GameChat – Astros @ Twins, 7:05pm

The Twins welcome the Astros to Target Field for the first time as American League opponents. The Twins haven’t won a baseball game for almost a week, so don’t expect a lot tonight, but against the worst team in baseball, a little something would be nice.

Oh, sorry, I’m a little negative today.

Anywhoo, the sun is shining and it is a beautiful day in Minnesota, exactly the kind of day that makes Target Field a great place to take in a ball game.

Aaron Hicks will be replaced in centerfield by Clete Thomas, and I while that doesn’t seem great, it is an offensive upgrade.

Go Twins!

Astros

@

Twins
Villar, SS Dozier, 2B
Elmore, 2B Mauer, C
Castro, Ja, DH Morneau, 1B
Wallace, 1B Doumit, RF
Corporan, C Arcia, LF
Krauss, RF Plouffe, 3B
Dominguez, 3B Colabello, DH
Barnes, B, CF Thomas, C, CF
Grossman, LF Florimon, SS
  Cosart, P   Deduno, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 R H E
Houston 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 7 1
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 4 11 0

Ok, so I missed MUCH of this game since I ran off to the bar to see my little brother’s band play… BUT they did have it on at the bar so I was able to see things here and there and check score every once in awhile – I just couldn’t hear rulings or WHY things were done certain ways..  so I was pretty lost – and then heard the bottom of the 13th on the way home from the bar.

Can I tell you that I wasn’t any less confused at all!?!?!? I had to go read the play-by-play!!! (It didn’t help) How on earth are we in the position that we’re grabbing starting pitchers (admittedly former NL guys) as pinch hitters when it’s ONLY the 13th?!?!! Yes, I know that is still a lot of extra innings but come on guys, it’s not like we never do that. I definitely missed some things and yeah, I feel like there was some poor roster management in there as part of it. I would very much appreciate any comments you guys can add to help explain wtf happened.

All THAT being said, it sure made for a DRAMATIC ending! I have a feeling that if we had LOST after all that, I would be pretty damn crabby this morning.. seriously.. losing to the Astros is nothing to sneeze at especially when it looks like things got very loosey-goosey down the stretch. But all that being said, I’ll take a win. And THANK YOU to Dozier for finally ending it! For that, he gets today’s BOD!

Dozier at bat

Talk to Contact Episode 46: The Swingin’ Clete Meat Thomas Episode

Episode 46 of the Twins baseball podcast,  Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

Clete Thomas, Oswaldo Arcia, Jeremy Guthrie

This week my brother returns for a long journey at sea with the US Coast Guard and Cody and I clap for him.  We talk about Clete Thomas, Drew Butera (known fondly to us as the Boat Anchor), and we drink way too many beers.

This might be the most enjoyable show I have ever recorded.

80 minutes of bafoonery.

 

You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan.  You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at  Puckett’s Pond.  And of course, you can find me on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read my writing at Knuckleballs!

– ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Twins @ Angels, 9:05pm

arrgghh.. the bane of my blogging existence – west coast baseball.

I’m sure that any number of west side knuckleballers are ecstatic with each visit to the left coast because at least then they get prime time baseball instead breakfast games or some such idiocy. So, TallDrinkOfWater and Twink – these games are for you. I gotta figure out how to get teach one of you how to put up the box score when the games are over and I’m passed out in the other room…

ANYWAY.. back to baseball!

So the lineup looks a little different than you’re used to seeing.. that Bernier kid (no clue how to SAY that properly) that no one knows except the minor league geeks is batting second. I don’t know if it’s the start times or the younger and younger kids in the lineup that is making me feel old but.. yeah.

