CameChat – Mariners at Twins #4 12:10pm CDT

Day baseball is the best kind of baseball.  So I feel good about that.

Last night Samuel Deduno pitched 7 innings of no-hit baseball with ZERO walks and 9 strikeouts.  So I feel good about that.

Trevor Plouffe and Josh Willingham both hit home runs last night and Joe Mauer hit a triple.  So I feel good about that.

Jeff Gray was demoted to AAA Rochester and Chris Parmelee was called up and is starting in right field today.  So I feel good about that.

Brian Duensing is pitching today.  So I do not feel good about that.

Seattle Mariners

@

Minnesota Twins
 Ackley, 2B  Revere, CF
 Gutierrez, F, CF  Casilla, A, 2B
 Seager, 3B  Mauer, C
 Montero, C  Willingham, LF
 Smoak, 1B  Morneau, 1B
 Olivo, DH  Doumit, DH
 Robinson, T, LF  Parmelee, RF
 Thames, E, RF  Plouffe, 3B
 Ryan, SS  Florimon, SS
 _Beavan, P  _Duensing, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Seattle 1 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 5 6 0
Minnesota 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 4 6 1

Well that was pretty disappointing.  The Twins had just six hits, one of them a two-run bomb from Josh Willingham (his 33rd of the season), but a disastrous 6th inning from Brian Duensing and Casey Fien led to four runs and that was enough for the Mariners to secure the win.

Try again tomorrow in Kansas City.

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Indians @ Twins #3, 1:10pm

As you already are undoubtedly aware, Francisco Liriano has been traded to the Chicago White Sox for a handful of magic beans, and Jeff Manship has been recalled from Rochester to take his place on the 25-man roster, while Brian Duensing will replace Liriano in the starting rotation this afternoon.  The Twins have a chance to sweep the Cleveland Indians, and they’ve outscored the Tribe 23-5 the past two days.  Let’s hope the bats stay hot.

Note of former Twin activity: Lew Ford has finally made it back to the big leagues!! He hasn’t played Major League ball since 2007; doing stints in Japan, Mexico and Independent Atlantic League baseball. He signed a minor league contract with the Orioles this year – the final destination for all former Twins it seems. He very excitedly tweeted that he arrived with the Orioles to play today since they are having injury issues and really need a versatile player on the bench to cover some holes. We all know that that particular roles suits Lew pretty well and I know I’m not along amongst Twins fans wishing him all the best. – CB

 Cleveland Indians

@

Minnesota Twins 
 Choo, RF  Span, CF
Cabrera, A, SS  Revere, RF
 Santana, C, DH  Mauer, DH
 Lopez, Jo, 3B  Willingham, LF
 Brantley, CF  Morneau, 1B
 Duncan, LF  Doumit, C
 Marson, C  Valencia, 3B
 Kotchman, 1B  Dozier, SS
 Lillibridge, 2B  Casilla, A, 2B
 _Jimenez, P  _Duensing, P

 

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

That’s what it feels like to sweep a series, folks! I know it hasn’t been a frequent occurrence, but it certainly is a good feeling. It’s even sweeter when you do it to a Division rival.

The Twins’ offense “only” scored five runs today, which is less than half of what they put on the board in each of the first two games of the series. Fortunately, a few of the bats were awake enough to do the job. Brian Dozier and Ben Revere each had a pair of hits and Justin Morneau had the big offensive day with three hits, including a monster home run. Revere had the only other extra-base hit, but the Twins stole five bases and scored a run on a wild pitch.

