Kudos to the Twins cleaning crew who got the ballpark ready for Game 2 of today’s split doubleheader in just a couple of hours.
Before we take on Game 2, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Brian Dozier’s “infield hit” below. I’m pretty sure it’s something you’ve never seen happen before. This, folks, is why coaches taught us to “always run everything out!”
On to Game 2. Cole De Vries has been called upon to make a spot start tonight for the Twins, though he won’t find a Twins jersey in his locker when he shows up to get dressed for the game. Tonight is “turn back the clock” night and the Twins will be wearing Minneapolis Millers uniforms. The Royals, likewise, will be wearing throwback KC Blues uniforms.
Denard Span is getting the night off as Ben Revere leads off and plays CF. Having Span and Ryan Doumit ready to pinch hit late in the game could come in handy.
Where to begin? So many little tidbits being passed along after the Twins beat the Royals 5-1.
Let’s start with the obvious… that was a doubleheader SWEEP of the Royals that our guys completed tonight. Yes, I know it isn’t exactly the Yankees… or even the White Sox… but hey, the Twins are looking up at the Royals in the standings, so let’s not minimize this too much!
MLB.com Twins beat writer Rhett Bollinger tweeted a couple of additional little fun facts after the game. For example, this was the Twins’ first doubleheader sweep since September 13… FOUR years ago. Yes, September of 2008 was the last time the Twins took both ends of a doubleheader. In fact, winning even one game of a doubleheader would have been an improvement over last season when the Twins went 0-8 in doubleheader games. And finally, with today’s sweep,the Twins completed the month of June with a 14-13 record… the first winning record for a month since July last year.
Joe Mauer continued his hot hitting, going 2 for 4 and Josh Willingham apparently decided he didn’t want to let Trevor Plouffe lead the team in HRs without him, so he launched his 16th of the season, as Plouffe did this afternoon.
But the story of the game… and our Boyfriend of the Day… was starting pitcher Cole DeVries. The Minnesota kid went six innings while giving up just five hits and one walk and striking out six Royals. The bullpen of Alex Burnett, Tyler Robertson and Jared Burton each threw a scoreless inning of relief in support of DeVries.
This is going to be an interesting day.. Two games, HIGH temps, and we used 5 pitchers in last nights trial. In the post game questions, Gardy said that they deliberately didn’t over-use any particular pitcher so they are all theoretically available for today… This is going to be another one of those endurance challenges.
I have a hint for our boys.. lots of offense makes it way easier on everyone. Just saying..
I’m a little excited that we get to see Duensing finally return to the mound tonight.. *crosses fingers* I don’t want to jinx him or anything but I have been hoping for awhile that they’d let him have another shot. I really hope that he’s able to do something with it! We get Cole back tomorrow and Liriano on tap for Sunday. Let’s just call it a whole weekend full of “I wonder what will happen” as it comes to our pitching.
I really hope the offense gives them the support they’ll all probably need.
So after several discussions in our gamechats, I’ve come to the realization that so many of our faithful participants are out of the FSN viewing area and don’t get to see so many of the very funny Twins Commercials that we get to see here in state. So from time to time, I’m going to post some of them!
Lately, they’ve started a new series that I find hilarious – think Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy…
and this one is on a different vein but still entertaining…
and now a BONUS that you CAN’T find on the Twins website .. because it’s for the MN State Lottery but still… couldn’t resist publishing Bert.
Since Liam did so much better last night, I’m hoping that Blackburn can pull off the same magic today.
Of course if you’re watching any of the pregame commentary (which I’m not) I’m sure they’re talking about how HOT it is at Target Field today. Not only is it hot, it’s tropical with the humidity out there. This is going to be one of those days when endurance is going to be the real test of both teams. But I still think that offense BEFORE the 9th inning is recommended… just saying.
This is probably not fair in any way to Liam but.. I have very little confidence in his starts right now.
Do I think he’s more capable than what he’s shown us recently? yes.
Do I think he will improve? eventually.
Do I expect it tonight? no.
Am I ok with that? …. uh…
Do I think he’d be up here if we had any kind of actual rotation to pitch? no.
Does that change whether I’m ok with it? … not really??
I guess it all comes down to I want my team to win. I have accepted that this season that is not going to happen as often as losing. But on a day by day basis, I still want my team to win THIS GAME.
And of course I ALWAYS want them to beat the White Sox. So, do I understand that I have to give some allowance to young Liam who is no doubt going to be an excellent major league pitcher. Yes, I think so but that doesn’t make me like it when I know he’s the one on the mound tonight…
*prays for lots and lots and lots of Twins offense*
On a more positive note, it’s an absolutely phenomenally gorgeous day to be playing or watching baseball in Minnesota!
