The Twins are a weird team.
After displaying an astonishing level of ineptitude over the first 25 innings of their series with the Yankees, scoring just four runs on 16 hits during that span, the Twins' bats suddenly came alive in the eighth inning of last night's game. During that frame, the Twins scored four runs on two singles, two doubles, and a walk. And they did it against a fairly decent pitcher in Kyle Farnsworth, who is arguably the Yankees' best reliever outside of Mariano Rivera. It was like the Twins' hitters finally realized, "Wait a minute, if we want to beat this team, we're going to have to outscore them." Novel concept, I know, but it's one that nobody in the Twins clubhouse seemed to realize over the first two games of this series.
The Twins' eighth-inning offensive outburst was unexpected, but it was not the most surprising story of this game. No, that honor would belong to Ramon Ortiz, who is apparently the new stopper in the Twins' rotation. After Sidney Ponson and Boof Bonser had combined to allow 14 earned runs on 16 hits and five walks over 10 innings in their starts against the Yankees, Ortiz delivered nothing short of a gem on Wednesday night. The 33-year-old righthander tossed eight innings of one run, three-hit ball against an extremely tough lineup which had simply clobbered Twins pitching over the first two games of the series. Ortiz struck out four (including the red-hot Alex Rodriguez, twice) while walking only one, and he was highly efficient, needing just 93 pitches to get through his eight innings of work. For all the criticism we've handed the Twins for signing Ortiz in the offseason, I have to admit I've been impressed with him so far. He looked damn good last night. The Twins needed a good start, and he came through with an outing that was better than I could've expected. Ortiz is now 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA. While I have a hard time imagining he'll continue anywhere close to this pace, he's looked nothing but solid so far.
There were some other points of interest in last night's game, one of which was the fact that Alexi Casilla got the start at shortstop. Mr. Mosvick noted in his post yesterday that Ron Gardenhire appears to be losing patience with the struggling Jason Bartlett to some extent, and this move would provide further evidence of that. His play over the first week-plus of this season has looked eerily similar to his sloppy play in the ALDS series against Oakland last year. With that said, I'm sure Bartlett will be back in the lineup tonight against Tampa Bay and I do expect him to start showing marked improvement within the next week. He's too good a player to be performing this poorly.
Another point of intrigue regarding last night's game was the presence of Luis Rodriguez in the DH spot. It's not often that you'll see a light-hitting utility infielder get a start at designated hitter for any team, but I guess that just speaks to the Twins' current lack of depth. To his credit, Elrod went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
In sum, it was nice to see the Twins salvage a win in this series with a 5-1 victory; hopefully they will be able to carry some momentum into their upcoming four-game series against an improved Devil Rays team. With all that positivity out of the way, I do have a few gripes I'd like to get off my chest.
Let me preface the next couple paragraphs with a disclaimer. The rest of this post is basically going to be a bunch of aimless ranting. If you are pregnant or have a heart condition, I recommend you proceed with caution.
First of all, what is up with this "Premium Game" scam? I went out to the Metrodome on Tuesday night and my tickets cost three bucks more than they usually do. Why? Because the Twins are playing the great Yankees, and that means tickets are at a premium. My question is this: why should I have to pay extra to watch my team get the crap kicked out of them? If anything, tickets for these games should cost LESS. Charge extra when the Twins are playing the Devil Rays or something, at least in that situation I am almost guaranteed to leave the stadium in a good mood. Instead I walk out of those revolving doors full of frustration over the fact that my beloved Twins just got absolutely dominated by an unspeakably superior team, AND over the fact that I just threw away an extra three dollars which could have been used on an extra frickin' hot dog.
Another thing: if I overhear one more fan asking the question "Where is Lew Ford?" at a game, I am going to dump my nachos in their lap. It seems like every time I have been at the Metrodome, or around Twins fans in other settings, I have heard someone ask this question. Then the person they are with typically gives some smug, overconfident, completely false response, stating that Ford was cut in spring training or he was traded for Jeff Cirillo. First of all, Ford is on the disabled list. Second of all, WHO CARES? Yes, I'm sure the team's offensive impotence over the past several days has been due in large part to the lack of Lew Ford's powerful bat in the middle of the lineup.
Bah. Sorry about all that. I guess I'm still a little crabby from the 18-3 bashing over the first two games of the Yankees series. Fortunately, the Twins have a history of dominance against the Devil Rays that is fairly similar to the Yankees' history of dominance against the Twins, so I'm hopeful that this weekend's slate of games can lift my spirits.