Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #67

I didn't have a chance to write anything about last night's game, but I'm back today. After a heart-pounding finish, I think I've recovered enough to blog. Here are tonight's notes:

1.) At times today, Kevin Slowey looked really, really good. In fact, until the 5th innings, I was thinking I was going to get to write up a "he's arrived" column documenting the first really solid Major League start for the rookie. Even after Corey Hart and J.J. Hardy went deep back-to-back in the 5th, I thought that there was a chance that things would work out for Slowey -- after all, solo homers aren't the worst things in the world. Then, of course, came the 2-run shot from Tony Graffanino (Tony Graffanino!?!) in the 6th that marked the end of the line for Slowey. When he left, the Twins had a 9-4 lead, and it looked like, if nothing else, he was going to pick up his 3rd straight win. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.

2.) Matt Guerrier came in first out of the bullpen, and it looked like we were in store for another "ho-hum, nicely done" performance from the 'pen after he went 1.2 innings perfect innings and picked up 3 K's. His ERA has now shrunk to 1.52 on the season, and it's quite clear that he's been hugely important for the Twins this year. Hard to believe that a couple of years ago, he was an afterthought who the Twins almost didn't keep around when he was out of options. After Guerrier finished up the 7th, however, things got rough. Juan Rincon gave up 3 runs on 3 hits, and Joe Nathan blew his second save of the year (but picked up the win!) after he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits in the 9th. Nathan's ERA jumped all the way to 2.45 from 1.91 in the process. Of course, it wasn't entirely Nathan's fault . . .

3.) I'm talking, of course, about Lew Ford's "whoops" moment that resulted in, of all things, a Prince Fielder inside-the-park homerun. I never thought, by the way, that those words would be printed. Nevertheless, other than that moment Ford had a reasonably good day. He was called into service after Torii Hunter was hit on the hand by a Jeff Suppan fastball, and proceeded to have a Torii Hunter-like 2-for-3 day with 4 RBI's and 1 run scored. In the process, he raised his average to a slightly-more-acceptable .246 for the season. In fact, had he not made that unfortunate non-error, I would have called today a complete win for Lew.

4.) Speaking of Torii -- sounds like he's going to be fine. If he had needed to miss time, it would have been very, very interesting to see if the Twins would have called up Denard Span (despite his horrible AAA numbers) just to see what happened. I doubt it -- the more likely call-up would have been Garrett Jones, with Ford and Jason Tyner playing in CF everyday -- but I think the temptation to see how Span responded to the Major League environment would have been present.

5.) As for guys who had good days at the plate after scuffling a bit, how about Jeff Cirillo (3-for-4 to raise his season average to .233), Joe Mauer (2-for-4 with 3 runs scored), and Justin Morneau (2-2, 3 RBI's, 3 runs scored, 2 walks, and that gorgeous walkoff homerun). Great stuff!

6.) The Twins will have Carlos Silva, Johan Santana, and Scott Baker pitch during the Mets series (and that start will be absolutely crucial for Baker, who needs to do well or risk being banished back to Rochester), and then have an off-day on Thursday. They're going to follow that up with Boof Bonser, Silva, and Santana against the Marlins -- meaning that Kevin Slowey is going to get an extended break of either 6 or 7 days off between starts. What could be really interesting is what the Twins do with Baker's slot if they decide to call up Matt Garza. This will merit significant attention over the next few days -- including watching how Garza does in his next start, which should come on the 21st -- the day after Baker's next start.



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