The bullpen was back to being the “good” version today, with Alex Burnett, Jared Burton and Glen Perkins each throwing one shutout inning. But the star of the day… and our Boyfriend of the Day award winner… is Brian Duensing. Pressed in to a spot start following the overnight trade of scheduled starter Francisco Liriano, Duensing gave the Twins six excellent innings. He was efficient (throwing only 70 pitches) and gave up just five hits, striking out a pair and walking nobody. Well done, Brian! – JC

Brain Duensing

Just Winging It: The 2012 Minnesota Twins Starting Rotation

There can be no doubts that a 63-99 team has plenty of areas for improvement.  In 2011 the Twins were 28th in team OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), ahead of only the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres.  Sure, they were playing half of their games in the pitcher friendly Target Field, but even when adjusting for park factors, the Twins posted an OPS+ of just 84 (100 is average), 29th in the MLB, this time behind the Padres.  Clearly there were issues with the Twins’ bats a year ago.  Part of that was attributable to injuries to Joe Mauer (replaced by Drew Butera and Rene Rivera) and Denard Span (replaced by Joe Benson, Rene Tosoni, and Jason Repko).  Another part of the hitting problem was related to dreadful offensive production from the middle infield, as Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Luke Hughes, Danny Valencia, and Matt Tolbert, and the the old Trevor Plouffe all posted below leave average offensive numbers.

As bad as the Twins’ bats were in 2011, it did not really matter what their pitchers were doing.  And maybe that is what the front office was thinking heading into Spring Training.  If the Twins could just upgrade their offense, even with a mediocre pitching staff, they were likely to see a big improvement.  Unfortunately, the Twins did not have a mediocre pitching staff in 2011, their 4.58 team ERA was 29th, and were one of just two teams (along with the Baltimore Orioles) to allow more than 800 runs.  So to go along with their 29th place OPS+, the Twins also had the 29th worst pitching staff, and yet somehow they still only lost 99 games.

After a winter of free agent signings and departures the Twins arrived in Spring Training as optimistic as any team in baseball.  After all, they were only a year removed from a 94-win AL Central Championship team, and they were truly healthy for the first time in more than a year.  Their franchise catcher, Joe Mauer, had finally recovered from whatever it was that was ailing him in 2011 and caused him to miss almost half a season, and Justin Morneau was finally overcoming his concussion symptoms that cost him the better parts of 2010 and 2011.  Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham were on board to replace Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer, and the Twins signed veteran on-base sepcialist Jamey Carroll to compensate for the failures of Nishioka.  Alexi Casilla was coming off one of the best offensive seasons of his underwhelming career and looked poised to finally become the everyday player the Twins had been hoping he would be since 2007.  Despite all their failures in 2011, the Twins looked like their bats were ready to hit in 2012.*

*And to some extent, they are.  The Twins’ 2012 OPS+ is 6th in the American League, and they are scoring runs at an almost league average rate (4.30/4.47).  

The Twins, however, did little to improve a pitching staff that was one of the worst in 2011.    They inexplicably resigned 9th inning reliever Matt Capps to a $4.75 million dollar deal to step in for the departed Joe Nathan.  They also sent starting pitcher Brian Duensing back to the bullpen where he had previously been successful and replaced him in the rotation with free agent acquisition Jason Marquis, hoping that he would rebound from a broken leg that cost him the end of the 2011 season, and become the renaissance man that Carl Pavano had been for the Twins since he arrived in 2009.  But with just five real candidates for starting pitching Minnesota was walking a pretty thin line.  The Twins also brought in just about every free agent relief pitcher they could find hoping that a couple of them would pitch well enough in Spring Training to head north with the big league team.  They even went against their traditionally risk-averse strategy and signed Joel Zumaya to a minor league deal hoping to add a power arm to their bullpen without paying the power arm price.  And with that, the Twins were seemingly ready to start the season.

Just five starting pitchers and not a lot of MLB ready pitchers in AAA ready to step in if things went poorly.  Among the starting pitchers not in that group of five, only Liam Hendriks and Scott Diamond seemed like realistic replacements to join the Twins if things did not go well in Minnesota.

