Salutations loyal readers of Nick and Nick, or as I like to call it, N squared, two scoops (should that be capitalized as a proper noun?), the Nicks, etc... My name, in case you've somehow failed to guess, is Corey and I hail from a long defunct blog called Minnesota Sports Guys. While you'll certainly find that my writing skills are not of the caliber of Mr. Nelson (N1), nor my analytical knowledge of the game on par with Mr. Mosvick(N2), I hope I can bring my own bit of flavor to this fine site. In speaking with N1, he asked me to do a few things;
1) To avoid blatant speling eroors.
2) To make sure to post-date my pieces.
3) Introduce myself and let people know that I'll be dropping in from time to time.
Well, I'll try to avoid number one, but I'm no journalism/English major, and I think I can manage the post-dating. As for the final bit, I'm hoping that I can become a bit of a regular here on the weekends, offering my insight, and imparting knowledge (or at least crude opinions), upon this amazing audience.
With that, lets dive into post #1.
With our beloved Twins squabbling along offensively, manager Ron Gardenhire reportedly called his family physician who advised that the Twins take 3 doses of Baltimore relievers and call him after the series. Well, it would appear they've proven to be the perfect medicine as the team has scored 20 runs in the first three games of this four game set. By comparison, the Twins had scored 118 runs in the previous 37 games. So, essentially in 3 games, this team recorded 14.5% of its post All-Star break runs. Obviously thats fantastic in one sense, and terribly pathetic in another.
But, we've certainly seen some very good things other than just the string of run support. Hunter is getting hot, and when he does he has the ability to carry a team. Kubel has continued his hot August streak with his average on the month now at .385. Since June he's hitting .275 and has hit 8 of his 10 homeruns; hopefully Gardenhire will eventually get the message and stop platooning him with Tyner/White, as his batting average against lefties isn't significantly worse than it is against righties this season. While his slugging percentage is far worse, I'm convinced its more a symptom of limited at-bats than it is a problem with his approach. The only real concern I have is his strikeout rate which is alarmingly high against lefties, 30.3% vs 15.6% against righties.
Bartlett too is in the midst of a huge revival as he's hitting .311 this month and .282 since June. What's more, he's clearly benefited from the move up to the two-spot in the order, hitting .292 in that position, once again begging the question, "If so many fans knew this was such a logical move, why did it take Gardenhire so long?"
Obviously the biggest question though is why does Gardenhire, despite other healthy options which have at least shown promise, insists on continuing to play Nick Punto. Last night was yet another of so many examples -- with Buscher at third and Bartlett at short, it's like Gardenhire was just begging and pleading for some reason to use Punto over Casilla. I'm not certain what his rationale was, Casilla has been worse against righties than lefties, but seriously, how much worse can he be than Punto? Seriously.
Other than those rants though, the big news of tonight's game was Mauer's limping into third base. From my apartment here in St. Paul I think I could hear the collective groan of Twins Nation as Dick Bremer called out what is now becoming an all too familiar refrain, "and Mauer is hurt..." Watching the play it doesn't look like anything too serious, and Ms. Thesier, our friendly local beat writer, said it was just hamstring tightness, so I doubt he'll miss serious time.
Today our guys have an afternoon contest against Mr. Eric Bedard who will be countered by our very own (and very impressive) Scott Baker. With a good game from Baker that keeps us in the contest, winning a fourth game could be possible against this beaten, battered, and embarrassed bullpen. That would be just what the doctor ordered indeed.