Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Recap 5/15/2007 Twins 7, Cleveland Apaches 15

One game after getting the bats going against the Tigers, the hot hitting continued for the Twins as they scored 6 or more runs in consecutive games for only the second time this season, the other bring April 20th and 21st against the Royals. The Twins also hit four homeruns again, and while I haven't checked, I can say with relative certainty that this may have been the first time this season the Twins have hit multiple homeruns in back-to-back games.

To that end, Justin Morneau continued his recent power surge as he hit two more homeruns. Michael Cuddyer also stayed hot, going 2-5 with his fourth homer of the year. Most prominent in my mind however was Jason Kubel's first homerun of the season. Kubel has been getting beaten up lately by Twins fans, and while his average has been down, especially over the past couple weeks, he actually has the highest percentage of line drives hit in baseball, suggesting his average should be quite a bit higher than its been.

The problem with this game however, as you might guess from the final score, was the pitching. For the second straight game Ramon Ortiz pitched much more like the guy who was a disaster for the Nationals last year than the guy who started off ripping off quality start after quality start for the Twins this year allowing a line of 1IP, 7H, 1B, OK, 6ER. Despite those atrocious numbers, his ERA rose only to 4.89, which actually emphasizes just how good he's been so far this season. While I'm sure that many Twins fans are frustrated by this, and understandably so, this is simply a returning to the mean for Ortiz who has made a career of being just good enough to make major league rosters. The problem for the Twins of course means the team is suddenly down to two pitchers for whom they can expect consistency, one being Santana, and (I can't believe I'm saying this) the other being Carlos Silva who has been consistently fine all year. Ortiz has earned a lot of leeway with his fantastic early season performance, but if the Twins and Ortiz continue to struggle he makes an easy target for replacement by one of the Twins plethora of AAA pitchers.

While Ortiz's performance was dismaying, it was far from their only bad pitching performance. Following Ortiz's miserable first inning, Glen Perkins was given a prime opportunity to show that he, not Scott Baker who is being mentioned by many as the likely replacement for Sidney Ponson in the rotation, deserved the shot. Instead he last just two innings, throwing 48 pitches, allowing 4 hits, walking 2, and allowing three more runs to score, all earned. Next in line for punishment was Jesse Crain who's borne the brunt of way too many big innings since returning from his 'shoulder soreness' (which I've read is actually tendinitis). Crain lasted just 2/3 of an inning and allowed six runs, though none of them were earned due to Nick Punto's fielding error. But it wasn't like Crain didn't get shelled, he gave up four hits including a two run homerun to Grady Sizemore.

Juan Rincon didn't allow a run, but didn't look great in his inning and a third, walking one and allowing a hit. The lone pitching bright spots in my opinion were, surprise, Dennys Reyes who pitched a very good inning allowing no hits or walks with a strikeout, hopefully this bodes well for the future of his season. The other was Matt Guerrier who has been good all year. Tonight he went 2 innings, gave up just 1 hit, and struck out a pair.


- Justin Morneau. The man with the big stick decided to bring it to the park tonight, clubbing two more homeruns. He's really been on a bit of a tear lately, as this is his second multi-homerun game in a week. (I think?)

- Micheal Cuddyer. Getting the start in the three hole in Ron Gardenhire's revised (thank God) lineup, Cuddybear hit his fourth homerun of the season, and drove in a pair while going 2-5.

- Jason Kubel. The whipping boy of the moment for frustrated Twins fans, Kubel displayed his immense potential tonight hitting his first homerun of the season while also going 2-4. I for one am pretty happy for the guy as he's hit numerous balls very hard and a long ways, falling victim to walls that were five feet too long. One notable ball was his 420 foot double to straightaway center at Comerica. His upside is huge and I think I'm in league with the Twins management in my opinion that in Rondell White's absence, he isn't the piece that needs replacing.

- Matt Guerrier. Another very nice outing from Guerrier is leaving little doubt in my mind about the tradability of a reliever like Jesse Crain or Juan Rincon. Guerrier has been fantastic this season and has really seemed to learn to control his hard curveball. With the continued ascent to greatness by Pat Neshek, Guerrier's emergence as a possible short guy bodes well for the team, especially if they decide to use Perkins out of the bullpen, which I think is where he belongs.

- Dennys Reyes. He had a really rough introduction to his season but lately has been notably better, albeit in non-pressure situations. He'll have to prove he's ready for the heat before I get back on his bandwagon.


- Ramon Ortiz. He fell victim to the dreaded "big inning" tonight. Is this what Rick Anderson was referring to when he said Ramon's numbers were skewed by his propensity for occasionally having absurdly bad games or part of much larger problem? Its likely that it's the latter, but I'll hope for the former, if only because the alternative is exceedingly depressing.

- Glen Perkins. Basing what I'm about to say on nothing other than what I've seen with my own two eyes, I'm going to go on a bit of tangent here and say that I believe Glen Perkins is destined to a long distinguished career as a long reliever. His variety of pitches is particularly underwhelming and he really seems to struggle against quality players. That said, he's only pitched a handful of big league innings and will likely get a good deal more dependable as he progresses and learns, but he has developed some tendencies in the minor leagues that don't bode well for a long, happy future as a major league pitcher. When you look at the similarities between him and Eric Milton you may become a little worried too. Clearly he has the stuff to succeed but he seems to struggle with his control and will invariably suffer from being a fly ball pitcher. Though he could have a much happier career if he ends up somewhere other than Cincinnati as Milton did, like say with the Mariners (I hope you're reading T.R.) in spacious and homerun eating Safeco Field.

- Jesse Crain. I'm really beginning to think his shoulder could be in a lot worse shape than he's letting on. When he first got hurt and missed some time, the team said it was because of tendinitis in his pitching shoulder, a problem that only intensifies as the season goes on. They later said it was just soreness. Dating a pitcher, I understand why he's still going to the mound every couple days as he wants to compete, but his breaking balls seem to lack a lot of the bite that they had and he's being forced to rely more on his fastball, which he throws hard, but quite straight.

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