GameChat – Twins @ Yankees #3, 6:05

Francisco Liriano certainly didn’t have his best stuff last night, failing to get out of the 3rd inning and putting the Twins behind.  Liriano now has three terrible starts for the Twins in 2012, coming off a poor 2011 campaign, and if the Twins had anybody left at AAA to take his spot in the rotation, Liriano could be in trouble of losing his spot with the Major League club.

Morneau is back in the lineup today, after a day off.  He is not back at first, but he’s in the lineup, and so far reports are that everything went as planned on Monday with Morneau playing the field, so expect his playing time to increase.  Also of note: Ryan Doumit is getting the day off in favor of the hot hitting Clete Thomas.

 Minnesota

@

 NY Yankees
 Span, CF  Jeter, SS
 Carroll, SS  Granderson, CF
 Mauer, C  Teixeira, 1B
 Willingham, LF  Cano, 2B
 Morneau, DH  Swisher, DH
 Parmelee, 1B  Ibanez, RF
 Burroughs, 3B  Chavez, Er, 3B
 Thomas, C, RF  Martin, C
 Casilla, A, 2B  Gardner, LF
 _ Marquis, P  _ Kuroda, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 4 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 6 13 0
NY Yankees 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 11 0

BIG win for the Twins tonight! Once again, the guys jumped on the Yankee starting pitcher for runs in the first inning and once again the Twins pitcher gave a chunk of that lead right back. But, like Carl Pavano on Monday, Jason Marquis settled in and gave his team a chance to win.

A big sack of baked goods goes to the Twins’ bullpen as Brian Duensing and Jared Burton combined to throw three shutout innings of relief and Matt Capps survived a ninth inning Derek Jeter HR to nail down the save.

Plenty of hitting from the Twins tonight, as well, with eight different hitters contributing a total of 13 hits. Chris Parmelee notched two of them and Alexi Casilla continued to warm up at the plate with three hits of his own. Josh Willingham managed to stretch his hitting streak to 12 straight games to open the season with a ninth inning double.

But the Boyfriend of the Day award can go to nobody but Justin Morneau. Doc proved he doesn’t have to be playing 1B to hit well in Yankee Stadium, as the DH hit not one, but two more home runs!

It may be hard to believe, but the Twins will be going for a series win on Thursday night in Yankee Stadium. – JC

Justin Morneau

.
.

GameChat – Twins @ Yankees #2, 6:05

Ok, no one freak out but after playing defense last night, Morneau gets the day off. Really people, I’m not worried about this but it seems to be the thing people are talking about… oh that and the fact that Hughes is playing 1B instead of Parmelee. Considering they’re face Capt Cheeseburger, I think that is a very acceptable choice for the lineup. I’m just not sure why people are getting so worked up about roster choices already this season.

What has me WAAAAY more concerned is Liriano facing the Yankee lineup.. I tell you what, I know when I’m going to be crossing my fingers and holding my breath and it’s not going to be when Hughes is called upon.

 

Minnesota

@

NY Yankees
Span, CF   Jeter, DH
Carroll, SS   Swisher, 1B
Mauer, DH   Cano, 2B
Willingham, LF   Rodriguez, Al, 3B
Doumit, C   Jones, An, RF
Valencia, 3B   Granderson, CF
Plouffe, RF   Nunez, E, SS
Hughes, L, 1B   Gardner, LF
Casilla, A, 2B   Stewart, C, C
  Liriano, P     Sabathia, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 1
NY Yankees 0 1 4 1 1 0 1 0 x 8 13 1

I have to admit, this game didn’t go exactly how I expected. Well, I can’t say I was all that surprised by Liriano’s implosion… is there any reason we shouldn’t just put him in the pen at this point? At the rate he’s going, he’ll only last 1 or 2 innings his next start anyway… but I was pleasantly surprised that the Twins nicked Captain Cheeseburger for three runs in the first three innings. Of course, they did absolutely zilch after that.

It was mildly entertaining to see Denard Span and Gardy get ejected. Then again, that’s what happens when you have an umpire with rabbit ears who knows be blew a call but doesn’t want to get shown up for it. Seriously, these Major League umpires are out of control.

Willy Hammer went yard again, so that was cool.

Of course, the bad news tonight was off the field. Scott Baker ended up having “surprise” Tommy John surgery on his elbow. Seems once the surgery got going, they found damage the MRI didn’t reveal. Tough brake for Baker. Hope he can return strong and resume his career.

