WWTD? (What Will Terry Do?)

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.

Terry Ryan

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.

Nor do I think things have changed much since I posted my most recent argument against having a full-out fire sale.

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

- JC

GameChat – Twins @ Reds #2, 12:05pm

Bugger – too late home from family lunch but here is the chat anyway. I really hope that Scotty can have a better outing this time than last time.

Minnesota

@

Cincinnati
Revere, CF Heisey, CF
Mastroianni, RF Valdez, W, SS
Mauer, C Votto, 1B
Willingham, LF Phillips, B, 2B
Morneau, 1B Bruce, RF
Plouffe, 3B Ludwick, LF
Dozier, SS Frazier, 3B
Casilla, A, 2B Mesoraco, C
Diamond, P Leake, P

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

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Minnesota

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

2

4

7

0

Cincinnati

0

0

1

0

0

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0

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8

0

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!

Josh Willingham

GameChat – Cubs @ Twins #2, 1:10 pm

It turns out all of the Knuckelballs were AWOL last night, so we didn’t get a GameChat post up. Our apologies to anyone who came around looking to hang out during the game.

Maybe the most unfortunate part of not having a GameChat is that we missed an opportunity to award Josh Willingham a well-deserved BOD designation for his 10th inning walk-off heroics! So, we’ll make up for that right now by passing on that honor to Willy. A day late is better than never, right?

Josh Willingham

Now, on to today’s game.

The good news is that we see the return of Joe Mauer and Denard Span to the line up. Mauer has been out of action for almost a week with a sprained thumb, while Span has missed a couple of games with the flu (although he did make a cameo appearance as a pinch runner in the 9th inning Friday night).

We all know the Twins have been winning more regularly the past couple of weeks and that certainly makes their games more fun to watch. But here’s something you may not realize… the Twins are now 23-34 for a winning percentage of .404. This is the first time that Twins players are waking up to a day where they’ve won at least 40% of their games since the morning of September 14, 2011.

I realize that the reason for this stretch of wins has a lot to do with playing some pretty bad teams. But I’m also a baseball romantic so forgive me if I indulge myself, just for a little while, with the fantasy that it really does have something to do with the ‘M’ caps they’ve been sporting.

And they just beat the Cubs last night. For those of us who have to live amidst way too many Cub fans, that makes today a pretty good day.

CUBS

@

TWINS
Johnson, Re, LF Span, CF
Castro, S, SS Revere, RF
DeJesus, RF Mauer, C
Soriano, A, DH Willingham, LF
Baker, Je, 1B Morneau, 1B
Mather, CF Doumit, DH
Clevenger, C Plouffe, 3B
Barney, 2B Dozier, SS
Stewart, I, 3B Carroll, 2B
  _Samardzija, P   _Diamond, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi Cubs 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 3 11 0
Minnesota 0 2 0 6 1 2 0 0 x 11 16 0

I gotta say, Nuke LaLoosh was right when he said, “I love winning. It’s like… better than losing!”

The Twins put another W on the board, this one in far less dramatic fashion than the game Friday night. The built up an 11-0 lead before the Cubs put up some meaningless runs late in the game off of Jeff Gray. Six different Twins had more than one hit, led by Joe Mauer who had three hits, and seven different hitters drove runs in. That’s a pretty balanced offensive attack. Jeff Manship (with his name spelled correctly on his jersey today) pitched a final shutout inning in the 9th.

But Boyfriend of the Day consideration really came down to two players. Scott Diamond threw six scoreless innings, spreading out 7 hits, while striking out five Cubs without issuing a single walk. Trevor Plouffe continued his hot hitting, with a double and a home run, totaling four RBI and scoring a couple of runs himself, and racking up five assists from his 3B position, just for good measure. For those performances, Scott and Trevor, you are our BODs.

Trevor Plouffe

Scott Diamond (photo: Genevieve Ross/AP)

Stop With the Premature Trade Talk Already

I know Twins fans aren’t quite accustomed to dealing with having their team be uncompetitive right out of the gate, but that’s no excuse for being rediculously stupid.

It seems like some folks just don’t know how to enjoy the rare good performance when they see one. No, it has to be immediately followed by, “Let’s trade him!”

Justin Morneau

Justin Morneau’s wrist is feeling good and he’s hitting the ball well! Let’s trade him NOW!

Ryan Doumit’s had some clutch hits! He should be traded while he’s hot!

