Friday, July 29, 2011

Oakland Athletics Minnesota Twins Series Preview

The Twins are coming off a split with the Texas Rangers and are in desperate need of a sweep. They need to sweep the Athletics or at least win the series because the MLB trade deadline is approaching and they need to convince management that they are contenders.

Friday, July 29th, 10:05 eastern: Francisco Liriano vs. Gio Gonzalez

Saturday, July 30th, 9:05 Eastern: Nick Blackburn vs. Guillermo Moscoso

Sunday, July 31st, 4:05 Eastern: Carl Pavano vs. Brandon McCarthy

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Twins Looking to Take 3 of 4 from Texas

The Minnesota Twins will be trying to win this series in Arlington, Texas tonight by winning 3 of 4 games. Well, they have the perfect guy to do it tonight. Scott Baker is pitching tonight for the Minnesota Twins. Baker has won his last five decisions and says he is feeling much better after sitting out with elbow soreness before the All Star break.

Baker will face a loaded Texas Ranger lineup and his pitching counter part is Matt Harrison. Harrison is having a very solid season. He is 8-7 with a 3.05 ERA. Thankfullly Scott Baker is coming off a stretch where he is 6-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his last seven starts.

Baker only threw 82 pitches in his last outing against Detroit in which he last 5 innings and gave up no runs.

Matt Harrison is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in two starts against Minnesota.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Danny Valencia Saves Season With Walk Off Single, Closer Thoughts

It looked like the Twins' season was all but over. Casilla flew out to left field, and Mauer was up to bat with one out. The Twins' were about to be 8 games back in the division, and likely would be trading key players at the deadline, but the Twins' fought back in a huge way, just like they have been doing all season. Mauer walked, and Cuddyer hit what looked like a single, but become a double because of his hustle. The Indians intentionally walked Jim Thome, bringing up Danny Valencia. Valencia hits a dinky fly ball to left field that drops and Cuddyer rounds third to score the game winning run. This is a huge win for the Twins that brought them to 6 games back of the 1st place Indians. They have to win again tonight if they want to keep their hopes alive.

Matt Capps pitched again last night and looked better than before. He clearly cannot handle the mental grind that comes with being a closer, as he leads Major League baseball with 18 blown saves over the past year. I think Joe Nathan is improving, but I would love to see Glen Perkins close. He's got closer stuff, the only thing you have to worry about with him is his mental toughness. He shouldn't have to worry about the mental part because when you are throwing a filthy slider along with a 97 mph fastball, you should be just fine. Gardy, just give him a shot, please.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Went to the Game Last Night and

Wow! What a game. First of all, I was absolutely positive we were going to lose after the first inning. Once Liriano gets off to a Shaky start, you can pretty much count on him to be pretty bad for the rest of the game. I was partially right, he still couldn't throw a strike to save his life, but he threw enough good pitches to get himself through the game. The first four innings were god awful. The Twins kept threatening but couldn't get any timely hitting. That all changed when Danny Valencia stepped to the plate with Michael Cuddyer on first base. He hit a huge double that would give the Twins their first lead. The Twins weren't done just yet, Smelmon Young got another hit, scoring a run. Lastly, Trevor Plouffe it a two run moon shot (pictured left receiving high fives after his homer last night).

My favorite part about this? This was all done with two outs. We couldn't get a big hit the whole game, and then three people stepped up one after another. this was a game the Twins should have lost because of the shaky start they got from Liriano and because of the two errors they committed (really three, if you count that grounder Nishioka bobbled that was ruled a hit). So congrats to the Twins on a big game last night and hopefully they keep it up and can sweep the Royals.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

All Star Weekend Thoughts: How to Change it and How Cuddyer Did

Alright so the first part of this is going to be how to change the All Star game. Second part will be about Cuddyer. First lets start with the home run derby. I really hate the home run derby it's really boring. I've got two ways to fix it, either would be great. One way would be to have the reigning Cy Young winner actually pitch to these guys so it's not like batting practice. Another way to fix it, have the captains be forced to pick one pitcher. Pick some interesting people to spice it up. I would love to watch CC Sabathia try to beat out all the Sluggers in a home run derby, I bet he'd have a chance. Or watch little Tim Lincecum try to hit some home runs. I hate when there are just mediocre power hitters that I don't care about. Spice it up, maybe even throw Nick Punto out there for all I care. The Last thing they have to do is trim that damn roster. I was watching it last night and didn't know half the players by the 7th inning. Make the best players play and if you want it to matter, make them play the whole game. There's no reason these guys can't play a whole game, it's baseball, not football.

Cuddyer, I loved seeing you out there, but you are not an all star. Cuddyer was an all star because they had to pick someone to be on the team, and he was the best of the worst. This devalues an All Star appearance. Who cares if Joe Mauer has made 10 all star appearances because everyone makes all star teams in baseball. There were 84 players named to the all star teams this year. Only ten guys can be on the field at once... this is ridiculous.

Michael Cuddyer wasn't too bad out there though. He played a solid first base, and he flew out on the first pitch he saw. Clearly he was a little nervous and I don't blame him. Hopefully Mauer and Morneau are healthy and productive next year so we can watch them in the All Star Game.

