Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Nightly Notes: Game #93

What a game -- it ended with a negative result for the Twins, but there was at least one major positive for the Twins. Here are tonight's notes:

1.) The positive I was referring to before: obviously it was Matt Garza. In his second big league start of the year, Garza went 7 innings and gave up just 3 hits and a walk. The one run he allowed was unearned, keeping intact his 0.00 ERA. He struck out three batters. Most impressive to me, however, is the fact that Garza is pitching right now, not just tossing fastballs to the plate. It looked effortless for a lot of the night. The Twins have had excellent starts from each of the guys in their rotation so far in the second half, and should that continue the Twins will win a lot of ballgames. Tonight, Garza demonstrated the phenomenal talent that he possesses, and it's a shame that the offense did absolutely nothing for him. Incidentally, for the first time tonight I felt that Garza put it all together and showed flashes of becoming an ace in the future.

2.) This is also Garza related, but I felt that it deserved its own note. Garza has pitched 15 innings and been nearly flawless so far since being recalled from Rochester, so inevitably there will be those out there who say he should never have been in Rochester to begin with. There are basically two possibilities -- either Garza benefited from his time in the minors or he didn't. First, lets just keep in mind that two starts doesn't prove anything, really -- Ramon Ortiz had some great starts in April, after all. But let's just assume for now (for the sake of this post) that Garza has indeed turned a corner and is going to be a solid major leaguer from now until he retires. I personally think that his time in the minor leagues was important to his development, and that had he started the season at the big leagues, he might never have had a breakthrough. Others undoubtedly see it differently, and believe that Garza would have been successful in the bigs no matter where he started the season. There's no way to prove this one way or the other, but its an interesting question to think about. Either way, he's undoubtedly strung together a pretty impressive start to his 2007 season.

3.) Jason Bartlett was undoubtedly the goat tonight -- his error led to the game-winning run for the Tigers, and he didn't much of anything at the plate. It happens to everybody, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. He needs to shrug it off, because it wasn't all his fault, after all -- there were 8 other players on the team who should have picked him up, but it didn't happen. We're drawn to Bartlett because we want a scapegoat, but blaming him is just the easy way out.

4.) Joe Mauer struck out looking in the Bottom of the 6th with runners at 1st and 2nd and 1 out. Strikeouts are a part of the game, but this one was not a good strikeout, by any means. Robertson threw a beautiful pitch low and away that was perfectly placed. Mauer watched it go by him, and was rung up by home plate umpire James Hoye. The problem here might be that Mauer has such a good eye at the plate that he trusts it too much. That pitch looked like it may very well have been outside (I can't believe I'm saying this, but ESPN's K-Zone might have come in handy there). Even if Mauer was right, however, he made the wrong decision in not swinging at that pitch, because it was much, much too close for comfort. Wade Boggs would have flicked his wrists and fouled that ball off down the left field line, forcing the pitcher to try something else to get the out -- that's what great hitters do. Joe Mauer is a great hitter, but this is one skill that he either hasn't yet developed or that he is for some reason hesitant to use. The umpires aren't perfect, Joe -- time to start fouling pitches like that off instead of watching them go by.

5.) The Twins need to pull off wins the next two games, or they'll be in for a giant let-down after the sweep of the A's. With Johan Santana on the mound tomorrow, they have a great chance -- but I'm a little worried by the Bonderman/Baker match-up on Thursday.



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