GameChat – HOME OPENER! Angels @ Twins, 3:10 pm

From @Twins on Twitter: ..and the jerseys were hung by their lockers with care..

 

The big day is finally here! We are shortly to have BASEBALL in Minnesota again! Yes, we are playing the Angels.. yes, that means the return of Torii Hunter. It also means we are visited by the likes of CJ Wilson (yum) and Albert Pujols (yikes) and what is likely to be one of the toughest teams in baseball this year. The Angels spent a FORTUNE this off-season in an attempt to be one of the toughest teams in baseball so unless the wheels fall off the bus early for them, this is likely to be a challenge our somewhat inconsistent defense isn’t quite ready for yet.

ASIDE: Most of you know that I am willing to give a lot of leeway on BA if the glove-work is on point. Yeah, my bias is clear in that I’m just not willing to go the other way. I will look crosswise at any player who thinks that big hits will makeup for shoddy fielding. It’s just how I am. Call me the balance of all those who love the long bomb no matter what. So to a couple of our new guys: I am definitely intrigued by what you have to offer but get your shit together in the field or we’ll have to have a chat.

Back to positive thinking. Yes, it turns out the Twins ARE having an impact on opposing teams. Even CJ Wilson is exclaiming on how impressive Target Field is.. now if only they were intimidated by it. But despite the finally having March weather now that April is here, it should be a really nice day for afternoon baseball! I wonder how many of us are taking sick days to either be at the park or otherwise having the time to watch the game. I’m lucky enough to be “working” from/at/on home so I know what I get to do! I might be a horrible fan but I’ve gotten to the stage in my life where I don’t really enjoy attending the Home Opener anymore. Yes, it’s a fantastic atmosphere but if you are there to actually WATCH baseball, you have to contend with a lot of bandwagon/casual/not fans who are just there because it’s a special day and really don’t care about the game at all. It’s kind of a pain in the patooter. The only thing that I think I am kind of wishing I was participating in is the celebration of the 2002 playoff team.. (although I think that is a really weak excuse to have a player reunion/celebration,) It’s fun to see the likes of Dougie Baseball (he’s still my baseball first love) return to Minnesota and remind Minnesotans that the Twins have far exceeded our expectations in previous years so here’s hoping they can do it again this year!

Let’s hope the Twins are able to get a nice restart after that not-so-successful first series against the Orioles.

 

LA Angels

@

Minnesota
Aybar, SS Span, CF
Kendrick, H, 2B Carroll, SS
Pujols, 1B Mauer, 1B
Morales, K, DH Morneau, DH
Hunter, To, RF Willingham, LF
Abreu, LF Doumit, C
Callaspo, 3B Valencia, 3B
Iannetta, C Plouffe, RF
Bourjos, CF Casilla, A, 2B
  Wilson, C, P   Blackburn, P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

LA Angels

2

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

5

6

0

Minnesota

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

5

2

Well according to Rhett Bollinger, this is only the 3rd time in team history that the Twins have started the season 0-4… I don’t know what happened in the rest of the other two seasons but I’m afraid to go find out.

There were a couple good things to point out – Willy hit yet another HR – just an inning too late to multiple RBI.  And actually, Blackburn pitched a pretty darn good game. The first inning was rough but he really settled down and pitched great after that. Sadly, it was mostly the fielding that let us down.. again. Seriously guys, get your shit together.

But to end on a positive note, check out his fantastic grab by Blackburn since this infielding was letting him down: Blackburn with a fantastic behind-the-back nab!

159-3 is not so Bad

The Twins were swept out of Baltimore in their first series of the year, three games to zero.  Over those three games the Twins managed just 5 runs, and 15 hits to go along with two errors and 16 strike outs.  As bad as those numbers are, it could have been worse, as the Twins scored late in all three games, with all 5 runs coming in the 8th inning or later.  Eerily similar to 2011, the Twins have found themselves down early, offensively challenged and relying on an inexperienced bullpen.

All of that means that the Twins are going to fight an uphill battle to come out of 2012 with a winning record, but it is only three games.  In2006, the 5th best team in Minnesota’s franchise history, the Twins won 96 games.  That teams started the year just 1-5, and had losing streaks of 3 or more games 8 times.  On May 1 that teams was 9-16 and was just routed 8-2 (giving up 19 hits) by a Mariners team that would go on to lose 86 games.  That team would go on to lose to the Cleveland Indians by a score of 11-0 TWICE and another 18-1 loss at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.  Every team is going to have a couple of bad days.

I am certainly not trying to say that the current version of the Minnesota Twins is going to be 30 games over .500, but I think we can hold on to the doomsday conversations for a couple more weeks, after all, those 3 games represent less than 2% of the 2012 schedule, and three losses are only three losses.

For those fans (and players) that may not remember what it looks like, this is Target Field

There are still a couple of positives to take away from this poor start, and the Twins can build on the things they’re doing well in the home opener later today.

  1.  Justin Morneau continues to hit the ball hard.  He’s hitting .400 with 2 doubles and a walk, and a couple of hard line drives that were hit right at defenders for outs.  Focusing on hitting the ball is working for Morneau, if he continues to hit the ball like this, it will not matter what Parmelee is doing with the bat (assuming he starts hitting better than the .125 he’s showing now).
  2. Brian Duensing has made two appearances out of the bullpen, has yet to give up a run and has recorded 2 strike outs.  With the exception of newcomes Matt Maloney and Jared Burton, the Twins bullpen has yet to give up any runs.  Alex Burnett, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing,  and Jeff Gray have combined to go 5.1 innings with a 0.00 ERA along with 4 strike outs and just 2 hits.  Granted, Maloney and Burton have been bad, but the bullpen is not as bad as it seems, there are plenty of guys going out there and succeeding.
  3. Josh Willingham has a home run, a double, and an outfield assist, throwing out Nick Markakis at home plate in the season opener.  Willingham has not looked great in left field (two errors on Saturday), and he will have to turn that around going forward, but if the rest of the Twins lineup warms up a little bit, this team is going to have an offensive to help mitigate some of the problems with the starting rotation.
  4. Jamey Carroll appears to be a real shortstop.  He is not going to win any Gold Gloves, and he might not be as fresh after 40 games at short, but for the time being Carroll is making all the plays and getting to all the balls in his area.  Outside of J.J. Hardy‘s injury plagued 2010 season the Twins have struggled to find consistent play from their shortstops for the better part of the last decade.  Carroll might just be keeping the spot warm for Brian Dozier, but as long as he’s here, he’s doing everything that’s been asked of him (except hit, despite being a high On Base Percentage guy he has yet to tally a base hit in three games, and has just one walk).

Five runs in three games will not be the norm for this bunch of ball players, unfortunately five runs in three games to start the season takes off a lot of the opening weekend optimism held by fans.  But hang in there, 159-3 is still within reach.

-ERolfPleiss