Monday, March 30, 2009

Just Like the Real Thing

Twins 3, Rays 2

This was as close to a proper baseball game as I've seen this spring. Each team used just 3 pitchers with the starter going 6 IP, and Tampa made just 2 substitutions, 1 a very reasonable platoon PH in the 9th. Glen Perkins got through the Rays' best Upton-less lineup about 2.5 times, allowing 0 R on 4 H, 1 BB and 4 K. He was aided in his shutout by the mighty right arm of Micheal Cuddyer. With runners at 2nd and 3rd and no outs in the 2nd, Dioner Navarro hit a fly to medium deep RF. As Cuddy lined it up I felt myself hoping that they'd test him. Carl Crawford might have made it a close play; as it was, Cuddyer's throw beat first baseman Carlos Pena to the plate by more than 10 feet. Pena never even touched the plate - Jose Morales blocked the baseline as he tagged, deflecting Pena into foul territory.

I don't think Brian Duensing did himself any favors today. Supposedly on the bubble as a lefty specialist for the 'pen, he fell behind most of the hitters he faced and allowed a HR to Pena, a lefty. Matt Guerrier, on the other hand, continued his recent success, efficiently picking up an extra out in the 9th after Tommy Watkins kicked what should have been the last play of the game.

I continue to worry about Denard Span. He took a couple of called 3rd strikes from Matt Garza today, the same sort he was taking last year and throughout the spring. Belt-high, starting inside and moving over the corner, and down and away. Is he looking for off-speed pitches in those counts? Or is the strike zone just a bit bigger than he thinks it is? Either way, his sophomore campaign won't be a success unless he can make an adjustment to his approach and start spoiling those pitches.

More cuts tomorrow...

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