Twins struggle as Manny gets suspended

mYjjFqsJOn a night where there were over 36,000 empty seats in Baltimore the Twins lost their third straight road game.  A night after the Twins lost 4-1 to the Orioles on a game that was called after five innings due to rain.  Glen Perkins was on the mound for the Twins tonight and didn’t get enough run support to help him out.  He gave up four runs through seven innings.  Perkins would not be tagged with the loss though as the Twins were able to come up with two runs in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game.  The Twins offence could not muster anything after the seventh though.  Jose Mijares entered the game in the eighth inning and surrendered his first run of the season.  The game ended on that score of 5-4 in favor of the Orioles. 

The Twins also made other news earlier this week.  The Twins sent down second baseman Alexi Cassila to AAA Rochester and called up infielder Matt Tolbert.  Cassila had been hitting below .200 all season and had the most errors on the team.  Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the last straw was when he did not hustle down the first base line on a infield ground ball.  Gardenhire said that he carried the bat with him and did not hustle, which is not acceptable.  Matt Tolbert made the Twins opening day roster last year and played through the first half of the season.  He then tore some ligaments in his hand which would sideline him the remainder of the year.   Tolbert had been hitting .260 in Rochester and scouts say that he was ready for the return to the big league club.

MannyRamirezThe Twins game was overshadowed by the news that broke earlier today.  News broke this morning that Las Angeles Dodgers star Manny Ramirez will be suspended 50 games for testing positive for and illegal banned substnace.  Ramirez told reporters in a news conference that he was given the medication by his doctor.  Ramirez wen in to have an injury looked at and he asked the doctor if this medication was a legal substance, and the doctor said that it was.  Ramirez then woke up today and found out that he had failed a drug test and that he would be suspended 50 games.


Tonights the Night

mauerTonight is the night that Minnesota Twins fans have been waiting for.  Joe Mauer will be making his season debut at the Metrodome tonight.  Mauer has been recovering from a back injury that has kept him down in Florida for an extended Spring Training until he felt he was ready to go.  Mauer’s return comes at a time when his teammates are playing better baseball.  After a slow start the Twins have brought themselves back to the .500 mark with an 11-11 record.  The Twins are right in the middle of a very tightly contested American League Central race.  Four of the five teams have 11 wins and are only separated by a half game of each other.  After last week’s meltdown in Boston, where they got swept in a double header, it looked as though they were going to continue their struggles.  Once the Twins got to Cleveland they left their struggles on the airplane.  The Twins won two of three games against the Indians and played much better in all facets of the game.  They continued to play well when they came back home as well.  The Twins went on to win two of three games against the defending American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays at the Metrodome. 

Mauer returns to the lineup as the Twins begin a pivotal early season series with the Kansas City Royals.  The Royals are in first place in the American Leaue Central and appear to ready for the tight division race.  Tonight the Twins will send Kevin Slowey to the mound.  Slowey is 3-0 on the season, with an impressive eight inning performance last week against Cleveland.  The Royals will counter with a former Twin.  Sidney Posnon will be on the mound for Kasas City.  Ponson was with the Twins three years agoa where he did not fare to well.  Ponson was trying to rejuvenate his career.  He was a former number one pitcher for the Baltimre Orioles.  Ponson has done about as well with Kansas city as he did with the Twins.  He is 0-3 so far on the season.  The Twins will be luck in this series because they will not have to face early Cy Young favorite Zach Greinke.  Up until last night, Greinke had not allowed a run in his first three starts.  However, they will have to face Ryan Banister tomorrow night.  Banister is 2-0 on the season with an ERA under one.  If the Royals want to contend in the division this year, these are the series they have to do well in.


