Monday, July 17, 2006

Twins Take It To the Tribe

Despite the laundry list of reasons to hate it, the Metrodome continues to be a plus for the Twins. At the Dome, they are an MLB-best 33-11 after yesterday's victory. In that win, the Twins garnered a little help from the Dome, which is hardly a first this season.

In the fourth inning, following a Justin Morneau single, Rondell White (or RonDL or whatever nickname you have for the terribly disappointing White) came up and hit what looked to be a weak fly ball to end the inning, one that would kill the momentum following Cuddyer's blast to tie the game and Morneau's single.

Instead, Todd Hollandsworth lost the ball in the Metrodome roof and it fell for a "double." Jason Tyner came up and as he has done ever since being called up to replace Lew Ford, he came through, smacking a two-run single to seal the win. Since his big hit Friday, I've been reluctant to get too excited. Then again, Nick Punto is having a pretty amazing year and we didn't expect that. Anything is possible and we should be excited if Tyner really can consistently give the Twins good at-bats, drive in a few runs, play solid D, and steal some bases. That play would more than replace what Ford was supposed to give the Twins.

Otherwise, the big news from the game was White's first homer. It wasn't a blast, the way Cuddyer's was, but many look at this and see the possibility that White may regain his form. I'm not so sure. Jeremy Sowers, yesterday's starter, is a soft-tossing lefty who doesn't have a great fastball. White's issue all year has been catching up to major league fastballs and Sowers doesn't even possess a league-average heater.

Sure, it's possible White will regain his form, but I think it's unlikely. After all, White only hit .235/.245/.294 at Triple-A on his rehab assignment with only one homer and five RBI in 51 at-bats. At best, White looks like a bench option against some of the softer tossing lefties in the division (Buerhle, Sowers, Rogers, Robertson, etc). I'm just not sure there is any reason to think he's ready to break out.

And lastly, Torii Hunter is on the DL with Shannon Stewart now, so we may end up with a Josh Rabe-Jason Tyner-Michael Cuddyer outfielder tonight, with Rabe called up from Triple-A. Rabe was hitting .297/.364/.399 at Rochester with 4 HRs and 38 RBI and 34 walks in 316 at-bats. Rabe has some decent patience, a little speed, and doubles-power, but he won't be hitting lots of home runs anytime soon. What's problematic is that Rabe is 27 years old and has been in Triple-A for nearly four years, so its hard to know if he can contribute much.

However, Scott Baker is really the man to watch tonight. He was 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA in Triple-A after being sent down in May, striking out 41 and walking 18 in 49 innings. The walks are up a little, but Baker has shown great control at the major league level, so lets look forward to a solid return against the D-Rays tonight. (By the way, after the Yankees swept the White Sox this weekend, the Twins are now 6 1/2 games behind in the WC race. That's an improvement from the way things looked after Thursday's game.)

4 comments:

John said...

Hack Tyner is on pace for 120 RBI this season. Which is impressive considering he has infield singles power.

What's the word on Kubel? We're in trouble if we have to keep Rondell in the lineup, let alone hitting 6th. Apparently the Twins were trying to adjust Rondell's swing "so he can catch up with a major league fastball." Not exactly encouraging news.

Nick M. said...

Right, which is why I don't trust all the "excitement" over his one home run. Its one home run and its off a soft-tossing lefty. I'm pretty sure that was a breaking ball as well, so its not as if he was even "catching up" to the fastball. Look at his "double" before hand. That was a fastball and it was a pathetic pop fly that dropped for the lucky White.

He needs to be out of the lineup immediately. This is more than shooting yourself in the foot. Its just plain dumb.

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