As you are well aware, things have not gone well for the Twins’ starting pitchers in 2012.  Even before leaving Spring Training the Twins were forced to move Liam Hendriks into starting rotation as Jason Marquis was pulled away from the team to be with his daughter while she was recovering from a serious bicycle accident.  To make matters worse, Scott Baker did not leave Ft. Myers with the Twins either, dealing with supposedly minor arm issues which ended up as a worst-case scenario as Baker would eventually require Tommy John surgery to repair the UCL in his pitching arm.  That meant that Anthony Swarzak would start the season in the starting rotation, leaving with Twins without their regular long-reliever until Marquis would be back with the team.  Before long the Liam Hendriks experiment was over and he was back in AAA looking garner some additional seasoning.  Now the Twins had to start getting creative.  They had already burned through the only two replacement options they’d planned for and with the Twins already well below .500, it was unlikely that they would be playing any meaningful baseball in October.  Since that time the Twins have used five additional starting pitchers, none of whom the Twins were counting on in April.  P.J. Walters was first, then Scott Diamond, Cole De Vries, Brian Duensing, and finally Sam Deduno.

The Twins still have 63 games remaining in 201. With Francisco Liriano now pitching for the Chicago White Sox the Twins will have to find another arm to step in.  While the next pitcher they call upon to start will likely not be a fresh face, they will still be tip-toeing around a problem unlikely to be resolved without the infusion of some fresh arms this winter.

Twins fans should have known that when Minnesota signed Jason Marquis and hoped for the best that the team was just winging it in 2012.

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Twins @ Indians #2, 6:10 pm

Let’s see of PJ Walters can keep up the good work he’s been doing since arriving in Minnesota. The Twins are going to need all the pitching help they can get, as it appears that Carl Pavano could be headed to a stay on the Disabled List.

TWINS

@

INDIANS
Span, CF Choo, RF
Revere, RF Kipnis, 2B
Mauer, C Cabrera, A, SS
Willingham, LF Lopez, Jo, DH
Morneau, 1B Brantley, CF
Doumit, DH Kotchman, 1B
Dozier, SS Damon, LF
Plouffe, 3B Chisenhall, 3B
Carroll, 2B Marson, C
  _Walters, P   _Tomlin, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 4 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 7 12 0
Cleveland 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 4 9 0

Whew. The Twins finally get a win this season over the Tribe. Scoring four runs in the first inning was a great start, but PJ Walters couldn’t hold that lead and it was all tied up after five innings. Fortunately, the Twins weren’t done scoring, while their bullpen successfully shut out Cleveland over the final four innings.

The BOD award came down to a split vote, so tonight we have three winners sharing the award. Brian Duensing relieved Walters with two out in the fifth and kept the inherited baserunners from crossing the plate and went on to pitch 2 perfect innings. On the offensive side, Trevor Plouffe and Joe Mauer not only both homered, but also each drove in three of the Twins’ 7 runs. For their efforts, Brian, Trevor and Joe are our Boyfriends of the Day.

Brain Duensing

Joe Mauer

Trevor Plouffe

 

Twins Head to the Windy City

I spent the past weekend visiting friends in Chicago.  The drive to and from Chicago gave me an opportunity to indulge in one of my favorite guilty pleasures: Chicago Sports Talk Radio.  Neither the Cubs or the White Sox are performing well in 2012, an the hot heads calling into their favorite local radio station had plenty of extra fodder as the White Sox were on the north side for the first three game set of the Crosstown Classic.  One caller after the next called in to complain, what Alfonso Soriano is doing wrong, how Robin Ventura is mismanaging Chris Sale, and on and on,  about one wrong after another heaped down upon the ever faithful fans of Chicago baseball.  That lasted for two hours before the game, and after a brief interruption for a baseball game and a hat tip to Kerry Wood, the fans were back at it for another hour, blasting the Cubs in a loss, and the White Sox even in a win.  I suppose it could have went on longer, but the show had to end eventually.  If you know anything about sports talk radio in Chicago, you know that the next show picked up right where the last one left off, fans battling for a spot on the air to let listeners know what they would do if they were running the team.

