Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Late Night Special

Last night, a starting pitcher who had allowed just three earned runs over 15 innings on the season went up against a starting pitcher who had allowed seven earned runs in two innings. The results were just as one might have expected.

The Twins jumped all over Jeff Weaver, tagging him for seven earned runs on 10 hits over six innings. Despite the ugly outing, Weaver actually managed cut his ERA for the season in half, lowering it from 31.50 to 15.75. That should tell you just how rough the season has been so far for the lanky righthander. Meanwhile, Ramon Ortiz delivered yet another masterful performance against the Mariners, delivering seven very strong innings, with the only damage coming on solo home runs by Ichiro Suzuki and Jose Lopez. Ortiz looked good, although I think it's fair to say that the stadium radar gun was giving him a little too much credit (his fastball was regularly clocked at 98-99 MPH, according to the FSN broadcast). He didn't strike anyone out, but also didn't issue a walk and managed to induce 15 groundball outs. He was once again surprisingly efficient, needing just 92 pitches to get through his seven innings of work. After three starts, Ortiz is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA. I've got to admit, I never could have seen that coming.

It was a great night for the Jekyll-and-Hyde Twins' offense, which scored 11 runs on 15 hits and three walks. The Twins did most of their damage against Weaver in in the fifth, when they brought five runs across. The inning went pretty much exactly the way one would ideally draw things up for this offense, with the "piranhas" filling up the bases with scrappy singles and a member of the heart of the order delivering a big hit to bring them in. The inning started with a base hit by Jason Bartlett. Luis Castillo and Jason Tyner each followed with a single on a two-strike count, with Bartlett scoring on Tyner's. Joe Mauer then layed down a sacrifice bunt to move Castillo and Tyner into scoring position. After a K-ddyer strikeout, Weaver intentionally walked Justin Morneau, at which point Torii Hunter yanked a hanging breaking ball into the left field seats for a grand slam. That broke the game wide open and the Twins never looked back.

A few additional notes:

* Prior to last night's game, Mauer had driven in just two runs in 45 plate appearances. This had a lot less to do with a lack of production than a lack of opportunity, and Mauer took advantage of the chances he got last night, picking up three RBIs while going 3-for-4 with three doubles.

* Along with his grand slam, Hunter hit his league-leading ninth double of the season. Interestingly, Hunter has drawn just two walks in 50 plate appearances, which continues a trend of disturbingly low patience at the plate (even for him) stretching back to the second half of last season. Despite his outstanding numbers after the All-Star break last year, Hunter drew just seven free passes over 254 plate appearances. Of course, he batted .296 with a .551 slugging percentage during that span, and so far this season he's batted .292 and slugged .604, so you won't find me complaining.

* Speaking of Hunter, he had to leave the game last night after hurting his shoulder while diving for a sinking liner in center. He did stay in the game for a short while after the play, so there is reason to think that the injury is not overly serious. I certainly hope that is the case, because the always-streaky Hunter has a hot bat right now, and he can pretty much carry a lineup when he's in the zone.

* After hitting a pair of doubles last night, Tyner is now slugging .520. What. The. Hell.

* Luis Rodriguez had a couple nice games early on, but after going 1-for-5 last night his average has dropped to .238 and he still hasn't drawn a walk in 21 at-bats. I'm ready for Nick Punto to return. On the flip-side, Bartlett has seen his average rise nearly 200 points since he returned to he lineup after sitting a couple games out last week.

---

I hope the Twins had fun scoring so much last night, because they aren't likely to do it again tonight against Felix Hernandez. "King Felix" has been incredibly dominant so far, striking out 18 and allowing just four hits over 17 shutout innings in his first two starts. If he and Twins' starter Carlos Silva (0.77 ERA) both continue to pitch the way they have so far this season, we could have quite the pitchers' duel on our hands. Color me skeptical.

6 comments:

Corey Ettinger said...

Three things;

1) "I've got to admit, I never could have seen that coming."

Yeah, who could've.

2) "What.The.Hell."

If they put Punto back into the 2 hole in his first game back and goes 0-4 with 2 K's I'll murder someone. I'm not going to say who, but lets just say it might be Ron Gardenhire.

3)"...we could have quite the pitchers' duel on our hands."

Can you believe your saying, much less thinking that this is even a possibility three weeks into the season?

Nick M. said...

Silva always had the possibility, be it very slim, of returning the form. My thinking was always on the side of caution, being that most guys like Silva don't exactly find "their form" again. It is also, of course, possible that this is just a mirage and the real Silva will return to brutality soon enough.

I am surprised, therefore, but not bedazzled.

Corey Ettinger said...

Mosvick, your explanations of your feelings are priceless.

"I am surprised, therefore, but not bedazzled."

Great stuff.

Nick M. said...

Glad that I at least provide entertainment value of this site.

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