Thursday, April 30, 2009

Game #22 - Back-to-Back Series Wins

The Twins got to Tampa Bay starter Scott Kazmir early and never relented, winning 8-3 and scoring its second-consecutive series win.

Minnesota scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 1st inning without hitting anything hard. The inning featured some classic Twins' manufacturing of runs, complete wild pitches, miscommunication in the outfield, and dribblers up the middle.

Nick Blackburn was solid in his start. He scattered 8 hits over 7 innings, surrendering 2 runs. The right-hander has now picked up wins in his last 2 starts, going 7 innings each time, and surrendering a total of 3 runs to fine hitting teams Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Craig Breslow pitched a solid 8th inning, and Luis Ayala allowed a single run in the 9th.

At the plate, the Twins' top 3 hitters in the lineup each had 3 hits - Denard Span, Brendan Harris, and Justin Morneau. Span also added a triple, adding to his impressive first month of the season.

Joe Mauer will return to the Twins' lineup on Friday. We'll see if the team options Jose Morales to Rochester, despite the fact he has started 7 of the last 9 games and is hitting .349 on the season, or put Mike Redmond on the DL.

The Kansas City Royals come to town on Friday for a 3-game set. Pitching match-ups feature:
  • Friday, 7:10pm - Kevin Slowey (3-0) vs. Sidney Ponson (0-3)
  • Saturday, 6:10pm - Glen Perkins (1-2) vs. Brian Bannister (2-0)
  • Sunday, 1:10pm - Gil Meche (1-2) vs. Scott Baker (0-3)

Around the AL Central:

  • Chicago White Sox 6, Seattle 3 - The Whities scored 5 runs in the 6th-8th innings, and Seattle had no answer. Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye hit back-to-back homers in the 7th inning, and A.J. Pierzynski also went deep. Gavin Floyd started and went the first 6, but Matt Thornton picked up the win in relief. Bobby Jenks finished for his 5th save, and the Sox improved to 11-10.
  • NY Yankees 8, Detroit 6 - The Yanks took the series from the Tigers on the heels of 2 homers from Nick Swisher. Starter Rick Porcello was knocked around in 3.2 innings, surrendering 6 runs on 6 hits. The Tigers made it interesting in the 9th, scoring 5 runs including Curtis Granderson's 3-run homer off Mariano Rivera. However, the great closer got the final out and saved it for Joba Chamberlain. The Tigers are now 11-10.
  • Boston 6, Cleveland 5 - Jonathan Van Avery's first major league homer in the top of the 10th against Jensen Lewis gave the Red Sox the victory. Cleveland's Fausto Carmona finally had an effective start, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs over 6-2 innings. Mark DeRosa and Kelly Shoppach hit home runs for the Indians, who fell to 8-14 on the season.
  • Kansas City 11, Toronto 3 - Zack Greinke became the first pitcher to win 5 games this season, but did allow an earned run this time. In fact, he allowed 2 earned runs over 7 innings, striking out 8 on the season. In his incredible start to the season, Greinke is allowing 11.0 strikeouts per 9 innings, and only 6 hits in that same span. Billy Butler had 4 hits, including 2 homers, and 4 RBI for KC. Mark Teahen also went deep. The Royals are also 11-10.

Around the Minors:

  • AAA - Rochester 1, Buffalo 0 - Kevin Mulvey, Mike Gosling, Bobby Keppel, and Sean Henn combined on a 7-hit shutout of the Bisons. Dustin Martin batted in Jason Pridie for the Red Wings' only run in the bottom of the 7th inning. Pridie had 2 hits in the game. Rochester is now 7-10.
  • AA - New Hampshire 5, New Britain 0 - The Cats were shut out on 5 hits (all singles) by New Hampshire. Ryan Mullins started and lost for NB, going just 4.2 innings and giving up 8 hits and 4 runs. Zach Ward pitched the next 2.1, giving up 3 hits and a run. The Rock Cats are now 7-11 with the loss.
  • High A - Ft. Myers 5, Palm Beach 1 - Ben Revere and Mark Dolenc each had 3 hits, pacing the Miracle. Mike McCardell was good through 7 innings (5 hits and 1 run), and Santos Arias finished up with 2 scoreless innings. Ft. Myers improves to 12-7 with the win.
  • Low A - Dayton 2, Beloit 1 - The Snappers managed just 2 hits in a loss to Dayton. Evan Bigley provided the team's only extra-base hit with a double. Brad Tippett went the first 5.1 innings, allowing only 3 hits and a run. Henry Reyes took the loss, giving up 5 hits and a run in his 2.2 innings. Danny Rondon finished up with a scoreless 9th inning. Beloit is 6-12 with the loss.

When you're done reading this entry, check out my latest on Examiner on Bemidji State's application to the WCHA.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Game #21 - Rare Blown Save; Victory Follows

Joe Nathan blew his first save of the season, allowing a 9th inning pinch hit homer to Ben Zobrist to tie the game at 3, only to see the Twins rally in the bottom half to take a 4-3 victory. Justin Morneau's force-out in the bottom of the 9th scored Jose Morales to give the Twins the win. The team is now 10-11.

Francisco Liriano had a solid effort, going 6.2 innings and allowing 7 hits and 2 runs. He took the no-decision, but it was encouraging to see him bounce back after his debacle in Boston last Wednesday. Another bright spot was Jose Mijares striking out the side in the 8th inning.

At the plate, Morneau was 1-5, but batted-in 3 runs, thanks to his 2-run homer in the top of the 1st (his 5th). Jose Morales continued his hot hitting, going 2-4.

The team's struggles with men on base continued on Tuesday night, going 1-8 in the game. They also hit into 3 double plays.

After you read this post, check out my piece on the struggles of Scott Baker and Liriano during the first month of the season.

Around the AL Central:
  • Cleveland 9, Boston 8 - The Indians won a wild affair with a walk-off win to end Boston's 11-game winning streak. Ben Francisco and Mark DeRosa each went deep for the Tribe, and DeRosa went 4-5 in the game. Anthony Reyes continued Cleveland's starting pitching woes this season with a 2-inning, 9-hit, and 7-run line. Kerry Wood picked up the win one night after blowing a save against Boston. Cleveland is now 8-13 on the season.
  • NY Yankees 11, Detroit 0 - The Yanks broke their losing streak with a 10-run 7th inning to break open a scoreless game. Phil Hughes combined with three relievers on the shutout in his first MLB appearance of the season, going 6 innings and allowing just 2 hits. Edwin Jackson matched Hughes's 6 innings with 6 scoreless innings of his own before the Detroit bullpen imploded in the 7th. The Tigers are now 11-9.
  • Chicago White Sox 2, Seattle 1 (game 1) - The Whities took game one of the twi-night doubleheader behind a strong performance by Bartolo Colon. The big right-hander went 7 innings, allowing 4 hits and 1 run in picking up the win. The White Sox had just 2 hits on the game off Chris Jakubauskas, but Paul Konerko's 2-run double in the 4th inning provided all the offense Chicago would need.
  • Seattle 9, Chicago White Sox 1 (game 2) - In the nightcap, the Mariners rode "King" Felix Hernandez to the victory. Hernandez went 8 innings and allowed no runs and 3 hits, while striking out 9. John Danks took the loss for Chicago, lasting just 4 innings and giving up 8 hits and 5 runs. The Whities are 10-10 with the doubleheader split.

Around the Minors:

  • AAA - Rochester and Buffalo were postponed
  • AA - New Britain 6, New Hampshire 4 (10 innings) - The Cats manufactured 2 runs in the top of the 10th to win the game. Anthony Slama picked up the win in relief, and starter Jay Rainville was pretty good in his 6 innings of work, allowing 6 hits and 3 runs. Brian Dinkelman went deep for New Britain and had 3 RBI. The Rock Cats are now 7-10 with the win.
  • High A - Palm Beach 4, Ft. Myers 3 (11 innings) - Despite an 11-hit attack, the Miracle could not hold a one-run lead in the 9th inning and lost in the 11th. Ben Revere went 3-4 for Ft. Myers and also walked twice and picked up his 13th RBI. Joe Mauer was 1-2 with a double and an RBI in the game. Starter Tyler Robertson struggled through 4 innings, surrendering 2 runs on 2 hits and 4 walks. The Miracle is now 11-7 with the loss.
  • Low A - Beloit 4, Kane County 0 - The Snappers shut out the Cougars behind the strong pitching of Bobby Lanigan and Joe Testa. The pair scattered 8 hits in the game for the win. Dominic de la Osa had 3 hits, while Evan Bigley, Ozzie Lewis, and Michael Harrington had 2 apiece. Beloit is now 6-11 with the win.


