Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Bats Finally Come Out

After the last two games against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, I was thinking about how the Twins almost lost two games a pretty bad team. They got lucky breaks due to bad Tampa Bay defense and baserunning and still managed a loss with Johan Santana on the mound Friday night. Facing a guy like Scott Kazmir gave them an excuse, but it was still just the Devil Rays. Some notes:

* Last night the Twins finally broke out in a big fashion against Edwin Jackson and the hapless Devil Ray bullpen. With 14 hits and 12 runs, the offense was filled with stars, with the 3-4-5-6 (Mauer, Cuddyer, Morneau, Hunter) going 9-for-17 with 8 RBI and 6 runs scored. Cuddyer was particularly impressive, going 4-for-4 with two RBIs and a double, hustling on every play and making an outstanding throw to catch B.J. Upton making another Tampa Bay baserunning mistake by trying to strech a double to a triple.

* Cuddyer is hitting .390 (16-for-41) so far this year and has 8 RBI, starting out much hotter than previous Aprils, as he has hit .227/.287/.377 in 154 April at-bats in the previous three seasons. He has historically been a better second-half hitter, so seeing him start off this hot is very encouraging. As much as Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are keys to the offense, Cuddyer having a great year is just as important to the Twins competing.

* Of course, Cuddyer won't be the most talked about story of last night. Jason Tyner went 3-for-5 and nearly hit the first home run of his career, but he was denied by the baggie, just as he was on a similar drive last year. Tyner managed two doubles, which is big power for him, in a start in center field while Torii Hunter rested in the DH spot. Maybe Tyner will hit .300 again, but I'll remain cautious about his use. If he can come in to give Hunter a rest and get a few hits, then he he'll be doing a good job. Tyner wasn't the only "piranha" hitting balls hard, though, as Luis Rodriguez took Ruddy Lugo deep.

* The other story is Sidney Ponson, who picked up his first Twins victory. Ponson once again had a very mixed outting. He managed to strike out six hitters in 5 1/3 innings, but he also walked three. His lack of control is frustrating and causes him to constantly tread a dangerous line, since he is hittable (he also gave up eight hits). However, Ponson gave up only two runs. A lot of that can be attributed to Juan Rincon, who came in with men on second and third with one out in the sixth inning and managed to get both hitters out. After some frustrating early outings, it was good to see Rincon get three strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings. Ponson also got some help from his defense, with good plays from Cuddyer and Jason Bartlett. Ponson hasn't looked terrible, but his control isn't great right now and he has given up too many hits. The good news is that, if you watch his post-game interview on FSN, Ponson is fully aware that throwing down the middle isn't a great idea.

* On a final note, I would expect Alexi Casilla's amazing play for the final out to be shown numerous times on SportsCenter and to get that all-important "Web-Gem" label.

6 comments:

TheBentKangaroo said...

Even more impressive than Casilla's final out was that diving stop up the middle by Bartlett in 9th inning. Great to see.

I was at the game, and when Tyner hit that ball, a giant hush fell over the Twins crowd. Then when it hit the baggie, people in my section were going crazy. One girl shouted, "Oh my god! Oh my god! Did you see that! He was soooo close!!!"

TheBentKangaroo said...

It also looks like maybe Cuddyer's infield single was changed to an error for Iwamura? It's hard to tell. It definitely should have been an error.

Corey Ettinger said...

Kangaroo, I completely second the opinion about Bartlett's catch, way batter play. That was filthy, and against a fast runner in Upton.

Also, Im not certain that should have been an error, he clocked that ball and it took a bad hop into his chest, he actually played the ball decently...

Nick M. said...

I am in no disagreement. I meant to be a little more sarcastic with the "webgem" comment. That is, plays like that get on there and ones like Bartlett's get ignored.

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