Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Nightly Notes: Game #36

Well, that was a rollercoaster! The exciting thing about this series with the Red Sox is that the Twins have demonstrated that they can hang with Boston -- at least in the short term, and at home -- and that's tremendously important. These games haven't been pretty, but they sure have been interesting. Here are some notes:

1.) Nick Blackburn was awfully hot and cold tonight -- he gave up 4 runs on 9 hits and a walk in six innings work, but at times looked over-powering, such as when he struck out Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell back-to-back to end the first inning after getting himself in a bit of trouble. That's the mark of a young pitcher who hasn't quite found his way, I think. The important thing to remember is that the Red Sox offense is extremely good, and holding them to 4 runs is nothing to sneeze at. I'm sure Blackburn wasn't happy with his performance when he left the game, but I'll take it.

2.) Of course, the bullpen nearly coughed up the Twins lead thanks to rocky performances by Matt Guerrier and Joe Nathan. On the plus side, Dennys Reyes retained his 0.00 ERA, and Joe Nathan gutted out his save. That toss to third to nail J.D. Drew after Coco Crisp knocked the ball back up the box showed that Nathan had his mind in the right place. Of course, we aren't worried about Nathan -- he's been excellent all season, and this was an aberration. The Twins need Guerrier to step up in the absence of Pat Neshek. Brian Bass had an eighth inning performance yesterday that left a bit to be desired. Jesse Crain and Juan Rincon haven't yet stepped up. I have faith in this group, but someone is going to have to step up!

3.) Craig Monroe certainly threw down the gauntlet tonight in his quest for more playing time, going 2-for-4 with a couple of homers and 4 RBI's. Now, the homerun off of Wakefield was not really a typical major league homerun -- he basically destroyed a batting practice fastball, which you don't see that often -- but a 2 homerun game is still impressive. Monroe's average is now sitting at .284, while one-time phenom Jason Kubel is hitting .222 and looking completely overmatched. What to do in this situation? I still think Kubel has potential, but I've thought that for a long time and he hasn't panned out. He sort of reminds me of David Ortiz -- a player who the team kept thinking would bust out, and who never did with the Twins. Of course, we all know what happened next, and I hope something similar doesn't happen to Kubel! Nonetheless, the way Monroe is playing it seems pretty clear that he should be getting the bulk of the playing time right now.

4.) Mike Lamb has quietly raised his batting average to .238 while Adam Everett is hitting .200. Neither of those averages will blow anyone away, but they're heading in the right direction, at least. Also, how much fun is it to see a guy like Everett go deep? I always love it when tiny middle infielders uncork one.

5.) Could we see Alexi Casilla tomorrow? I don't know how Brendan Harris is feeling, but if he's not yet 100% I think we could see Alexi at second. It should be noted, however, that Twins officials have suggested several times that Casilla was more a shortstop than a second baseman, so it might be a mixed message to have him start at 2B. We'll see over the next couple of weeks. I was somewhat critical of the decision to call him up, but that doesn't mean I'm not excited to see how he performs on his callup.

6.) Just a quick blog update -- believe it or not, I should actually get a chance to finish the Relief Pitcher Organizational Rankings post sometime this week. I have done nothing on this in about two months, so I had to start from scratch putting together my materials and compiling my rankings. That work has once again begun in earnest, and I expect to be putting the post together a little at a time starting tomorrow or Tuesday.

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