GameChat – Royals at Twins #3 7:10pm

The biggest baseball news in Minnesota today had nothing to do with the Twins.  The Saint Paul Saints are going to be building a brand new stadium.  Look out, Target Field!

Last night the Twins were let down by the starting pitchers, the bullpen and Ryan Doumit‘s defense.  Tonight they have a chance to salvage a win in a 3 game home series with the Royals.  In the first two games Minnesota has been outscored 19-6, so even keeping the game close would be an improvement.  The Royals are sending Luis Mendoza to the hill and the Twins are countering with the winless wonder, Liam Hendriks.  Mendoza is not very good, and Hendriks has not proven he is any good yet, so this could be a fun game for fans that like offense.

Joe Mauer and Chris Parmelee are still out of the lineup, but at this point I would assume that Ron Gardenhire and the Twins are erring on the side of caution and making sure these guys are 100% before putting them back in the line up.

 

 Kansas City Royals

@

 Minnesota Twins
Lough, RF  Span, CF
Escobar, A, SS  Revere, RF
Gordon, LF  Willingham, DH
Butler, DH  Morneau, 1B
Perez, S, C  Plouffe, 3B
Moustakas, 3B  Mastroianni, LF
Cain, CF  Escobar, 2B
Hosmer, 1B  Butera, C
Giavotella, 2B  Florimon, SS
 _Mendoza, L, P  _Hendriks, P

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Kansas City 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 8 0
Minnesota 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 4 7 0

Well that sounded like a fun game (at least the last few innings) anyway. Liam continued to struggle, giving up a couple of runs in the first inning, but the Twins offense managed to stay within striking distance and ultimately took the game in to extra innings, winning 4-3 in the 10th.

The Twins bullpen did a real job tonight. Hendriks survived five innings, but that left five innings of work from the pen. Robertson, Fien and Burton not only worked one shutout inning each, but none of them gave up so much as a hit. Glen Perkins followed with two shutout innings, giving up just one hit. That’s some pretty impressive work and it would be quite easy to just give the Boyfriend of the Day award to that group.

You could also make a case for Denard Span. While he had only one hit, it was a walkoff double in the 10th inning and that’s pretty BOD-worthy. For that matter, Alexi Casilla, who entered the game as a pinch runner, led off the 10th with a double of his own and ended up scoring on Span’s double and that was pretty sweet work on Lexi’s part.

But tonight’s BOD award is going to Trevor Plouffe. Not only was Plouffe the only Twins hitter with more than one hit, one of his two hits was a home run in the 9th inning that sent the game in to extra innings. Beyond that, Plouffe made a diving defensive play in the 5th that saved a run. Without that play and the homer, this game was another loss. For that, Trevor is our BOD! – JC

Trevor Plouffe

Why We Watch – Losing and the Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins are 59-84, they’ve been officially eliminated from the Wild Card race and they will be out of postseason contention with three White Sox wins, three Twins losses, or some combination thereof.  There are 19 games left in the 2012 season, Minnesota has almost nothing to play for, and yet I continue to watch.

What Do You Watch For?

Last night’s 10-5 loss was actually a fairly exciting game for 7 innings.  While P.J. Walters only went 4 innings (he pitched to the first six batters in the 5th inning without recording an out), he was going along pretty well before running into some serious trouble in the 5th inning and giving up 6 earned runs.  While the bullpen eventually coughed up 4 more runs in the 8th to run the lead to 10-5, the Twins battled back in the bottom of the 5th and were within a single run until the 8th inning.  But why did I continue to watch a 10-5 game through the final out of the 9th inning?  Because I want to see which current players the Twins think will have a chance to be a part of the 2013 club.  Today I’ll talk about pitching, and Saturday I’ll come back and talk about what kinds of things I’m looking for from the position players.

Pitching:

Walters, given his performance last night, coupled with what he’s already done (or failed to do) earlier this year both with the Twins and in AAA, it is unlikely that he comes back as anything other than AAA roster filler.

Anthony Swarzak came in for Walters, pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits, no walks and recording a strike out.  Swarzak’s ERA (4.93) is pretty high given the current depressed run environment in Major League Baseball, but his line looks drastically better if you only look at his performance as a reliever.  His ERA is under 4, his WHIP is just 1.218 and he’s striking out more than 6 batters per nine innings, all as a reliever.  Now, he’s certainly not great, but as a cheap, dependable long-reliever, Swarzak is exactly what you’d hope he would be.  I certainly hope he’s back in 2013.

Brian Duensing, Casey Fien and Tyler Robertson all gave up a run without pitching an entire inning (Fien and Robertson failed to even record an out).  Duensing probably still has a role in the bullpen, and Fien has pitched pretty well in 2012 in his 27.1 innings, so he likely sticks around and competes for a spot as well.  Robertson, however, has really struggled this year, posting a 6.00 ERA.  As a left handed pitcher he’s been really good against left-handed batters (.193 BA against), but he’s struggled to do much of anything against right-handed batters (.313 BA against).  He is still young (just 24 despite being drafted in 2006), and is likely being slightly misused by Gardenhire as he’d probably be a pretty valuable LOOGY (Left-handed One Out GuY) if the Twins limited his exposure to right handed batters, but more than a third of the time he’s facing opposite sided hitters, allowing the batter to reap the platoon advantage.  I’m note sure what the Twins will do with him going forward, he might just need some more time at AAA (only 28.1 innings at AAA, all coming in 2012).

Kyle Waldrop came into the 8th, gave up a couple of hits before retiring the side and the Twins went to the bottom of the 8th down 10-5.  Waldrop was not charged with any earned runs, but he gave up two singles that scored runs, then hit a batter before getting Lorenzo Cain to hit into an inning ending double play.  Certainly not the kind of performance the Twins were hoping for when they bring in a guy to try and keep an inning from getting out of hand.  Drafted out of high school in 2004, Waldrop is now 26 and has spent the better part of the last three seasons at AAA Rochester posting pretty solid numbers.  His career AAA ERA is 3.21 over 201.2 innings, so he likely has nothing left to prove in Rochester.  Waldrop’s real issue, like so many other Twins pitchers, is his inability to strike batters out.  After arriving in AAA with a 6.2 SO/9, he saw that rate fall in 2011 to  5.0 and all the way down to 4.1 in 2012.  With the Twins his strike out rate has been virtually non-existent, a minuscule 2.5, and he has more walks than strikeouts.  Waldrop has dealt with some injury in 2012, and the Twins will likely run him out a few more times this year to see if Waldrop has anything else, but I do not expect him to have a place with the Twins in 2013.

To close out the game the Twins turned to Luis Perdomo.  Perdomo pitched a perfect 9th inning, sending the Royals down 1-2-3 and recording 2 strikeouts along the way.  Of his 8 performances this year for the Twins, last night was his best, and his only appearance without allow a walk or a hit.  Perdomo is 28 and with his 5th organization, so he is pretty much a known commodity at this point.  The Twins obviously want to get a closer look at Perdomo, he was one of their two September call ups.  Whether or not he has a place with the Twins in 2013 will come down to Perdomo putting up more numbers like he did last night.

So those are my thoughts on the players from last night, and those are the sort of things I’m watching down the stretch.  19 games left, GO TWINS!

-ERolfPleiss