The Twins early season struggles continue


83046366CC025_Minnesota_TwiThe Minnesota Twins continued to struggle at the plate against the Blue Jays. The loss tonight gave the Toronto Blue Jays the series win at a score of three games to one. On paper the game appeared to be a pitchers duel as Toronto sent their ace Roy Halliday to the mound, and the Twins countered with Francisco Liriano. Early on the game was as good as advertised. Liriano left the game after six innings, after throwing over 100 pitches, trailing 2-1. That is when the Twins would continue to struggle. Enter the 7th inning Matt Guerrier entered the game with an earned run average of 0. That would change tonight. Guerrier would get the first two outs of the 7th and appeared to continue his good pitching. Guerrier gave up a home run to Marco Scutero, fallowed by six more runs in the inning. After taking a 2-1 lead into the 7th, the Blue Jays would end the inning leading 9-1. The Twins would go through three different pitchers in the 7th inning alone. A 9th inning home run by Michael Cuddyer would make the final score in this four game series 9-2. The loan bright spot of this four game series was the, pitching performance of Glenn Perkins on Tuesday night. Perkins fallowed up his first start of the, where he gave up just one run over seven innings, by giving up only two runs over eight innings. Perkins would get his first victory of the season, improving his record to 1-0. The Twins now enter a weekend series with the Las Angeles Angels with a record of 4-7. Torri Hunter will be welcomed back to the Metrodome, where he has spent the majority of his career. The Angels are not off to the best start either. They will enter the series against the Twins with a 3-6 record, and in last place in the American League West. The Twins will send Nick Blackburn to the mound, as he hopes to avenge his first two starts, where he gave up seven runs over 11 innings. The Angles are trying to put the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart behind them as they head on the road. They will send the young Dustin Mosley to the mound, as he is 1-0 on the year. As the Twins head into the weekend of this three game series they will send Kevin Slowey to the mound on Saturday, and Glen Perkins on Sunday.


Twins Bats go cold in Chicago


This last weekend in Chicago, the Twins bats were about as cold as the temperature.  The Twins started a 3 game series on Friday night at US Cellular field, the same place where they ended the season last year.  When Justin Mournau was asked by a reporter after the game if there was a bitter feeling coming back, he responded by saying “It definitely doesn’t feel good.”  The Twins ended the season last year in a one game playoff with the White Sox 1-0.  The games this weekend were not as low scoring.  On Friday night the Twins bats exploded.  They put up 12 runs in the game.  In the 6th inning alone they batted through the whole order and put up nine runs.  R.A. Dickey got the win for the Twins as he tossed his knuckleball for 5 innings giving up 4 runs.  The Twins hoped to continue their hot hitting throughout the whole weekend, but that would not happen.  In a national TV game on Saturday they must have left their bats at the hotel.  In a pitching matchup featuring former ace Bartolo Colon for the White Sox, and future ace Francisco Liriano for the Twins.  On this day it appeared that the past ace would have the better hand.   Liriano seemed to be in control until the 5th inning.  In that inning he walked in two runs when the bases were loaded.  In all he gave up 5 runs in the 5th inning which lead to an early departure.  The Twins offence did not do anything to help Liriano thought either.  They could not muster any runs at all off of the former ace Colon.  The final score was White Sox 8 Twins 0.  So in the deciding game of the series yesterday the Twins sent Nick Blackburn to the mound.  Blackburn was the pitcher who pitched so brilliantly in that one game playoff, only to be out-dueled by Gavin Floyd.  The Twins got the early lead with a home run by Delmon Young in the 2nd inning.  Blackburn seemed to be on cruise control until the 5th inning when he gave up his first run.  Through six innings Blackburn finished the day only allowing three runs.  Down 3-1 he gave his team a chance to make a comeback.  Through the final three inning the bullpen could not hold the White Sox to the three runs they had, and the Twins offense could not get anything going off Mark Buehrle and the White Sox bullpen.  The final score ended up being White Sox 6 and the Twins 1. 

After the Twins split the four game opening series with the Seattle Mariners, and lost two of three to the White Sox their season record now stands at 3-4.  There has not been a team in the American League Central that has gotten off to a fast start so the Twins are in fine shape heading in to the rest of the season.  If they want to keep it that way they are going to have to start hitting better, and they know that. 


Baker to the DL as Liriano steps in.


The Twins have announced that opening day starter Scott Baker has been put on the disabled list.  Baker has suffered some stiffness in his throwing shoulder, and the Twins don’t want to take any chances.  Baker’s ERA had been struggling over Spring Training, which the stiff shoulder might explain for.  Taking Baker’s spot on the mound for opening day will be Fransisco Liriano.  Liriano has had a good spring and is hoping to continue his early success throughout the whole season.  Many people consider Liriano to have the most talent on the pitching staff, so this will give him an opportunity to prove that. 