Tomorrow, we get the regular season debut of Jason Marquis in a Twins uniform, so that should be worth checking out. – JC

The Twins aren’t alone in NY! They have Lindsay!

Our favorite representative Twins fan must be having the time of her life as she watched the Twins kick a little Yankee patooter (finally) last night! That’s the good news.

Of course, the voting for who gets to stay in the FanCave continues so we all want to do our part to make sure Lindsay gets to STAY! So GO VOTE!

I haven’t found any limit on how many times it will let me vote yet so I think you should all go out there and make sure that she gets to stick around.

Good Luck, Lindsay!!!

Game Chat – Twins @ Yankees, 6:05 pm

Justin Morneau plays first base tonight and Josh Willingham slips up in to the clean-up spot between Morneau and Joe Mauer, as Justin drops down to 5th in the order.

It’s also Carl Pavano’s first start for the Twins in Yankee Stadium. That should be interesting because he’s so beloved there.

TWINS

@

YANKEES
Span, CF Jeter, SS
Carroll, SS Granderson, CF
Mauer, DH Rodriguez, Al, 3B
Willingham, LF Cano, 2B
Morneau, 1B Teixeira, 1B
Doumit, C Swisher, RF
Valencia, 3B Ibanez, DH
Thomas, C, RF Martin, C
Casilla, A, 2B Gardner, LF
  _Pavano, P   _Garcia, F, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 2 0 7 14 1
NY Yankees 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 9 0

Many of you younger Twins fans may not realize it, but yes the Twins ARE allowed to beat the Yankees! Young or old, not many fans have seen the Twins beat the Evil Empire lately, especially at George’s Monstrosity.

This was another team-wide effort. Our guys scored two runs in the top of the first and I jokingly asked the Chat group what the over-under was on how long it would take Carl Pavano to cough up the lead. I don’t think any of us imagined the answer would be four pitches, but that’s all the longer it took. But the three runs ‘Stache allowed in the first were all they got as he frustrated the hell out of Yankee hitters (and a few million Yankee fans, no doubt) for the next six scoreless innings.

Brian Duensing lit up the radar gun, hitting 95 mph several times, in the scoreless 8th and Matt Capps closed the door in the ninth.

Joe Mauer had three hits (two of them doubles, one in each corner of the OF), Justin Morneau celebrated his return to the defensive side of the field by launching a home run to dead CF.

All of these guys, and probably more, deserve baked goods galore for their efforts and certainly both Pavano and Mauer were worthy of Boyfriend of the Day consideration. But we’re going to reward defense tonight and Alexi Casilla just ooooozed defense! A slick, leaping turn of a double play and a diving stop of a ground ball up the middle followed by a glove-hand feed to SS Jamey Carroll were just two examples of his contributions. Just for good measure, he also doubled and scored a run. For all of that, Lexi, you are our BOD!

- JC

Alexi Casilla

Yankee Doodle Dandy

After some early season snafus relating to the Twins’ previous post-season failures against the Yankees, the Twins have an opportunity to put some of those demons to bed, starting tonight, as the open a 4-game series in New York tonight at 6:05pm central.

Image from M.T.'s Blog, http://matt7.mlblogs.com/

While some former Twins (Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, etc.) may have indicated that they Twins were mentally beat against the Yankees before their previous post-season collapses, there is a wealth of historical precedence that helped create those mental barriers.  In the past 10 years the Twins are 18-51 against the Yankees, and that does not include the three times the Yankees eliminated the Twins from post-season play.  Add those in and the Twins are an even more embarrassing 20-63 against the Bronx Bombers. A W-L% of  about .241.  To put that in perspective, over a 162 game season, playing ONLY the Yankees, the Twins would win 39 games.

In those 83 games against the Yankees, 42 were in New York, and the Twins won only 7 times, which does not bode well for the Twins as they roll in to Yankee Stadium this evening.

But here is why I think the Twins have a chance to split* this four game series, which would be a resounding victory, historically:

*Let’s just assume that C.C. Sabathia is his regular self, and Francisco Liriano is the disappointing fallen star that we’ve come to know, so the Twins are not going to win tomorrow night.  And while only two Twins have faced Hiroki Kuroda (Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham), both have been unsuccessful and the Yankees have blasted Jason Marquis to the tun of .361/.395/.778 for an OPS of almost 1200! In the other two games, the Twins will face Freddy Garcia, and Phil Hughes.  Both are beatable and if the Twins can pitch well enough to keep the Yankees to 5 runs per game, they will have a chance to steal a couple of wins from the Yanks.