The Twins are off today, but are already in Chicago, enjoying a day away from baseball before a three game series begins Tuesday night.  The Twins are scheduled to pitch P.J. Walters, Scott Diamond, and whoever is called up to replace Jason Marquis (assuming his shoulder inflammation is now behind him).  Never mind that when the Twins head back home to face Detroit on Thursdy that they’ll have to figure out how to deal with Jason Marquis‘ lack of performance (UPDATE: Designated for Assignment) and a hole in the rotation left from Nick Blackburn‘s current DL stint. Leave the starting pitching alone, it has been terrible, and without Diamond and Walters, it has been even worse than that.  Let’s look instead at the bullpen.  Below are 8 Chicago-Style thoughts on the current Minnesota Twins bullpen staff:

  1. Alex Burnett – At age 24 Alex Burnett still has plenty of upside, and thought his first 18 appearances of 2012 seems to be finally finding his stride, posting a 2.66 ERA, and a WHIP of just 1.3, both career marks.  But the reality is that while Burnett has cut down his walk rate to a career low, his strike out rate is almost HALF of what it was in 2010 (7.0 SO/9) at 3.8, and more than two strike outs per nine innings down from what it was even a year ago at 5.9.  Fangraphs FIP is a decent predictor of the pitcher Burnett actually is at 4.36, which is slightly lower than his career average.  Burnett is due for a regression, and despite his early success the Twins have remained hesitant to put him into high leverage situations (should the Twins actually have any).
  2. Jared Burton – Jared Burton seems like a guy who should be successful.  His BB/9 rate is 1.1 and his SO/9 rate is 9.2, his WHIP is a minuscule .702, and yet he’s sporting a 4.60 ERA, thanks in large part to 3 HRs in just 15.2 IP.  Burton is due for some regression to his career numbers as well, and he might even be a better pitcher than he is now, but if he continues to serve up the long ball he will not have a roster spot for long.
  3. Matt Capps – On Saturday I was listening to the Milwaukee Brewers radio broadcast and they announced that Capps had yet to blow a save.  I didn’t believe them at the time, but after the game was over, and Capps had picked up another save, I had the chance to look up his stats, and sure enough, despite having an 0-2 W/L record, Capps is a perfect 9/9 in save opportunities.  It turns out Capps has not really been that bad, sure giving up 1 run in the top of the 9th in tie games to the Red Sox and the Indians stick out in the minds of fans, but since starting the season with a couple poor performances, Capps has been pretty solid for the Twins, cutting his ERA down from 6.00 to 3.38 while quietly racking up saves in 9 of the Twins’ 14 victories.  But here’s the rub, Capps biggest strength in 2012 has been his ability to limit walks, giving up just 1 free pass so far this season.  That number is sure to go up, and when it does, Capps will be the same heart-attack inducing 9th inning guy that my brother so astutely refers to as “Cardiac Capps”.  Not exactly ideal for a closer, but the Twins do not have a ton of options.
  4. Brian Duensing – Duensing, along with Capps and Burnett is one of the few Twins relievers enjoying a successful start to the 2012 campaign.  Duesnsing owns an 0-2 record as a reliever this season, but he’s given up just 4 runs in 21 IP.  Duensing could be next in line for an opportunity in the starting rotation, depending on the team’s plans for Marquis and Swarzak, but Duensing has been most successful out of the bullpen over the course of his career, and the Twins need more than their share of bullpen arms capable of pitching 2+ innings to help bail out the starting rotation.  Duensing is really excelling at limiting base hits, giving up just 5.6 hits per 9 innings, the lowest rate of his career.  Fangraphs’ FIP back’s up Duensing’s performance at 2.59, so he should remain effective going forward, it will just be up to the Twins and Ron Gardenhire to figure out how to get one of their best relievers into games when it matters.
  5. Jeff Gray – Jeff Grey has 3 victories in 2012, two of them coming from just 3 pitches, and he has yet to be charged with a loss, but he certainly has not been a solid performer for the Twins.  His 4.50 ERA is the highest of the Twins’ most use relievers (Capps, Perkins, Gray, Duensing, Burnett) and his WHIP, Hits/9, and BB/9 are all the worst on the team among ANY relief pitcher.  Gray has 18 appearances already in 2012, and Gardenhire continues to send him out to the mound almost every other day!  Part of that has been the failure of the starting pitching staff which routinely forces the bullpen into extended action, but to give Gray the 3rd most appearances on the team is just plain ridiculous!  Jeff Gray should not have a spot on this team for much longer.
  6. Francisco Liriano in just 3.2 innings as a reliever Liriano has yet to give up a run, but he has as many strike outs as walks (4), and has been used just three times since being demoted, about every 3rd day.  He’s going to have to pitch a lot better, and limit his walks if he is going to become a valuable member of the Twins’ bullpen, and he’ll have to learn to adjust to hitters and his own nerves is he is going to end up back in the starting rotation.  At this point the Twins need to find a way to boost his value and flip him for anything they can get before the trade deadline.  Liriano is a lost cause in Minnesota and the sooner he realizes that and starts showing value to other teams, the better.
  7. Glen Perkins – Perkins signed a contact extension in Spring Training that makes him a Twin through at least the 2015 season, with a 4.5 million dollar team option for 2016.  While Perkins has continued to strike more than one hitter out per inning, his walk rate is crept up to its highest level since 2007, and his ERA is almost 2 runs higher than it was a year ago when Perkins was the most dominant reliever on the team.  This year Duensing, Capps, and Burnett all have lower ERAs than Perkins.  Despite his elevated ERA, Perkins should regress towards his career numbers, and with a FIP almost a full point lower than his current ERA Perkins can be the dominant reliever the Twins saw in the first half of 2011.
  8. Anthony Swarzak – Swarzak has started 3 games and made 9 relief appearances already this season.  His ERA currently sits at 4.73, and could be much worse if it wasn’t for an uncharacteristically low BABIP of just .253 (almost 40 points below his career average, and 30 points below the MLB average for 2012).  Swarzak does a great job handling mop-up duty when the Twins starters are blown out of a game, and that’s a fine roll for him as long as they don’t start trying to plug him in for more than the occasional spot start, because Swarzak has shown, in 2009 and 2011 (and most of his Minor League career), that he just is not cut out to be much more than the mop up guy he is now.