Denard Span is getting on base and playing a decent center field! Trade him for a boatload of pitchers, right now!

Josh Willingham hit a walkoff home run! It’s time to trade him, NOW!

Listen carefully, please… May 30 is never “the time” for a non-contending team to trade productive veteran players for prospects. Why? Because Major League GMs are not idiots… in May. They aren’t going to see one home run in May and think, “Wow. I want that guy and I’ll trade away my best pitching prospect to get him!”  At least not for another several weeks.

Ryan Doumit

Should Twins General Manager Terry Ryan be listening to offers for most of his productive veterans? Absolutely. There’s nobody on this roster that should be “off limits” right now. Some of the contracts may make certain players (that would be you, Mr. Mauer) untradeable for all practical purposes, but that doesn’t mean Ryan shouldn’t listen if a fellow GM thinks he has an idea that would work.

But May 30 is for listening… for determining which teams might have interest in certain players… but not for trading.

Frankly, nobody is desperate (read: stupid) enough to give enough in return, yet.

The Red Sox, Tigers and Angels are off to slow starts, but they are far from being desperate… yet. The Indians and Orioles, although finding themselves in better positions than they perhaps expected heading in to the season, still have some holes to fill. But they are far from desperate… yet.

It’s desperation that makes for unequal trades and we all know that fans… Twins fans in particular, it seems… tend to overvalue their players and thus expect more for them in return for a trade than other teams are likely to be willing to give up. There is simply no trade Ryan could make on May 30 that would make anyone in Twinsville happy, unless it happened to involve a player that a particular fan has some screwy personal grudge against.

First, you have to at least get past the upcoming draft. Until then, neither the Twins nor potential trading partners know for sure what their respective organizatinal needs are, nor where they have sufficient depth to afford the luxury of trading away a decent prospect or two.

Perhaps more than any other professional draft, the MLB draft is a crapshoot. Players can’t be counted on to make an immediate impact at the Major League level and, in fact, they can’t really be counted on to ever play Big League ball. So, despite all the fan chatter about how teams need to draft pitching or power hitting or speed because of the perception that the organization’s current MLB roster is short on that particular talent, teams almost always draft what they believe is the “best player available” when their turn comes around. You simply don’t know with any level of certainty what your organization’s needs will be by the time a particular kid is ready to play Big League baseball.

As a result, it’s only after the draft is over that you can judge with any precision what kind of talents you should be targeting in the trade market… and it’s only after the draft is over that you or potential trade partners can accurately judge which talents they may have a surplus of and can thus afford to send off in a trade.

That’s when phone lines between GMs start to warm up.

Denard Span

Even then, real interest doesn’t often reveal itself until July rolls around and desperation doesn’t kick in until later that month. That’s when teams convince themselves that they need a toolsy lead-off hitting center fielder or a versatile switch-hitting back up catcher with a little pop, especially if they’ve got team-friendly contracts.

For guys with big contracts, the “time” to trade them might not come around until August, after the non-waiver deadline passes. That’s when desperation really sets in and teams become willing to take on big contracts and overpay in prospects, if they think the guy could help them bring home some sort of championship this year.

I think we all understand the reality of 2012. Every GM in baseball will have Terry Ryan on speed dial and Ryan is going to make some deals. I don’t especially like that, but it’s the reality that comes with being an underperforming last place team. But that doesn’t mean I want him giving away every veteran on the ballclub without getting guys who are pretty damn close to being Major League ready in return.

Some people may be willing and even eager to ship current players off for a couple of “organization players” who will never be more than roster fillers for Rochester or New Britain (or whoever next year’s AAA and AA Twins affiliates are). I am not one of those people.

I want… I expect… to see a much better product on the field next season and if Ryan can’t get players in trade that should be expected to contribute to this team being more competitive in 2013, then I’d just as soon see the Spans, Doumits, Morneaus and Willinghams still wearing Twins uniforms next year.

And nobody is offering that level of talent, especially the potential top of the rotation pitching talent the team desperately needs most, on May 30.

So how about we just stop with the, “Twins need to trade so-and-so right now,” crap? No, they don’t.

- JC

(All photos: Jim Crikket, Knuckleballs)

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

First, I would like to thank the Twins very much for that lovely win as a present for my birthday yesterday. However, I would also like to remind them as I turned 40, the whole year needs a bit of lifting I’d think. My request is merely that they win more often than they did last year as a way to celebrate my 40th year!

