Friday, April 17, 2009

Game #11 - Bullpen Woes

The pitchers' duel between Francisco Liriano and Roy Halladay lived up to its billing for the first 6 innings, but the Twins' bullpen imploded in the 7th, and the Jays had the series victory with a 9-2 win over the Twins. Liriano was solid, going the first 6 innings and giving up 7 hits, 2 runs (only 1 earned), and striking out 5. After his departure, the Twins brought on Matt Guerrier to start the 7th. Guerrier faced 6 batters, retiring only 2, and allowing 4 hits and 4 runs. Craig Breslow followed and provided no relief, giving up 2 walks (and 2 wild pitches) to the 2 batters he faced. R.A. Dickey followed and served-up Kevin Millar's grand slam, and the rout was on. The Twins had chances against Halladay, collecting 8 hits, but he was solid when he needed to be. Case in point, after Brendan Harris and Denard Span reached base with nobody out in the top of the 5th inning in a 2-1 game, Halladay struck out Alexi Casilla, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel to escape the jam. The loss drops the Twins to 4-7 on the season, and Francisco Liriano is now 0-3.

The Angels come to town Friday for 3 games, so the Twins' road gets no easier. At a glance:
  • Friday, 7:05pm - Dustin Moseley vs. Nick Blackburn
  • Saturday, 6:05pm - Darren Oliver vs. Kevin Slowey
  • Sunday, 1:05pm - Shane Loux vs. Glen Perkins

DP believes the Twins hold the advantage in all three match-ups. However, the Angels' offense is dangerous and the Twins will have their work cut out for them.

I heard some sports talk radio on Thursday and it's clear that some in Twins Territory are pushing the panic button. Clearly, the season has not started well for the Twins, and the struggles at home are unfortunate. The bullpen has been disappointing, short of Joe Nathan, Jesse Crain, and (before Thursday night) Matt Guerrier. Luis Ayala has been a disaster, and Craig Breslow seems - at least early on - to not be the answer in the old Dennys Reyes role manager Gardenhire is using him.

At the plat, Denard Span and Justin Morneau have been solid, but that's about it. Carlos Gomez, Alexi Casilla, MIchael Cuddyer, and Delmon Young are really struggling, with Gomez and Casilla looking almost lost. Here are the team stats through the first 11 games, so read and weep.

Remember, however, we're on April 17 and are through 11 games. The Twins have 151 to go, and their best player (Joe Mauer) has yet to play a game. Nobody in the AL Central looks poised to run away with the division and each team has its own issues. Keep the faith!

Elsewhere in the AL Central:
  • Cleveland 10, NY Yankees 2 - The Indians rudely christened the new Yankee Stadium with a win against the Yanks, courtesy of a 9-ru outburst in the top of the 7th inning. Victor Martinez and Grady Sizemore homered for Cleveland, and Jorge Posada will go down in history as hitting the first homer at the new Yankee Stadium. Sizemore also had 4 RBI in the game. Cliff Lee was solid in his third start, going 6 innings, giving up 7 hits and just one run. The New York combination of Jose Veras and Damaso Marte combined to give up 5 hits, 9 runs, and 2 walks in the 7th inning.
  • Chicago White Sox 3, Tampa Bay 2 - The Whities survived a Bobby Jenks tightrope walk in the 9th inning to hold off the Rays in St. Pete. Josh Fields, Jermaine Dye, and A.J. Pierzyinski each had 3 hits, and Dye hit his 3rd homer of the season. John Danks started and won for Chicago, going 6 innings and allowing 1 run on just 2 hits and striking out 8. The teams combined for only 5 runs but left a staggering 40 men on base.
  • Kansas City - Idle

Around the minors:

  • AAA - Pawtucket 1, Rochester 0 - The Red Wings were shut out by the Paw Sox's Kris Johnson and two relievers, managing just 4 singles in the game. David Winfree had 2 of them; Jason Pridie and Matt Tolbert had the others. Anthony Swarzak was the hard-luck loser, going 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run. His record after 2 starts (11 IP) is 0-2 with a 0.82 ERA, 9 K, 1 BB, and a WHIP of 0.82. He'll be on the short list for a call-up soon if he keeps it up. Bobby Keppel and Jose Mijares each pitched scoreless innings. The loss drops Rochester to 5-3 on the season.
  • AA - New Hampshire 2, New Britain 0 - The Rock Cats managed just 3 hits in the shutout loss to New Hampshire. Juan Portes and Allan de san Miguel each doubled and Steve Tolleson singled to account for the 3 hits. Ryan Mullins started and lost for New Britain, going 5.2 innings and allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and also struck out 7. Frank Mata and Jose Lugo finished up with scoreless outings. NB is now 2-6 on the year.
  • High A - Ft. Myers 4, Jupiter 3 - A wild 9th inning in which Jupiter scored 2 runs to break a 1-1 tie, followed by 3 Ft. Myers runs in the bottom half produced a walk-off Miracle win. Ben Revere's bases-clearing double in the 9th provided the decisive margin. Revere had a good night at the plate, going 2-3 with 2 walks and 3 RBI. Rene Leveret also had 2 hits for Ft. Myers. David Bromberg started and went the first 5.1 innings, giving up 4 hits and a run, walking 3 and striking out 4. Steve Hirschfield went 2.2 scoreless innings. Closer Santos Arias gave up 2 unearned runs in the 9th before Spencer Steedley closed the door and picked up the surprise win. The victory gives Ft. Myers a 5-2 record in the FSL.
  • Low A - Burlington 9, Beloit 2 - The Snappers were smoked by Burlington behind a 17-hit attack. Evan Bigley went 2-4 for Beloit, and 6 other Snappers each had one hit. Dan Osterbrock started and was roughed-up for 10 hits and 6 runs (4 earned) in 3.2 innings. The Snappers also committed 3 errors in the game. Beloit is now at 1-6 in the Midwest League.


  • John Madden retired from broadcasting on Thursday. He was with CBS, FOX, and NBC continuously since 1979. I did not like him as an analyst - the whole "Boom!" thing was more than annoying - but his impact on the game was tremendous. He appealed to countless casual football fans and made the game simpler to them without alienating the serious ones in the process. Also, through his "Madden" video games, he helped cultivate an entire generation of football fans (and made countless millions in the process). Happy retirement.
  • Broadcasting legend Merle Harmon died on Thursday. He broadcasted for a staggering number of MLB teams, and also did pro football play-by-play as well. He was the Twins' announcer with Halsey Hall and Herb Carneal back in 1969, and you still hear his voice announcing one of Rod Carew's seve; steals of home that season. He was apparently a true gentleman and a professional. RIP.
  • More on the Doug Risebrough firing. Apparently, Jacques Lemaire told Michael Russo that he is not interested in the job and that owner Craig Leipold may not be able to hire his former Nashville GM, David Poile, per terms of the Predators' sale last year. Sid Hartman's mad. Russo speculates on the possible successors. Stay tuned.
  • Happy Birthday to my buddy Clark! In honor of his birthday, we have the first Donny Puck "What's Better...Original or Re-Make?" installment today. Enjoy!

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