Once again, the Twins will attempt to put an end to their current losing streak this afternoon.
Just because the Twins haven’t been winning baseball games, it doesn’t mean they’ve been doing nothing at all, however. The folks in charge have been playing musical chairs with the Twins active roster and their 40-man roster, as well.
The upshot of all the changes is that the Twins have two new members of their rotation. Sam Deduno started last night’s loss and PJ Walters is on the hill against the Tigers this afternoon.
The Twins needed to clear space on their 40-man roster for Walters and the odd man out turned out to be outfielder Joe Benson. Benson was a 2nd round draft pick by the Twins in 2006. He has been struggling at the plate for the past year or more and now he will get an opportunity to start over with the Texas Rangers organization. We wish him the best of luck.
Meanwhile, in the Big Leagues, manager Ron Gardenhire has put out a particularly odd line up against the Tigers today.
It’s not like the Twins went out and beat the crap out of the Tigers, of course. In fact, the only inning they scored in was the first inning when Mauer, Willingham, Morneau and Parmelee did some damage in building up a quick 3-0 lead.
Typically, there’s no way a lead like that would stand up for the Twins, but PJ Walters made the most of his first appearance in the Big Leagues this season, going six strong innings and giving up just two runs. The bullpen did their jobs to nail down the Twins win.
The far-too-rare Quality Start by a member of the Twins rotation gives Walters our Boyfriend of the Day award.
Episode 39 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.
Cody and Eric must hate themselves, because there is not other reason they would be watching bad baseball and drinking bad beers. But alas, here they are, for another week, with another bad team, and more Twins banter.
This week they cover the Twins news, do a lenghty look at the Twins regulars now that the season is 25% of the way over, and they decide that Joe Mauer and the bullpen are the only things going well for the Twins (ummm duh!).
The round out the podcast with FOUR bad beers, their bored, tipsy, silly friend Tricia, and as always, a trip around the league.
I don’t know about you but I really can’t think of anything else I would really like to do to kick off the holiday weekend than sit down with an adult beverage, kick up my feet and watch some baseball…
except.. well.. Twins baseball just hasn’t been all that relaxing to watch lately..
and I have a To Do list about a mile long..
so.. yeah, I’ll be in and out. At least with “effectively wild” Samuel Deduno coming up to pitch to the Detroit hitting machine, it could be INTERESTING..
A 6:08 start time? Seriously? What’s up with that? Is there a prize for starting two minutes before every other game in the Eastern Time Zone?
Weird starting time aside, it’s pretty hard to look at these line ups side by side and see a lot of reason to hope the Twins will win a game in this series. On the other hand, neither Diamond nor Porcello tend to walk many guys, so maybe the game will at least be relatively fast-paced.
Speaking of the Twins’ line up, where the heck is Oswaldo Arcia? Has he started a game at all since last week? I guess I just don’t get the logic of having a kid on the roster if he’s just going to sit.
I’m not sure where to even start to rant about this game.
Josh Willingham hit two home runs.
The Twins have won none of the three games in which Willingham has hit more than one home run as a Twin.
Jared Burton had never gotten more than four outs in any appearance as a Twin.
He has now. However, he didn’t get that fifth out until he had given up the lead to the Tigers.
According to a Tweet from Jim Mandelaro out in Rochester, PJ Walters has been told he’s being called up by the Twins to pitch this weekend.
I wish him well. We’ve seen some bad pitching in a Twins uniform over the last couple of years, but I can’t recall a Twins pitching staff any worse than this one. I’d like to give the front office the benefit of the doubt and say it couldn’t have been predicted. However, pretty much nobody who ISN’T a part of the Twins organization is surprised.
It would just be nice if those inside of the organization begin to act like they’ve noticed now. Maybe promoting Walters and Sam Deduno are indications that realization has begun to occur.
I conducted the following interview on behalf of MetroSportsReport.com and it is reprinted here with permission. All photos are original and property of myself and Knuckleballs – SD Buhr
One of the top ranked high school power hitters at the time, Travis Harrison was drafted by the Twins with a supplemental first round pick (the 50th overall pick) in 2011. He signed a $1.05 million bonus to join the Twins organization and bypassed a scholarship offer to play baseball for USC. There’s never been much doubt about Harrison’s ability to hit a baseball. The question in many minds is what his ultimate defensive position will be. Right now, the Twins are working with Harrison to develop his skills at third base for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Harrison is one of the top third base prospects in the Twins minor league organization, along with super-prospect Miguel Sano, who is currently playing for high Class A Fort Myers.
This past Friday night, Harrison gave his Kernels team a dramatic win with a 12th inning walk-off single to beat the Kane County Cougars. It was the second consecutive walk-off victory for the Kernels, coming just one night after Byron Buxton’s walk-off grand slam home run to beat the Burlington Bees.
It was Harrison’s second walk-off single recently. The first came when he hit what appeared to be a grand slam home run to beat the Lansing Lugnuts. However, his team mates mobbed him as he rounded second base and two of the runners ahead of him were ruled by the umpires to have abandoned their attempts to advance, leaving Harrison with a very long game winning single, rather than a home run.
