Thursday, April 05, 2007

Polar Opposites

Remember how the beginning of last season felt? The Twins went 1-5 in their first two series, the beginning of a poor April followed by a poor May. They lacked energy out of the gate and a lot of the decisions made in spring training looked bad pretty quickly. This year? The bats are on fire and the pitching has been quite good so far. Even a questionable decision looks good so far.

Ramon Ortiz, one of two new pitchers in the Twins rotation, hasn't been very good since 2002, as we've been adamant on this site, but he was pretty good last night. In seven innings of pitching, Ortiz gave up four hits and two runs while walking one and striking out four. It was an impressive debut, though it came against a fairly weak Baltimore lineup. He'll be tested by vastly superior lineups soon enough, but it was a nice start and Ortiz certainly looked better than he did last year and appeared excited to be a Twin. Not to mention, he's apparently learned a change-up from Johan Santana.

As for the hitting, the Twins looked a little more like they did Monday night, with a good deal of hard-hit balls off Orioles starter Jaret Wright and reliever Jeremy Guthrie. In addition to the hits, the Twins walked plenty, getting six total and five from Wright alone. The took advantage of Wright's bad control, hittable pitches, and the Orioles defense, which made three errors.

Most notably, Luis Castillo, Joe Mauer, and Michael Cuddyer had impressive games. Castillo continues to hit well, going 7-for-14 so far and showing that his hot bat in Spring Training wasn't a mirage. Mauer, meanwhile, is hitting .455 so far and has shown great patience and that same great swing from the on-set. Anyone care to take back their predictions that he wouldn't win another batting title? (Ok, it's a little early, but Mauer looks pretty great).

As for Cuddyer, we would bring back the K-ddyer meter after his first two starts if he didn't redeem himself last night by not only avoiding a strikeout, but by also going 3-for-3 with two RBI. In other words, let's not panic and let's just assume that Cuddyer will be fine. If in a month, he's struck out 30 or 40 times already, there will be no question about bringing the K-ddyer back.

Overall, the Twins have given the fans a reason to be optimistic about the season with a nice sweep of the O's. This weekend, however, will pose more of a challenge, as the Twins head to Chicago to take on the White Sox. Who is all looking forward to Sidney Ponson's great first start on Saturday? I know I am.

9 comments:

twins15 said...

It took the Twins 73 games to get at least 3 games over .500 last year... it took them 4 games this time around. :)

Nick M. said...

Yeah well some momentum in the first half certainly couldn't hurt. But of course, the team that starts out hot doesn't always remain so. Let's hope we can "diversify" our luck. We'll be ok with that, since the Twins will probably have to rebound when one of their three starters (Ortiz, Ponson, Silva) gets the demotion. My money is on Silva and after his fourth start.

Lee Henschel said...

Ortiz looked good, from what I can see. He had a better line than Santana, against the same team, and went farther than his two other starter-teammates (seven innings vs. six).

I think Ortiz will be a welcome addition to the Twins team this year. If he does well, I hope they sign him to a two-year deal.

Maybe if he goes 18-8 you guys will eat some crow...

Corey said...

If he goes 18-8 I'll eat dog poo.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me how to pronounce Ortiz' first name? The broadcasters seemed all over the map. I even checked MLB.com and it turns out his first name is Eugenides, so that doesn't provide ANY help. Ruh-MONE? RAY-mone? RAY-MAHN?

Corey Ettinger said...

the prior

Nick M. said...

Rah-Mon i'm assuming. I haven't heard it said any other way. And, if Ortiz goes 18-8, well I think the whole major leagues would be MORE than surprised. He would be one of the best starters and frankly I highly doubt that will ever happen

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