Killerawesomesweet (Game 8)

April 12, 2010 at 10:04 pm Leave a comment

Today was the grand day in which Target Field was unveiled for regular season use. I got to my T.V around 1:30 and alternated between watching the pre game ceremonies and a computer animated Garfield show from France. I normally avoid shows involving Garfield, or France, but the ceremonies were rather awkward, not because of the content but because of an awkward PA announcer. He’s the sort to announce our first baseman as:

JUUUSSSSTINNNNNN!!!! morneau.

The fans didn’t seem super enthused by the PA guy, either, which made it more uncomfortable. The Red Sox players seemed a tad confused, as well.

But then the game started, and in rather bizarre fashion. Pavano started off Scutaro (Not Ellsbury, who thought his ribs were broken but really just turned out to be a pussy), with a ball. Then Marco lined a hit to left center. And then Pavano picked him off in what probably should have been a balk (But I really don’t know what constitutes a balk, any more than I did back when I pitched in 8th grade. That was one playoff game my coach would rather forget). Then Pedroia ripped a double, but Pavano calmed down and got Martinez and Youkilis. A scoreless top of the first, but in all honesty Pedroia’s double probably should have come with Scutaro on second. But hey maybe there’s some home field magic already.

Span walked in his first appearance at Target Field, Hudson singled, and Mauer laced a line drive nearly over the head of relatively washed up former top prospect Jeremy Hermida. Morneau probably felt obligated to hit a home run to christen his new park, but instead hit the ball 300 feet short. Cuddyer made similar (Broken bat) contact but managed to muscle the ball to left field for the park’s first run. Then Jason Kubel ripped a liner to right and no one seemed to care all that much. People generally don’t care what Jason Kubel does; he’s like a funny looking kid who overcame adversity as a young child and through hard work became the smartest kid in his class, only Ron Gardenhire is his unappreciative alcoholic father.

YA CAN’T HIT LEFTIES YA AIN’T NO SON A MINE!

But dad, I hit four home runs today, and one was off a lefty!

WHY CAN’T YOU BE MORE LIKE YOUR LITTLE BROTHER PUNTO? HE’S A SWITCH HITTER!

In any case, his single brought home the second run at Target Field, which has almost no importance even though it came against a lefty who figures to challenge for the AL Cy Young, Jon Lester. Yes, a lefty, and a good, possibly great (3.15 FIP, 225 K’s in 09) lefty. You know, the type of pitchers Kubel is supposed to suck against even though he showed improvement last year against them despite hardly getting a chance to face any? But hey Kubel will probably sit on Wednesday in favor of Brendan Harris again. Rest those knees.

Pavano then allowed the Sawx to spray line drives all over Target Field, most of which Denard Span caught. Thus far in the season I feel as though our outfield has caught a high percentage of line drives (Cough, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn). And this is odd, since our outfield figures to be historically bad in terms of range. But perhaps Span adjusting to his position and Delmon Young becoming mobile again have had positive benefits.

By around the 4th inning Pavano had chilled out and was pitching craftily like he did in his first start, moving the ball around and making hitters guess wrong. Plus the come backer he fielded with his bare hand was kinda badass. The New York media really tried to portray Pavano as a whiny girl, but honestly I haven’t seen much of that. What I have seen is a guy with a great strikeout to walk ratio, a great performance in the postseason, the ability to snag liners with his bare hands, and a total of two runs allowed in 13 innings thus far.

Then who should hit the first homer at Target Field? Part time designated hitter Jason Kubel. He’s heating up a bit, and he better if he wants regular at bats despite coming off a .900 OPS, 100 RBI, .300 avg season. Not that I put too much value into basic statistics and pretty round numbers; I just figure Gardenhire would.

Span was 1 for 3 with two walks, and although his average is still in the toilet, his OBP is starting to rise. Plus he stole two bases off of poor Victor Martinez.

Mauer went 3 for 5 with two doubles. He already has 5 on the season, and he’s hitting over .400. I’m starting to think his 2009 performance is more in line with what he can do than any previous season. He looks transcendent at the plate. You’ve heard of the concept of the three outcome player? Basically those are guys who either hit home runs, draw walks, or strike out. Some examples are Mark Reynolds, Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard. Well, Joe Mauer is a new version of the three outcomes player. He either rolls a bouncer to the 2nd baseman, gets a hit, or walks.

Jon Rauch keeps “doing the job.” Those FSNorth analysts keep lavishing praise upon Rauch, completely ignoring how he was inches away from blowing a game against the Sox when Alex Rios just missed a home run, as well as generally inducing long fly balls in order to get outs. The closer position is the easiest to find replacements. A pitcher will succeed 80% of the time just throwing grapefruits. A good closer will succeed 90% of the time. Jon Rauch figures to be in the middle of those extremes. He’s going to blow a game, and it might happen very soon, and he’s certainly pitched poorly enough to have blown a save already. Thanks to a lot of fly balls to the deepest part of the park, lots of 3 run leads, and a competent defense, he’s managed success so far. But don’t praise him for “stepping up” and “shutting the door” because any of the Twins other pitchers (Besides Mijares) could have managed the same success, and probably more convincingly. Rauch himself seems to know this, warning fans that he’ll save a lot of ugly games. But Ron Coomer and Tim Laudner didn’t hear that quote, they only see 5 for 5 in save chances (By the way, get Tim Laudner out of there; he’s more backward and vague than Joe Morgan).

As you can see, Rauch’s tattoo is even more badass than initially thought. I never understood the I on his neck, but now it appears to be placed in sequence with several other letters whose significance I don’t understand.

That said, the bullpen as a whole looks fantastic. Crain has never looked better with his fastball regularly clocking at 95 and his slider biting like I’ve never seen. Neshek looks a lot like his old self, Guerrier looks like a decent 7th inning guy, Duensing is pitching well. I want to try Alex Burnett in more high leverage situations, just to see if he has some success. If he does, maybe the front office can come to their senses and release Clay Condrey, knowing that if they need more bullpen depth, Anthony Slama is still waiting.

Also, have you noticed that there has only been one indisputably poor performance from the starting staff thus far? I’m not totally sold on Slowey, given his extremely hittable and lucky performance in Anaheim, and Liriano did walk a bunch of guys, but overall this is the sort of rotation that can produce 100 win seasons when paired with a prolific offense and a decent bullpen (I say this after reading Joe Posnanski’s book about the 1975 Reds, The Machine). Wait, the 2010 Twins have a prolific offense and a decent bullpen.. does that mean..?

Yes the Twins are going to be the best team in the AL this year. That’s a call.

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Hiyohhh (Game 4) Finding it Hard to Not Get Ahead of Myself

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