Sunday, April 22, 2007

Recap 4/22/2007 Twins 1, Royals3 Recaps and boxscore

Coming into tonights contest between the Twins and Royals my main concern, as I stated towards the end of last nights recap, was for a letdown from Ramon Ortiz. To a certain extent I was right, as he probably had his worst outing of the season, though seven innings and three runs is certainly far from bad. The one thing I didn't anticipate was such a precipitous decline in production from an offense which had been racking up hits the last two evenings like they were going out of style. However that is precisely what Twins Nation received.

Ramon Ortiz took the hill against a team that had just beaten up on Sidney Ponson, which many predicted, and then on Boof Bonser, which few predicted. Looking ahead I thought conditions were ripe for a return to form from Ortiz, what with having pitched so well of late, a return to normal was entirely too predictable. That was not the case though as Ramon delivered another seven sterling innings, allowing just three runs to an offense that has thus far been solid against the Twins, roughing up not only the starters, but to some degree the vaunted bullpen as well.

Once again I didn't get to see the game, I haven't seen a a single game of this series due to the sports gal's demanding softball schedule, and I must admit, I'm going through a serious bout of withdrawal. From what I heard on the car radio between rain delays the Twins bats were stifled by the always imposing sounding, though never dominating Jorge De La Rosa. De La Rosa, who will from here on be referred to as DLR obviously had it going as he held the Twins to only five hits, and only one extra base hit, a double off the bat of Michael Cuddyer which plated Batting Champ for the Twins lone run in the sixth. DLR, a 26 year-old from Mexico came into tonight with some incredible career numbers, though for all the wrong reasons. A reliever for most of his career, DLR has pitched a total of 170 2/3 Major League Innings, also known as almost a full season for a starter. In those innings he's managed to post a career WHIP of 1.73, (184 hits, 11 walks (yeah that's right, 111 walks in ~171 innings...)) all to the tune of a 5.43 career ERA. And while he's been much better this year, going 1-1 and registering a 3.04 ERA (all coming into tonights game)

On the other hand you could probably say much of the same things for Ramon Ortiz, a career
4.80 pitcher who as of today is sporting a 2.48 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP(no thats not a typo) . As I stated earlier, this was probably Ramon's worst start of the year, however he still allowed only three runs and only seven hits in as many innings while striking out four and walking none. Along with dishing out another good outing, Ortiz also surely delivered the quote of the game which I stole from's recap, "If I pitch like that all year, we'll win more games than we'll lose." Brilliantly well stated Mr. Ortiz.

Usually I finish by mentioning how the Twins offense did, but seeing as how they scored just one run and had only five hits, I'll say nothing, since thats pretty much what happened. I would however like to hear about what others thought of the Twins hitters, especially in terms of patience, and plate approach, etc... Generally I'm of the opinion that the Twins are most effective when they're hitters aren't hacking away early, a common bit of baseball acumen, but certainly one which I find far too often to be applicable to a team of veterans that should know better. My guess is that the Twins we're they're own biggest enemy, not DLR, swinging early, and allowing him to pitch until the eighth.


- Ramon Ortiz baby, Cy Young, here he comes. Seriously though, thats four pretty great starts from a guy who most people (coming into spring training) thought would be lighting it up for Rochester (or maybe Tampa Bay (aren't they the same thing?)) by now.

- Batting Champ, for using his arm to gun down two more runners today.


- Everyone in the batting order who's last name does not rhyme with 'power'. I suppose Cuddy gets a pass too for drawing the only walk against a guy who's made a career of allowing people the free pass to first. Honestly, thats pathetic.

- Ron Gardenhire. Seriously, did he miss the part of the pre-game speech where he tells the guys the pitcher they're about to face has allowed walks at a rate of 5.85 per 9 innings? Did that just conveniently slip by? Did he miss the, "make sure to work the count so we can spend as much time pounding the worst bullpen in baseball," part? Sure, DLR's final strikes-thrown rating was pretty good at 68%, but I'm curious how many of those were Twins hitters flailing away at pitches out of the zone. My guess is a lot. I'm hoping someone who saw the game will confirm this, because I'm almost positive its true.

- MVP, who has been anything but so far this year, failing with astounding consistency with guys in scoring position. Today's line? 0-4 with two strikeouts (including a bases loaded, one out job) and four left on base. I may be the only person who's hating on him hard right now, but he's really been bad. So far this season he's hitting .208 with runners in scoring position. However, as a leadoff hitter he's batting .412. Looks like he and Luis Castillo have decided to swap roles. Castillo is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position.

Another point of interest with Morneau would be that it seems he's trying harder than ever to hit homeruns, and for the most part, failing. For his career, Morneau has a .94 GB/FB ratio, this season that ratio has dipped to .79. I can't be certain if it's a mechanical problem or a mental one, but its clear that he's probably not bringing the bat through the middle on a level plane, which is probably the reason I've been hearing, "Morneau hits a harmless pop fly just behind shortstop," so often this season. Also, has anyone else noticed that he's no longer hitting the ball consistently to left field as he did last season and that teams have once again begun to play him hard to pull? According to Inside Edge from ESPN, 26% of his balls in play have been to left, compared to 40% to right. He also has a HUGE hole up and in where he consistently chases and fails to put ball in play. Just to pile on, he's also averaging a career low 3.26 P/PA. If anything good can be taken from all of this, it'll be that it'll give T.R. some leverage in contact negotiations, presuming these trends continue throughout the year. Of course that would also mean the twins probably won't be making the playoffs again, but I didn't/don't expect them to anyways.

Looking Ahead

Tomorrow the Twins have to face a real team in the Cleveland Indians and yet another left hander in Jeremy Sowers, regretfully to say, this lefty has talent. So far this season the Twins have hit lefties at a .240 clip and righties at a .304 rate. The good news? We send Cy Young contender Carlos Silva to the mound to face a team who he's allowed a 4.87 ERA and .324 BAA against to over the past three seasons. Oh, hold on, thats not good news? Well, 11-8, here we come!

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