Hitting:

In addition to hitting 4 home runs and 6 doubles against Garcia in 71 plate appearances, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer have combined to walk 10 times compared to just 5 strikeouts.  Of the 114 total plate appearances by current Twins, only Danny Valencia (1/4) has an OBP against Garcia that’s lower than .285.  The Twins have not fared quite as well against Phil Hughes, but still post an OBP of .317, albeit in a sample size limited to just 38 at bats.  Either way, the Twins have an opportunity to get out front of the Yankees early and to allow their starters to work deeper into games, limiting the opportunities for the bullpen to let another close game slip away.

Pitching/Defense:

In addition to hitting well against the Yankees, Carl Pavano (tonight’s starter) and Anthony Swarzak (projected to take Nick Blackburn‘s start on Thursday) have managed to keep the Yankees in check.  Pavano has limited current Yankees to a triple slash of just .229/.252/.359 with just 9/30 hits against him going for extra bases.  Swarzak has faced current Yankees hitters just 39 times, but he has yet to give up a home run to any of the current Yankees, which has been one of their biggest weapons against the Minnesota Twins.  Decent starting pitching will be complemented with a defense that is likely to be near league average with Justin Morneau slotted into first base and either Trevor Plouffe or Clete Thomas taking an outfield spot away from Ryan Doumit.

Winning two games against the Yankees and splitting the series will not get this team any closer to contending for the AL Central, but it will help plant the seed in the minds of this current group of Twins that they can beat the Yankees, something the Twins haven’t really done for a decade.

It starts tonight!

- ERolfPleiss

Game Chat – Rangers @ Twins #3, 1:10 pm

Gardy’s wasting no time getting the new guy in the line up. Clete Thomas is manning right field for the Twins today as Liam Hendriks gets his first start of the season.

RANGERS

@

TWINS
Kinsler, 2B Span, CF
Andrus, SS Carroll, SS
Hamilton, CF Mauer, C
Beltre, A, 3B Morneau, DH
Young, M, DH Willingham, LF
Cruz, N, RF Parmelee, 1B
Murphy, Dv, LF Valencia, 3B
Napoli, 1B Thomas, C, RF
Torrealba, C Casilla, A, 2B
  _Feliz, P   _Hendriks, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Texas 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 0 4 10 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 3 7 0

Liam Hendriks deserved better. Let’s be honest here, Glen Perkins coughed up a big ole’ hairball today. We can certainly question whether he should have been used after throwing quite a few pitches in the Saturday game, but there’s no questioning that he completely bombed today. A walk, a triple and a home run and “poof,” there goes a 3-1 lead.

Clete Thomas, newly arrived from Detroit, did his best to impress his new team mates with a two-run home run in the fifth inning, to give the Twins a lead and Hendriks made it stand up through his six innings of pitching. Jared Burton threw a scoreless seventh, before Perkins came in to do his thing in the eighth inning.

Now, it’s on to New York this week and hoping for the best. – JC

Game Chat – Rangers @ Twins #2, 12:10 pm

Kent Hrbek and his statue (Photo: Minnesota Twins)

Quite the way to start the day… the unveiling of Kent Hrbek’s statue outside Gate 14 at Target Field.

But what about the ballgame?

The Twins take on new Rangers import Yu Darvish this afternoon. It looks like a return to the original A line-up backing up starter Nick Blackburn.

Let’s hope for a little better result today! – JC

RANGERS

@

TWINS
Kinsler, 2B Span, CF
Andrus, SS Carroll, SS
Hamilton, CF Mauer, C
Beltre, A, DH Morneau, DH
Young, M, 3B Willingham, LF
Cruz, N, RF Doumit, RF
Murphy, Dv, LF Valencia, 3B
Napoli, C Parmelee, 1B
Snyder, B, 1B Casilla, A, 2B
  _Darvish, P   _Blackburn, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Texas 0 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 6 13 1
Minnesota 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 13 1

The Hrbek statue unveiling turned out to be the highlight of the day for the Twins. Nick Blackburn pitched well enough in his 5.1 innings, but left with a stiff shoulder and is “day-to-day” which, as Twins fans recall from last season, means we’re unlikely to see him in uniform for a month. The bullpen didn’t do their job today, as Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins each coughed up a couple of runs (though only one of Perkins’ was earned).

But the real story of this loss was, once again, the assbats. Specifically the assbats that were used whenever runners got on base, which was pretty much every inning. Twins hitters, collectively, stranded 15 runners and managed only 2 hits in 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position. It’s REAL tough to win games with that kind of futility in the clutch.

