Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Monday, May 12, 2008

Nightly Notes: Game #37

Another day, another win. With the White Sox playing the Angels tonight, there's a good chance that the Twins will go into action tomorrow with a 1.5 game lead in the AL Central. Raise your hand if you anticipated this! Here are some notes:

1.) How exactly do the Twins keep winning games? The starting third baseman is hitting .231 and the starting shortstop is hitting .204. Expected contributors like Jason Kubel and Delmon Young have underperformed (although my apologies for lumping Young in with Kubel -- his failings this year have been much less than Kubel's). The bullpen has largely not been the dominant force it was expected to be (with the big exceptions of Joe Nathan and Dennys Reyes). The first franchise lefty was traded in the off-season, and the heir apparent is back in Rochester getting his head screwed on straight. By all accounts, the Twins simply should not be in first place -- and yet they are. And ya know what? Suddenly, I'm starting to say "bring on the Indians, Tigers, and White Sox." At the beginning of the season, I thought the Twins were at best the third best team in the division. Now, I think they've got a chance to do something special. Unbelievable.

2.) I don't know what kind of magic Rick Anderson worked on Livan Hernandez after that first inning, but it worked pretty darned well. Hernandez still ended up allowing 10 hits and a walk in 6 innings (far too close to a 2.00 WHIP for comfort), but he prevented those batters from scoring with the exception of the Manny homerun. He's now performed well enough, for long enough, to shed any comparisons with Ramon Ortiz. Bill Smith -- I'm sorry.

3.) Juan Rincon's 2 inning performance today was huge -- with Pat Neshek out of action, the Twins need people to step up. Rincon now has a 3.60 ERA and will almost certainly start to see some meaningful game action. Maybe, just maybe, he'll pull it off and re-establish himself as a legitimate option in close situations.

4.) There's been a lot of speculation of late that Danny Graves could find himself in a Twins uniform at some point in the not-so distant future. La Velle Neal touted the possibility this afternoon, noting that Graves was being given a spot start for the Red Wings tonight. Graves then proceeded to go 4.0 innings, allowing just 2 hits and striking out a couple of batters. So is all of this talk crazy? Well, maybe not -- with Neshek out for the year and the Twins having a hole in the 'pen (currently being filled by Bobby Korecky), there seems to be a natural spot for Graves. In fact, I think something like this could actually happen sooner rather than later -- the Twins will probably continue to monitor Graves' progress before they make a move, but if he goes out and puts together a few decent performances I could easily see them pulling the trigger and putting him in Korecky's place.

5.) Delmon Young is probably fine after rolling his ankle tonight, but when he left the game I started thinking about what the Twins would do if he went on the DL. It wasn't a very long internal discussion -- Denard Span would almost certainly get the call. I briefly considered the possibility that the Twins would go with Darnell McDonald, who is hitting .330 for the Red Wings, but with Span also playing well and already being on the 40-man roster, it seems clear they would just go with Span again in the event of another injury.

6.) The next series against the Blue Jays will be interesting because the Blue Jays haven't been playing particularly well of late. After beating up on the AL East leading Red Sox, the Twins now get the East bottom feeders (albeit bottom feeders with awfully good pitching). That's the sort of thing that the baseball gods tend to notice -- while I hope the Twins keep up their solid play, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the Jays came away with a sweep. And no, of course I don't really believe in the baseball gods. Really . . .



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