On Saturday afternoon, the day after his most recent game winning hit, Harrison sat down for an interview with Metro Sports Report.
Metro Sports Report: You’re still learning to play third base. You had kind of a rough start to the season with something like five errors in the first 10 games. You seem to be looking a lot more comfortable out there lately. Are you feeling better out there?
Travis Harrison: Yeah, I’ve been feeling good. Jake (Manager Jake Mauer) has been helping a ton and he’s also made me learn that I might have a couple of errors, but they’re errors being aggressive. They (official scorers) are giving me errors on tough plays, but I want to be a big league third baseman, so that’s fine.
But I’m not worried about the errors, I’m worried about making plays for the pitcher, making plays for the team. Just like any other infielder, if they give you an error and you’re doing the best you can do, you can’t control that.
MSR: You’ve made a lot of pretty nice plays out there as well. You probably feel better about those than you necessarily feel bad about the errors?
Harrison: Yeah, I mean you always want to make the routine plays first, that’s your number one goal, so you focus on that. You give 100 per cent effort and you’re going to make highlight plays every once in a while and those are good for the team. But first of all, you want to make the routine plays. Those are most important.
MSR: The Twins have, for years, had a little trouble finding a third baseman to stick at the big league level. Is that something that gives you some motivation? The flip side of that is there are a couple of guys in the organization above you that look like they could have the potential to stick as well. Do you pay attention to what everyone else in the organization at your position is doing or do you just go out and worry about playing your game?
Harrison: I just go out and play. I want to be the starting third baseman for the Twins for a long time. I mean that’s the goal. I know I can do it. I just have to keep putting in the hard work and I’ll get there.
Following the other people? No. I know the other guys because of spring training. I know Miguel (Sano), we worked out together. Miguel’s a great player. I’m just going to work my ass off and whatever happens is going to happen.
MSR: You look around the Midwest League and you would be leading a lot of teams in a lot of offensive statistical categories. Here, you’re one part, though one very important part, of an awfully good day-to-day lineup.
Harrison: It’s fun to be a part of. We’re all off to good starts. We’re all hitting the ball pretty well and we’re all pulling for each other. No one’s concerned with who has the most RBIs or anything. We’re all just trying to do a job. I gotta say though, Walker (Adam Brett Walker) is stealing a lot of my RBIs, isn’t he? Every time I get up there, there’s no one on base! (laughing)
It’s fun. Walker’s obviously off to a good start, Buck (Byron Buxton) is off to a good start. Everyone in the lineup really is. And so we’re all just having fun, doing the best we can.
Stats don’t really tell you anything in baseball. Nothing really.
MSR: There’s a whole sabermetric community that doesn’t want to hear you say that!
Harrison: Right (laughing). It’s true though, ya know. For example, they saw Niko (Goodrum) had an error last night. Niko had the best game he’s had all year at shortstop last night! It’s stuff like that. So, they get on you about numbers things, things like that. It’s just not the story, so we don’t worry about that kind of stuff.
MSR: You’ve had, at least that I’ve seen, two walk-off singles. This one was a little different than the last time.
Harrison: This one was a real single (laughing).
Yeah, those are fun. The only non-fun part about it is getting drenched with ice in the shower. Buck had to go through it the night before and they got me last night, but yeah it’s exciting. Just goes back to pulling for each other. Just trying to get it done. We’re not a bunch of selfish guys, we’re just trying to win for the team.
MSR: You might be responsible for one lesson that the entire team has learned. After Buxton’s grand slam the other night, everybody came to home plate and waited for him instead of chasing him around second base. So there’s a lesson learned. I don’t know if you’re responsible for teaching it to them, but somebody did, right?
Harrison: (laughing) Right, that was good. With Buck’s, we were down by three so they didn’t have a choice.
MSR: You’re not going to tell me those guys ran around chasing you because they knew it didn’t matter if your run counted or not. You don’t really believe anybody was thinking like that.
Harrison: No, we were all just super excited. They weren’t trying to steal anything away from me. I was excited, I was jumping up and down. It didn’t matter. When they told me it was a single after the game, I wasn’t really worried about it.
MSR: Tell me a little about yourself in high school. Were you a mulit-sport guy or did you pretty much stick to baseball?
Harrison: No, I stuck to baseball. I played with APD Academy all through high school. It’s a big baseball academy out in southern California. I started at a really young age and I stuck with that.
I played basketball in middle school. Never played football, even though I went to a big football school. I stayed away from that. It was all baseball. I tried to focus on that. I’ve always played golf. Golf’s fun. I enjoy that.
MSR: That was going to be the next question. Away from the ballpark, what sort of things do you enjoy doing?
Harrison: I love playing golf. I’m a big golfer. I love playing the guitar. I like things that kind of take me away from playing baseball and things that I can just relax and just focus on that. I’m not a big video game guy. I’ve always gotta do something. So when I’m out on the golf course, I feel like I’m not even thinking about baseball. I’m just away from it. Like, sometimes if I’m going through a slump, I go out and play a round of golf in the morning just to reset.
