Sunday, May 20, 2007

Recap 5/19/2007 Twins 5. Brew Crew 2

Last night I began to write an article about how the Twins offense was bound to improve from it's performance so far this season. My justification was the same one I had used earlier in the season, when I pointed out that the team had the most at-bats of any team in baseball with runners in scoring position but was batting a full 30 points worse in that situation than their season average. I never finished the article but the last two games have bore out my point.

As the Twins started their series in Milwaukee, they have countered that trend, progressing back to the mean, as they've gone 4-14 (.285), 4-11 (.363) if you don't count the three at-bats by pitchers. While two games of good offense doesn't mean any more over the long term than the two big games last week did, it's the way in which we scored that has me pleased. The Twins have gotten three homeruns over these past two games with Torii doing the most damage with his two homeruns, a grand slam and two run shot that gave the Twins the lead in both games, but its been the successful sacrifice bunts, the steals, and the singles that brought home runners which have been most pleasing. Thats because for the most part, the Twins simply cannot expect to get big homeruns on a consistent basis, but what they can do is move guys around and score the runners they get into position.

The other obviously good piece of news for the Twins was the brilliant performance of Scott Baker. In his seven games (six starts) this season at Rochester, Baker has been completely brilliant. While his ERA was far from overwhelming, it was still a very good 3.16 over 42 2/3 innings. What was impressive were the peripheral numbers. He had a K/BB ratio of 41/4, and a GB/FB ratio of 1.34 and a WHIP of .89. Those last two numbers are particularly important as Baker has always struggled to keep the ball down in the zone which has led to lots of fly balls and homeruns.

Tonight's game while impressive and just what the team needed, had some things that might make the attentive fan of the game a little worried. Things like the fact that he never really displayed a consistently effective breaking ball, and the breaking balls he did throw he tended to leave up and they consistently got hit hard. You'll notice that he had a number of balls hit hard to the outfield, especially as he passed the 50 pitch mark in the fifth inning. He also gave up two homeruns, both on pitches left up and over. The other worrying point of note is that he still hasn't seemed to learn how to create a good downward plane with his fastball as it still usually comes in very flat. The good thing I noticed however is that he seems to really have gotten very good command of his 2-seamer which bites into right handed hitters. He was consistently hitting the corners and looked very sharp with his fastball. Whether or not that will be enough remains to be seen, but the Twins were desperate for a spark and Baker provided that.

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