  • I'm now on Facebook, so you can easily follow my writing for both this site and the off of that. I'm somewhat embarrassed that I joined the site - I'm prepared for the ridicule - but felt it would be a good way to market my writings.
  • I'm also on Twitter, but since I currently don't have a cell phone, I haven't posted anything here yet.
  • Why not play some Bobby Darin today? How about one more in a shout-out to my dad?

Game #20 - More of the Same

Scott Baker started out shaky, settled down in the early innings, but the Twins couldn't take advantage of their chances in a 7-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Baker started and went the first 6, giving up 6 hits and 4 runs. After allowing 3 consecutive hits in the top of the 1st, Baker sent the next 10 hitters down before allowing 2 runs in the top of the 5th to stake Tampa to a 4-0 lead.

At the plate, the Twins did not capitalize on their chances, going 0-9 with runners in scoring position and leaving 17 men on base. Joe Crede's homer accounted for the only Twins' run.

Baker was better on Monday but dropped to 0-3 on the season and his ERA is still at 9.82. He had a shaky first inning and settled down to retire 10 straight, and he also struck out 7 hitters. However, when the Twins needed him to continue to hang zeroes, he couldn't do so. However, the Twins' bats were completely silent and didn't do him any favors in the process.

Around the AL Central:
  • Detroit 4, NY Yankees 2 - The Yanks' struggles continue in a loss to the Tigers. Justin Verlander was fabulous for Detroit, out-dueling CC Sabathia with 7 shutout innings and striking out 9. Magglio Ordonez's 2-run homer supplied the difference.
  • Boston 3, Cleveland 1 - The hated Red Sox won their 11th straight after getting to Kerry Wood in the top of the 9th for 3 runs on Jason Bay's 3-run shot. Cliff Lee was brilliant, going 8 innings and allowing no runs on just 5 hits.
  • Kansas City 7, Toronto 1 - The Royals once again received strong starting pitching in a win over the Jays. Brian Bannister went to 2-0 after his call-up, going 7 innings and giving up 1 run on only 1 hit. 6 walks made it interesting for him. His ERA in his 2 starts is a paltry 0.69. Jose Guillen had 2 homers for KC, and Miguel Olivo also went deep.
  • Chicago White Sox and Seattle - Postponed; double-header Tuesday

Around the Minors:

  • AAA - Scranton/Wilkes Barre 7, Rochester 3 - The Red Wings and Yankees always seem to play each other, and the Wing cannot wait to get away from these guys. Jason Jones started and lost for the Red Wings, but he was solid in his 6.2 innings of work, allowing 5 hits and 3 runs. Ben Julianel was knocked around in his relief stint for 7 hits and 4 runs in 2.1 innings of work. Jason Pridie, Matt Tolbert, Dustin Martin, Trevor Plouffe, and Alejandro Machado each had 2 hits for the Red Wings who dropped to 6-10 on the season with the loss.
  • AA - New Britain, Idle
  • High A - Ft. Myers 4, Palm Beach 3 (10 innings) - Kyle Waldrop picked up the win with 2 scoreless innings in relief. Joe Mauer was 1-2 with 2 walks in his continuing rehab stint. D.J. Romero and Chris Cates each had 2 hits. Ft. Myers is now 11-6 on the season.
  • Low A - Kane County 10, Beloit 6 - The Snappers lost to the Cougars again. Ramon Santana was the hitting star with 3 hits, including a double, and 2 RBI. Beloit fell to 5-11 with the loss.


  • For music today, when I think New Wave, I go Ho-Jo.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Game #19 - Let's Go Home!

The Twins couldn't complete the sweep in Cleveland, losing to the Indians 4-2 on Sunday. They did have their share of chances however, and come home from a 2-3 road trip with a 9-10 record.

Starter Glen Perkins did not go 8 innings for the first time this season. He took the loss and surrendered 4 runs and 7 hits in 5 innings of work. Relievers Matt Guerrier, Craig Breslow, and Luis Ayala finished up with 3 scoreless innings.

The Twins fell behind 4-0 before mounting a rally in the top of the 7th inning. Pinch hitter Denard Span singled home 2 runs and a walk to Brendan Harris left the bases loaded with just one out and Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel coming up. Reliever Tony Sipp, making his second major league appearance, struck Morneau and Kubel out to end the threat, and the Tribe held on from there. It was disappointing to see the team's second and third-best hitters waving helplessly at sliders from a rookie.

Jose Morales had a great day at the plate for the Twins, going 4-4 and raising his average to .375. Delmon Young, Joe Crede, and Span had the other three hits - all singles.

The Twins now head home to take on the Rays Monday-Wednesday. The pitching matchups for those games:
  • Monday, 7:05pm - Jeff Niemann (1-2) vs. Scott Baker (0-2)
  • Tuesday, 7:05pm - James Shields (2-2) vs. Francisco Liriano (0-4)
  • Wednesday, 7:05pm - Scott Kazmir (3-1) vs. Nick Blackburn (1-1)

On another Twins' note, catcher Joe Mauer will continue his rehab stint in Ft. Myers this week and will join the team this coming Friday against Kansas City, as Joe Christensen reports. He'll catch on Monday and Tuesday, DH Wednesday, and will join the Twins after their Thursday off-day. That's certainly good news.

Around the AL Central:

  • Toronto 4, Chicago White Sox 3 - The Blue Jays scored a single run off Scott Linebrink in the 8th inning and held on to beat the Whities. Brian Anderson had 3 hits for Chicago, and Jose Contreras had his first solid start of the season.
  • Detroit 3, Kansas City 2 - Armando Galarraga improved to 3-0 on the season with a strong 6 inning, 3 hit, 1 run outing for the Tigers. Brandon Inge hit his 7th homer of the season. Sidney Ponson was good in a losing effort for KC, and dropped to 0-3 on the season.

Around the Minors:

  • AAA - Rochester 7, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 3 - The Red Wings salvaged the final game of this series, broke its 8-game losing streak, and defeated the Yankees for the first time this season. Brian Duensing gave the Wings exactly what they needed to rest a taxed bullpen, pitching 5 innings, allowing 5 hits and 3 runs. Philip Humber and Bobby Keppel each threw 2 scoreless innings. David Winfree and Jeff Christy each had doubles and 2 RBI in the game.
  • AA - New Britain 11, Trenton 3 - Danny Valencia and Rene Tosoni each went deep as the Rock Cats used a 16-hit attack to beat Trenton. Jeff Manship got the win for New Britain, going 6 innings, surrendering 7 hits and 3 runs.
  • High A - Jupiter 5, Ft. Myers 1 - The Miracle had 9 hits on the game but did not score until the 9th inning in a loss to Jupiter. Joe Mauer went 2-4 as his rehab stint continued. Estarlin de los Santos and Chris Cates had 2 hits apiece. Delois Guerra took the loss, going 6 innings, surrendering 6 hits and 5 runs.
  • Low A (game 1) - Kane County 11, Beloit 6 - In the first game of the doubleheader, the Cougars took care of the Snappers. Nick Romero had 3 hits - including a homer - and 4 RBI in a losing cause. Michael Allen had a tough day on the mound, lasting only 1.1 innings, and surrendering 7 hits and 8 runs.
  • Low A (game 2) - Kane County 8, Beloit 7 - The Cougars picked up the doubleheader sweep with a comeback win over the Snappers. Alex Romero was a perfect 2-2 at the plate, batted in 2, and scored 2 runs. Shooter Hunt was wild as all hell, going just 2+, giving up only 1 hit, throwing 2 wild pitches, and walking 6. This led to 4 runs allowed. In 11.2 innings this season, Hunt has given up a ghastly 16 runs on just 9 hits. The culprit is 23 walks. Obviously, he needs to get straightened-out.


