Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Game Notes and Recap 4/10/2007 Twins 1 - Yankees 10

One night after Sir Sidney got severely served, Boof Bonser got Bronx bombed. I came into this game feeling decidedly non-optimistic and my worst fears were quickly realized as the Yankees put up 3 runs in the first inning, two of which came on Alex Rodriguez's monstrous homerun to left. Thankfully to say I got to attend the game with fellow MNSG writer and good friend Mike Pahl who contributes for the Vikings.

Although I didn't write a recap for last nights game, I do think that I should say that despite the final line, I thought that Sidney Ponson pitched fairly well. He induced a number of ground balls which were either poorly played or found holes as well as breaking a couple of bats which still fell in for hits. Of course he didn't help matters by allowing two bombs by Rodriguez and Bobby Abreu, but the run total could have and should have been much lower than they were. For as bad as Ponson fared, I was certain that Bonser would have at least as much if not more trouble than his sinkerballing counter-part. I wasn't too far off. While Boof didn't give up as many hits or runs, he was no more effective. Boof, like Ponson, did have some success in the middle innings but against a tough Yankees lineup getting behind at all can spell doom. That small margin for error is obviously exaggerated when your team has hit just .161 in their last three games and just.177 in the series.

One disturbing stat for Twins fans. On the season the Twins are just 12/57-.210 with runners in scoring position if you take away leadoff man Luis Castillo's 4/5. Even if you include that, they're hitting a paltry .258. Even worse, middle of the order hitter Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, and Hunter are hitting just 6/33-.181.

That very important stat came into play both today and yesterday as the Twins have consistently failed to capitalize on the few opportunities that they've generated. In the third inning of todays game for example, Cuddyer led off with a double off the 3rd base bag which was followed by a Morneau grounder to second, and strikeouts by Hunter and Rabe. Again in the fourth inning Punto and Mauer led off with singles and then Cuddyer grounded into a double play and Morneau bounced to 1st to end the inning. In the seventh Morneau and Hunter led off with walks and Rabe and Redmond flew out before Jason Kubel got his second hit in four at-bats against the Yankees, again driving in a run. Luis Castillo with runners on first and second then grounded out to end the inning. Even if the Twins would have capitalized on these opportunities it obviously wouldn't have won them the game. But failing to do so over a prolonged period will end up costing this team wins.

While Boof's final line for the evening, 4 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 6 earned runs is bad, the twins have a larger long-term problem brewing in the bullpen as Dennys Reyes has really struggled so far this season. In three innings this season he's allowed 8 hits, walked three and allowed 5 earned runs. No one expected Reyes to duplicate his numbers from last year, but I don't think many people would have thought that he'd have been this bad so early in the season. On a positive note, Pat Neshek put together another nice inning for the Twins striking out two, including righty Derek Jeter and getting through the seventh in order.

The other big news for the Twins today was the appearance of a couple 'new' faces. Josh Rabe and Alexi Casilla both were called up after the club placed both Jeff Cirillo and Rondell White on the 15 day disabled list. I for one am excited about both. Casilla reminds me of a young Luis Castillo and Rabe should be able to play solid defense and provide a capable bat against lefties as he went 9/24-.375 with two home runs against LHP in 2006.


- Jason Kubel is 2/4 in his last two games but has driven in a run with both of his hits and has really been making solid contact, lining out in the two plate appearances he failed to reach base.

- Pat Neshek has looked great so far this year allowing just 1 hit in 3 2/3 innings.

- Mauer's bionic swing is in mid-season form and he doesn't seem to have skipped a beat since last year. Also good news is that he's started every game at catcher and hasn't reported any issues with his leg since he had his stress reaction this spring.


- The team is hitting .258 with runners in scoring postion.

- Justin Morneau has as many strikeouts as hits (6)

- Torii Hunter is hitting .208 with as many hits as strikeouts (5)

- Jason Bartlett, who few expected to struggle looks completely lost at the plate, hitting .050 which would seem like a typo but it's not. He's also struck out 5 times.

- Nick Punto who some people expected to struggle is batting just .148 with 6 strikeouts.

Simply put there are holes at the top, middle and bottom of the order and thats a really bad way to play baseball. Except for Mauer of course, because he hits everything.

Tomorrow we get to see how Ramon Ortiz fares. I imagine he'll pitch a lot like Bonser, but end up with a stat line more like Ponson's. Hopefully he can hang in for 6 innings though because once again the starters are failing to get deep into games and the bullpen is really being taxed. If your a fan of A-Rod's tune in, Rodriguez is a career .333 hitter off Ortiz (16/48) and half of those hits have left the yard. He also sports a serviceable 1.310 OPS. Bombs away!

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