Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Monday, April 02, 2007

Nightly Notes - Game #1

A nice, not-so-tidy victory for the Twins tonight. Considering the way the 2006 season started, I'll most certainly take it. Here are tonight's Nightly Notes:

1.) Johan Santana is a great pitcher, but he's not a great April pitcher. I thought there was a chance that he might be ready to go based on how he was throwing his changeup this spring, but it turned out that he struggled today in much the same way as he usually struggles in early season games. For the first three innings or so, he looked very, very solid -- and that included changeups. Something happened going into the fourth inning, though, and he just lost his feel for the change. He started relying overly much on his fastball, and he got knocked around a little bit. Of course, when you have an offense that gets you 7 runs, that's not such a big deal. He picked up the win, and that's the important thing.

2.) The bullpen did exactly what it was supposed to do tonight, with Dennys Reyes coming in at the start of the seventh, Jesse Crain finishing off that inning, Juan Rincon nailing down the 8th as the setup man, and Joe Nathan picking up the save. That's pretty much exactly how you draw it up, and it was nice to see it operate to perfection in the first game of the year.

3.) The batting champ got a base hit in his first at-bat. The MVP hit a homer. The Cy Young award winner got a win. There's just something right about that . . .

4.) Luis Castillo looks like he's ready to continue hitting like a batting champ, as he did all spring. The bunt base hit was a nice bonus, but his other two hits were solid enough (especially his double in the 8th). Just like Torii Hunter, Castillo is in a contract year. It sure looks like he's going to be very, very good this season.

5.) I'm not very impressed with the performance of Scott Ullger as the Third Base Coach tonight. He sent Morneau home on a short single to right field (Markakis was essentially close enough that he could have been playing a deep 2B when he came up with the ball), and he should have sent Mauer later in the game when Morneau hit his double (and it was a double, whether the umpire at second recognized it as such or not). I'm willing to give Ullger some slack and suggest that maybe he just had an off night, but he's got to turn things around quickly in that regard.

6.) Last season, the Twins were in first place for just one (very important) day -- the last day of the season. This season, the Twins are starting off in first after day one. It's a nice change of pace for a team that looks early on to have the offense and bullpen to make a serious run at a World Series. I didn't pick them to even win their division, and one day isn't going to change my mind. Still, this is a great team, and it could very easily pick up a World Championship.

7.) If you are one of those people who lost faith in Nick Punto over the winter, I don't blame you -- when you start to think rationally about Punto, you realize there's no way he can be a very good player. However, watching him play proves how short-sighted that opinion is. He plays harder than anyone on the field, day in and day out. He stretches out hits that it shouldn't be possible to stretch out. He's great defensively. It's time to give up the doubt and just believe in the Power of the Punto.

If you read my notes through spring training, you may remember the "Biggest Winner" and "Biggest Loser" categories which finished up my nightly notes posts. That was a spring thing, however, when there were roster spots to be won and lost. Since that's (generally) not the case during the season, I'm not carrying over that section of the posts. If somebody does something noteworthy enough to jeopardize a roster spot, I'll mention it in the regular body of the post.



  • At Mon Apr 02, 08:48:00 PM , Blogger Marty said...

    Morneau ran thru the stop sign, the stop sign was very late as well as Ullger didn't try to stop him until Morneau was basically committed. Either way it's an Ullger mistake.

  • At Tue Apr 03, 08:31:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I really like how Punto usually has long at bats. I know making-the-pitcher-throw-way-more-pitches-than-he-wants-to does not show up in the box score, but it allows MinnesJoeta to see a bunch of pitches and drives the pitch count up.

  • At Tue Apr 03, 07:48:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Marty, I hate to contradict you (. . . alright, I love to contradict you), but LaVelle says Morneau did NOT run through a stop sign, and Ullger apparently owned up to sending him. I actually didn't see what Ullger was doing on the play. But you're right, either way Ullger messed up and needs to avoid such mistakes in the future -- at least as much as is possible.


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