  • A big "thank you" to to Rob, Althea, and Ted ("The RAT Pack") for having me on their radio show on WSRQ 1220 in the Tampa Bay area Sunday night. We spoke about the upcoming Twins/Rays series at the Dome. I really enjoyed my first foray into radio. Check out Ted, Althea, and Rob daily on
  • When you're done reading this entry, check out my column on I'll link here whenever I write.
  • On the YouTube front today, we'll link a song from the worst concert I've ever seen (Janet Jackson, although Triple-T was ok).

New Writing Gig; Programming Note

Last week, I started writing for as a Minnesota Sports Examiner. Basically, I will post on all Minnesota sports topics regularly - right now, about 3-5 times per week. I will continue to maintain Donny Puck as usual, but the Examiner site will be more wide-ranging. Please check out my page at

Also, on Sunday evening, I will be a guest on the "Speaking of Sports" talk show on WSRZ 1220-AM in Sarasota, FL. I'll be discussing the upcoming Twins/Rays series at the Dome as well as otherTwins-related topics. Check out the segment at 7:05pm CDT Sunday. Tune into the link above for live audio and make fun of me afterward.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

RIP, Bea Arthur; Game #18 - Kubel Leads Twins

The Twins made it two in a row over Cleveland Saturday night, winning big 7-1. The victory evens the Twins' record at 9-9 on the season and on the road trip (2-2).

Kevin Slowey was masterful, going 8 scoreless innings before losing his shutout bid in the 9th inning. He allowed 8 hits and 1 run in his 8+ innings, walking nobody, and striking out 7 while improving to 3-0 on the season.

At the plate, Jason Kubel went 3-5 - 2 hits being homers - and batted in 2. Joe Crede also homered for the Twins. Delmon Young was 3-4. Crede, Michael Cuddyer, and Justin Morneau had 2 hits apiece.

The Twins go for the series sweep Sunday, sending Glen Perkins to the bump to face fellow lefty Aaron Laffey.

In other Twins' good news of the day, there is a possibility that Joe Mauer will return for the Tampa Bay series at the Dome next week. The target date is Tuesday. That should give the Twins' sputtering offense a shot in the arm and allow the Twins to return their best hitter to their "regular" lineup.

Around the AL Central:
  • Chicago White Sox 10, Toronto 2 - The Whities exacted revenge on the Jays with a 13-hit performance at the plate and strong pitching from Mark Buehrle. Alexei Ramirez and Jermaine Dye homered for Chicago.
  • Detroit 9, Kansas City 1 - The Tigers took it to the Royals, hitting 3 homers in the process. Gerald Laird, Curtis Granderson, and Magglio Ordonez each went deep, and Zach Miner was strong on the mound.

Around the Minors:

  • AAA - Scranton/Wilkes Barre 17, Rochester 14 (13 innings) - Rochester lost in extras to SWB, and continued their skid. The Wings pounded out 19 hits, but surrendered 21 to the Yankees in the loss. Matt Macri and Luke Hughes each homered twice; Brock Petersona dn Justin Huber also went deep. Hughes, Dustin Martin, and Peterson each had 3 hits for the Red Wings. Each of the 6 Rochester pitchers surrendered runs in the game. The Red Wings are now 5-9 and dropped 8 straight.
  • AA - New Britain 5, Trenton 1 - The Rock Cats scored a nice win behind the pitching of Matthew Fox. Fox went 7 innings, allowing no runs and just 5 hits. Rob Delaney surrendered a run in his one inning; Anthony Slama struck out the side in the 9th. Rene Tosoni and Toby Gardenhire had 2 hits apiece. New Britain improves to 5-10 with the victory.
  • High A - Jupiter 2, Ft. Myers 1 (10 innings) - The Miracle lost despite a solid pitching performance from Carlos Gutierrez, who went 7 innings and allowed just 2 hits and 1 run (unearned). Joe Benson doubled for the Miracle, and Joe Mauer went 0-3 in his rehab stint. Ft. Myers drops to 10-5 with the loss.
  • Low A - Beloit was postponed, and holds steady at 5-8 on the season.
  • Bea Arthur died on Saturday. She was the star of TV's "Maude" and "The Golden Girls." She was a funny woman - and, by far, the funniest one on "The Golden Girls." RIP.
  • Here is some classic Bea Arthur......

Friday, April 24, 2009

Game #17 - Hopefully, A Sign of Things to Come

Twins' Territory can rest easier as Minnesota defeated Cleveland on Friday night, 5-1 at Progressive Field.

The story of the game was Nick Blackburn. The starter went 7 strong innings, allowing 6 Cleveland hits, 1 run, walking nobody, and striking out 6 to pick up his first win of the season. Jose Mijares and Joe Nathan each pitched scoreless innings.

At the plate, Justin Morneau homered and batted-in 2 runs. Jose Morales and Denard Span had 2 hits each, and Jason Kubel hit his 5th double of the season. The Twins got to Fausto Carmona early with a run in the top of the 1st inning, making the 8th win of the season the first one to not be of the come-from-behind variety.

I had heard from Twins' fans over the past two days who were completely distraught after they were swept in Boston on Wednesday. Comments included:

  • The middle relief corps suck
  • Trade Cuddyer
  • Delmon sucks
  • Ayala sucks
  • Casilla needs to go to AAA - so does Gomez
  • Let's just tread water until Mauer returns

One "Twins-style" win will cure that. They doinked a few hits here and there, received a bomb from Morneau, and rode solid starting pitching to victory. Let's make it two in a row on Saturday with the Slow-Man.

Around the AL Central:

  • Kansas City beat Detroit 6-1 behind Zack Greinke. The right-hander improved to 4-0 and actually gave up a run - but it was unearned, keeping his ERA at 0.00. He pitched a complete game, allowing just 3 hits and striking out 10. This is an amazing start. The numbers are amazing: 4 starts, 4 wins, 2 complete games, 29 innings, 19 hits, 0 earned runs, 6 walks, 36 strikeouts, 1.05 WHIP. I believe I predicted a turnaround year for Greinke, but who would have thought he'd be this good, this early?
  • Chicago - Getting killed by Tampa Bay, enough said.

Around the Minors:

  • AAA - Scranton/Wilkes Barre 6, Rochester 2 - The Yankees continued their great start with their fourth win over Rochester. Trevor Plouffe had 2 hits for the Red Wings, including a double and an RBI. Matt Macri tripled in the game and had the other RBI. Anthony Swarzak started and lost for the Wings, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs in 6 innings. He is now 0-3 with a 1.59 ERA on the season. Rochester is now 5-8 and has dropped 7 straight.
  • AA - Trenton 6, New Britain 3 - The Rock Cats' early season struggles continue with a loss to Trenton. Danny Valencia had 3 hits (single, double, triple) and 2 RBI. Yancarlos Ortiz and Wilson Ramos had 2 hits apiece. Cole de Vries started and went the first 4.2 innings, giving up 3 hits and 2 runs. Jose Lugo was roughed-up for 3 hits and 3 runs in 0.2 innings. The Rock Cats are now 4-10 on the season.
  • High A - Ft. Myers 3, Jupiter 1 - Mike McCardell was outstanding in his start, surrendering just 1 hits in 6 innings of work, while striking out 6. Joe Mauer was 2-4 with a double and 2 RBI as his rehab continues. Chris Parmelee had 2 hits and the other RBI for the Miracle, which improved to 10-4 with the win.
  • Low A - Beloit 7, Quad Cities 5 - The Snappers scored 4 unanswered runs to defeat the Swing. Alexander Soto had a perfect night at the plate, going 4-4 with a homer, double, and 3 RBI. The bullpen was solid, going 5 scoreless innings to preserve the victory. Beloit is now 4-8 on the season.

DP AL Central Rankings, Part 2 - The Ballparks

In today's installment of random Donny Puck AL Central Rankings, we will examine the five ballparks. The AL Central is home to parks ranging in opening dates from 1973 (Kansas City) to 2000 (Detroit). The division used to be home to two of the most iconic parks in baseball history (Tiger Stadium in Detroit and Comiskey Park in Chicago), as well as perhaps the most hated park of all time (Cleveland Municipal Stadium). The current set of stadia will be joined by Target Field in Minneapolis in 2010, making the AL Central home to five of the newest and most fan-friendly parks in the league.

