Sunday, May 27, 2007

Not Quite Enough

The Twins tried very hard last night to win their second game against the Blue Jays, rallying multiple times, but eventually, it wasn't enough. Many things occurred in the 9-8, 13-inning loss to the Blue Jays that are worth discussing, but most important was that Ramon Ortiz continued his May self-destruction with another terrible start.

Several things stick out in Ortiz's start. For one, he gave up ten hits in six innings. For reference, that adds up to 40 hits in 21 1/3 May innings. Those are incredibly bad numbers to begin with. However, Ortiz also gave up three home runs to the Jays, adding up to nine so far on the year. He gave up six earned runs in six innings. That adds up to the following May stats: 0-3, 21.1 IP, 40 hits, 28 runs, 27 earned runs, five walks, 10 Ks, six home runs, and an 11.39 ERA.

With that in mind, Ortiz's good April seems like more of a fluke that originally considered. Ortiz was always a streaky pitcher, so it would seem that this is a matter of things evening out. Ortiz struck out only 14 hitters in 35 April innings and that has only continued in May with the 10 strikeouts. The result has been by far Ortiz's lowest strikeout rate of his career. That would only continue a downward trend that started in 2004, as his strikeouts have gone down just as quickly as his ERA has risen every year.

Hopefully, the Twins realize this and quickly end the experiment with Ortiz. It's unlikely that they would just eat his contract or even try to trade him, so the best move to hope for is a move to long relief that will clear a spot for Matt Garza or Kevin Slowey.

As for the game outside of Ortiz's ugly performance, there were some positive performances in what was a disappointing loss. Michael Cuddyer stood out, as he not only had several clutch hits, but started off the scoring with an RBI single in the third. Overall, Cuddyer went 4-for-5 with a home run, 5 RBI, and a walk. With his standout performance, Cuddyer raised his batting line to a more than respectable .290/.354/.479. Other than Cuddyer's 5 RBI, Justin Morneau was the only other Twins run-producer, with an RBI double and a important RBI groundout in the 11th to tie the game for a second time and send the game to further extra innings.

In total, the Twins had 17 hits, but wasted numerous opportunities to win the game. Today's game will prove a greater challenge, as unlike Tomo Okha, A.J. Burnett has been on fire lately, striking out 44 in 35 May innings so far. He will likely strike out a good deal of Twins hitters today. The best chance the Twins have will be to show patience, as Burnett's 31 walks on the year ranks him first in the AL.