GameChat – Twins @ Orioles, 6:05 pm, FSN & am1500

At least this lineup is a little more familiar than yesterday’s mental stunner.  Morneau is out for the second day with the flu – I bet they are passing that around the clubhouse – and it’s one of the few teams that I wish he wasn’t quite such good friends with Mauer.  Speaking of whom, Joe saw the specialist in Baltimore and then immediately flew back home to MN. When questioned about whether or not there was going to be an updated diagnosis for Mauer, team officials responded that his dual diagnosis of bilateral leg weakness and viral infection would stand and weren’t going to get any amendments.  Whether the two are related or not is not really a big deal.

Anyway, let’s play ball!

Minnesota @ Baltimore
Span, CF   Roberts, B, 2B
Tolbert, 2B   Markakis, RF
Kubel, RF   Lee, D, 1B
Thome, DH   Guerrero, DH
Young, D, LF   Reynolds, M, 3B
Cuddyer, 1B   Jones, A, CF
Valencia, 3B   Fox, J, LF
Butera, C   Wieters, C
Casilla, A, SS   Andino, SS
  Liriano, P     Tillman, P


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


There was some good and some bad in this game but.. since it’s the first time we have been able to get a back to back win this season, I’m going to just say it was Good.  Liriano wasn’t as good as I have seen him be in the past but he hung in there long enough andgot the job done – that’s going to happen to all pitchers and I hope that he’s able to do that kind of thing more often.  His defense really did a great job behind him tonight for the most part – including a moment where Casilla was channeling the recently departed Nick Punto.  I guarantee someone says that to Lexi in the clubhouse after the game tonight.

Secondly, this strike zone tonight was ridiculous – it was ridiculous for both teams though honestly but still it just SUCKED.  The players were not appreciating that fact either which started to get pretty ugly at one point – and necessitated a little Showtime from the Manager. Gardy got ejected but following that, you got the unique visual of coaches literally trying to haul Thome off the homeplate ump – not an easy job & I can’t really remember seeing Big Jim get that mad before.

The new guy, Hoey, had a pretty solid (impressive even) outing in his Twins debut.  It’s fun to see a legitimate heater thrown like that even if you do pause with each wind-up and pray that it goes where he wants it. Fun Stuff!

The BEST thing about tonight contributed highly to the Chat’s vote for BOD.  Our spotlight hitter of the night was no other than … *drumroll* Sweet Drew Butera!  no, really! it was!  2 hits with a double and 3 RBI actually give him a better BA than Thome (and Tolbert & Casilla).  For keeping Francisco anchored for more than 5 innings, for getting the run-scoring off to a great start and for being a generally excellent backup for the ailing Mauer, Drew Butera is today’s BOD!

Drew Butera, BOD!

The Cure For What Ails You

I’m not going to go through a recitation of all of the ailments currently afflicting the Twins. If you want to go through all of that even more than you have already, you can click on any one of about a dozen of the blogs in our Twins blogroll over on the sidebar (including Howard Sinker’s return to his “A Fan’s View from Section 219” blog… welcome back Howard!). Instead I’m going to focus on a cure.

If ever there was a team that appeared prepared to provide a cure for what’s ailing the Twins, it’s this week’s opponent, the Baltimore Orioles.

If you haven’t paid much attention to the O’s lately, you might wonder why I’d make that comment. After all, Baltimore got off to a 6-1 start during the first couple of series of the year. But things have not gone so well over the past week or so for the Birds. They’ve lost seven games in a row and have been scoring runs at a pace that almost makes the Twins’ offense look productive by comparison. Almost.

They’ve also been bitten by the same injury bug that has chewed its way through the Twins clubhouse. Don’t look for old friend JJ Hardy out there at shortstop for the O’s, he’s down with a strained oblique muscle. They’re also missing pitchers Justin Duchscherer and Brian Matusz.

We’re all familiar with the early season struggles of Francisco Liriano (0-3, 9.42 ERA), but if you wanted to conjure up a cure for Frankie’s ills, I’m not sure you could do much better than the lineup he’ll face tonight in Baltimore… not to mention his opponent on the mound. Chris Tilman sports an 0-1 record and a 7.30 ERA covering three starts, during which he’s amassed just 12 and 1/3 innings pitched.

In fact, the only game in this series that looks to have to potential to be a bit of a pitchers’ duel is game three on Wednesday, when Nick Blackburn takes his 3.06 ERA up against the Orioles’ Zach Britton, who’s been pretty much the O’s lone reliable starting pitcher. Britton sports a nifty 2.75 ERA over his three starts.

Take aim! Eutaw Street beyond Camden Yards' RF fence (Photo: Brian Cassella-Times)

This would also appear to be a good series for Jim Thome to resume his assault on 600 career home runs. Not only is Oriole Park at Camden Yards known as a hitters’ park, but all four of the O’s starting pitchers this series are right-handers and Baltimore pitchers have already given up 19 home runs this season. That means Jimmers should get plenty of opportunities to put a ball out there on Eutaw Street. In fact, this would be an ideal time for Justin Morneau to find that home run stroke and the way Jason Kubel is swinging the bat, he could add a few taters to his total, as well.

Right now, the only Orioles hitter that’s been making solid contact is second baseman Brian Roberts. If you think Kubel and Denard Span are feeling a bit like they’re having to carry the load for the Twins, pity Roberts who doesn’t even have a partner to share the load with.

The Twins return home after this series and the Orioles will be hosting the Yankees and Red Sox as their homestand continues after our guys leave town. I’m sure both of these struggling teams are looking for this series to provide a cure to their recent ailments. Let’s hope it’s the Twins that come away with that cure.

Getting their first series win of the season on the road in Baltimore would go a long way toward making everyone, players and fans alike, feel better.

– JC