I have had the pleasure of visiting each stadium in the division and can provide first-hand analysis of each venue. We'll focus on each park individually. As always, readers' comments are greatly appreciated in these rankings, as the criteria used to rate the parks are mine and mine alone. I've also provided, when available, a link to a site which shows photos from various sports stadiums taken by photographer Bob Busser. Check out the site and browse.

U.S. Cellular Field - Chicago, IL:

I'll always think of this place as Comiskey Park, II. Comiskey Park, I was a fabulous place. It served the South Siders well from 1910 through the 1990 seasons. The place was probably best known for former owner Bill Veeck's quirky promotions (see the exploding scoreboard, "martians" kidnapping Luis Aparicio, "Disco Demolition Night, etc.). However, behind all those promotions lied a baseball palace full of history (first All Star Game, boxing matches, home of the Chicago Cardinals football team, etc.). What differentiates White Sox fans from Cub fans is that Wrigley Field for the Cubs is known as kind of a mystical place where you go to be seen and if the Cubs win or lose, it's no big deal. That is not to say that Cub fans are not die-hards. It's just that baseball always seems secondary at Wrigley and to Cub fans - consider those Cub "fans" who live in Minneapolis. On the South Side, and at Comiskey Park, baseball is serious business, and the action on the field always takes center stage.

The old park was, by far, the best baseball stadium I ever visited. I saw a game there in August of 1989, and I remember it vividly as a perfect day for baseball. We walked-up and bought tickets for the day game, scored great seats in the first deck above the first base dugout, ate tons of that great food, and had a great time. The park was allowed to go to hell - which is too bad because I'd have loved to see it at its best - but the experience was fabulous. Oh well, I digress...

The new park opened in 1991 and was the last of the parks to open before the new "retro" era commenced with Baltimore's Camden Yards in 1992. At the outset, I always thought the new park received a bum rap. Yes, its upper deck pitch was far too steep. Yes, the park had somewhat of an antiseptic feel. Yes, the park played less like the pitchers' park which was its predecessor. However, it was a fine place to see a baseball game. I saw games there in 1991, 1992, 2 in 1994, and then in 2002 - all before the massive renovations the latter part of this decade - and each was a very enjoyable experience.

The food is not nearly as good as the old park, but I haven't found anything to rival it as of yet. Our seats here have been all over - mostly in the upper deck - but the vantage points were great each time, and, though you are still high up thee, you are very close to the field. Nancy Faust plays at the new park as she did across the street (Closed circuit to White Sox management - cut the recorded music and have more features of Nancy) and she is simply the best and most clever organist in the game. A friend of mine once quipped when we were waiting for the start of the game on a beautiful August evening, "I'd gladly pay $12 to sit in the shade and listen to the organ." The renovations completed by 2006 have been an effort to make the park more intimate. The last few rows of the upper deck were removed, a roof was added, the seats were changed from blue to green, bullpens were relocated, etc., and the park definitely looks better for it. However, the baseball is still the show, and it's now a better stage for the show.

Overall ranking: 3 of 5
Bob Busser's Photos

Progressive Field - Cleveland, OH

Opened as Jacobs Field in 1994, this place couldn't have been more different than its awful predecessor, Cleveland Stadium. The Jake is warm, open, inviting, and a great place to watch a game, from the light standards atop the stadium resembling smokestacks to the family area in center field.

Jacobs Field was among the first in the new wave of retro ballparks which opened up after Camden Yards. The Indians' success on the field soon followed, as the team won division titles in 6 of the park's first 7 full seasons - 1994 was strike-shortened, after all.

My visit to the Jake was in 2005. After visiting the nearby Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, my buddy Butch and I walked over to the stadium in a driving rain and saw the game delayed. The long delay allowed us to sample the place's fare, which was excellent. The bratwurst was as good as Milwaukee's, made better with a slather of the Cleveland Stadium Mustard. After the skies cleared, the day turned into a sweltering afternoon, but we settled into our great seats in the LF corner, near the guy who bangs the tom-tom, and enjoyed the action. Both of us, used to games at the Metrodome, remarked about how great it was to have seats which actually faced the field. Jacobs Field was a good place to see the game, and is definitely worthy of a return visit.

Overall Ranking: 3.5 of 5
Bob Busser's Photos

Comerica Park - Detroit, MI

Replacing a legend is never easy, and the Tigers tried to do a complete 180 from old Tiger Stadium. The corner of Michigan and Trumbull was home to Tigers' baseball from 1912 through 1999, and the memories of games at that old place still resonate with me. The Twins clinched their second American League pennant there in 1987, and I can still see Kirk Gibson's dugout tantrums after making outs in that series.

Tiger Stadium was a classic old ball yard and was left to rot after the Tigers moved downtown for the 2000 season. Driving to the new park for a day-night doubleheader in 2005, we passed the decaying Tiger Stadium. We inquired about the old park's fate to some locals and were told that the city didn't have any money to demolish it, so they just left it where it was. Tiger Stadium's demolition has now begun, and it's sad that the Tigers and the city could not find a way to preserve this historical landmark.

Comerica Park opened as a place to completely celebrate the Tigers. You see tiger figurines everywhere, from a merry-go-round outside the park, to various statues throughout. The place is very similar to the new parks going up everywhere, with a few distinguishing features. The outfield is expansive and the place was designed to maximize triples. It had a reputation early on for being a pitchers' park - so much so that the fences were moved in - but the Tigers' recent teams have been built on power.

Our visit there was very good. We sat in the upper deck for the first game and in the lower bowl behind the plate for the nightcap. Of course, the lower seats were far superior, but the upper deck seats were close to the field. I remember being jacked for a Little Caesar's pizza in an homage to my youth (Little Caesar's founder Mike Illitch owns the Tigers), but the pizza was dreadful. Thankfully, the standard ballpark fare (hot dogs, pretzels, and nachos at the nightcap) were far better. The people were nice and were very knowledgeable baseball fans. Detroit's a baseball town again, thanks to Comerica Park.

Overall Ranking: 3 of 5
Bob Busser's Photos

Kauffman Stadium - Kansas City, MO

Royals Stadium was the site of my first-ever baseball game not in the state of Minnesota. We went on a family trip in the summer of 1985 and my mom was talked into working in a baseball game on our way out to Denver. For Royals' fans that year was the highlight of their fandom with KC winning the World Series and marking the last time the Royals have been to the post-season. I remember the place being completely cutting-edge - the huge scoreboard beyond the center field fence (one you could actually read), the fountains, the clear play-by-play system, not being able to work in a football field anywhere (Arrowhead Stadium was in the same parking lot for that). It would be another 12 years before I went back, but those impressions held.

My return visit in 1997 saw the park now covered with grass on the field but still having those same great features. I've been back several more times since and have seen more subtle changes - blue seats instead of red and orange, the "Little K" kids' park, $1 hot dogs - but it still remained the family showplace it was when I first saw it.

We hear the same thing ad nauseum whenever we see the Twins play down there, hearing Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven talk about how many Twins' fans make the trip down and that it's a beautiful ballpark. As much as that banter has annoyed me, Kauffman Stadium was a beautiful ballpark - simple, understated, and family-friendly.

The food is generally awful, but eat elsewhere in Kansas City - not at the ballpark. KC's best known for barbeque, so why would you waste your calories eating hot dogs. Of course, I've done the latter several times. The seating area is nice and intimate. The lower bowl seats are close to the field. The people are friendly, and the atmosphere is great.

I have not visited the place since the massive renovations - complete by opening day of this year. I don't like them from what I've seen. There was no reason to put seats in the fountains at all. I would have favored widening the concourses and the like but keeping the open outfield the way it was. Of course, I'll have to see the renovations first-hand to have an accurate judgment.

Overall Rating (Pre-Renovation): 3.5 of 5

Metrodome - Minneapolis, MN

This will be short. The Dome, opened in 1982, sucks. The food is either ok or I've just gotten used to it over 28 seasons. The Twins have won World Series here twice (1987, 1991) and have won division titles in 2002-2004 and 2006, so there's history here. However, the Twins are moving to Target Field in 2010 and will leave the old football stadium and its retractable seats behind.