Minnesota

@

LA Angels
Dozier, 2B Shuck, LF
Bernier, SS Trout, CF
Mauer, C Pujols, DH
Morneau, 1B Kendrick, H, 2B
Doumit, RF Callaspo, 3B
Plouffe, 3B Trumbo, RF
Colabello, DH Hawpe, 1B
Thomas, C, LF Conger, C
Hicks, CF Aybar, SS
  Deduno, P   Blanton, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Minnesota

0

2

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

4

12

0

LA Angels

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

0

3

9

1

Woohoo!! I’m so glad that TDOW got to see a great game of baseball in which HER team won!! The Twins aren’t always so good at doing that for their fans – especially fans in far flung areas of the country…

That being said, while I really really really TRIED to stay awake for the whole game, I just couldn’t do it. My husband managed to see the end though and TDOW kindly came back to the chat and gave her revelations of game end as well. But from what I’m hearing, (I made it through the 6th inning) things continued to the end much like they were in the first half.

Deduno had a ROUGH first inning that had us all terrified of what the progress of this game was going to be like but we managed to get out of that only giving them 1 run – he owes SOMEONE a steak. But after that, he “settled down” into his ridiculously wild self and had them chasing balls all over. He had 5 BB and 5 Ks in his 7 innings and while I never really appreciate those numbers being the same that way, for him it might be just the way the numbers end up looking but can’t really describe how effective his pitching actually was the way the boxscore does. He’s definitely improved/matured into a SOLID starting pitcher and is likely the one I trust the most these days to give us a good game of baseball – for that he gets a beverage of his choice on us.

Joe Mauer also continued to do his Mauerly thing getting three hits and all the while catching Deduno which is getting to be an art-form. Mind you, they are doing a pretty good job behind the plate of making that art look easy and instinctive. He also gets the beverage of his choice – a tall glass of Land O’Lakes milk perhaps?

I was especially proud of the lineup full of young kids – wow do we have a lot of young guys getting their first taste of big league ball in this batting order. Especially Bernier who made his MLB debut among family and friends because he grew up just a couple hours away. I’m sure he made them very proud with his first hit and a couple really nice plays at short stop! I’m always impressed with solid fielding when a guy comes up. Colabello and Hicks also did well getting solid hits and even a run but the real ‘new kid’ story of tonight was Clete Thomas. This kid is really starting to grow on me! SOLID hitting including the game’s only Homerun, a double, 2 Runs 2 RBI and a couple LOVELY catches that brought a tear to the eye. For that, he was voted the BOD! I believe it’s his first! Congrats Clete Thomas!

Clete Thomas

GameChat – Phillies @ Twins #2, 7:10pm

[My apologies for the late post folks – for some reason the first post attempt did not publish]

So I haven’t given up on Pelfrey – but then again, I still don’t trust him all that far either. Does that make me a bad fan? Regardless, I never know which version we’re going to get when the game starts so I always feel like I need to cross my fingers  and hope really hard.

This lineup doesn’t exactly give you the utmost confidence either but I’m an optimist so I always look to each game as its own animal with possibilities. Let’s see what the boys can do – and hopefully they have a long enough dry spell to do it in.

Philadelphia

@

Minnesota
Young, M, 3B Carroll, 3B
Revere, CF Mauer, C
Rollins, SS Doumit, RF
Howard, 1B Willingham, DH
Brown, D, LF Morneau, 1B
Young, D, DH Arcia, LF
Mayberry, RF Thomas, C, CF
Galvis, 2B Escobar, E, 2B
Lerud, C Florimon, SS
  Cloyd, P   Pelfrey, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Philadelphia

2

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

3

7

0

Minnesota

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

2

x

4

12

0

Nice that we can get a come from behind win!! The first half of this game didn’t even look like this was possible but then it started warming up..

But it didn’t get hot until the end and Arcia and Thomas actually started making some SERIOUS moves.. Tonight was a career-high 4 hit night for Clete AND he hit the tying RBI and scored the Winning Run so he is tonight’s BOD!