Let’s see if they support Liam Hendriks a bit better than that tomorrow afternoon.

By the time Hendriks takes the mound, he’ll have a new team mate. Outfielder Clete Thomas, who was Designated For Assignment by the Tigers a couple days ago, was claimed today by the Twins. Scott Baker was moved to the 60-Day DL to make room on the 40-man roster for Thomas and after the game, the Twins optioned Ben Revere to AAA Rochester, where he’ll get steady playing time instead of sitting idle on the Twins’ bench, to make room for Thomas on the active roster. – JC

Game Chat – Rangers @ Twins, 7:10 pm

This weekend, it’s “The Return of Twitchy,” as former Twins closer Joe Nathan pays a visit along with his new team, the Texas Rangers. Joe’s already blown a save and took a loss when he came in to a tie game and gave up the game-winner, causing many in Rangerland to wonder if someone else should be closing for the Rangers.

Late game drama notwithstanding, this is still the defending AL Champions coming in to Target Field and Anthony Swarzak may find this line up to be a bit more challenging than the one he faced in Baltimore last Sunday.

Let’s hope the Twins’ hitters keep clubbing the ball. A couple of notable lineup changes: Joe Mauer is at 1B tonight, with Ryan Doumit behind the plate, and Luke Hughes gets the start at 2B.

I’m not sure how many of our Knuckleballs crew will be in the chat tonight. I know some have other plans and I, personally, plan to go see what kind of trouble combining cold medication and alcohol can cause.

Enjoy the game! – JC

RANGERS

@

TWINS
Kinsler, 2B Span, CF
Andrus, SS Carroll, SS
Hamilton, CF Mauer, 1B
Beltre, A, 3B Morneau, DH
Young, M, DH Willingham, LF
Cruz, N, RF Doumit, C
Murphy, Dv, LF Valencia, 3B
Napoli, C Plouffe, RF
Moreland, 1B Hughes, L, 2B
  _Harrison, P   _Swarzak, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Texas 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 4 9 0
Minnesota 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 1

OK I’m gonna be honest… I sorta watched the game at a bar, but I can’t say I watched it with any intensity at all. I saw Anthony Swarzak pitch pretty well. I saw Danny Valencia hit a sacrifice line drive. I didn’t see much else of any significance. I do know the Twins lost. That sucks. We’ll try again tomorrow. – JC

GameChat – Angels @ Twins #3, 12:10pm

One win certainly does make things feel a little better but I’ll tell you, more would be better! LOL Today would be a great day for Liriano to improve on what was not a great first appearance. Yes, the Twins need to score more runs but this is a team sport. The pitching has to do their job and the defense needs to do theirs as well. We’ve been kind of weak on all fronts so far – everyone needs to step it up.

Speaking of a team needing to step it up, if you want to see a truly keystone cop moment on the field, AND the reason that you play it out no matter what as a baserunner, you can see Michael Cuddyer and his fellow Rockies pull off a baserunning miracle. It’s definitely worth the watch.

 

LA Angels

@

Minnesota
Izturis, M, SS Span, CF
Kendrick, H, 2B Carroll, SS
Pujols, 1B Mauer, C
Hunter, To, RF Morneau, DH
Trumbo, DH Willingham, LF
Wells, V, LF Parmelee, 1B
Callaspo, 3B Valencia, 3B
Wilson, Bo, C Revere, RF
Bourjos, CF Casilla, A, 2B
  Haren, P   Liriano, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

LA Angels

0

5

0

0

1

0

0

1

2

9

13

0

Minnesota

0

0

0

0

3

0

3

4

x

10

20

1

 

I can’t begin to figure out how to summarize that game… LOL Of all the games to play during a day game when half (or more) fans can’t even see what’s happening!??!?! I can guarantee that even the most diehard fan didn’t EXPECT a win today but we all hoped. To get the win in this fashion seems to be about the only way the Twins are willing to do it. They have to rip our hearts out, stomp on them, and put them back and inflate them just for the fun of it. THAT is what it means to be a Twins fan people…

Things started to look both familiar and disastrous in the second inning.. Liriano gave up a big hit and those of us who have watched him for a long time knew the meltdown was coming. And what a spectacular meltdown it was. We finally managed to get enough outs to get out of the inning.. 5 runs later. Franky DOES get points for coming out and working to put his brain back into the game for three more innings.. But for all that he only gave up one more run after that, his line is still not pretty. 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 HR and only 3 K’s means it was not a good day for Liriano, again.

