Saturday, August 23, 2008

Perk's Peak

In just seven percent of their games this year before the Angels series - or nine out of 126 contests - Twins starters have lasted eight or more innings. Now, in the most important series of the year to date (vs. the team with the best record in baseball, no less), Scott Baker and Glen Perkins go eight innings apiece in back-to-back wins. If that's not good timing for 8+ inning starts 10 and 11, I don't know what is. Perkins, as he always does, started batters of with first-pitch strikes, then simply let them put the ball in play in the manner he deemed fit. Soft grounders, lazy flies and pop ups were king. Conversely, Friday's opposing starter Joe Saunders (who is very similar to Perkins) has shut teams down time and time again en route to a team-high 14 wins. It's just that the batted balls fell in for the Twins.

One of those "batted balls" was Delmon Young's ninth home run - a two-run job - of the season that gave Minnesota a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Later, Denard Span would tack on a three-run shot - his third of the season - to push the lead to an insurmountable 9-0 advantage in the eighth inning.

I've noticed that the Twins are hitting the longball a little more frequently than earlier in the year... lo' and behold, it wasn't a figment of my imagination.

DurationHRs per gameRuns per game
Pre All-Star Break0.684.86

As you can see, they've cranked up the juice a bit lately. It's funny though - the Twins are scratching tooth & nail for every homer they get, while the White Sox have 41 homers in 20 August games. Incredible. Oh, and speaking of the White Sox, they got ripped by Tampa Bay last night 9-4, and the Twins' win pushed them a 1/2-game ahead in the standings.

Tonight, we'll face a guy we should pummel in Jon Garland... he'll take the mound vs. Minnesota's Nick Blackburn, who tossed eight excellent innings vs. Oakland in a loss Monday. Hopefully he can keep the good times rollin', but I'm not convinced we can keep this powerful Angels lineup in check for much longer. Check it out at 8:05 tonight!

Twins Notes: SS Matt Tolbert went 1-for-4 with a strikeout in his fourth rehab start at Triple-A Rochester. He's been decidedly unimpressive ... Dennys Reyes pitched the ninth inning in relief of Perkins last night, and the non-closer bullpen arms now have 10 straight scoreless innings (three games) after posting an awful 4.64 ERA over the past 30 days.

Minor League Notes:
  • Looks like Phil Humber is right as rain after struggling through the first half of the season. Against one of the best-hitting Triple-A teams around - the Pawtucket Red Sox - Humber pitched a complete-game, one run masterpiece. Humber gave up just one run on five hits while striking out eight batters. In addition, Humber is now 5-1 with a 2.61 ERA, 0.828 WHIP and 8.75 k/9 IP since coming back into the rotation on July 23.
  • New Britain right fielder David Winfree blasted his 19th homer (T-4, Eastern League) of the season last night, and now has 87 RBI (no. 3, Eastern League) on the season.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!

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