Minnesota Twins' Clete Thomas is congratulated by third base coach Steve Liddle, left, as he runs toward home plate on a two-run home run  against Texas Rangers pitcher Neftali during the fifth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April 15, 2012, in Minneapolis. The players were all wearing No. 42 jerseys in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)

Minnesota Twins’ Clete Thomas is congratulated by third base coach Steve Liddle, left, as he runs toward home plate on a two-run home run against Texas Rangers pitcher Neftali during the fifth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April 15, 2012, in Minneapolis. The players were all wearing No. 42 jerseys in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)

Fun Twins Things


(photo: Foxsportsnorth.com)

10-24: The Twins record through their first 34 games, roughly 20% of their season.  Going in to 2012 I thought the Twins would be slightly better than a .500 ballclub, optimistically projecting them to win 83 games.  Yet here they are, 14 games under .500 with little reason to expect the Twins will be much better in the 128 games left on the schedule.  With that in mind, here is a list (of arbitrary length and order) of fun Twins Things from 2012.

  1. Josh Willingham – Willingham is leading the Twins in just about every offensive category you can think of, batting average, RBIs, on-base percentage, home runs, etc.  He’s come to Minnesota and established himself as a fan favorite.  Plus he looks like he’d be right at home chopping down trees in the forest with another Twins newcomer, Ryan Doumit.  Offense and tree chopping, two of my favorite things.
  2. Scott Diamond – Not exactly a success story in 2011, in his two starts since being called up in 2012 he has been perfect.  He’s pitched 14 innings without giving up a run and now has as many Wins in just two starts as any other Twins pitcher.  Also, Dick and Bert think that he looks like Cliff Lee, so take that for what it’s worth.
  3. Jamey Carroll – Before Sunday’s game FSN showed clips of some Twins players wishing their mothers (and sometimes their wives, too) a happy Mother’s Day.  During his segment Jamey Carroll referred to his mom as “the Bomb dot com.”  That was one of the best moments of 2012.  He’s also playing pretty great defense and was even rocking some variant of the Fu Manchu for a couple weeks.  Great stuff.
  4. The Joel Zumaya Saga – It is unfortunate that Zumaya couldn’t stay healthy and wound up heading back to the operating table before Spring Training was even in full swing because Zumaya had an opportunity to be the flame throwing reliever the Twins desperately need in their bullpen.  While the signing ultimately did not work out, there was plenty of fan excitement over the winter, speculating on the health and possible impact of a guy like Zumaya playing for the Twins.  Plus I liked saying, “Zoom-zoom”.
  5. Trevor Plouffe‘s hair – Love it or hate it, Plouffe’s curly locks have provided more humorous commentary in the Knuckleballs GameChat’s than just about any other Twins topic in 2012, follicle related or otherwise.
  6. Brian Dozier – For a while there when Dozier was hitting .400+ in AAA and it seemed like just about everyday some Twins blogger would be pining for the Twins to bring Dozier up to replace Carroll or Casilla.  Carroll and Casilla, in the meantime, managed to play pretty solid defense, but ultimately their lack of success in the batter’s box (and pretty much ever other Twins hitter as well) forced the Twins’ hand and they called up Dozier to be the everyday shortstop and he has not disappointed.  He’s been fun to watch defensively, getting to balls deep in the hole and showing off some pretty decent arm strength.  And he hit a home run yesterday!  Dozier is having fun playing baseball, and he’s even more fun to watch.
  7. Ryan Doumit’s defense – Just kidding.
  8. Lots of Roster Movement – 33 players have made appearances for the Twins this season.  Of those 33 players, 13 made the Twins debut (Jamey Carroll, Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, Jeff Gray, Jared Burton, Clete Thomas, Sean Burroughs, Matt Maloney, Erik Komatsu, Brian Dozier, Jason Marquis, Darin Mastroianni and P.J. Walters).  Lots of new faces, lots of action on the waiver wire and plenty of evidence that Terry Ryan and crew realize the on-field product stinks and are looking at ways to make it better (Like when they sent Danny Valencia down to Triple-A, that was my favorite).

So it is not all bad.  There are some fun things to watch and follow every day.  If I missed any, feel free to fill me in.  

Baseball is still fun, even if 10-24 is not.

-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.

 

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