Friday, April 22, 2011

Out of Their Depth

Twins 5, Orioles 3
Francisco Liriano pitches into the 7th inning for his 1st QS of the year. But I actually liked his previous performance better. Until the 7th, the O's didn't hit the ball any harder than KC did, but managed just 2 H as the BABIP gods smiled on Frankie for a change. But he had a brutal 2/5 K/BB ratio for the game, and only one of the ball-four pitches was even close to being a strike. The 2 HR in the 7th came on hangers way up in the zone. Why can't he locate? Nice to get a win from him, but he's still not where he needs to be to carry this team.

You know it's your night when you get 3 RBI on 2 H from Drew Butera, Alexi Casilla draws a BB to load the bases, and an insurance run comes home on a WP. And they needed every bit of it, as the Twins' closer came on and served up yet another HR in the bottom of the 9th. Spectacular debut for Jim Hoey as the setup guy, though. Hopefully he can build on that.

If you're going to give up 11, you might as well not score any.

Joe Nathan is starting to remind me of Superman after he gave up his powers. (Did I just date myself?)

I had a notion to pin a couple of the losses in Tampa on the Twins' pathetic bench players. But with 2 losses coming on blown leads in the 9th and the other not particularly close, I didn't think the charge would stick. This game, though, is on their hands. With Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the DL and Justin Morneau and Delmon Young out with the flu, Gardy was forced to start both Jason Kubel and Jim Thome against a LHP, plus fill out the lineup with Jason Repko, Luke Hughes, Steve Holm and Matt Tolbert. That foursome combined to go 1 for 15 with a BB, and the H was a bunt single. Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Thome and Danny Valencia all reached base twice, so the bottom of the order had plenty of chances to extend rallies and knock in runs. But they didn't, because most of them don't belong in the Majors, or if they do, it's because of something other than their (in)ability to hit. Zach Britton was apparently battling an illness during the game, but even in his weakened state he was too much for the Twins' scrubs.

And still, with all that working against them, they came within a few feet of a game-tying HR on the final swing of the night. Argh! I'm going to remind you of this loss when the tight race rolls around in September.

Until everybody gets healthy and the bats wake up, this is what it's going to take for the Twins to win. Scott Baker was at his best: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K. That's 2 very good starts in a row for him, lowering his ERA to 3.24 and his WHIP to 1.12, with nearly 9 K/9. Those are the ace-type numbers that he's capable of, and will need to continue to put up, especially with Liriano still struggling with his control.

2 HR in the same game! 2 straight days with a HR has Cuddyer's OPS up over .700! Now, if we could just start hitting them with somebody on base...

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