Friday, August 22, 2008

Torii Claus

I give Nick Punto all the credit in the world for the bomb he smoked off Justin Speier in the top of the 12th inning last night, but Torii Hunter catches that ball 99.79 times out of 100, folks. Lemme give you a quick recap: Hunter is a seven-time Gold Glove center fielder. He had p-l-e-n-t-y of time to find the ball, get to the spot and make the grab. Yet he doesn't, and the epitome of our franchise - Nick Punto - ends up with a "triple" with nobody out. Hunter would like to wish you and yours an early, yet equally Merry Christmas

As you probably know, Denard Span went the other way for a single down the left field line that ended up being the game-winning hit. But that wasn't even the story of the night.

Did I mentions that Scott Baker is my freaking hero? I don't use the word "freaking" a lot in my writing (I save it for emphasis in speech), but he was dominant last night. It makes me wonder if he's once again locked in, and ready to bring his "A" game every night the rest of the season. Because in eight innings against the Anaheim Angels (best lineup in baseball), Baker was virtually untouchable. He gave up just one run - a solo shot to Mark Teixiera in the bottom of the first inning - and five hits while walking two and striking out six batters. He went toe-to-toe with a top-five AL pitcher in John Lackey, and while he didn't win the decision, he certainly didn't look out of his league. Impressive, yet somehow, not the story of the night. 

If you stayed up to watch the entire game, you know who I'm talking about. Matt Guerrier stepped onto the mound in the ninth inning, and what followed was something we hadn't seen for weeks... a full inning of scoreless work for our "setup" man. Two, actually, and it came at the perfect time. This, from a guy who had given up 14 runs over his past 6 1/3 innings (nine appearances, 19.90 ERA) and recently received four days off due to absolutely horrid pitching. I savored every pitch he threw last night, and maybe - just maybe - this road trip is what he needed to get back on track.

Of course, if you look at the appalling numbers our bats came up with, you'd probably have a big-time negative spin on last night's event. For me, good pitching was enough... there's no way we go an entire series stranding 18 base runners a game. It was disheartening to see Morneau and Casilla come up empty time and again, but I'm going to forgive and forget - we face Cy Young candidate Joe Saunders tonight, and there's no time for sulking.  

Twins Notes: With another two-hit night last night from Nick Punto, the utility infielder now has a nine-game hitting streak. What's more impressive is that he has eight multi-hit games over that span, and moved his batting average back up to .282 from .256 on August 11... Denard Span's on-base percentage finally creeped over .400 on the year last night - Carlos Gomez' remains quite a bit lower, at .287... Jesse Crain pitched a scoreless 11th inning as the bridge to Joe Nathan, who picked up his 34th save of the year... For all the talking up we did, Delmon Young's bat sure hasn't backed it up lately - he's batting .056 over his past four games (1-for-18)... Last, Matt Tolbert busted out the lumber last night with two hits in four ABs for New Britain. He's now batting .300 for the Rock Cats and will be up in 10 days or so. 

Minor League Notes: 
  • Rochester's Luke Hughes lined two singles in five at bats, and Alejandro Machado boosted his batting average up over .350 with a three-hit night last night. Unfortunately, starting pitcher Tommy Shearn got destroyed for six earned runs in just five innings of work. 
  • The double-A club had quite a night... four hitters (Ramos-4, Portes-3, Woodard-3, Ovalle-3) totaled 3+ hits and starter Alex Burnett threw six dominant innings, striking out 10 batters while giving up five hits and just one earned run. 
Thanks for reading, and have a great day... another late-night game tonight!


Beth said...

I love the TWINS :)My husband is soooo in love with the Twins LOL And they won tonight 9-0 .. GO TWINS!

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