Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nightly Notes: Game #127

Wow -- what a way to start off the mammoth road trip! Both teams had a chance to get beyond 1 run over the course of the game, but it took extra innings to get this thing decided. Since I need to work in the morning, I'm going to post this column with the game still going in the 10th inning. Hopefully, the Twins can pull it out and get off to a winning start on the trip. Here are some notes:

1.) How fun was it to see a fast paced pitcher's duel? This had the feel of an October baseball game, what with Lackey and Baker twirling gems and getting out of the few tough stretches unscathed. I know some people love watching offense, but give me a well pitched ballgame like this any day -- the tension was there from the start. I love it! Hopefully, the rest of the games against the Angels will be similar.

2.) How about Baker! He's clearly developed into the Twins ace, and today he was spinning some unbelievable curves while spotting pitches effectively. He walked a couple batters, which is somewhat uncharacteristic -- but he also only gave up 4 hits so he had a great WHIP. His 6 K's were also welcome. The only run he allowed, of course, was the Teixeira homer, but I can't blame him for giving up that homer. Tex looked like he reached out and GOT that one, and used his raw power to drive the ball. The pitch maybe could have been put a bit more out of reach, but it didn't strike me as a true mistake pitch. Either way, one run over 8 innings against the best team in baseball is fantastic.

3.) Carlos Gomez was great today against John Lackey. I was especially impressed by his second at-bat, when he held off from swinging at a ball that he couldn't have done anything with before getting the game-tying single. There was nothing brilliant in Gomez's performance tonight, but it was a comfortingly solid outing from a guy who the team needs to get consistent performances out of.

4.) A couple of days ago I commented negatively on Delmon Young's defense in a game when I felt that he looked bad. Tonight, I have to give credit where credit is due -- on Chone Figgins' 3rd inning hit down the left field line, Young took the right angle and correctly read the ball off the wall. That, coupled with the respect the Angels obviously have for his cannon of an arm, resulted in Figgins being held to a single. Had he taken the wrong angle, or if he didn't have that gun, Figgins would have been on second. Maybe this explains why I'm disappointed when he takes what seems to me to be the wrong angle -- it's because he's so effective when he does the job the right way. Hopefully he keeps this kind of thing up, because if he can take bases away from hitters, it could dramatically help the Twins.

5.) Bringing Matt Guerrier in to pitch the ninth was a somewhat gutsy move for Ron Gardenhire. Guerrier, of course, has been really bad for the month of August -- but if the Twins are going to have success in the last 40 days of the season, they need him to be successful. For all intents and purposes, Guerrier is still the setup man. I recognize that it's easy for me to say that it was the right move after the fact, since he succeeded -- but I think I would have said the same thing regardless, and if you had asked me in the 8th who I wanted to pitch the 9th, Guerrier would have been the answer. Especially now that the Twins have only 6 guys in the bullpen, they just can't afford to ignore him.

6.) Do you realize that the Blue Jays are just a game behind the Yankees after clobbering the bombers 14-3 tonight? Think about that -- the Yankees could find themselves in fourth place in a couple of days. I'm thrilled, of course -- I desperately want the Yankees post-season streak to end -- but I'm also a little stunned.

7.) It's not often that Justin Morneau plays the role of goat, but he left 7 men on, including grounding into a double play with the bases loaded in the 8th and striking out looking with 2 on in the 10th. He's still the biggest run producer on the team, and I'll take him at the plate in a clutch situation any day, but today wasn't his day.

8.) I was also thrilled to see Alexi Casilla back, and he made a few nice plays in the field. Aside from his first inning single, though, his offense was a bit problematic. As a matter of fact, a few times tonight he looked a little, dare I say, Gomez-like in his impatience at the plate. I attribute it to a bit of over-excitedness on his first day back. And no, I'm not saying that I wish Nick Punto was still hitting in the 2 spot.

9.) One week to the start of the college football season. Next Thursday night brings us Stanford-Oregon State and North Carolina State-South Carolina. Those aren't exactly marquee matchups, but I guarantee you I'll be watching!



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