Minnesota Twins All Star: Michael Cuddyer

Michael Cuddyer was named to his first All Star team recently. I can honestly say I'm really happy for they guy. He's having a career year. He's leading the team with a .298 batting average, 13 home runs, 93 hits, and a .369 on base percentage. He was clearly the most deserving position player that the Twins had to be named to the All Star team. He's in the midst of his 10th Major League season, all with the Twins, and he has been rock solid the past five seasons, outside of 2008 when he played in only 49 games.

I'm happy for Cuddy. This is going to be a great moment for him and his family and the Twins organization. I love Cuddyer, but I would much rather see Morneau or Mauer out there. Even though they aren't having the best seasons, I like seeing the traditional Twins out there that everyone else knows. Barely anyone even knows who Cuddyer is. I'll have my thoughts on the All Star game in my next blog.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Minnesota Twins Face Phil Humber Thursday Night

Remember when the Twins traded Johan Santana to the New York Mets for three prospects? Remember that two of them were supposed to contribute immediately? Remember their names? Carlos Gomez and Phil Humber ringing any bells?

It's been three years since the Twins made that trade. No one from that trade has done anything. The Twins could have had Jon Lester or Jacoby Ellsbury, but opted against them. Gomez was terrible from the beginning. The Twins gave up on Humber after the 2009 season. He spent a season with the Royals, mostly in Triple A when the Chicago White Sox picked him up.

Chicago's pitching coach suggested that he add a slider and it has worked miracles for him. He is 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA and could be named to the All Star team later this week. Something the Twins could desperately need.

Don't blame the Twins for getting rid of this guy. He was mentally unstable when they had him and wasn't a shell of the pitcher he is today. They couldn't have really thought that he would develop into an All Star talent during his first year as a full time starter in the league as a 28 year old.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Joe Mauer Playing First Base Tomorrow

According to the Startribune, Joe Mauer is playing first base tomorrow. This is great news for the Twins because it allows Mauer to get some more at bats and rest his body. Mauer hasn't played first base in ten years, but he's gotten some help from teammates. He said he has spent a lot of time talking to Michael Cuddyer about how to play first base. Mauer had this to say about playing 1st base tomorrow.

"I want to do anything I can to help the team," said Mauer. "Obviously for me personally, it’s going to be a grind the rest of the way, physically. So if this allows me to take a day from behind the plate and give your body a little break, it’ll be a good thing."

Gardy thought he looked okay out there"

“We won’t really know until we get him over there and see, but honestly he’s pretty fluid over there,” Gardenhire said. “He’s got soft hands, he moves around there pretty well, all the fundamental parts of it.”

It's about time Mauer starts to sacrifice to the team. He needs to realize how important his bat and his health are to this teams success. There's no place for his selfishness. Don't be afraid to DH or play some first base every once in awhile.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Very Cool Twins Game Tonight, Matchup of Aces

Scott Baker is 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA heading into this match up against the Tampa Bay Rays. Thankfully for the Twins, Baker has pitched extremely well at home as of late and more importantly, he has pitched extremely well versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Baker has a 1.89 ERA at Target Field and has won four of his five starts at Target Field. Baker is looking to help the Twins stay hot after a 7-0 win yesterday against the Rays in which Duensing threw a six hitter. Minnesota Twins manager had this to say about Bakers recent success:

"He's confident and he's attacking," Gardenhire said. "I don't think he worries about too much out there. He just goes and attacks.

He'll need to keep that up tonight if he wants to beat the Rays. He's going up against All Star James Shields who is having an amazing season. He has a 2.45 ERA and is 8-5.

Hopefully Baker gets going tonight and the Twins win! Buy Twins tickets with Ticket King!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Twins with Huge Wins Over the Weekend

The Twins had two very impressive wins this weekend after a crushing defeat. Earlier in the week, the Twins lost by blowing a 7 run lead. Matt Capps of course had an extremely rough outing and the Twins blew a huge lead.

Fast forward to this weekend. Twins get a huge win over Zach Greinke and the Milwaukee Brewers. Greinke is a certified ace and had done really well against the Twins in the past, but struggles a little bit on the road.

The Twins then got a series with the Rays off to a great start. They faced a for sure All Star and ace of the of Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff in David Price. They knocked him around early, scoring 4 runs in the first three innings. All in all it was a great outing for Twins and hopefully they can keep up this momentum.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Scott Baker Turning into a True Ace for the Twins

Baker turned in another gem on Thursday. He threw 7 1/3 innings of shutout baseball as the Twins beat the poor Dodgers 1-0, a nice birthday present to Nathan Johnson. With this performance, Baker lowered his season ERA to 3.15. The reason? His command of his pitches has been so much better. Remember when Baker was throwing meat balls right down the middle of the plate last year? Yeah he is not doing that anymore.

The interesting part of this for me is: does this make Liriano expendable? I think the answer to that question is yes but it's tough to tell if the Twins believe that. They love Liriano, but he doesn't really pitch like how they like their pitchers to pitch. The Twins want guys who pound the strike zone and don't walk anyone. Liriano's command has been really shaky ever since Tommy John surgery.

I hope they don't trade Liriano, but with Baker looking like an ace it becomes a distinct possibility. With the Twins falling out of contention, it looks more and more likely that they'll trade some veterans. Liriano is going to be a free agent next year, as is Cuddyer which means those two would be the most likely to go. Others who could go are: Thome, Kubel, and Young