And those are the guys the Twins have AFTER the starting staff has made a mess of the game.

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Twins @ Mariners #1, 9:10pm

And we’re back.

Two days ago the Minnesota Twins were no-hit by Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels.  Yesterday, presumably, the Twins licked their wounds and prepared for a three game set in Seattle.

Part of that preparation involved designating Major League Strike-Out King Clete Thomas for assignment to make room for Erik Komatsu, claimed off waivers from the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.  Komatsu is a typical lead-off type hitter, reaches base at a solid clip but has never really hit for power.  The move is yet another piece of evidence that the Twins think Ben Revere needs more “seasoning” in the Minor Leagues and an opportunity to play everyday.  Sean Burroughs, who was designated for assignment this past Tuesday to make room for Drew Butera, has cleared waivers and will join the AAA Rochester Red Wings.

Don’t forget: Ron Gardenhire is taking the weekend off and Scott Ullger is serving as the acting manager.

Here are the lineups:

 Minnesota Twins

@

Seattle Mariners
 Span, CF  Ackley, 2B
 Carroll, SS  Liddi, 3B
 Mauer, DH  Suzuki, I, RF
 Willingham, LF  Montero, C
 Doumit, RF  Seager, DH
 Valencia, 3B  Smoak, 1B
 Parmelee, 1B  Carp, LF
 Casilla, A, 2B  Saunders, M, CF
 Butera, C  Ryan, SS
  _Pavano, P   _Vargas, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

 Minnesota

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

3

5

0

Seattle

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

2

8

1

 

Carl Pavano pitched 6 effective innings giving up just two runs before turning the game over to the bullpen.  In the top of the 7th the Twins took advantage of a Mariners error and a Joe Mauer infield single to score 3 runs.  The bullpen pitched 3 scoreless innings, striking out 5 batters and the Twins hang on to win.

