Monday, May 4, 2009

Game #25 - Tale of Two Games

Scott Baker was simply brilliant for the first 6 innings on Sunday, allowing the Kansas City Royals just one baserunner - a walk to Jose Guillen - and no hits, and the Twins staked him to a 4-0 lead. In the top of the 7th, Baker completely ran out of gas and surrendered 5 consecutive Royals' hits. The end result was a disappointing 7-5 loss to KC and a series loss in which the Twins should have swept the series.

Consecutive hits by Willie Bloomquist, Mark Teahen, Guillen (3-run homer), Mike Jacobs, and David DeJesus chased Baker from the game, and reliever Luis Ayala allowed a 2-run double to Albert Callaspo to give the Royals a 5-4 victory in a surprising turn of events. Single runs in the 8th and 9th innings gave KC some cushion, and the Twins could only get one run closer (RBI single by pinch-hitter Joe Mauer in the 9th).

Baker was not brilliant in his 6 innings of hitless ball, but had retired 15 consecutive Royals since the leadoff walk to Guillen in the 2nd inning. He needed 104 pitches to complete his outing and was struggling to get ahead of hitters all game long.12 of the 18 outs he recorded were via fly ball (5 were foul-outs) and the ball was getting a little closer to the sweet spot by the end of his outing. Still, his collapse was surprising, and the starter fell to 0-4 on the season. The top two starters, Baker and Francisco Liriano, are now a very disappointing 0-8 to start the season.

Justin Morneau was 3-5 in the game, and Michael Cuddyer went 2-3 with 2 RBI for the Twins. With his pinch hit, Mauer raised his average to .700 in his first three games back from the DL. He is 7-10 with 3 extra-base hits and 3 RBI.

After the game, the Twins activated pitcher Jesse Crain from the DL and optioned catcher Jose Morales to Rochester. Morales was solid in his first full month in the majors, hitting .340, but the Twins prefer to keep two catchers. Mike Redmond hasn't played for a while, so maybe Morales will be back.

The Twins now head to Detroit for a quick two-game set with the Tigers. Probables for the series:

  • Monday, 6:05pm - Francisco Liriano (0-4) vs. Edwin Jackson (1-1)
  • Tuesday, 6:05pm - Nick Blackburn (2-1) vs. Rick Porcello (1-3)

Elsewhere in the AL Central:

  • Detroit 3, Cleveland 1 - The Tigers took the series from the Indians behind strong pitching from Justin Verlander. The righty allowed just 2 hits and 1 run over 7 innings, striking out 11 in the process to improve to 2-2 on the year. Bobby Seay, Joel Zumaya, and Fernando Rodney finished up, with Rodney picking up his 6th save. Brandon Inge hit his 8th homer for the Tigers.
  • Texas 5, Chicago White Sox 1 - The Rangers picked up the series win from the Whities on the heels of a solid start by Matt Harrison. The youngster went 5 scoreless innings, and Ian Kinsler's 9th homer paced the Rangers. Kinsler's 2 RBI gave him an impressive 25 on the young season.

Around the minors:

  • AAA - Indianapolis 2, Rochester 1 - Despite a solid start by Jason Jones (6.1 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs), Rochester had no answer for the Indy Indians and lost again. Jones overcame 5 walks to keep the game close. Rochester had 7 hits - all singles except Luke Hughes's double. The Red Wings are now 9-12 on the season.
  • AA - Trenton 5, New Britain 3 - Brian Dinkelman and Erik Lis each had 2 hits for the Rock Cats in a losing effort. Jay Rainville was good in his start, going the first 5 innings and allowing just 1 run on 4 hits. Two errors cost the Cats and pitchers Jose Lugo and Rob Delaney 4 runs over the next 3 innings and provided the difference for Trenton. New Britain is now 10-12 with the loss.
  • High A - Ft. Myers 6, Charlotte 5 - Rene Leveret had 2 hits - both doubles - for the Miracle , and Steve Singleton and Nick Romero each had 2 RBI to key the victory. The Miracle scored all 6 runs over the final four frames. Tyler Robertson went the first 4, surrendering 7 hits and 5 runs. Santos Arias followed with 3 hitless and scoreless innings, and Alex Burnett went the last 2 scoreless frames to pick up the win. Ft. Myers is now 14-9 with the win.
  • Low A - Great Lakes 6, Beloit 5 - The Snappers lost despite some pretty good hitting performances. Jonathan Waltenbury homered and doubled for Beloit, and James Beresford had 3 hits in the game. Beloit is 7-15 with the loss.

Check out my Examiner column on the Twins' first month of the season!

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