Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bad Breaks

Twins 11, Rangers 4
Rangers 10, Twins 1
Rangers 8, Twins 7 (10 innings)

Ugh. Another potential winning homestand thrown away by poor defense. Just as giving away base runners proved fatal against a good pitching team like the Blue Jays, giving extra outs is fatal against a good hitting team like the Rangers. The Twins gave Texas 10 unearned runs over the 4 games. Had they played solid defense, they would have won 3 of 4 (without having to go to extra innings), and might have kept Wednesday's game close.

Twins pitchers repeatedly failed to pick up their defenders. Bonser, Perkins and Blackburn were all cruising for 5-6 IP, but once their fielders let a play slip, they were all quickly chased from the game. They need to learn to bear down and keep the ball out of the middle of the plate when they get into tough situations.

Alexi Casilla had a terrific series at the plate (.333/.412/.600, HR, 6 RBI, 5 R)while Brendan Harris sat in the dog house, but his 2 errors led to 7 of the unearned runs.

Delmon Young kept the XBH parade going for the first couple games of the series, but he had a brutal afternoon on Thursday, going 0-5 and stranding 7 base-runners. He hit into 2 DPs, including one with the bases loaded in the 1st.

I'm not sure why Craig Monroe (0-4, 2 K) got the start today. The Twins will be facing 2 lefties over the weekend in Detroit, so he'll most likely get 2 starts there. I'm also not sure why Justin Morneau got the day off from the field, with a scheduled off day coming on Monday. Michael Cuddyer made a costly error at 1st in his place, and also gave up an infield hit in the 6th (which led to a run) which an actual first baseman might have had an easier time fielding.

The Rangers are a stupendous hitting team, so I don't blame any of the pitchers for giving up hits (the back-door slider Hamilton hit out for the game-winner today was a little up, but it's ridiculous how far he hit it to the opposit field), but the Twins generally had a good approach against their atrocious pitching staff, drawing 20 walks during the 4 games. It's weird to say it, but the piece of the Twins' game that has been the most lacking this month has been defense.

Span vs. Gomez

Gomez had, in my view, his best all-around game of the season today, going 4-5 with a HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, and a sweet diving catch in CF for the 2nd straight game. For the series, he went .467/.529/.867, reaching base in each game, raising his season line to .286/.318/.440.

I've realized that my problem with Gomez isn't so much his approach at the plate (which still needs a lot of work), but the fact that that approach is so glaringly wrong for the leadoff spot. He's drawn 4 more walks (+ 2 HBP) in May than April, but he'll need to show that kind of improvement every month before his isolated discipline is anywhere near where it needs to be to justify getting the most PA of anyone on the team. However, if he took his exact numbers to the bottom of the lineup (anywhere 7-9), I couldn't complain, particularly when he continues to outhit Young.

Span is unquestionably the better leadoff hitter right now. Despite falling off his absurd pace of the past week with an 0-14 over his last 3 games (including 6 K), his AAA line is still a terrific .327/.431/.471. Unfortunately, he's out of the picture for 3-4 weeks, thanks to a broken finger he suffered while attempting a bunt on Tuesday night. That leaves all my eggs precariously in Go-Go's basket.

How exciting (gulp)!

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