Saturday, April 14, 2007

Recap 4/14/2007 Twins 12, Devil Rays 5

I am pleased as a pooch. Coming into tonight's game the Twins certainly had to feel as though they had a lot to learn about their team. This far this season the team has done a poor job of getting runners on base and an even worse job of plating the runners they do get. After getting hit hard in his Twins debt against the Yankees Sidney Ponson also had a lot to prove. He got off to a rough start in the second inning of todays game. During that inning the Devil rays scored two runs on three hits including doubles to right by Delmon Young who has been on fire so far this season hitting safely in 11 straight games, and Dioner Navarro. After that inning though Ponson settled in nicely, scattering 4 more hits over five and a third total innings of work. Ponson also showed an ability to miss bats striking out six, many on a split finger pitch he debuted tonight.

In the hearts of many the real test for the Twins tonight was to see if they could at least get their offense going against Edwin Jackson, a well below average pitcher. I think there are a lot of fans in the state right now who have been every bit as disappointed by the failures of the offense as they've been pleased by the success of the starting rotation. Tonight however the Twins did answer the bell against not just Jackson but a bunch of Rays relievers. That might not be saying much as the Rays may have the consensus worst bullpen in baseball but the Twins treated them as such. Most appreciated by me was that Gardenhire finally sat Nick Punto, a move I begged for a couple of days ago, and the guys who replaced him, Tyner and Rodriguez, hit extremely well.Tyner played center and batted second, while Hunter DHed, and Luis Rodriguez played third. If the Twins were to have Kubel DH most games, play Tyner in left and Rodriguez at 3rd I'd be pleased. On the night Tyner went 3-5 with a pair of doubles (contrary to popular belief he can register hits other than sinlges!) one of which was very nearly his first career homerun as well as scoring three runs and driving in another. Rodriguez on the other hand did homer in the seventh while playing a solid third base.

Of course the big four of the Twins order also hit extremely well going a combined 9-17 with Michael Cuddyer leading the way with 4 hits all of which well very well struck. They big four also scored six runs and drove in eight more. By the time the Twins finished the sixth up 9-2 the game was pretty much over. Also encouraging was Jason Bartlett's performance as his defense was good most of the game as he made the routine plays and in the ninth inning made a filthy play on B.J. Upton's hard hit grounder up the middle, making the diving play and making a strong throw to get the speedy Upton. At the plate he was 1-2 with a crisp single , a deep fly out and two walks. More encouraging is that he looked very comfortable at the plate and did a good job working counts. Hopefully the threat of having Alexi Casilla steal his position has done for him in two games what being sent down last spring did for his game last year. Presuming he does get on track now, lets hope he doesn't need this type of wake up call every year.

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