Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Painful Night

It would seem obvious that the pain of last night's game mostly alludes to Justin Morneau's injury. As Joe Christensen reports, Morneau suffered a bruised lung after a home plate collision with Florida catcher Miguel Olivo in the eight inning. Morneau tried to run into Olivo, but he was stopped in an awkward collision when he appeared to hit Olivo's shoulder. Morneau did score the tying run, but after spitting up blood on the bench, Morneau was wheeled out of Dolphin Stadium on a stretcher with an oxygen mask on.

The bad news for the Twins is that Morneau will be withheld from playing for the rest of the weekend, which means there will be a giant hole in the middle of the Twins lineup. Without Morneau, the Twins only have two hitters with consistent power in Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer. The Twins will likely have to put Hunter in the cleanup spot and, assuming things stay similar to last night's lineup, Hunter's "protection" will come in the form of Jeff Cirillo, who is likely to spell Morneau at first for the next few games.

Hopefully, Ron Gardenhire gets smart and puts Jason Kubel, who continued his better hitting as of late with a pinch-hit RBI double, in the fifth spot. It should be noted that other than Morneau, Hunter, and Cuddyer, Kubel is the only other hitter on the Twins roster with more than one home run. If Kubel is not in the lineup, the Twins might be in line for a long weekend. Of course, there is some good news about Morneau, as he does not have any broken bones and likely will be able to return in only a few days.

Sadly, Morneau's injury was the only "pain" experienced for the Twins last night. It was painful to watch Juan Rincon continue to fall from grace before our eyes. Following the top of the eighth, in which the Twins tied the score, Juan Rincon quickly gave the lead back to the Marlins by giving up a hard-hit home run to Hanley Ramirez.

Of course, there isn't anything too embarrassing about giving up a home run to Ramirez, who has put up a more-than-impressive .320/.380/.503 line with 10 home runs to follow his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2006. Still, Rincon's ERA has quickly risen to 4.56 and he has continued to show that Gardy should easily trust Pat Neshek and Matt Guerrier over Rincon in tight situations. It has become quickly apparent that Rincon either needs to be traded or needs to be permanently moved to a position in which he cannot hurt the Twins very much.

The Twins certainly had a chance to win last night's game, but a victory today may be more difficult without the reigning MVP in the lineup. Of course, the Twins may have a chance if the Carlos Silva vs. Josh Johnson match-up turns into a pitching duel.