Nightly Notes: Game # 48
1.) Is Ramon Ortiz done? I certainly don't think so, just yet, but the vultures are starting to circle. I suggested that he had a couple more bad starts to go before he was exiled, and this constitutes one of them. I regretfully have to say that I now think it's only a matter of time before he goes the way of Sidney Ponson. Why regretfully, you ask? Well, because I've been a big Ortiz advocate since he was signed, asking for patience and suggesting that signing him wasn't a terrible move. I still believe that, by the way: he came comparatively cheap, he gave the team a chance to get a solid innings-eater, and he allowed the youngsters time to develop down in AAA. Today's start was just good enough for five innings that the Twins will be able to justify sticking with him for another few starts -- it was the 6th inning that really got him. It's certainly possible that Ortiz will take advantage of any additional starts to return to his early-season form; I'm just not that optimistic that that will happen. My timetable: I expect Kevin Slowey to be in the rotation by June 20.
2.) Jason Miller had about as nice of a debut as he could have asked for, striking out his first batter and getting the next two guys out on popups to the infield. He's got a good, big curve that comes in nice and slow and which the hitters didn't seem to want to do too much with, and his fastball looked just fast enough with enough control to make it a dangerous pitch as well. For awhile there, it looked like Bert was going to get his wish for Miller to pick up a win in his first game, but the Twins rally couldn't get the winning run in the bottom of the 9th. Still and all, a very nice performance by Miller.
3.) The unofficial battle between Miller, Cali, and DePaula over who will get sent down when Dennys Reyes comes off of the disabled list was easily won by Miller (I'm guessing that the Twins wouldn't mind going with three left-handed pitchers -- you go with who's pitching the best, so I don't think they'll artificially insist on capping the bullpen at 2 lefties if they have other, better options). Carmen Cali gave up a double to Matt Stairs, the first batter he faced, and also walked a batter, but he picked up a strikeout and made it through the inning without allowing a run of his own. I call this a succesful performance, because he didn't let too much damage happen while he was in there. Julio DePaula, meanwhile, may be on the way to pitching himself off of the Major League squad -- after getting drubbed in Texas, he walked too guys (one of whom came around to score) without getting an out, and just never looked like he was throwing anywhere near the plate. He just doesn't look ready yet, and I don't think it'll be long before he goes back down. In fact, with Joe Mauer soon to come off of the DL, and the Twins interested in keeping Chris Heintz around as a third catcher, AND with DePaula pitching so poorly, it seems quite possible to me that DePaula could be the next guy sent down, as soon as Mauer gives the go ahead.
4.) Welcome back, Jason Bartlett! I, for one, missed you! It was nice to see him get a solid single in his first at-bat -- and his range looked solid, as he moved well to his left to knock down a well-hit ball that looked to be heading into Torii's front yard. He didn't ultimately get the out, but it was still a nice play, and bodes well for his return to the regular lineup, hopefully as soon as tomorrow. Unfortunately, he couldn't extend the game in the bottom of the 13th -- but it was still nice to see him again.
5.) Michael Cuddyer had a huge night, and it's no coincidence that when he started to hit again after a bit of a slump early in the month, the Twins have started to win some ballgames. It's just not possible to win ballgames if Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter have to do everything. In the last 10 days, Hunter and Morneau have kept hitting, but they've been joined by Michael Cuddyer, Luis Castillo, and Mike Redmond -- and that has resulted in the Twins winning games and playing better baseball overall.
6.) Lew Ford. 0-for-6. Batting average of .189. Jason Kubel. 0-for-6. Batting average of .243. Of the two, I'd go with Kubel every time. Rondell -- please, please, please get better soon. (And if that isn't a sign of desperation, I don't know what is . . . )
7.) A win would have been nice, but the 5-run comeback was huge for the Twins even though the end result was a disappointment -- it proved to these guys that they still have what it takes to make a big comeback, and once again should demonstrate to fans that it ain't over 'til it's over. And don't blame Matt Guerrier too much -- he's been so good this year, that one run allowed on a night when he clearly didn't have his best stuff isn't a deadly sin.
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