1) What's gotten into Scott Baker?
In the first inning of last night's game, Baker gave up a solo home run to J.J. Hardy. In the ninth inning, he gave up a solo home run to Bill Hall. Between those two pitches, Baker was absolutely phenomenal. He finished the game with a line of 8.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. It seemed like a statement game from Baker, who, because of his horrible performance in 2006, was almost an afterthought coming into the season despite being just 25 years old. I've taught myself not to get too caught up in a good outing from Baker after his inconsistency last year, but there were several encouraging signs in last night's game. His control was excellent, as evidenced his ability to throw 71 of his 96 pitches for strikes and not issue a single free pass. He was economical and entered the ninth inning with a pitch count under 90. He seemed to get stronger as the game went on. Baker's previous career high for innings in a game was seven; last night he looked like he might go the distance before he allowed the ninth-inning homer and left game to a standing ovation from the numerous Twins' fans in attendance. The key for Baker will be to carry this success over into his next start.
2) When are opposing pitchers going to stop throwing meat-balls to Torii Hunter on the first pitch?
On Friday night, Hunter came up with a bases loaded in a 1-1 game, and Chris Capuano tossed a beach-ball over the middle of the plate on the first pitch which Hunter turned on for a game-breaking grand slam. Last night, when Hunter came up to the plate in the second inning against Brewers starter Dave Bush, he received another first-pitch gift and he drilled it into right-center field for a two-run homer that gave the Twins a lead they would never relinquish. Hunter is batting .414 with an .828 slugging percentage when he puts the ball in play on a 0-0 count. I'm surprised pitchers are willing to throw the ball anywhere near the strike zone in the first pitch of an at-bat against him.
3) How crappy are retractable roofs?
Last night's game provided a perfect example of one reason why I'm glad the Twins' new stadium will not have a retractable roof. There were some looming clouds before the game began, so they opted to close the roof. Granted, it did rain for what I'm guessing was about 20-30 minutes during the game, but for the most part it was a beautiful night to watch a game outdoors. Instead the roof was closed for the entire game. I'm a fan of Miller Park, but there's no doubt that the atmosphere is much better with the roof open. It's been closed for the last two games I've seen at the stadium, despite the fact that it could have easily been open for both.
4) Can the Twins switch to the National League?
Why not follow the path of the Brewers? The Twins have owned NL opponents, as they have now won 12 straight interleague games. They might be more well suited for the National League anyway, since their pitchers could probably provide more offensive production than their designated hitters.
That's all for today. Tomorrow I'll have a full recap of the series as well as (hopefully) some photos from last night's game.