Monday, May 12, 2008

The Power of Pink

Twins 7, Red Sox 6
Red Sox 5, Twins 2
Twins 9, Red Sox 8

It was a bit of a hectic weekend for me. My parents came to visit for Mother's Day, so I spent most of my time with them. Though they are Twins fans as well, we didn't get a chance to watch/listen to any of this weekend's games after about the 6th inning on Friday. Looking up what I've been able to about the games, I'm very pleased that the Twins will have a chance to win this series against arguably the best team in the AL. At worst, it'll be a split, and that would be fine, too.

It was too bad that Boof got lit up on Friday, especially because his defense let him down a bit. Because Mauer lost track of Kevin Youkilis' swinging third strike in the dirt, the Sox were able to score 2 runs they didn't deserve in the second (2nd straight game Boof has had an inning extended on a wild pitch K). In the 5th, the leadoff single deflected off Boof's leg was played with far too little urgency by Harris, I thought. Delmon Young took a terrible route to Mike Lowell's 2-run double - he might have had an opportunity to catch it.

Too bad that Perkins' debut was diminished by the back-to-back HR leading off the 7th, turning a sterling start (6 IP, 1 ER) into merely Quality. Blackburn had what has lately turned into a pretty typical game, allowing 4 R on 9 H in 6 IP. He hurt himself by hitting 2 straight batters to leadoff the 3rd inning. His defense hurt him with a throwing error on the 2nd half of a potentially inning-ending DP in the 4th. Lots of baserunners, but his line could have been better in spite of them.

The bullpen pitched well on Friday, but got touched for 2 R in 3 IP on Saturday and 4 R in 3 IP on Sunday. Only Dennys Reyes escaped unscathed - even Joe Nathan got dinged for 2 R. Still, as their 5+ runs/game in the series proves, the Sox are going to get their hits and runs - they lead the league in BA, OBP and SLG by a healthy margin, and they're 3rd in SB to top it off.

The key to this weekend's wins was that the Twins scored plenty of runs themselves. Mike Lamb, Adam Everett and Craig Monroe all (finally) contributed key hits. I'm not sure what Jason Kubel was doing in the lineup on Friday vs. LHP Lester. He came into the game 4-24 vs. lefties. Between Lester and reliever Okajima, that line is now 4-28. If he's not careful, Kubel is going to play himself right out of the lineup.

Perhaps most satisfying was the performance from Carlos Gomez. He reached base in every game, delivered what I consider to be his most impressive hit of the season (a line-drive RBI single to right on a pitch knee-high on the outside corner - that's right, go with it!), and extended the Twins' improbable comeback against elite closer John Papelbon in the most improbable way - he laid off 3 straight pitches out of the zone after falling behind 1-2. He then stole second to get himself into position to score the winning run. He drew his 5th walk of the year the following night.

I'll be watching closely to see whether Gomez has made a real change in his approach. If he thinks about his ABs the way Denard Span does, his superior tools should easily lead him to better results. Through the weekend, by the way, Span was hitting .304/.415/.348, 13 BB/15 K, 11/13 SB, hopefully raising his trade value if nothing else.

New Additions

Pat Neshek will have to go to the DL, and Nick Punto will be joining him. Neshek is likely done for the year, a huge blow to the depth of the bullpen. Bobby Korecky will likely stick around in the bullpen, at least until Scott Baker is ready to come back. In place of Punto the Twins recalled Alexi Casilla. While his BA has not been impressive at Rochester (.219), his OBP has been excellent (.350), especially considering how few hits he has. He has 18 BB/18 K through 32 games. He's got pretty good speed and a strong arm, so his ability should be adequate to replace Punto.

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