Photo Credit: CapitalBabs

Boyfriend of the Day:

Brian Duensing gets some baked goods for holding the lead in the bottom of the 7th but the real hero of the day is Jamey Carroll.  Not only did he break the Twins’ hitless streak in the top of the first inning, he finished the day 2-4, with a walk, a stolen base, and an RBI.

 

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

GameChat – Twins @ Rangers #3, 7:05pm

Let’s hope we get the “good Brian” tonight against the Rangers. It would really be nice to get back to the days when a starting pitcher gave us 6-7 decent innings. It wasn’t really THAT long ago, was it? Just seems like forever.

Rumors continued to swirl today about a possible Denard Span trade to the Nationals for a handful of magic beans (or something of approximately the same value). I have to say that if Bill Smith makes a deal even remotely similar to what’s being bounced around Twitterworld, I’ll be totally on board with everyone who wants to call for his dismissal. It’s almost like he’s telling us, “so you think that deal I made with the Nationals last year was terribly one-sided in favor of Washington? Let me show you how much worse I can let them rip me off!”

Ah well… the Tigers and Indians both lost this afternoon (in fact the Toons got no-hit by the Angels), so without even playing a game, the Twins managed to gain half a game in the standings on both teams. This has me thinking the Twins should just take the next 14 days off… maybe they’ll find themselves tied for first place by mid-August.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

TWINS

@

RANGERS
Revere, CF   Kinsler, 2B
Casilla, A, 2B   Andrus, SS
Mauer, C   Hamilton, LF
Cuddyer, 1B   Young, M, 3B
Kubel, RF   Cruz, N, RF
Thome, DH   Napoli, 1B
Valencia, 3B   Moreland, DH
Young, D, LF   Torrealba, C
Nishioka, SS   Chavez, En, CF
  _Duensing, P     _Lewis, C, P

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Minnesota

1

0

0

1

2

0

0

0

3

7

12

1

Texas

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

2

9

1

 

Well that’s the kind of game we were all wanting to see!

Five different guys with multiple hits, including three from Jason Kubel! Lexi had two doubles (although he did pull up lame on the last one and it sounds like he’ll miss some time with a hamstring issue… dammit) and we got another HR from Cuddy. And yes, finally, the Chairman yanked his first HR of the season in the first inning to start the scoring. The bullpen also did another nice job.

But the star of the game was Brian Duensing. The Twins got exactly what they needed from him. He went 6.2 innings, scattering 7 hits and giving up just one run. He walked just one while striking out 6. That badly needed quality start earns Brian our BOD award!

Brian Duensing

GameChat – Rays @ Twins, 1:10

Happy Fourth of July, everyone and a special “thank you” to all past and present members of our country’s Armed Services!

For the second season in a row, the Twins will be hosting the Tampa Bay Rays on Independence Day. The Rays have been playing pretty good baseball lately, winning seven of their last 10 games and coming off a series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

On the injury front, Jason Kubel is returning to the Twin Cities but, unfortunately, it’s not to play baseball. He’s still feeling discomfort in his foot after re-aggravating it in his first rehab game last week. He’ll be checked out by the Twins’ witch doctors. The news isn’t terrific on Denard Span, either. Denard had a bit of a setback in his recovery from his concussion when he tried to do some running, etc., in the extremely hot weather late last week. Hopefully, both of these guys will take just a small step backwards before forging ahead toward full recoveries. It would be great to get them both back quickly, but that doesn’t look likely. The important thing is that they fully recover so they can contribute at full strength when they do get back.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July. If part of your holiday celebration includes watching the Twins this afternoon, here are the line ups for the game and, as usual, we’re opening up a chat window during the game. – JC

RAYS @ TWINS
Damon, DH Revere, CF
Rodriguez, S, 2B Casilla, A, 2B
Longoria, 3B Mauer, C
Upton, B, CF Cuddyer, RF
Ruggiano, LF Valencia, DH
Kotchman, 1B Hughes, L, 1B
Shoppach, C Repko, LF
Joyce, RF Tolbert, 3B
Johnson, E, SS Nishioka, SS
_Price, P _Duensing, P

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tampa Bay 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1
Minnesota 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 3 x 7 7 0

When you looked at today’s match up, I’m not sure many people saw this kind of thing happening! It’s not that getting a W was impossible, but that was nothing short of a dominant performance over a very good team with an All-Star starting pitcher.