MSR: The coaches don’t mind that? This is old school, but there was a time when coaches discouraged players from golfing because they didn’t want it screwing up the player’s swing.
Harrison: Everyone tells me that. I think of it as two totally different sports. I’ve been swinging a baseball bat since I was three or four years old, so I’m not going to forget how to do that. I don’t even think about that. They’re both hand-eye coordination.
I think if it gets in your head, that’s when you might get screwed up. Once you get to know the golf swing, there’s actually a lot of similar things that go on between a golf swing and a baseball swing. Obviously, the ball’s down but it’s never really bothered me, it’s always relaxed me and it’s got me focused again.
MSR: I read somewhere that the Twins wanted you to show more power this year, rather than spraying the ball to all fields. That seems contrary to the Twins past hitting philosophy, in my mind. Is that what they wanted to see you do more of this year?
Harrison: I think so. I mean they want me to hit the ball hard and hit the ball out of the park and hit doubles and that kind of thing. I don’t go up there thinking, “try to hit a home run.” I think, “try to hit a hard line drive.”
I know home runs are going to come. Home runs are about selecting a pitch you can drive out of the yard instead of taking one you can hit to right field for a single. And I’m learning that, slowly. I’ve hit some home runs this year and I’ve hit a lot of doubles and so that’s going well.
MSR: I think you’ve got the same number of home runs this year that you had all of last year.
Harrison: Yeah, I should have more! (laughing)
MSR: At least one!
Harrison: (smiling) So yeah, it’s going good.
Post-script: Harrison hit a home run in Sunday’s game and another in Monday’s game. On Tuesday, the Kernels had a Charity Golf Outing. I can’t say I know for sure, but I’m guessing Harrison participated. – JC
Game two of the series is going to go much better than game one did, right?
OK, I’m not terribly confident about that, either, but we can hope.
If you want something to at least look forward to… kind of… the Twins announced today that Sam Deduno would be called up to start on Friday in Detroit. It’s not that we should assume Deduno will be incredible, but he won’t be any of the same guys we’ve been watching fail miserably to start seemingly every other game recently.
Monday was supposed to be a noon start for the Kernels, but the storms that rolled through Cedar Rapids did a little number on the ballpark. They lost electricity for quite some time and there was some damage to signage and one of the picnic areas in left field. The infield tarp didn’t exactly end the night in the same position it started it, either.
Nonetheless, the Kernels’ staff worked their butts off and the final game of the team’s series with the Kane County Cougars got started about 1:30. Personally, that worked out great for me, since I couldn’t shake myself loose from the office until after 1:00, but there were several busloads of youngsters from schools that only got to see a couple of innings of baseball before having to get back on their buses.
The Kernels ended up winning the game 8-7 and claiming three out of four games in the series against the Cubs’ MWL affiliate.
Byron Buxton and Travis Harrison each hit their seventh home run of the season this afternoon. I have no video of either home run. (Sorry guys, but I can’t capture every at-bat on video. I have to put my camera down to drink a beer every once in a while, after all.)
But I did catch a couple of things I thought you all might enjoy seeing.
First… here’s a video of Niko Goodrum’s bases clearing triple in the sixth inning.
Goodrum is just one Kernels player with serious wheels.
As I said, I didn’t get a video of Travis Harrison’s home run, which exited the entire ballpark and landed on 8th Avenue. Byron Buxton has hit a few out on to the same street, but his home run today merely cleared the LCF wall (borrrrrrring) and I didn’t get a video of that, either.
But Buck doesn’t just score on home runs.
Here’s a series of videos that I think demonstrates how capable the Kernels are of manufacturing runs. It happens to involve Buxton, but honestly, it could just as easily feature any number of Kernels hitters.
Buxton leads off the fifth inning with a chopper up the middle. It was ruled an error on the shortstop and I understand that… but it’s highly unlikely that Buxton gets thrown out at 1B even if the guy fields the ball cleanly. Every infielder in the league knows that they have to play every infield ground ball perfectly to throw out at least half of the Kernels hitters.
Buxton takes a modest lead off of 1B, but that doesn’t stop the Cougars from throwing over to keep him close. Nor does it keep Buxton from stealing 2B. The catcher, again knowing he has to hurry, doesn’t come up with the pitch cleanly and can’t even make a throw.
Candido Pimentel expertly hits behind Buxton and moves him to 3B.
With one out, Niko Goodrum makes contact and drives Buxton in with a ground ball.
It’s not as flashy as a home run, but it’s an example of how Buxton and his team mates have used their speed to intimidate and ultimately beat their opponents through the first several weeks of the season.
Ok, we have a break from the thunderstorms! But that means it is hot and steamy and is ripe air for the long ball – I hope Pedro can keep them on the ground today.
Today the Twins are showing The Sandlot after the game in honor of the 20th Anniversary – our favorite Twins Fan turned radio show host will be sporting appropriate gear so say Hi to Lindsay if you see her!
Sweeps are just ugly and proof that we weren’t playing well. We lasted out the rain delay while they played the entire Sandlot movie for the fans who stayed through. Once the game restarted, it was sadly the worse for us.
Let’s hope we get ourselves back on track on the road.