Nightly Notes: Game #90
1.) I'm not disappointed with the loss so much as with the way it happened. Yesterday's 1-0 loss, for instance, actually made me giddy -- the Twins hung with the Red Sox, and even though they did virtually nothing offensively, it could be chalked up to a solid performance from Daisuke. The bottom line was that they were right there for the entire game. Tonight, however, the Twins took a 3 run lead into the bottom of the eighth, only to cough up four runs and lose the game. Losing 6-5 to the Red Sox isn't so bad -- but losing 6-5 to a team that you were solidly beating (3 runs is a solid lead in my book) with just two innings to go is bitterly disappointing.
2.) Incidentally, while Matt Guerrier is clearly the player most "at fault" for this loss, and even though the loss is disappointing, I'm not going to call for his head -- or for a re-evaluation of his role as the team's setup man. Look, pitchers will screw up once in awhile, and that's what happened tonight. His previous three appearances in July had all been 0 hit, 0 run affairs, and in 13 appearances in June he allowed runs in only 2 games. When he's bad, he's eminently hittable and the runs pile up. Most of the time, though, he's a very serviceable setup man. Unless he struggles like this consistently, there should be no talk of taking him out of the role.
3.) Incidentally, it's not the end of the world to lose 2-of-3 from the Red Sox in Boston. If the Twins can salvage a game tomorrow, I'll be perfectly happy. After all, good teams should be able to defend their home field, and Boston (as we all know only too well) is a good team. Winning 1 of 3 on the road is "par" in my book.
4.) Not much to say about Nick Blackburn's start other than to mention that, like all of you I'm sure, I continue to be impressed by the poise and skill shown by the club's young starters. Can you imagine what this crew will be like in 2 years or so?
5.) Nick Punto haters seem to have largely gone on hiatus, and for good reason. His at-bat tonight against Papelbon in the 9th was a classic, with Punto taking close pitches for balls and fouling off nasty stuff that was in the zone or too close to take before hitting what should have been a single (and ended up as a double, thanks to some over-exuberant play from Coco Crisp). Punto is now hitting .297, and remains the best defensive player on the team. Do I want him starting at 3B again anytime soon? No -- that experiment failed. Playing regularly up the middle, though? Yes, please. The Twins could have an interesting decision to make on him when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. I'll have more to say on that as the year progresses.
6.) Making contact on a Jonathan Papelbon pitch is assuredly a difficult task. I certainly couldn't do it, and would never claim to be able to do so. Yet a professional baseball player like one Jason Kubel has to do better than he did tonight with the game tying run on third and just one out. My kingdom for a sac fly!
7.) Joe Christensen suggests that there are people within the organization, especially the field staff, who are pushing for Denard Span to stay in the big leagues when Michael Cuddyer is ready to come back. I have to agree -- Span provides another spark in the lineup, and his .315 average (albeit in limited at-bats) suggests that he's capable of holding his own at the big league level. While it would seem to make sense for Craig Monroe to be released in order to make room for Span when Cuddyer returns, it seems like serious consideration should also be given to Mike Lamb. Monroe makes more sense because of the position he plays, but he has more power than Lamb has shown and hits from the right side. On the flip side, the Twins may be hesitant to part ways with a player who is under contract for another year and a half. If it were me, I think I'd release Lamb if another injury or poor play doesn't moot this point -- I think he's redundant right now with the way the roster is built, and I don't see him suddenly turning his performance around and becoming a brilliant player. We'll see how things develop.
Labels: Nightly Notes