Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nightly Notes: Game #151

Time's running out! The Twins have just 11 games left on the schedule, which comes out to three series and a game. Unbelievable how time flies, isn't it? With the White Sox winning tonight, this game was crucial for the Twins -- which makes it all the more frustrating that they came up short in the end. A 2.5 game deficit now faces the Twins heading into tomorrow's action. It's not looking good, but hope remains alive. Here are some notes:

1.) I'm not going to belabor the point -- Francisco Liriano was awful today. I was multitasking for the most of the evening, so I didn't get a chance to put together an armchair (and likely wrong!) diagnosis. The bottom line is that this was either a transient issue that Liriano will recover from for his last few starts, or the Twins are in pretty big trouble. As young as he is, he needs to be the dominant guy in this rotation, the one who the Twins can count on for a pick-me-up when things haven't been going well. Obviously, he failed at that tonight.

2.) I can't blame Gardy too much for how he used his bullpen tonight, especially with bringing in Bonser for 3.1 innings when Liriano failed to put it together. After all, Bonser pitched great (well, ok, 6 baserunners in 3.1 innings isn't great, but for Bonser any scoreless performances are close enough). The one big issue, though, was with bringing Eddie Guardado in to pitch the 8th inning. There are at least two superior options. First, Dennys Reyes has been far better than Eddie Guardado, and not just recently -- at this point in their respective careers, Reyes is a better bet. Granted, he doesn't often go a full inning -- but if you need to throw one of the two on the mound for an inning of work, Reyes is the guy who is most likely to be able to get through that inning without allowing a run. The second option would have been going directly to Joe Nathan (despite his recent struggles, including what happened tonight). I usually don't like using the closer for two innings, but he is by far the best option in the bullpen, and the Twins held a one run lead in a game that they had no right to be in, where a huge comeback had been key. Winning this game 9-8 would have been huge psychologically. I would not have complained if Nathan had been brought in to start the 8th tonight.

3.) It was strange not seeing Alexi Casilla in the lineup, but Matt Tolbert certainly played well. If there was a way to give Tolbert Punto's defensive skills, the hybrid would make a nifty little player, eh?

4.) Going back to Eddie Guardado for a second -- when you don't have a good fastball anymore, it's generally not a good idea to throw a high fastball. I bet Grady Sizemore was awfully excited to see that coming his way. Elevation is your enemy, Eddie. Unless you go over a guy's head, that is.

5.) That Brewers managerial change doesn't seem to have had much effect so far, as the Brew Crew lost 5-4 to the Cubs tonight. The good news for Milwaukee -- the Wild Card race looks to be a race to the bottom against the Mets. Who can lose the fewest! How exciting will that be!?! Oh yeah . . . not very. I'll be rooting for the Brewers, though. I think it would be just a little bit satisfying if the Mets and Johan didn't make the playoffs (especially if the Twins did!).

6.) I should at least mention that I'm proud of the Twins players for not quiting when they got down so far so early. Of course, they should keep digging -- they're professionals, after all. Still, it's a positive takeaway from a game that had a lot of negatives, regardless of the end result.



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