Friday, May 2, 2008

Good Luck

Twins 11, Tigers 1

"Everything worked the way I wanted," Hernandez said. "So I'm lucky."

You can say that again. Despite allowing 10 baserunners, Livan managed to wriggle his way out of some jams to complete 7 innings, allowing only Magglio Ordonez' solo HR. Amazing.

I realized after his last start against Texas that the best game plan against Hernandez is to take 4 pitches every time you come to the plate. At that point, the count will either be 2-2 or 3-1 (or you're already on first base). Then try to hit the ball to the opposite field. It started out looking the Tigers would have the patience to do that, seeing 16 pitches despite going in order in the first. Then, beginning with Magglio's homer, 4 straight hitters reached to load the bases with 1 run in and nobody out in the 2nd. Luckily, the next two batters were Pudge Rodriguez and Jacque Jones, who combined to make 3 outs on the next 3 pitches. Those two are the only weak links in that lineup - thank goodness they were the ones coming up in that situation.

One thing I noticed watching the game tonight - Livan looks a lot better when the ump has a wide strike zone. He also did a nice job of changing speeds and keeping his pitches out of the middle of the plate.

So, he looks pretty good, right? Wily. Crafty. Eating innings. Taming the ferocious Tigers lineup. Anybody else want him? Happy to trade you...

"Our offense kind of exploded," said third-base coach Scott Ullger.

You can say that again. The underwhelming-in-April trio of Carlos Gomez, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young combined to go .545/.615/.727 with 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 SB; Gomez surely would have had another run had he not been conked out by a throw from Pudge in the 5th. The steady-in-April quartet of Harris, Mauer, Morneau and Cuddyer went .444/.500/.778 with 7 R and 7 RBI. Even the slow starting former Astros each notched a hit.

11 runs is often a series' worth for the Twins, so I'm a little concerned that they blew their wad in a game they were already winning, and tomorrow they'll probably lose 6-4. Then again, maybe this is a continuation of the offensive awakening that began to stir late in the last road trip. We'll see how they do against Verlander and Rogers this weekend.

The Go-Go Show

Gomez had quite a game before he was knocked out in the 5th. He walked(!) leading off the game, stole second, and scored. He was hit by a pitch for the first time this season in the 3rd, and later scored. He stroked a 2-strike single leading off the 5th, setting up his collision with Pudge's throw while stealing his 13th base of the year. He had to make 2 throws into the infield, each missing the cutoff man by a mile.

When Gomez had his best full-season OBP in 2006, he was hit by a pitch 19 times in 430 ABs. In his minor league career, he averaged a HBP every 33 ABs; he was hit 3 times in 125 ABs with the Mets last year. It took him 102 ABs to get HBP this season. This is a part of his game he needs to bring back!

But why would any pitcher risk hitting him, when they can get him to expand the outside part of the zone? Tigers starter Galarraga did a terrible job pitching to Gomez tonight. A 5-pitch walk, HBP, and 2-strike hanging slider made life pretty easy for Go-Go. And he did a good job of making those mistakes costly.

(By the way, Span's line tonight: 2-4, BB, 3 SB and probably 0 overthrows of cutoff men)

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