Thursday, April 12, 2007

Recap 4/12/2007 Twins 3, Devil Rays 2

Boxscore 4/12/2007 Twins 3, Devil Rays 2

What an emotional roller-coaster of a game, this one had it all.

You can say a lot of things about Carlos Silva: you can mention his ghastly 2006 season where he registered a 5.94 ERA while allowing 246 hits in 180 innings, or his 11.06 ERA coming out of spring training this season. The truth is the man hasn't been right since his 2005 campaign where he pitched 188 innings with a 3.44 ERA. What you can't say is anything bad about his season through his first two starts. Thats not because you need to lay off him to protect his fragile emotions as Gardenhire did all last year, but because he's been inconceivably good. In his first 11 2/3 innings pitched this year he's allowed all of one run for a 0.77 ERA. His first start in Chicago in freezing temperatures was very nice as he went five innings in the freezing cold allowing just one run. He sinker was sinking and the White Sox hitters were pounding it into the ground. Today he was even better. The Devil Rays came into town averaging 5.75 runs per game over their first 8 contests and Silva shut them down. He did give up seven hits and walk two but he did a good job of scattering the base runners and no one reached third while he was pitching. I could complain that his sinker didn't look as good tonight as it did in his first game but whenever a pitcher goes nearly seven scoreless I try not to nit-pick.

By contrast the Twins usually un-hittable bullpen was whacked by the Rays when Juan Rincon took the mound in the eighth. Rincon was clearly never in the game as his very first pitch was a home run by Ty Wigginton. Following the homerun Delmon Young singled sharply up the middle on Rincon's third pitch and Iwamura walked. After a strikeout of Dioneer Navarro, Carlos Pena single to right scoring Young and leaving runner on first and third. That was the end of Rincon's night. Sadly in just 1/3 of an inning he managed to undo all of Carlos Silva's hard work meaning he ended up with a no-decision. After his 1 run in Chicago earned him the loss in that game it means he's been the victim of bad luck and an inept offense twice this season. Thankfully to say Pat Neshek managed to strikeout the next two Devil Rays to get out of the jam and limit the damage.

The Twins offense returned to it anemic ways tonight after a brief one-game respite. The only runs of the game were scored in the 4th innings when Joe Mauer singled and Michael Cuddyer unloaded on a 2-0 offering for his first homerun of the season. Then finally, after Silva's great game, Rincon's miserable collapse, and Cuddyer/Mauer's great defensive play to turn two the hard way in the ninth, Justin Morneau redeems himself after four terrible at-bats with a game-winning walk-off homerun to my seats in left.


- Silva was awesome. Sure he allowed 9 baserunner's in 6 2/3, but thats not too bad. In 11 2/3 he's allowed just one run and earned some slack from fans as well as his standing ovation tonight. Much like Ramon Ortiz, I don't know how long this can last but for now, good for him. Better for us.

- The bottom of the order combination of Jason Kubel and Josh Rabe has been good the last two games. Kubel has continued his hot hitting of this week going 2-3 with a couple more hard hit singles. Whats more, he's one of the few Twins willing to work the count.

- Josh Rabe had another base knock tonight. What I don't understand is why when he decideds to play both Rabe and Kubel, Gardenhire DH's Rabe who is clearly the superior fielder. However when you look at the numbers Kubel is clearly better when he fields, though the numbers from last year I'm going to show you could be misleading as most of his DH duty came in the second half when he was playing hurt which also coincided with his precipitous batting decline.

As DH; 19-89 (.194), 2 HR's, 7 RBI
AS LF; 31-97 (.320), 6 HR's , 18 RBI

If you projected his numbers as a left fielder out to a full 600 AB season thats 186 hits, and 36 homeruns and 108 RBI's. Not too shabby. I suppose if he can show he can put up those numbers over a full season, let him play in left, it won't be too much worse than it would be having Rondell White there.

- Despite not getting a hit tonight I think Alexi Casilla had another good game. Once again he was solid on defense and has still put the ball in play in each of his at-bats, thats more than can be said for Jason Bartlett.

- Pat Neshek got Elijah Dukes and Rocco Baldelli to strikeout to get out of a major jam in the eighth. Juan Rincon owes him dinner tonight.

- Justin Morneau after a terrible night at the plate proved his worth a game winning homerun, not surprisingly he took as many pitches in the final at bat (3) as he did in his first three at bats combined (2).