I think a good start would be to give young Mr. DeVries a bit better support in his second start than they did for his first.

Oakland

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Minnesota
Weeks, 2B Span, CF
Cowgill, LF Revere, RF
Reddick, RF Mauer, DH
Smith, S, DH Willingham, LF
Inge, 3B Morneau, 1B
Ka’aihue, 1B Doumit, C
Suzuki, K, C Dozier, SS
Crisp, CF Plouffe, 3B
Pennington, SS Casilla, A, 2B
  Parker, J, P   De Vries, P

 

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

Nothing like taking as long as absolutely possible before getting the game-winner, right? Cole DeVries walked a few more guys than I’d like to see, but he did OK for his second start as a Big Leaguer. The bullpen was less than perfect, but they kept the game close. Then in the 9th, a single here, a walk there, a very poor bunt attempt on top of those, and a fielders choice led up to one mighty swing of the bat by Josh Willingham. That game winning 3 run HR with 2 out in the bottom of the ninth gave the Twins their first walkoff win of the season… and earned Willie the BOD award. – JC

Josh Willingham

GameChat – Oakland Athletics @ Minnesota Twins 1:10pm

Happy Memorial Day, Twins fans.

For me, Memorial Day weekend was always a time when our family went on a camping trip.  In the last three years I have been camping about 15 times.  Mostly overnight trips, but a few week long adventures in the boundary waters.  I just love camping.  Something about spending time in the woods, sleeping in a tent and cooking food with a fire that really excites me.  But here’s the thing, those last 15 times I have been camping, it has rained EVERY TIME.  Not just passing showers or an occasional drizzle.  I’m talking about wind and thunder and lightening and everything.  I tell people that if they need rain all they have to do is invite me on a camping trip.  And that has me thinking about the Twins.

Despite the Twins’ tough early schedule it seemed like the Twins were catching a lot of teams while they were down.  Twins played the Red Sox and Yankees and Angels and the Tigers this season and each team was struggling to string together stretches of good solid baseball.  Enter the Twins.  It seems like every time one of the Twins’ opponents really needs to turn things around the Twins are more than happy to do it.  So MLB owners, if your team is struggling, all you have to do is invite the Twins to town.

Oakland was 22-21 before their current 5 game losing streak, perfect time for them to visit Minnesota…

Here are the line ups for the Twins and Athletics:

Oakland Athletics

@

Minnesota Twins
Weeks, 2B Span, CF
Crisp, CF Mastroianni, RF
Reddick, RF Mauer, C
Gomes, J, DH Willingham, LF
Inge, 3B Morneau, 1B
Suzuki, K, C Doumit, DH
Ka’aihue, 1B Dozier, SS
Cowgill, LF Plouffe, 3B
Rosales, SS Casilla, A, 2B
_Blackley, T, P _Diamond, P

 

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

How about that, a Twins win!  What a great birthday present for our very own CapitalBabs!  Happy birthday, Babs, hope you enjoyed that one as much as the rest of us.

Serious Boyfriend of the Day material! (Photo: Craig Lassig/AP)

Scott Diamnd pitched pretty well through the first 6 innings before running into trouble in the 7th and being lifted after just one out.  The bullpen gave up a run in the 8th but the Twins battled back with two runs in the bottom of the 8th thanks to a Justin Morneau double that scored Joe Mauer and a sac fly from Ryan Doumit to score Josh Willingham.

For his RBI double Morneau is today’s BOD.  What a swell guy.

-ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Detroit Tigers @ Minnesota Twins 7:10pm

Interesting lineup for Ron Gardenhire tonight.  With Josh Willingham serving as the Twins’  DH tonight, Gardenhire had an opportunity to move Ben Revere into left field and move Trevor Plouffe into right field.  Instead Gardy leaves Revere out in RF where his weak arm is most exposed, and sends Plouffe out to LF where his limited range could come into play.  Perhaps Gardenhire is keeping Revere in RF to chase down liners and fly balls from the 5 left handed hitters in Detroit’s line-up, but a more likely scenario is Gardenhire keeping his guys where he likes them, not where it always makes the most sense to play them.