Overall Rating: 1 of 5 (points for history)
Bob Busser's Photos

So, my AL Central Ballpark Ratings (first-to-worst):
  • Cleveland and Kansas City (tie)
  • Chicago and Detroit (tie)
  • Minnesota

Your comments are appreciated.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Games #16-17 - Sweep (And Not the Good Kind)

The Twins were man-handled by Boston in a day-night double header Wednesday, losing 10-1 and 7-3.

In the first game, Scott Baker was victimized by the 2-run homer, surrendering bombs to Kevin Youkilis, Nick Green, and Mike Lowell in the first 3 innings. Baker has now given up 7 homers in 8.2 innings pitched yesterday. His final line: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R. Juan Morillo also struggled in his second Twins outing, facing 4 batters in the 6th inning, walking 3, giving up 1 hit, and giving up 4 runs without recording an out. The Twins managed just 5 hits in the first game, but 3 were doubles (Nick Punto, Carlos Gomez, Denard Span), and Justin Morneau picked up the only RBI.

The afternoon game was played under the threat of rain, and the skies eventually broke, allowing the umpires to call the game after 7 innings and the Sox leading 10-1. On ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" Wednesday, analyst Steve Phillips was wild that the teams were not forced to complete the game, especially given that the night game was eventually started and completed. He argued that the Red Sox and Twins should have been forced to use pitchers to complete the first game before game two was to be started to preserve the integrity of the game. I tend to agree, but the Sox' 4-run outburst in the 7th sealed the Twins' fate in that game, and the umpires did the Twins a favor.

In the second game, the Twins were undone by starter Francisco Liriano's inability to throw strikes. Liriano walked 4 batters in just 4 innings of work, and gave up 7 runs in his effort, dropping to 0-4 on the season. Jeff Bailey's 3-run shot in the bottom of the 2nd set the tone for Boston. The Twins' bullpen stopped the bleeding after the team's second-consecutive short start, throwing 4 scoreless innings (Matt Guerrier for 2; Luis Ayala and Jose Mijares 1 apiece).

Justin Morneau homered and was one of 2 Twins with 2 hits on the game (Span being the other). The team was 0-5 with runners in scoring position.

The Twins have an off-day on Thursday and move to Cleveland for a weekend series with the Tribe. Pitching match-ups are as follows, as the Twins say good riddance to Boston for their only trip in 2009:
  • Friday, 6:05pm - Nick Blackburn (0-1) vs. Fausto Carmona (1-2)
  • Saturday, 6:05pm - Kevin Slowey (2-0) vs. Carl Pavano (0-2)
  • Sunday, 12:05pm - Glen Perkins (1-1) vs. Aaron Laffey (1-0)

Elsewhere in the AL Central:

  • Chicago White Sox 8, Baltimore 2 - A 12-hit attack paced Chicago. Chris Getz and Josh Fields had 3 hits apiece for the Sox, and Fields and Jim Thome each went deep. John Danks continued his fine start, giving up just 4 hits and 1 run in 7 innings of work. Danks improved to 2-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to 0.95.
  • Kansas City 2, Cleveland 0 - The Royals continued to get great starting pitching in 2009 with a shutout of the Indians. Brian Bannister, newly-recalled from Omaha, went 6 innings and allowed just 4 hits. Jamey Wright and Joakim Soria finished up, with Soria picking up his 5th save. Coco Crisp and Alberto Callaspo each had 2 hits for Kansas City; Victor Martinez had the only multi-hit game for the Indians, raising his average to .403. Cliff Lee was strong in a losing effort, going 8 innings and surrendering 9 hits and 2 runs.
  • Detroit 12, Los Angeles Angels 10 - A wild one in which the Tigers and Angels combine for 22 runs and 34 hits saw the Tigers pick up the victory. Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge, and Adam Everett each had 3 hits, and Granderson and Inge each hit their 5th homers of the season. Justin Verlander got smacked around again, giving up 9 hits and 7 runs in 5 innings of work. However, the Detroit bats picked their starter up in this game.

Around the Minors:

  • AAA - Pawtucket 8, Rochester 7 (11 innings) - The Paw Sox scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th to force extra innings, and won it in the 11th. Ben Julianel and Armando Gabino could not hold the lead in the 9th, and the solid effort from Kevin Mulvey, Bobby Keppel, and Sean Henn went for naught. Trevor Plouffe and Matt Macri each homered for Rochester, and Jason Pridie and Luke Hughes each had 2 hits.
  • AA - New Britain 6, Portland 4 - Matt Moses and Rene Tosoni each homered for the Rock Cats, and Moses, Whit Robins, and Brian Dinkelman each had 2 hits. Jay Rainville started and won, going the first 5 innings and giving up 3 runs and 6 hits. The lights-out back of the bullpen of Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama finished up with win with 3.1 innings of scoreless work, punctuated by 5 strikeouts.
  • High A - Ft. Myers 6, Palm Beach 1 - The Miracle picked up strong pitching from David Bromberg (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, Win), Spencer Steedley (2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 K), and Santos Arias (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, Save) to pick up the win. D.J. Romero had 2 hits (including a double) and an RBI in the game.
  • Low A - Quad Cities 4, Beloit 2 - The Snappers surrendered 13 hits to Quad Cities in their loss. Dan Osterbrock started and gave up 11 hits and 4 runs in his 6 innings of work. The Snappers managed just 5 hits of their own, all singles except for Adam Severino's double.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day-Night Double Header!

The Twins and Red Sox were rained out at Fenway on Tuesday, so they'll have a day-night double header on Wednesday. This is curious, since both teams have off-days on Thursday, but, for those of us at home during the day, it's good to be able to watch your team at noon on a weekday.

The pitching match-ups remain the same: Scott Baker vs. Tim Wakefield this afternoon; Francisco Liriano vs. Brad Penny this evening. According to, there is a 90% chance of rain this afternoon, so stay tuned.

We'll have a "regular" post on Thursday, complete the AL Central round-ups and minor league box scores.

Enjoy the baseball!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Random Off-Day AL Central Rankings Installment #1 - The Uniforms

On days in which there is no Twins' game, we will look into various topics; some quite timely, others mundane. Today, we will analyze and grade the uniforms sported by the five teams in the AL Central Division.

As indicated earlier, uniforms fascinate me. I thought my brother and I were pretty much on an island on this topic until I came across Paul Lukas and his wonderful "UniWatch" blog. I check this site every day for his take on all things uniform-related. He and I share an preference for stirrups in baseball uniforms, a hatred of purple, and basic traditionalism in general.

An examination of the uniform sets worn by all five teams follows: Home, Road, Alternate, "Special," etc.. Your comments are greatly appreciated, as the analysis is done completely by me and follows my tastes and my tastes only.

Chicago White Sox:

  • Home - All and all, a good set. The black pinstripes on the home uniform look sharp, and the olde English lettered "Sox" on the front is great. I could definitely do without the number on the front. A classic look.
  • Road - Awful! The piping down the pants has always bugged me and they just always looked like softball unis when pitted against their home set.
  • Black Alternate - The one which started all the current madness......The Sox debuted this one back in the early 90's and they were deemed lucky during Chicago's 1993 march to the division title. Therefore, what was designed to be a Sunday home game special was used more often throughout the season. Many teams realized the merchandising opportunity of debuting a third jersey, and quickly drew up plans. Hell, I even bought a Sox black jersey for myself! I don't mind it much - it sticks with the same pattern as the home version, just removes the pinstripes and does a solid black. Again, I could do without the number on the front. Also, if they would just stick with the Sunday-only treatment, I'd accept these.
  • Summary - For a team which, for a while, could not settle on a uniform set and pioneered bad taste, the current White Sox set is decent. The home look is becoming a classic; the road is genuinely awful; the overall impact is average.
  • Ranking - 6 of 10 (negative points for the road jerseys outweigh high marks for the home set)
Cleveland Indians:
  • Home - Solid and relatively clean. They used to look a lot redder, but now they are more balanced.
  • Road - These are rather nondescript. Nothing major to impress or annoy.
  • Blue Alternate - Yawn.......clean in that it follows the home version, but nothing to write home about.
  • Sleveless Alternate - Get rid of it! Stupid!
  • Throwback - Here we go....we were building up to this. What a fantastic uniform! Simple, traditional, classic. This was a wonderful introduction to the uniform set for the 2008 season and the Tribe should adopt it as its permanent home uniform today. Love the simple block lettering, the cream color, and the traditional caps. Bravo!
  • Summary - The throwbacks are the story here. What a great set.
  • Ranking - 7 of 10 (Almost entirely due to the throwbacks)
Detroit Tigers:

  • Home - Classic. One of the best in all sports. When you think olde English 'D,' you think of the Detroit Tigers. This design has not changed much since Tiger Stadium (nee Briggs Stadium and Navin Field) was brand-new. The Tigers simply don't believe in messing with tradition.
  • Road - The road uniforms have changed over the years, but the current set is certainly better than the one it replaced and its goofy cartoon cap. The script "Detroit" is classic in its look and they haven't put a lot of bells and whistles on the jersey to screw it up.
  • Summary - The Tigers' uniforms are iconic in baseball circles. Also, the fact that they do not have an alternate jersey is refreshing.
  • Ranking - 10 of 10 (Home uniform far and away accounts for any shortcomings of the road uniform. Also, the absence of an alternate set gains bonus points)
Kansas City Royals:
  • Home - Classic look. Clean, crisp, and refreshing. I love blue and white as uniform colors (the Royals and Dodgers are two of the best in all sports, in my opinion), and Royals have taken steps in the last few years of getting rid of the black outlining on their home jerseys and sticking with a clean and classic look.
  • Road - These are great as well. Again, basic grey with the clean lettering makes for a great uniform set. Thank goodness they ditched the black.
  • Dark Blue Alternate - It's ok. Nothing fancy here - just a dark blue version of the home set. Of course, if you already have a classic look, who needs an alternate?
  • Light Blue Alternate - This set was introduced in 2008 due to popular demand in an effort to re-connect with the great Royals' teams of the mid-70's to the mid-80's. I've always felt some nostalgia toward the powder blue look - I always thought it looked best on the Royals' uniforms - and KC was one of the last teams to switch to road greys. This was a good addition to their set.
  • Summary - Great uniform, hands-down. Love blue and white as primary colors.
  • Ranking - 9 of 10 (Just a point off for the dark blue alternate, but a great set overall)

Minnesota Twins:

  • Home - Not a huge fan of these, but you have to give the Twins points for tradition. They adopted the current home and road uniform set prior to the 1987 season - we all know how that ended - and have been largely unchanged over the years, but for some minor modifications. The pinstripes are fine, but the typeface could use a little updating.
  • Road - Dump! The grey pinstripe look sucks. Period. Keep the current typeface and lose the pinstripes, and you have a nice uniform.
  • Alternate - Ho-hum. At least they dumped this set before the 2009 season began (needless overkill to have two blue alternative jerseys). The blue alts are fine, but nothing special. They're certainly better than the red jerseys they sported in 1996, and one ended up in my closet for I believe $15.
  • Sleveless Alternate - Dump them....they suck...the team plays indoors, so who needs a sleveless jersey? Besides, Livan Hernandez preferred this look when he pitched at home in 2008.
  • Throwback - A big hit! The 1982 Twins were 60-102, but they always looked good in uniforms similar to the ones pictured. The '82 team did not have button-downs, and there were some other modifications, but this set is awesome! The red hats look surprisingly good with this collection, and the no-names-on-back (or "NNOB" for those who read UniWatch) is a fine touch.
  • Summary - Not a bad set, but the Twins may indeed look to change things up for 2010 when they move outdoors. Ditching the sleveless jerseys, losing the pinstripes on the road, and changing the typeface on the home jerseys (or, just adopting the throwbacks as their home uniforms) would be a great start.
  • Ranking - 7 of 10 (Road jerseys drag the grade down; the throwbacks are fabulous; the sleveless alternate has to qualify for a points-deduction)

To quickly summarize, best-to-worst in the AL Central:

  • Detroit
  • Kansas City
  • Cleveland/Minnesota
  • Chicago

Vote for your favorites in the poll on the left-hand side and we'll see if you agree with my tastes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Crain to DL; Welcome Back, Mijares

The Twins put reliever Jesse Crain on the 15-Day DL on Monday and replaced him with lefthander Jose Mijares. Crain's move is retroactive to Saturday and according to LaVelle, the problem is shoulder discomfort and nothing serious.

Mijares had a great teaser with the Twins last September. In 10 appearances spanning 10.1 innings, Mijares gave up just 3 hits and 1 run, striking out 5 and walking nobody. He was thought to be the solution for the Twins' 8th inning hole, since Pat Neshek would be missing the entire 2009 season following Tommy John surgery. Instead, Mijares showed up overweight to spring training, had trouble throwing strikes (9 BB in 10 IP), sported a spring ERA of 9.90, and was shipped off to Rochester. With the Red Wings, Mijares allowed just 4 hits, 1 walk, and 0 runs in 6.1 innings pitched, so it appears that the message was sent.

Initially, my guess is that the Twins will probably work Mijares in slowly in the later innings - using Craig Breslow, Luis Ayala, and Matt Guerrier as well - and will eventually look to make him Joe Nathan's primary set-up man. Newly-acquired Jose Morillo is most likely a project to be brought along slowly and most likely won't get many chances in tight games. Mjiares showed last year that he had a penchant for tough situations and will need to step up again this year.

Game #14 - Perkins Headlines Sweep

The Twins scored their first home sweep against the Angels since 1996 with a 3-1 win on Sunday.

Glen Perkins was spectacular again, going 8 innings and giving the Twins their third consecutive quality start against the Angels (following Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey the previous two nights). He survived getting hit by Bobby Abreu's wicked line drive in the 7th inning - Brendan Harris made a fine play at third to record the out - and completed the inning. He retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced, pounded strike one almost all the time, and picked up his first win of the year. His final line: 8 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, and 4 strikeouts. Joe Nathan finished up for his 3rd save.

Perkins and Nathan allowed just 2 Anaheim baserunners after the 3rd inning. It was refreshing to see three solid starting pitching performances out of the Twins in this series after the debacles seen in the season's initial week and a half. The Twins finished the 7-game homestand 4-3 and are now back to the .500 mark at 7-7.

At the plate, Carlos Gomez had 3 infield singles for the Twins, and Jose Morales had 2 hits, including his first MLB RBI. For Gomez, he was desperate for a hit and did what he does best - hitting the ball on the ground and utilizing his speed - three times. Delmon Young singled and walked (his second in two games!) and the Angels finally figured out how to get Jason Kubel out. Although he was 0-4. Kubel hit the ball hard all four times.

I feel a lot better about this team after this series than I did three days ago, especially since the rotation has looked more like last year's unit. Now, if only Gomez, Casilla, Young, etc. can get going. The Twins may be nearing a decision point on Casilla who continues to look lost at the plate (his defense remains ok, however), and Brendan Harris is poised to get a lot of at-bats until Casilla figures it out, or until the Twins send Casilla down. I think he should go down to get straightened-out, re-focus, and come back with a better approach at the plate. It worked for Torii Hunter in 2000, for Denard Span and Casilla last year, and cannot hurt this year.

Twins Misc.:
  • LaVelle E. Neal III reports that the Twins are looking to get 50 ABs from Joe Mauer before his activation, starting Monday. The bulk of the ABs will come in extended spring training games initially and then he'll be with the Ft. Myers Miracle by the end of the week if all goes well. Look for a May 1 activation of the catcher, and Donny Puck will be counting the days.
  • Each of the Twins' 7 victories have been from the come-from-behind variety.
  • After two full weeks of MLB play, the Twins statistics are here. They certainly don't look as bad as they did three days ago.
  • Monday is the first scheduled day off for the Twins - the last team in the MLB to get one. The quick two-game series will get underway in Boston on Tuesday, with the Twins scheduled to pitch Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano against Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny.

