Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Nightly Notes: Game #111

A few months ago, it seemed virtually impossible that the Twins would be battling for first place in August. Unlikely or not, that's exactly what we've been seeing for the past few weeks -- and now the Twins find themselves all alone in first, displacing the White Sox after a convincing win over the Indians and a Kansasy City blowout of the ChiSox. Here are a few short notes:

1.) It sure looked an awful lot like Francisco Liriano still has some dominant stuff. In his six innings of work, he struck out 5 and allowed just 3 hits, although he also walked 3 batters. If Liriano can figure out how to avoid throwing so many balls, I don't see any reason why he can't once again become a dominant force. I was extremely encouraged at how deceptive many of his sliders appeared to be. If I had to guess (and since I'm not a pitching coach or even remotely close to an expert, that's all it is), I would say that the biggest reason for all the balls was partly mechanical and partly mental -- I'd guess that he just wasn't concentrating on perfectly repeating his motion with each pitch, leading him to be a bit wild. Part of that could be due to the fact that he was making his return to the big leagues. In the end, it doesn't matter -- Liriano did exactly what he needed to do today, and gave we fans a legitimate reason to dream about the post-season.

2.) Over the next week, the Twins play 3 games in Seattle and 3 in Kansas City. While it's always tough to play well on the road, the Twins need to take advantage of these series to try to put some distance on the White Sox. Chicago is at home with a 3 game series against the Tigers and 4 against the Red Sox. Even with the road/home difference, it's a far easier week for the Twins. Let's hope they take care of business.

3.) Mike Lamb looked a little rough at 1B a couple of times, but the swipe tag (I think it was in the 4th, but I could be misremembering) that he made at the end of an inning was nicely done. Still, it makes you appreciate Justin Morneau's glove -- and five years ago, who would have thought that we'd be saying that about Morneau? It's another reason to appreciate the big guy; he's worked hard to make himself a very good defensive player.

4.) Any guesses on the odds that the Twins will make it a clean sweep by getting rid of Adam Everett and Mike Lamb before the end of the season? I'm going to say no more than 5%, because I don't think the club will cut Lamb -- but then again, I didn't think they'd cut Hernandez either so my psychic powers are apparently a bit out of whack.

5.) Just an update on the "First Half Grades" posts. The last week of moving made it impossible to get anything else done with that series, and now there's less than a month left in the minor league season. As a result, I'm going to hold off to the season's done and just cover that material in a season-in-review type fashion. My apologies to anyone who was waiting for those posts.

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3 Comments:

  • At Sun Aug 03, 04:52:00 PM , Anonymous toby said...

    It was pretty clear to me Liriano walked three because the ballclub now lacks a Veteran Presence (who also happens to Eat Innings [at a rate virtually indistinguishable from the Young Pitchers]) on the bench and therefore is missing the requisite amount of magic baseball faerie dust needed for a Young Pitcher like Liriano to truly succeed.

    Seriously, I thought the ump was calling a pretty tight zone and Liriano seemed nervous. Even so, he was obviously two blown defensive plays from being able to go into the 7th at around 80 pitches. The sloppy fielding actually felt a little like watching him get "shelled" at Triple A back in the end of June (routine flyballs become triples). As much as I like Brendan Harris (and I do), he has no business at shortstop and seems to create at least a "hit" a game playing there. There are seeing eye singles and then there are "you have no range at shortstop" singles. Liriano was inducing groundballs and striking people out and that's a big chunk of what a pitcher can do to give his team a chance.

    BTW, if you missed it, there was an epic discussion featuring TT, me, Nick and a few others re: Livan and Brian Bass over at Nick's blog (twinsfanatnicks.blogspot.com) last week.

     
  • At Sun Aug 03, 05:48:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Thanks for the h/t about the Hernandez/Bass discussion. Definitely made for some entertaining reading.

    Incidentally, I completely agree with you that with some better fielding behind him (and maybe some more generous umping) would have gone 7-8 innings. Encouraging performance, all in all. Can't wait to see how the next two months play out.

     
  • At Mon Aug 04, 04:09:00 PM , Blogger Jeremy said...

    Josh-

    I just saw on the BA website, and then found it in a Strib artible, that the Twins signed 30th round pick RHP Michael Tonkin. He was rated as the #47 senior on Rivals and was committed to USC. I didn't think was a signing the Twins would make... but it looks like he's alright (with a messed up delivery).

    I guess it doesn't hurt that Jason Kubel married his sister.

    You can never have enough young, good arms!

     

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