It's been a rough couple of days for Twins fans everywhere, as we mourn the loss of one of our greatest heroes. It has been really nice to see all the love and support that has been shown for Kirby across the blogosphere and the national media, for the most part. Alas, life moves on, and at times when I'm down I find that I can usually get my mind off things by watching or writing about baseball. With that said, a few notes, heavy on the WBC:
* About a week ago, I was previewing the World Baseball Classic, and I said that my early favorite in the tournament was Venezuela, even over the powerhouse offense of the Dominican Republic. Well, if yesterday's contest between the two teams was any indication, I couldn't have been more wrong. The D.R. slammed Venezuela 11-5. Johan Santana started the game, and actually pitched pretty well, going 3 and 1/3 innings and allowing just one earned run (a David Ortiz solo homer) while striking out 5. He had some uncharacteristic control problems, walking three, but keep in mind that the Dominican lineup includes a few of the most patient hitters in the game, such as Albert Pujols (who walked twice in the game).
The game got out of hand when Cubs' right-hander Carlos Zambrano entered in relief of Santana. In 2 and 2/3 innings, Zambrano walked 3 and allowed 4 runs. I was really expecting Zambrano to come out and pitch well in this series, so I was disappointed by his performance. Ortiz and Adrian Beltre each had two home runs in the game, and Beltre had 5 RBI.
* Team USA had their first game in the WBC yestrday against Mexico, who they easily dispatched 2-0. It wasn't a very impressive offensive effort, as the United States managed only 2 runs on 6 hits against a mediocre Mexico pitching staff. Rodrigo Lopez got the start for the Mexicans and allowed only one run in 4 innings, a solo home run by Derrek Lee, but Chipper Jones added another solo shot against Oscar Villarreal in the 7th. It was all it was all Team USA would need as their pitching staff was dominant. Jake Peavy, Mike Timlin, Chad Cordero, Dan Wheeler, Todd Jones, Joe Nathan, and Brad Lidge all combined for a 4-hit shutout. Nathan struck out the side in the 8th.
* Uh-oh. Justin Morneau struck out twice and left six men on base for Canada in their 11-8 victory over South Africa last night. On the bright side, he also had an RBI double and a walk. Still, going 1/5 against a pitching staff with less recognizable names than a score on a Vince Young Wonderlic test has to be seen as a disappointment. Jesse Crain pitched a scoreless ninth and picked up the save in this one, striking out two.
* Brad Radke allowed a first inning 2-run homer to Jorge Posada in yesterday's 5-0 spring training loss to the Yankees. Hooray.
* There will be a free memorial held for Kirby at the Metrodome, Sunday at 7. I'm glad to see the Twins are doing this. I am sure they will have some sort of nice tribute for Puck during the regular season as well.