- Michael Cuddyer was good hitting a two-run homerun in the fourth which gave the Twins a lead they held until Rincon gave it away in the eighth. He also had a long AB in the eighth with Mauer on first which he lost when he popped up to first.


- Michael Cuddyer was bad seeing a total of four pitches in his first two outs. Ditto for Morneau, see above.

- Juan Rincon. I wrote about it earlier and theres not much else to say. Maybe his head was with his mother-in-law who just passed away, it certainly wasn't on making quality pitches.

- I'm officially calling for Nick Punto to be benched in favor of Luis Rodriguez. Simply put he's been way worse than even I thought he'd be, and I figured he'd hit about .220 this year. If he were hitting .220 right now I'd be thrilled, but he's not, he's hitting .147. For as many times as he's failed to get innings going for the Twins, he's ended just as many innings with strikeouts. I know we're looking at a small sample size but there has been absolutely NOTHING to suggest his year last year was anything but a fluke. He's striking out a lot, not getting bunts down, and the balls he puts in play have nearly all been harmless pop-ups or soft grounders. Tonight he was 0-4 and struckout with runners on 2nd and third to end the 5th inning. Enough is enough, ElRod deserves his chance if for no other reason than Punto is out of excuses. 34 AB's, 5 hits, 7 strikeouts. I know the counter-argument, "who do you play in the two hole?" Right now I don't care, put Kubel there, sure he can't run well, but at least he'll get on base and move guys along with his bat. Heck if Chris Hientz didn't get sent down I'd give him a shot at third base and second in the order, its not like he's going to do significantly worse. In case you can't tell, I'm steamed. This may have been amongst the worst signings T.R. has ever made.

- Torii Hunter was AWFUL tonight. I know with Hunter you've got to take the good (Homers, doubles and defense) with the bad (impatience at the plate, strikeouts, and GIDP's so routine its a standing joke between people to guess where and when he'll bounce into one and kill an inning,) and tonight was classic Hunter. 1-3 with a double in the second and he saw a total of 5 pitches in those three at-bats. 5 pitches... good hitters see five pitches each at-bat on average. In taking so few pitches he not only hurts his batting average but the team as well because those short at-bats extend the duration a starting pitcher is able to go. And against teams like the Devil Rays who have one of the worst bullpens in baseball, every hitter should go to the plate with the understanding that they need to extend their plate appearances and get the starting pitcher out of the game. I keep wondering how good he could be if he'd just see 3.5 pitches per at-bat, but at this point in his career you know it'll never happen.


Nick M. said...

Corey, I would note that Kubel stop playing outfielder last year for a good reason, so I am not so sure you can conclude based on those numbers that he is better off in the field. Right now, he still doesn't quite have it out there, though I am not sure many of our right fielders (White, Rabe) should be out there.

Nick M. said...

Left fielders I mean.

Corey Ettinger said...

Well before we can really make a judgment on Kubel's ability in left, a position he played for years in the minors we'll need to give him some time out there to get better at judging balls again. The problem is that he's very limited in his range, but then again, no more so than Rondell White who the team wants to start there, so I don't know if thats a legitimate argument. Watching Rabe play left however is nice. He has good range, takes a good angle on balls and has a serviceable arm. I'd say of the options, Tyner included, he's actually probably the best fielder for the position there is since Tyner can't throw.

Nick M. said...

That might be true, but I am just not a huge fan of Rabe because he just isn't much of a hitter. In his minor league career, he is a .277/.347/.404 hitter in 2,597 at-bats. He showed at least some patience last year, with a 0.63 isolated discipline, but he has no power to speak off. In fact, his best power season was in 2002 at Fort Myers A-ball, when his slugging was at .481 in 297 at-bats. I just can't get excited about him.

So I guess despite his lack of range, I don't mind Kubel out there, it's just that it means Rabe or some lesser hitter will DH. So maybe Rabe needs to be in the field. Obviously, it isn't an enviable position for the team.

Corey Ettinger said...

The problem is of course that Kubel is essentially a younger (more talent and patient in my opinion) version of Rondell White in that neither are fast or play great D, but both are strong line-drive type hitters with some pop. I think having both their bats in the lineup will be good but how do you deal with their deficiencies on defense and can either of them find success as a DH. If Kubel can start hitting as a DH like he does as a LF then were set and he becomes a classic 6 hole hitter in the mold of Edgar Martinez.