long term or short term problem – and before they decide what to do with DL for Hudson or maybe Lexi.  

All together, they actually managed to string hits together and the LOB percentage was about 50% instead of the approximately 80% it has been several times lately.  Aren’t you surprised I did the math?!?!

Anyway, we have a Twins win and no chat with which to elect a BOD.  So I believe that leaves the choice to me. Normally, I would look at the RBI totals and see that Kubel’s two are the most in the lineup BUT after the two errors I simply can’t do it.  I decided to go with Mauer due to his .800 BA for the night, two runs and an RBI besides.  It’s been a LONG time since Joe appeared in the ranks of BOD and all I can say is, “it’s about time!”

Of Snappers and Kernels and Other Minor (League) Stuff

I’m probably not going to be seeing much of the Twins games this weekend. It’s not because I’m frustrated by their lack of hitting (though I am), but rather because the Beloit Snappers (the Twins Low A affiliate) are in town starting tonight for a four-game series… their final visit to Cedar Rapids of the year.

This is the third trip this season that the Snappers have made to Cedar Rapids this season and I’ve managed to get out to watch over half of the games they’ve played here. The last couple of years, Beloit’s only made the trip down here one or two times, so I’m enjoying getting to see so many games featuring these future Twins.

I don’t know how many of you ever attend minor league games or even live in a community that has a local team. I can only speak for myself, but there really aren’t many more enjoyable ways to spend a summer evening (or afternoon, for that matter) and do so on a budget.

Perfect Game Field at Memorial Stadium, Cedar Rapids

I’ve attended minor league games in Florida (High A) and Arkansas (AA), in addition to Iowa and I don’t believe I’ve ever spent more than $10 for a ticket… and usually a bit less. The highest priced ticket at Memorial Stadium here in Cedar Rapids is $10. It will get you a front row seat by the dugout or pretty much anywhere in the first few rows behind home plate from dugout to dugout. $7 gets you and your blanket in to stretch out on the grassy Lawn Seating area next to the visitors bullpen area. My favorite food is a ribeye sandwich that is grilled in a tent right behind the Lawn Seating area. I think they hit me up for about $6 for that and it’s probably about the most expensive food item in the ballpark.

Of course if you really want to live well, you can rent one of the available sky suites for you and a few of your closest friends. That will run you $500 plus food. I know that sounds like a lot, but I’m checking out StubHub for tickets for the Twins/Angels series in a couple of weeks at Target Field and I’ll easily spend $500 for some pretty mediocre seats for my family. So I guess it’s all relative.

Angels #3 Prospect Mike Trout

As for the baseball itself, the Kernels are usually pretty competitive and that’s the case this season as well. Their CF the first half of the season was Mike Trout, the Angels #3 prospect (according to Baseball America’s preseason rankings) who performed well in the Futures All Star Game last month and is already doing very well with his High-A team since being promoted. He’ll be arriving in Anaheim Stadium perhaps as early as September 2011.

The Kernels best pitcher, Tyler Skaggs, is a talented lefty who was also one of the Angels top 10 prospects. I say “was” because he signed his first contract with the Angels one year ago today… and by tomorrow he’ll be announced as the “player to be named later” heading to the D’Backs organization to finalize the trade that sent Dan Haren to the Angels. Trust me, that deal wasn’t nearly as one-sided in favor of the Angels as the ‘talking heads’ have made it out to be.

Alexi Casilla rehabbed as a Beloit Snapper

But this is a Twins blog, so let me just mention a few of the Twins prospects I’ve been able to catch on their trips to Cedar Rapids in just the past couple of years. In fact, let me start with the guy in the picture at the right, Alexi Casilla. Lexi played two rehab assignment games for the Snappers here in Cedar Rapids in 2008 before rejoining the Twins. But that wasn’t the first time we saw Casilla here. He was a member of the Kernels for a few games at the end of the 2004 season and for the first half of the 2005 season, before being promoted to AA. (He was traded from the Angels to the Twins after the 2005 season for J.C. Romero.) You might say he was a local favorite.

Twins #6 and #41 Prospects, Angel Morales and Anderson Hidalgo

Over the past two seasons, when the Snappers have visited Cedar Rapids, I’ve had the pleasure watching pitchers Steven Blevins, Liam Hendriks (14), B.J. Hermsen (15), Brad Stillings, Tom Stuifbergen (22), Daniel Osterbrock and Billy Bullock (28) pitch against the Kernels. I’ve seen position prospects Danny Rams (33), James Beresford (40), Anderson Hidalgo (41), Steve Liddle (47), Micahel Gonzales, Angel Morales (6) and Aaron Hicks (2) get their swings in. (Those numbers in parens indicate the player’s ranking in Seth Stohs’ “Top 50 Twins Prospects” list this past June.)

Cards #1 Prospect Shelby Miller

Of course, I don’t just go to games when the Snappers come to town. For example, a week or so ago, I went out to catch a game with the Cardinals’ affiliate, the Quad Cities River Bandits. While Trout is no longer with the Kernels, I did get to watch the Cardinals’ #1 prospect (according to Baseball America) Shelby Miller pitch against the Kernels. His catcher that day was the Cards’ #10 prospect, Robert Stock.

The Kernels play in a nice stadium and the Angels consistently send enough of their top prospects to CR to assure that the team is at least competitive. In fact, they won the first half division title this year so they’re already assured of a spot in the Midwest League playoffs next month.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll probably spend close to $1,000 for tickets, parking, food, hotel rooms and gas to take my family up to Minneapolis for the Twins’ weekend series with the Angels at Target Field (not to mention some time at the Renaissance Festival). I’ll have a great time, I’m sure.  But tonight and tomorrow, I’ll watch future Twins face off with future Angels about 2 miles from where I live and even after ticket, parking (which is free), food and a couple of beers, I probably won’t spend over $20 either day.

How can you beat that? – JC