The good news is that Liam actually had a pretty darn good outing – I would take that from him on a frequent basis and be much happier about his name appearing on the lineup card. The bad news is that the Twins seemed to forget that they are usually pretty good at hitting Gavin Floyd. They finally got a late rally going but of course it was a 2 out rally – and not until the 9th inning. When you’re 3 runs down, I’m just going to assume that it is better if you try to tie up the game (or win) before you only have one out left.
Oh well, it really did give the folk who stayed watching something to get excited about at the end…
Matt Capps has been officially placed on the Disabled List and Tyler Robertson has been called up from AAA Rochester to join the Twins. Wether or not he makes his MLB debut tonight will depend on Francisco Liriano‘s ability to work effectively and efficiently (the latter something he rarely accomplishes). In addition to beating Jake Peavy and his 2.74 ERA the Twins will have to battle Chicago’s newest addition, Kevin Youkilis, batting in the 2 hole for the south-siders.
Ruined the big first game of Kevin Youkilis as a White Sox… check. Put an end to the “Jake Peavy has a perfect 0.00 ERA at Target Field” nonsense… check. Beat the Bitch Sox… CHECK!
The top 3 guys in the order combined for nine hits tonight but the obvious Boyfriend of the Day award winner was Francisco Liriano. It wasn’t a no-hitter like the last time he started a game against the Sox, but he arguably actually pitched better tonight. Seven innings, 4 hits, 5 Ks, only one walk and just one run. Can’t beat that! – JC
Six weeks ago, I put up a post here arguing that it was much too soon to “pull the plug” on the Twins’ 2012 season. I argued that, despite an admittedly dismal start, the Twins were performing fairly well on most fronts, with the glaring exception of their starting pitching, and that they were just about to begin playing their own Division rivals on a regular basis. Feel free to go back and read the whole article, but here was my conclusion:
If the Twins only win 10 of their next 34 games, then I’m on board with everyone else… put up the Yard Sale sign and sell off any asset you can get a fair return for.
But the more I look at the schedule… and what other teams in the AL Central Division have done… the less I feel like there’s any real rush to make drastic and irreversible decisions. The starting pitching needs to be better than it has been… pure and simple. But if that can be accomplished, I see no reason this Twins team shouldn’t still be able to live up to our limited expectations of them before the season started.
We could still have a little fun this summer.
A few days ago, in the comment section of one of our GameChat posts, regular reader/commenter “frightwig” pointed out that, since I authored that post, the Twins had gone 17-17 and had not cut down the number of games they trailed the Division leaders. (Following the series win over the Reds, that record is now 19-18 since May 14.) He asked if my opinion of the Twins’ outlook and what General Manager Terry Ryan should do had changed at this point.
That’s a fair question. The answer is, “no, not really,” and the reason is that the situation really hasn’t changed all that much. In fact, just as was the case on May 14, the Twins are once again about to embark on several intra-divisional series that could be fun to watch and very few games against contenders in other divisions. Between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Twins have 8 games with the White Sox, 7 with the Royals, 4 with the Tigers, 4 with the Orioles, 3 with the Indians, 3 with the Rangers and 3 with the A’s.
On top of that, the Division-leading White Sox have started their annual “trade for big name washed up former All-Stars” exercise, so you know that’s a sign they’re about to tank.
Bear in mind, even six weeks ago, I never argued that Terry Ryan should sit on his hands all year and make no moves, nor did I suggest the Twins were likely to become “good” any time soon. I merely pointed out that the Twins had some things going for them that could make them entertaining to watch and potentially even more than just entertaining if they could do something about the starting rotation. I don’t think that’s changed.
Still, I’ve written a lot about what I DON’T think Terry Ryan should be doing as we enter the “trading season,” but what do I think Ryan SHOULD do?
As I wrote on May 14, Ryan should be listening to any offer. Nobody on this roster is untouchable, though one or two players are likely untradeable.
Any player that does not figure in the team’s plans for 2013 should be traded as soon as decent value of any kind is offered. This would include Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano, certainly, as well as Alexi Casilla and Ryan Doumit (unless the rumored extension talks prove fruitful).
Ryan should not be in a hurry to trade any productive player that is under contract for 2013 and beyond. Players like Denard Span, Justin Morneau, Josh Willingham (particularly Willingham) and even Jamie Carroll should only be traded this summer for solid starting pitching that are good bets to be no worse than #3 starters as soon as next season. (Of course, in this rotation, it doesn’t take a lot to be considered a #3 starter.)
I still question whether the Twins will find anyone willing to part with a potential top-of-the-rotation pitcher in July, but I could be wrong. For example, with the Twins playing a series against the Pirates last week, I couldn’t help but notice that, for a team sitting at or near the top of their Division as June comes to a close, their offense really isn’t very good after you get past CF Andrew McCutchen. They are where they’re at because of their pitching.