Either way, should be an interesting game.  Here are the rest of the line ups:

Detroit Tigers

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Minnesota Twins
Berry, CF Span, CF
Dirks, LF Revere, RF
Cabrera, Mi, 3B Mauer, C
Fielder, 1B Willingham, DH
Young, D, DH Morneau, 1B
Boesch, RF Dozier, SS
Peralta, Jh, SS Plouffe, LF
Avila, C Casilla, A, 2B
Raburn, 2B Carroll, 3B
_Smyly, P _Swarzak, P

 

Detroit Tigers

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4

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2

1

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3

0

0

10

16

2

Minnesota Twins

2

0

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1

0

2

1

0

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6

10

0

 

The Twins scored more than their fair share of runs tonight, but the pitching let them down for the second night in a row.Not a lot of positives in a game like this, but at least the Twins were not charged with an error, so that’s an improvement.

Back at it tomorrow.

-ERolfPleiss

 

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 – Royals @ Twins #3, 1:10 pm

Remember a week ago when everyone was looking forward to six games against the Red Sox and Royals… two teams that we thought were struggling just as much as the Twins?

Well, here we are at the end of that stretch still waiting for the first Twins win. How friggin depressing is that?

On the bright side, it’s 55 degrees and, more importantly, NOT raining in Minneapolis right now, so there will be baseball played today. I wish I were more certain that that’s a good thing.

ROYALS

@

TWINS
Getz, 2B Span, CF
Gordon, LF Carroll, SS
Butler, DH Mauer, C
Hosmer, 1B Willingham, LF
Francoeur, RF Morneau, 1B
Moustakas, 3B Valencia, 3B
Pena, B, C Doumit, DH
Escobar, A, SS Plouffe, RF
Dyson, CF Casilla, A, 2B
  _Chen, P   _Marquis, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 4 9 2
Minnesota 4 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 x 7 11 0

It’s been a while, so it’s hard to recognize it when we see it, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they call a WIN!

Once again, the bats did their job. Danny Valencia had a good day, with three hits, a couple of ribbies and started a critical double play in the field. One thing we saw today that we haven’t seen in a while was a “Quality Start” from a member of the Twins rotation. Three or fewer runs in six or more innings doesn’t seem like a terribly high standard until your guys can’t seem to meet it. But Jason Marquis did exactly that today and Jared Burton, Glen Perkins and Matt Capps managed to hold the lead.

But today’s Boyfriend of the Day has to be Josh Willingham, who managed 3/4 of the “cycle” with a single, double and triple, to go with two RBI and a couple of runs scored. Great way to end the homestand, guys! – JC

Josh Willingham (photo Jim Crikket)

GameChat – Twins @ Rays, 6:10pm

I always enjoy our series against the Rays simply because … well.. I like the Rays for the most part. I think they play in a ridiculous division and they do a lot of stuff with that anyway and let’s just say they do it efficiently. Of course by that I mean that they don’t have anywhere near the payroll as their divisional competitors. It’s just something that goes to the core of being a Twins fan that likes an underdog. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way, right?

At any rate, that doesn’t mean I don’t want the Twins to win.. it just means I would enjoy watching the Rays beat the Yankees almost as much as I would our boys. What I do hope is that the Twins are able to give better support to Liam tonight than they did the last time around for him. And I really want to see Hendriks pitch his little patooter off. I want to see one of our starters do well… please?

 

Minnesota

@

Tampa Bay
Span, CF Jennings, LF
Carroll, SS Zobrist, 2B
Mauer, DH Pena, C, 1B
Willingham, LF Longoria, 3B
Valencia, 3B Scott, DH
Doumit, C Joyce, RF
Plouffe, RF Upton, B, CF
Parmelee, 1B Gimenez, C, C
Casilla, A, 2B Rodriguez, S, SS
  Hendriks, P   Moore, P

 

 

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8

9

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Minnesota

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11

1

Tampa Bay

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0

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Woohoo!! Starting a series with a win always feels good. And I’m grateful that the boys gave Liam enough run support to get it done.

Tonight was an easy BOD though – Josh Willingham all the way. Seriously that boy is hitting. Not only did his solid blast give the Twins the lead, but it continued his streak to 14 games. I don’t really get too excited about streaks but it is kind of fun to see from a guy who STARTED the season with starting his streak… yeah, like I said, fun.

Mauer & Carroll get treats too as well as the bullpen for coming in and nailing it down again. But the big honor goes to Willy – hope it continues.

(photo courtesy of Rob Carr/ Getty Images)