Lately, this is about what you expect to be the end of the story for the Twins.. not today!

Today? They brought out the good bats!! hooray! We had lots and lots and lots of hits – more than we actually took advantage of for scoring purposes anyway. And when the runs started, they just started getting bigger and bigger! Guess what folks, it was the return of the HOMERUNS finally. And more importantly, it wasn’t just Josh Willingham! (who did hit his 4th homerun of the season however which leads all of MLB) We finally have the return of both the Big Boppers: Mauer AND Morneau. All of Twins Territory had collective fits when they went LONG. It’s the first time in June of 2010 that both have hit HRs in the same game and the first time EVER that it’s happened in Target Field.

It’d be great if that was the end but no… after two spectacular scoreless innings by Alex Burnett, we went into the 9th with a 3 run lead (10-7) which meant it was up to Capps to close it out for us. I know he’s really trying hard to improve the impression he left with Twins fans last year but that doesn’t mean we don’t hold our breath when he comes out. And today he showed it was with good reason. But he still managed to squeak the out the necessary outs before giving up more runs than we had lead.

Of course, that means we WON which means we have a STREAK which also means we had to vote on BOD! And again, like with the first win, the whole team was involved in getting these runs on the board so voting for who contributed the most was tough. In the spirit of the team victory, we have a chat team consensus as we assembled several ideas into the final offering we put to the public.

Your CO-BODs of the day are the M&M Boys!

 

But just so we don’t leave out our ever big bat, Josh Willingham, we offer him the finest of all Girl Scout Cookies – his own box of Thin Mints! This box is donated by our ever loyal TallDrinkOWater in California! Congrats to Josh for holding the biggest bat in MLB right now! That’s actually a very impressive accomplishment for someone wearing a Twins jersey. As your defensive abilities continue to improve, I’m sure that your selection of baked goods in the pantry will grow significantly!

 

We also offer a selection of tasty treats to Alex Burnett and Denard Span for their efforts today to hold the team together with both the bat, baserunning and solid pitching. As I mentioned in the pre-game, the only way to make a go of this with the roster we have is for everyone to step up their game in ever facet of play. They really seemed to take me at my word and go for it today.

If you get a chance to watch the replay, it’s totally worth it even when you already know how it ends! Besides, knowing the end will keep you from the ulcers that several of us got this afternoon during the live presentation.

GameChat – Angels @ Twins #2, 7:10 pm

First, the bad news: It was announced today that Scott Baker will have further cleanup surgery on bone spurs in his elbow and his season is over. Anyone else have a vague or not-so-vague feeling of deja vu?? This really sucks for both the team AND for Scott.

I think it would go a LONG way to helping the fans feel a bit better if they could actually WIN a game tonight.. just saying. And winning implies scoring runs. That would be MULTIPLE and MORE THAN THEM. Felt it necessary to be specific.

 

LA Angels

@

Minnesota
Aybar, SS Span, CF
Kendrick, H, 2B Carroll, SS
Pujols, 1B Mauer, C
Morales, K, DH Morneau, DH
Hunter, To, RF Willingham, LF
Wells, V, LF Doumit, RF
Callaspo, 3B Valencia, 3B
Iannetta, C Parmelee, 1B
Bourjos, CF Casilla, A, 2B
  Weaver, P   Pavano, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
LA Angels 0 0 0 1 3 0 1 0 0 5 8 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 3 0 0 3 0 x 6 9 0

Our guys finally get a win!

Considering the pressure of being the last remaining team without a win, so many Twins came through in so many ways tonight that picking a Boyfriend of the Day was difficult.

Carl Pavano came within a fluke inside-the-park HR of pretty much shutting down the Angels. Jeff Gray took all of one pitch to work out of a potential scoring situation in relief of Pavstache in the 7th inning (and earning the “win” in the process). Glen Perkins was extremely impressive in his set up role during an 8th inning that ended with a strike out of Albert Pujols. And Matt Capps survived a Torii Hunter double in the 9th to rack up save number 1 on the season.

The bats finally woke up a bit, as well. Joe Mauer got the scoring started with an RBI single in the 4th inning and scored when Josh Willingham ripped his third home run of the season in the same inning, giving the Twins their first lead in any game this year. Chris Parmelee came through with a 7th inning triple that tied the game.

But in a close vote, Jamey Carroll gets our first BOD award of the season for providing the margin of victory with a two-out base hit to score Parmelee.

It’s a noon game on Thursday… would it be too much to ask for a mini winning streak? – JC

Jamey Carroll