Around the AL Central:

  • NY Yankees 7, Cleveland 3 - The Yanks scored 3 runs in each of the 7th and 8th innings off the Cleveland bullpen to gain a split with the Tribe in the first series at the new Yankee Stadium. Carl Pavano was very good for Cleveland, giving up just 4 hits and 1 run over 6 innings. The Yanks' runs came off Rafael Perez, Jensen Lewis, and Rafael Betancourt. Shin-Soo Choo and Ryan Garko homered for Cleveland, which managed just 4 hits off A.J. Burnett and 3 relievers.
  • Texas 6, Kansas City 5 - The Rangers scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th to tie the Royals at 5 and Michael Young's solo shot off Kyle Farnsworth won it in the bottom of the 9th. Kyle Davies was strong in his start, going 6 innings, giving up 3 hits, 3 runs, 5 walks, and 8 strikeouts. The KC bullpen of Ron Mahay and Jamey Wright could not hold the lead in the 8th. David DeJesus had 3 hits, including his first HR of the season, and Mike Jacobs also homered for KC.
  • Chicago White Sox 12, Tampa Bay 2 - The White Sox pounded out 17 hits and spanked the Rays. Gavin Floyd was solid through 7 innings, giving up 6 hits and 2 runs. A.J. Pierzynski, Carlos Quentin (#7), and Jim Thome homered for Chicago.
  • Detroit 8, Seattle 2 - The Tigers won the series behind a balanced hitting attack and strong starting pitching from Rick Porcello. The youngster went 7 innings, allowing just 5 hits and 1 run. Ramon Santiago was 2-3 with 5 RBI, and Miguel Cabrera continued his torrid start with 2 more hits (now hitting .489).

Around the Minors:

  • AAA - Scranton/Wilkes Barre 7, Rochester 2 - The Yanks scored the sweep over the Red Wings and remained undefeated on the season. The Wings managed just 5 hits on the day, two from David Winfree, including his 2-run homer. Jason Jones started and went the first 5 for Rochester, giving up 7 hits and 4 runs. Mike Gosling went the last 3, giving up 3 runs. The Red Wings are now 5-5.
  • AA - New Britain 12, New Hampshire 2 - The Rock Cats put together an 11-run 6th inning to blow out New Hampshire. Erik Lis had 3 hits, and Brian Dinkleman, Whit Robbins, and Rene Tosoni each had 2 hits. The Rock Cats also drew 8 walks in this game. Jeff Manship started and was strong, going 5 innings and giving up 4 hits and 2 runs. Rob Delaney got the win in relief and threw 2 scoreless innings. Jose Lugo finished up with 2 scoreless innings of his own. New Britain improves to 3-8 with the victory.
  • High A - Ft. Myers 4, St. Lucie 2 - The Miracle scored 3 runs in the top of the 9th to come back on St. Lucie for the victory. Ben Revere was 2-3 with a double and 2 walks in the game, and Chris Cates had a perfect 3-3 day at the plate. Steve Hirschfield picked up the win in relief and Alex Burnett finished up for his 2nd save. Ft. Myers improved to 6-4 with the win.
  • Low A - Burlington vs. Beloit - Postponed due to rain. The Snappers remain at 3-6 on the season.


  • Take a look on the left side of the blog where I have posted my first poll question of the week. I'll try to keep this somewhat updated, so please treat it like Chicago politics and vote early and often.
  • I've also started a Twitter account. I'll try to get this going once I figure it all out, and you can follow me on Twitter from this site.
  • Music today is courtesy of The Flys in a flashback to the mid-to-late 90's and a time when Katie Holmes was rockin' Dawson's Creek.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Game #13 - Two in a Row!

Now this is more like it......

The Twins improved to 6-7 with a nice win over Los Angeles 9-2. After surrendering Torii Hunter's 2-run home run in the 2nd inning, the Twins and starter Kevin Slowey settled down, and scored all nine runs in three consecutive innings.

The hitting star tonight was (again) Jason Kubel. He followed-up his cycle performance on Friday night with 4 more hits on Saturday, including a 2-run double in the 5th inning to give the Twins the lead. Kubel is now hitting .366/.395/.634 on the young season with 12 RBI. Before Friday night's game, Kubel's stats were a paltry .226/.273/.355. It's nice that in April one can raise his average 140 points with an 8-10 performance over two games.

Elsewhere at the plate, Brendan Harris was 3-5 and scored 2 runs; Justin Morneau was 2-4 and also scored 2 runs, and Delmon Young was 2-3 with a WALK! and 3 RBI. Regarding Harris, it looks like Ron Gardenhire may be giving him a loot at 2B to replace the badly-slumping Alexi Casilla, as Harris has started at second on consecutive nights.

Slowey was fabulous in his 7 innings, allowing 6 hits, 2 runs, and striking out 5. He had given up 22 hits in his first two starts of the season, so his 6-hit performance Saturday was extremely encouraging. Craig Breslow struggled to throw strikes, but was scoreless in his 8th inning, and Juan Morillo debuted with the Twins and was good in the 9th, striking out one batter and hitting the upper-90s on FSNorth's (juiced) radar gun.

The Twins will send Glen Perkins to the hill Sunday against Brandon Loux in an effort to achieve the season's first sweep.

Around the AL Central (a perfect night for the division):
  • Cleveland 22 , NY Yankees 4 - The Indians put together an amazing 14-run 2nd inning off Chien-Ming Wang and Anthony Claggett. The Tribe sent 17 men to the plate in the top of the 2nd, cranked out 13 hits, hit three homers (Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera), and the rout was on. Wang's line: 1.1 IP, 8 H, 8 ER; his ERA is now 34.50 for the season. The inning marked Tribe and Yankee franchise marks for most runs in an inning. Mark DeRosa had 4 hits and 6 RBI; Cabrera had 4 hits and 5 RBI.
  • Kansas City 2, Texas 0 - Zack Greinke did it again. He moved to 3-0 with a complete game shutout, giving up 7 hits, walking none, and striking out 10. He had not given up a run this season, and his scoreless streak stretching back to 2008 is now at 34 innings. MIguel Olivo homered for KC, which is now 7-4.
  • Chicago White Sox 8, Tampa Bay 3 - Mark Buehrle moved to 2-0 on the season, and the White Sox used homers by Carlos Quentin (#6) and Paul Konerko to beat the Rays. Rays' pitching gave up 10 walks to the Whities, who got to Scott Kazmir for 6 runs in 4 innings. Quentin and Konerko each had 3 hits in the game.
  • Detroit 2, Seattle 0 - Edwin Jackson went the first 7.2 innings, and Bobby Seay and Fernando Rodney finished up the shutout of the Mariners. Jackson allowed just 5 hits in his outing and struck out 6 batters. Magglio Ordonez, Gerald Laird, and Brandon Inge each had 2 hits for Detroit.

Around the Minors:

  • AAA - Scranton/Wilkes Barre 6, Rochester 2 - The Yanks remained undefeated and the Red Wings dropped the second game of the series. Brian Duensing started and was roughed-up for 5 hits and 4 runs in 3 innings. The Red Wings managed just 5 hits: 4 singles and Matt Tolbert's homer. The loss dropped Rochester to .500 at 5-5.
  • AA - New Hampshire 7, New Britain 2 - The owners of one of the Eastern League's best record took it to the Rock Cats, dropping the Cats to 2-8. Danny Valencia was 3-3 in the game and Yancarlos Ortiz had both RBI.
  • High A - St. Lucie 8, Ft. Myers 1 - The Miracle was blown out by St. Lucie, managing just 4 hits in the process. Joe Benson had two of them, including a HR. Ben Revere and Jair Fernandez had the others. Mike McCardell dropped to 0-2 for Ft. Myers, going 4 innings and allowing 6 hits and 6 runs.
  • Low A - Beloit 7, Burlington 5 - The Snappers started out quickly, scoring 4 in the bottom of the 1st inning in route to their victory. Nick Romero homered, and Dominic De La Osa and Eli Tintor each had 3 hits.
  • This began a few weeks ago, is expected to take a year, and - I believe - it's downright wrong.
  • In the "new" Yankee Stadium, my buddy Fry passed along some great shots of the park's dress rehearsal. It looks spectacular! I hope to be there catching the Twins next month.
  • In the NHL Playoffs, the NY Rangers took a 2-0 lead over Washington in their series; as did Detroit over Columbus; as did Boston over Montreal; as did Chicago over Calgary.
  • For today's musical selection, in honor of Sunday morning, please enjoy Daniel Boone's cheesefest.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Game #12 - Bullpen Disaster, Part Deux - Scratch That.....Amazin' Win!

