I was watching today's game on MLB.TV, an interesting hybrid cast between Dick & Bert and the Pirates' commentators. They interviewed Mientkiewicz in the dugout, and it was fun to hear him say that he sometimes ribs Pierzynski: "You're good, but you're not worth Nathan, Bonser and Liriano." So true.
Kevin Slowey was really good today. Never mind the box score line (5 IP, 4 ER, 6H). He retired the first 11 batters before Jason Bay served a 2-strike single into center. The next batter, LaRoche, hit a line drive to CF that was utterly misplayed by Monroe - he took a step forward, froze, then recovered enough for the ball to just get over his glove for an RBI double. I've seen Gomez miss that play this spring, but I'd like to think he would have caught it. The next batter grounded a single to right, and Cuddyer came up throwing, so I figured the inning was over. But the throw was about 15 feet up the third baseline, so the run scored, and the batter advanced to second. A normal Cuddyer throw would have easily had LaRoche at the plate. The next batter lined a single to right, scoring the man from second.
In the 5th, our old friend Luis Rivas led off with a blooper to center that just dropped in between Punto, Harris and Monroe. Punto tipped the ball just after it bounced, knocking it away from Monroe and allowing Rivas to reach second. Pitcher Ian Snell was next up, and he bunted hard back to Slowey, who whirled and threw to third, but Rivas was already there. He really should thrown it to first. With runners at the corners and nobody out, Slowey struck out McClouth looking with a terrific fastball tailing over the inside corner (a la Greg Maddux). Then the Pirates put the squeeze on, and the Twins had to take the out at first while Rivas scored.
Slowey has had pretty shaky defense behind him for three starts in a row and it finally caught up to him. Without the Twins giving the Pirates extra outs and bases, Slowey could have very easily gotten through his work today with no runs allowed. It certainly should have been fewer than 4. Basically, I'm not concerned, and I think he's going to be dynamite in the rotation this year.
Most of the Twins hitters were smacking it around pretty well today. The exception, alas, was Nick Punto, 0-4 with a walk and 3 strikeouts, 2 of them looking. I heard that Morneau had stayed behind today to get extra ABs with the minor leaguers - maybe Punto should do that too.