            In other news The Twins have announced that Jose Morales has beat out Drew Butera for the backup catcher spot heading into the season.  Joe Mauer has been put on the disabled list, which was expected, so Morales will be backing up Mike Redmond.  Morales was very emotional about the promotion.  I think about it now and I could start crying again,” he told reporters after the new broke.  Morales was called up to the major league club in 2007 towards the end of the season.  In a game against the Chicago White Sox he had gone 3-3 at the plate before suffering a ankle injury that would end the season and force him to go through a vigorous rehab program. 

            As opening day approaches less than 4 days away, the Twins lineup appears to in good shape.  The lineup that they send out there against the Seattle Mariners will look like this.  Denard Span will lead off playing one of the outfield positions.  Alexi Casilla will bat second and play second.  Jason Kubel will bat third and DH.  Justin Mornaue will bat cleanup and play first base.  Michael Cuddyer will bat fifth and play either left or right field.  Sixth could be Delmon young playing whatever Cuddyer does not play.  Batting seventh will be Joe Crede playing third base.  Hitting eighth will be Mike Redmond behind the plate.  Rounding out the lineup will be Nick Punto playing short stop.  Carlos Gomez could also be here if he gets the nod in center.  The outfield positions have not been finalized so that is why I have a couple different options.  Either way they look to be in good shape.


The season opener looms, as the classic ends.


The Twins have been playing well this spring and it gives them confidence heading into the season.  Opening day is less than two weeks away and the roster is falling into place.  One key part that will not be in the lineup-opening day will be catcher Joe Mauer.  The reigning AL batting champ will be out for an a few weeks to start the season with an ailing back injury that has plagued him all spring.  While Mauer is sidelined veteran backup Mike Redmond will be behind the plate.  Redmond has had enough experience to handle the starting role. 


There have been some good performances throughout the spring by the Twins.  Leading the way for the regular players has been Alexi Cassila and Jason Kubel.  Both of these players are hitting over .340 throughout the spring.  On the pitching mound all five of the projected starters have an era of fewer than 3.00.  Leading the way has been Kevin Slowey.  He has an era of fewer then 2.00 runs per game.  The Twins appear to be in good shape heading into the season opener.  With the pitchers performing well and the offence being as balanced as any team in the league, they seem ready to make a run at another central division title. 


This past week the World Baseball Classic concluded its second tournament.  Taking the crown again was team Japan.  Japan defeated team Korea 5-3 in 10 innings in the championship game.  This was the third time in the tournament that the two teams had played, Korea winning the first two meetings.   Team Japan defeated team USA in the semi-finals by a score of 9-4.  Many thought that this team USA was the team that could have brought home the gold.  One bit of criticism that has been given to this team USA was that they did not play with as much passion as the other countries.   The media feels that the players of team USA were distracted by the upcoming season and trying to stay healthy.  Winning the WBC would just have been a bonus.  The players on team USA deny this.  Players such as Mets third baseman David Wright say that they were just as excited as the other teams.  We will have to see in four years if the classic stays the way it is or does it change to make the best players playing. 


Liriano Perfect?


The Minnesota Twins continued their winning ways of spring training on Sunday by defeating the Baltimore Orioles 2-0.  The win was not what left everybody talking though.  Twins ace Fransisco Liriano was on the mound and put on a show that was worth the price of admission.  Liriano worked four innings and did not allow a base runner.  That’s right he was perfect.  The best part was, after Liriano worked his four perfect innings the bullpen did not let up.  Joe Nathan and Phillip Humber fallowed Liriano with two more perfect innings.  So through six innings the Twins had not given up a hit or even a base runner.  The Twins used six pitchers on the day, and only the last minor league prospect was charged with giving up a hit.  So the Twins six pitchers on the day gave up only one hit.  Not a bad outing for the hurlers.  A two-run homerun by Carlos Gomez was all the offence that the Twins needed. 

Twins prospect Tom Stuifbergen and his Netherlands World Baseball Classic team gave us the most unexpected upset of the tournament.  The Netherlands team defeated the high powered Dominican Republic team that consisted of 29 major leaguers.  The Netherlands have two big leaguers.  Not only did they upset them once, but they did it twice.  So that loss eliminates the Dominican Republic from the tournament.  Right now this upset will go down as the biggest in the history of the classic, but there are more games to be played.  With this win the Netherlands will now advance the second round of the classic, which will be played in Miami.  They play Puerto Rico to decide who wins the pool.  As far as the Dominican, they will now go and rejoin their respective teams in Spring Training and watch the rest of the classic on TV like the rest of us.