AP Photo, via

The Twins were deader than a doornail in the 8th inning, trailing Los Angeles 9-3 after allowing a 5-run top of the 7th to break open a 3-3 game. Enter some Dome magic, punctuated by Jason Kubel's 8th inning grand slam - completing the cycle - and the Twins came back to win 11-9. Kubel was 4-5 with 5 RBI in the game and his cycle was the Twins' first since Carlos Gomez's effort in 2008 vs. Chicago.

Starter Nick Blackburn was solid through 6, but allowed a leadoff single to Chone Figgins in the top of the 7th inning with the game tied 3-3. After Figgins stole second, Howie Kendrick bunted him to third. Enter Jesse Crain, and after retiring the first batter he faced, he would retire nobody else, and before the inning was out, the Twins were in a 8-3 hole. After trading runs, the Twins came to bat in the bottom of the 8th trailing 9-4.

After some manufacturing of runs to cut the deficit to 9-7, the Angels intentionally-walked Justin Morneau to pitch to Kubel with the bases loaded. Kubel's grand slam held up, as Joe Nathan pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to save the game for Matt Guerrier and the Twins.

Denard Span and Brendan Harris each had 2 RBI for the Twins, and Span, Cuddyer, and Mike Redmond had 2 hits a piece. Crain's ERA ballooned to 7.50 after his horrible outing, and the 'pen had certainly had its share of bad outings as of late.

I've written in this space before that Kubel is the team's third-best hitter and the Twins have finally decided to let him play every day. Last night, Ron Gardenhire gave him the start in left field in the hopes that playing some defense would relax him at the plate. Some guys respond to this; others relax more by just DH-ing. Either way, Kubel's bat needs to be in the lineup every day, further complicating the outfield mess. The Twins have 5 guys who need to play every day (Kubel, Gomez, Span, Cuddyer, Young) and only 3 sopts (4 if one includes DH). The best move may be to send Gomez to AAA and play the other four. Or, they could find a trade partner for Cuddyer. I'm a believer that the Twins need to have Young play every day - he's not a platoon player - or they could just cut bait on him, which would be a major mistake. I don't think the Twins will continue to try to be create in order to get all of them plate appearances, and by the end of May, we'll see a more permanent solution.

Perhaps, Friday's win can lift the Twins out of their funk, both pitching and hitting-wise. Game two of the series is Saturday evening, and features Darren Oliver vs. Kevin Slowey.

Twins/Angels Misc.

  • The Twins also designated pitcher Philip Humber for assignment and claimed pitcher Juan Morillo off waivers from Colorado. Humber was awful his last two times out, but my guess is that he won't clear waivers and will be picked up by another team. A look at Morillo's career MLB numbers shows that the Twins picked up another Humber, but with perhaps more upside. He apparently has a big fastball, but his minor league figures show that he walks way too many hitters (career 5.4 per nine innings, but his walk figures have improved the past few seasons), but is able to miss bats (8.6 strikeouts per nine innings). He's young (24), so perhaps the scouting department sees an upside. At first blush, however, the move is puzzling, since the Twins have viable options in AAA to replace an ineffective Humber (Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak, Jose Mijares, Sean Henn, Bobby Keppel, etc.). We'll see.
  • Powerful piece from's Amy K. Nelson documenting the last night of Angels' pitcher Nick Adenhart and the two others killed in the car accident.
Around the AL Central:

  • NY Yankees 6, Cleveland 5 - The Indians' bullpen coughed-up a 5-3 lead, allowing New York to score single runs in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings for the win. Derek Jeter's solo shot in the 8th off Jensen Lewis provided the margin of victory, and was one of four New York homers. Mark DeRosa homered for Cleveland. The Indians got to Joba Chamberlain for 6 hits and 5 runs in 4.2 innings, and the Yankees' starter also provided 5 bases on balls.
  • Tampa Bay 6, Chicago White Sox 5 - A wild 6th inning was the difference here, as the White Sox scored 3 in the top of the grame to break a 2-2 tie, and the Rays promptly scored 4 runs, courtesy of a Ben Zobrist grand slam, and held on for the victory at the Trop. Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye homered for Chicago, and Chris Getz and Jim Thome each had 2 hits. Carlos Pena hit his 6th homer for Tampa Bay.
  • Kansas City 12, Texas 3 - The Royals rode 5 hits by Mark Teahen and hit 3 homers (Teahen, Coco Crisp, and Mike Jacobs) to beat Texas. Jaconbs batted in 4 runs for the Royals, and Gil Meche pitched 6 scoreless innings to gain his first victory of the season.
  • Seattle 6, Detroit 3 - Seattle scored 5 runs in the 5th inning to provide the difference in a win over Detroit. Miguel Cabrera continued his torrid start for the Tigers, going 3-5 and raising his average to .513. Justin Verlander started and went 7.1 innings, giving up 8 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), and striking out 8. Felix Hernandez improved to 2-0 for Seattle.
Around the Minors:
  • AAA - Scranton/Wilkes Barre 11, Rochester 0 - The undefeated SWB Yankees pounded Rochester tonight behind Phil Hughes and two relievers. David Winfree had 2 hits for the Red Wings, and 7 others had one hit apiece. Winfree and Matt Tolbert hit doubles in the game. Sergio Santos started and lost for Rochester, giving up 5 runs (3 earned) in 5 innings. Sean Henn threw 2 scoreless frames, and Carmen Pignatiello was touched up for 6 runs in one inning of work. The Red Wings are now 5-4 after the loss.
  • AA - New Hampshire 11, New Britain 1 - The Rock Cats were pounded and dropped to 2-7 on the year. Cole deVries started and was victimized for 6 hits and 5 runs in 4.1 innings. Yohan Pino was pounded for 9 hits and 6 runs in 1.1 innings. Zach Ward and Rob Delaney each had scoreless outings. Erik Lis and Toby Gardenhire each had 2 hits, and Gardenhire also saw action at catcher. Matt Moses doubled and walked to continue his nice start.
  • High A - St. Lucie 3, Ft. Myers 1 - Ft. Myers managed just 4 hits against St. Lucie in their 3-1 loss. Ben Revere, Joe Benson, Steve Singleton, and Mark Dolenc had the hits, with Singleton's double being the only one for extra bases. Tyler Robertson started and went the first 4 innings, allowing 1 run on 2 hits, but giving up 3 walks. Kyle Waldrop dropped to 0-2 on the season, taking the loss in relief of Robertson (3 IP, 1 R, 4 H). Spencer Steedley gave up an unearned run in his one inning. The Miracle is now 5-3 with the loss.
  • Low A - Beloit 6, Burlington 5 (10 innings) - The Snappers prevented a minors-wide winless night with an extra-innings victory. Ramon Santana's walkoff homer in the 10th provided the victory margin. Alexander Soto also homered for Beloit.
  • Congrats to the New Your Mets' Gary Sheffield on his 500th career home run.
  • The Timberwolves laid-off radio analyst Kevin Lynch and TV sideline reporter Lea B. Olsen on Friday, proving that sports are not necessarily immune from economic woes. I thought Lynch was pretty good as an analyst - much better than either TV men Tom Hanneman and Jim Petersen, and I had no opinion about Olsen. Maybe the Twins could cite "economic woes" and get rid of Dick Bremer, Bert Blyleven, and Dan Gladden?
  • The Wolves also improved their chances in the NBA Draft Lottery, winning the tie-breaker over Memphis for the fifth-best chance.
  • The New York Rangers signed Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy of Boston University.
  • The Buffalo Sabres will retain GM Darcy Regier and Coach Lindy Ruff, putting to end speculation (mine) that the Wild will take a run at one or both.
  • Today's musical tidbit is a good ol' fashioned hit from the Beach Boys, and hearkens back to a simpler time where summer never ended.......