Michael Cuddyer continued his hot hitting with another home run and Danny Valencia, once again, couldn’t let Cuddy do anything without proving he could do it, too. In fact, Danny V came away with 3/4 of a cycle, which is good enough to warrant strong consideration for Boyfriend of the Day honors.

But complete game shutouts must be rewarded! Brian Duensing struggled a bit early to find the strike zone but as the game went on, he got even better. That terrific performance earns our BOD today!

Brian Duensing

 

GameChat – Padres @ Twins, 7:10

The Twins start a stretch of interleague games tonight when they open a three-game home series with the San Diego Padres.

A couple of Twins alumni are making their returns as members of the visiting Padres. Former Twins SS Jason Bartlett is in the line up for SD and relief pitcher Pat “Sideshow” Neshek makes his first return to his home town as a member of a visiting team. (Orlando Hudson is also a Padre, but currently is on their Disabled List).

But the big “return” tonight is the guy batting third for the Twins. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Joe Mauer lives! In fact, he not only lives, but he’s apparently up for playing a little baseball. There’s been some questions floating around about what sort of reception fans will give Joe when he’s announced tonight and I think that’s a no-brainer… he’ll get a very enthusiastic “welcome back” from the crowd. If it’s anything less, I’ll be very surprised… and disappointed.

Mauer doesn’t deserve a free pass from fans and media and questions about why he’s missed so much time for “leg weakness” are fair, but tonight, the bottom line is that a guy who’s played an awful lot of very good baseball for the Twins is back in the line up. Welcome him back and hope he can help keep the W’s coming!

Let’s not forget that Glen Perkins returns to the Twins’ bullpen tonight, as well. Let’s hope he picks up right where he left off, as he was one of the few effective bullpen arms before his DL stint.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is at SS again, but with Joe’s return, Nishioka has dropped to 7th in the batting order… which is about right, for now. Let’s see him get his timing down there toward the bottom of the order before we expect him to contribute from a more critical spot in the order.

I’m not sure I’ll be around for much, if any of the GameChat tonight, but for those who are, let’s hope Brian Duensing gets back on track… enjoy the game!

PADRES @ TWINS
Denorfia, RF Revere, CF
Bartlett, SS Casilla, A, 2B
Headley, 3B Mauer, C
Ludwick, DH Cuddyer, 1B
Maybin, CF Young, D, LF
Guzman, J, LF Valencia, 3B
Rizzo, 1B Nishioka, SS
Hundley, C Hughes, L, DH
Gonzalez, Ab, 2B Repko, RF
Richard, P Duensing, P

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
San Diego 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 0 0 5 11 3
Minnesota 5 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 x 6 10 1

That ended up a little closer than it should have been!

It’s always nice to see our guys jump on the opposing pitcher for a bunch of runs early and that certainly happened tonight. Ben Revere gets kudos for a productive night at the plate and he got flat out robbed of a beautiful diving catch in the OF by a terrible call by the 2B umpire who ruled he trapped a ball that he totally caught.

Joe Mauer started his return with an RBI single and Danny Valencia got some BOD support for his line shot to the second deck for a home run.

But we want to encourage more pitching performances like this out of Brian Duensing and he certainly did his job tonight, giving up just 2 runs on 7 hits and 1 BB over 6 innings, while striking out 5 Padre hitters. So, for that, Brian Duensing is our BOD (but he’s sharing photo “face time” with Danny V)!

Brian Duensing (with Danny Valencia at 3B)

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