Of course, they aren’t likely to give up anyone in the top half of their rotation at this point and any Twins fans who think they’d consider trading uber-prospect Gerrit Cole are kidding themselves. But guess what… their AAA affiliate, Indianapolis, is also leading THEIR division and they’re likewise doing so because of strong starting pitching. The Pirates appear to have some remarkable depth in the starting pitching department. I’m certainly no expert on the Pirates’ minor league system, but I can’t help but think either Rudy Owens or Jeff Locke, both lefties, would make the Twins’ rotation better as soon as next year and for several years to come (heck, probably THIS year, for that matter).
But why would they trade any of their young pitching now? Do you have any idea how long it has been since the Pirates sniffed the playoffs? No? Me either, but I think it was when Barry Bonds was skinny.
With Cole rising fast up through their organization, there’s going to be a logjam in Pittsburgh’s rotation before long. That’s why they may be more likely to give up some of that pitching for offensive help from one of the few teams without realistic playoff hopes in the coming weeks, rather than wait until the offseason when there will be more potential trade partners and they arguably could get a better return. In other words, they have the potential to be a little stupid with their trades over the next few weeks.
The question is whether the Twins would match up well with the Pirates in a trade discussion. With McCutchen in CF, their need for Denard Span might not be as great as a team that has a need at that position, but Span could certainly play one of the corner OF spots and he would certainly improve their lineup. Then again, just about any position player on the Twins roster, down to and including Drew Butera, could improve the Pirates lineup at this point.
I still don’t think trading players like Willingham or Morneau would be smart, because you’re going to need to replace them in a few months if you let them go. But there’s a case to be made that replacing them would be easier than acquiring starting pitching this winter. I’m not sure I’m convinced, but I’m willing to consider the possibility.
I’m sure the Pirates aren’t the only potential trade partner, but I mention them only by way of acknowledging there may be a stronger market out there than I think there is. The extra Wild Card spots this season and the relative balance of competitiveness in both leagues has the potential to mean a lot more buyers in July and fewer sellers. In any industry, that means a “sellers market,” and if the Twins can capitalize on that market to improve their team as soon as 2013, they’d be foolish not to do so.
Just don’t come at me with salary dump trades for any wannabe prospects. There’s no financial reason for the Twins to pull that kind of crap on their fans when they’re continuing to look at just below 3 million in attendance this season.
I had to leave Sunday’s Snappers game with the Cedar Rapids Kernels a couple innings early in order to get ready to catch a flight, but the Kernels had the game pretty well in hand by the time I walked out the gate.
The Snappers scored one run in the top of the first inning, but probably should have had more. Nate Roberts and JD Williams each singled to start the game and Miguel Sano sent a towering fly ball to right field, which bounced off the top of the high wall and back in to play. Roberts scored, but Williams stopped at second base. That fact that apparently was lost on Sano… at least until Sano had rounded second base, himself. They don’t allow one runner to pass a runner ahead of him in this game and that meant Sano was called out. The Snappers didn’t score again.
Steven Gruver had a little trouble getting out of the first inning, as well. giving up a single, a double and two walks to the Kernels in the bottom of the frame. That had the game tied at 1 after an inning. Gruver settled down a bit after that, though he did make a couple of mistakes that led to two Kernel solo home runs, before finishing his day after five innings of work. He was relieved by Cole Johnson, a late round 2011 pick by the Twins who made his first appearance for the Snappers since joining them from extended spring training.
I’m writing this before the game has finished, but I’m going to assume the 7-1 lead the Kernels held after seven innings will probably hold up, meaning the Snappers will take the series 2 games to 1. (Update: final score, 9-1)
Twins GM Terry Ryan was in the crowd again today, as was the full contingent of close to 20 scouts who have attended every game of the series. (I thought their numbers were reduced Saturday night, but was told today that they were all there… but many had to be seated in other areas due to the Kernels selling out the game.) Ryan was actually seated just across the aisle from former MLB/Twins pitcher Steve Bedrosian, who’s son, Cam, was the starting pitcher for the Kernels Friday night.
It was just about a perfect weekend for baseball in Cedar Rapids and, as usual, I loved every minute I was out there watching the kids on both teams play. The Angels haven’t done the Cedar Rapids organization any favors this year with the level of talent they’ve dispatched to the Kernels roster (a sign, some say, that they know they won’t be signing a new affiliation agreement with CR this off-season), but the players who are here are a great group of guys and give plenty of effort.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels organization does a great job and they deserve a better affiliation… something I hope the Twins will fix before Opening Day, 2013.
Finally, a few more pictures from today before I head to the airport.
Well that sure felt familiar.. And then all of a sudden, Josh pulls out the Hammer and we’re on top again! I do like winning.. I think we need to win more SERIES however but I’ll take one whenever it happens. Today was all about the HR though thanks to Plouffe and Willy. And for pulling out that late game ‘grab the lead in the 9th’ blast, Josh Willingham is today’s BOD!