Friday, August 18, 2006

Garza Shows Progress in Loss

Even in a 3-2 loss yesterday afternoon at the Metrodome, there was reason for optimism for the Twins. Matt Garza, making his second major-league start, showed tremendous improvement, going five innings and allowing three runs on five hits while striking out five and walking two. It wasn't a spectacular outing by any means, but after his disastrous debut, it was certainly encouraging. Garza struggled early and it took him entirely too many pitches to get through the first three innings, but he settled down in the fourth and fifth and retired seven of the last eight men he faced.

Some notes on Thursday's series finale against Cleveland:

* Garza may have escaped the game with only two runs allowed had Torii Hunter's suddenly limited range in center field not haunted the Twins yet again. In the second inning, Indians' shortstop Hector Luna drove a ball into the gap. Hunter took a terrible route to the ball and it went right past him to rattle against the wall, allowing Ryan Garko to score from first and Luna to cruise into third with a triple (Luna would score on a Joe Inglett sac fly in the next at-bat).

For the most part, Hunter has been a fairly average offensive player and the majority of his value has come from his outstanding defense in center field. Ever since he injured his foot this season, Hunter has looked like a shadow of his former self out in center, and yesterday he looked like a liability out there. He doesn't have nearly the range he once had out there and it is hurting the team.

* Indians starter Paul Byrd recorded three strikeouts in his nine innings of work yesterday, and two of them were of Michael Cuddyer. With his two K's yesterday, Cuddy has now struck out at least once in 10 consecutive games, tying a season high which he set from July 21-31. In honor of this illustrious run, we have added the K-ddyer Strikeout Streak to the right sidebar, and we will track how long Cuddy can make this streak last.

* Justin Morneau hit his 31st home run in his first at-bat to put the Twins on the board, and the two outs he made during his 2-for-4 afternoon were both 400+ foot line drives to center field which Grady Sizemore caught on the warning track. Not that I needed to tell you this, but Morneau is really freakin' strong.

* The Twins have a very exciting series coming up this weekend at the Dome. The pitching match-ups against the White Sox:
Tonight - Boof Bonser (2-4, 5.56) vs. Freddy Garcia (11-7, 4.78)
Saturday - Brad Radke (12-8, 4.43) vs. Jon Garland (13-4, 4.98
Sunday - Johan Santana (14-5, 3.10) vs. Javier Vazquez (11-7, 5.13)