Interesting factoid

No AL or NL team made the playoffs in a full season in the wild card era, after starting the season 0-5.

Detroit is threading on thin ice...
(and thanks to Dave E for the correction)

Saturday's game notes and thoughts

  • Watching the KC telecast of the game via MLB.tv. Interesting to see that Mauer moved into the 3 hole. His performance behind Gomez has been exceptional that far...

  • Livan makes his second start for the Twins this year. 1-2-3 inning (12 pitches) with a groundout to the Hernandez (great defensive play on a high chopper) and 2 flyouts to Gomez. Gomez strikes out, Tolbert grounds out to the SS, Mauer strikes out. 1-2-3 inning.

  • Guillen grounds out to Tolbert, Butler stikes out on the slow curve, Gordon singles to right, Oliva forces out they runner Everett to Tolbert. No score, 27 total pitches for Hernandez. Morneau out to the SS, Young grounds out to the 2B, Kubel strikes out. End of 2, no score

  • Gload singles down the middle, Hernandez balks him to second, Gallaspo sends him home with an RBI triple in right center. Gathright sacrifices him home in a play where Young clearly throws Gallaspo out at the plate. Umpire gift run. Out at Tolbert, but 2 runs are in. Monroe walks the count and takes a walk. Lamb flies out on shallow CF on the 1st pitch. Everett strikes out. Gomez takes the first 2 balls and then fouls out behind the plate to the catcher. End of 3, Royals 2-0. Pitch count: Hernandez 38, Meche 44

  • Guillen pops up to Mauer, Butler singles to the left, trying for a double, Young throws him out. Assist for Delmon. Gordon flies out to Gomez with the next pitch. 1-2-3 inning. 45 total pitches for Livan after 4. Tolbert singles through the middle. Mauer takes the first 3 pitches for balls, mount conference for KC, Mauer walks. 1st and 2nd no outs. Meche hangs one, Morneau tatoos it on the upper deck for a 3 run homer. Young grounds out to second. Kubel fouls out to shallow left. Monroe grounds out to the SS. End of 4, Twins 3-2

  • Olivo flies to Gomez in 2 pitches, ground out to Tolbert, ground out to Everett, 1-2-3 inning in 6 pitches, 51 total for Livan. Lamb grounds out to 2B, Everett pops to 2B, Gomez strikes out. After 5, 3-2 Twins

  • Gathright fouls out a bunt to Mauer on the first pitch, 2 pitch ground out to Everett, pop out to Everett, 7 pitch 1-2-3 inning, 58 total for Livan. Tolbert has an infield hit to short. Mauer sacrifices Tolbert to second with a bunt. Morneau doubles Tolbert home to right center. Young grounds out to the pitcher, Morneau to 3rd. Kubel singles to right, Morneau in. Monroe singles, Kubel scores (catcher misses the tag at home), Monroe moves to second. Mahay in to pitch for the Royals. Lamb grounds out to him. End of 6, Twins 6-2. There is enough cushion and he has thrown few pitches so hopefully Livan would have the first complete game of the season.

  • Single to the center, strike out with the slow curve, hit to the right 1st and 3rd one out. Guerrier up in the pen. 2-run double 6-4. Force out to Everett. Out at Tolbert. Long inning for Hernandez, 74 total pitches. Everett grounds out the SS, Gomez has his 3rd K of the game, Tolbert bunts for a hit to the 3rd base side (then changed to an error), Mauer pops up to third. End of inning, Twins 6-4

  • Guerrier in to pitch in a save situation, Punto at 3B. Ground out to Everett, fly out to Gomez, infield single on a high chopper to Tolbert, Reyes up in the pen. Error by Everett, the tying runs on 1st and 2nd. Ground out to Everett. Royals out. Long inning. Yabuta in to pitch for the Royals. Morneau grounds out to first. Delmon singles to right, Kubel grounds into a double play. End of 8, Twins 6-4

  • Nathan in. Ground out to Morneau, K, single through the middle, fly out to Gomez, game over. Nathan's 3rd save of the season. Twins win 6-4. Half a game from the 1st place in the AL Central.

  • A couple season firsts on this game: Morneau's homer & Monroe's hit.

Twins MVP: Morneau

his HR swing:

Suicide Squeeze

AL Central musings

  • Several days ago I listed the team ages of all world series winners since 1980. So far the calculated team age for Detroit is 32.0 for batters and 30.7 for pitchers. If they go ahead and win it all this year, they will be the oldest team that accomplished that since 1980. I am not surprised to see Detroit struggle (I picked them 3rd in AL Central with a .500 record), but I was surprised to see them struggle against KC (which I picked 4th over the White Sox, and now see it challenging Detroit for 3rd.) Offensive slumps are a part of the game, but with Detroit relying on their offense to win cannot afford to have more than one bat slumping at the same time

  • Speaking of offense, the addition of 2 ex-NL teammates to the Twins' lineup gave the Twins' fans a view of a rare but exciting play, the suicide squeeze. Everett's bat was a question mark coming into the season, but he has proven to be a very smart player that can help the team in several ways. Just early season numbers, but so far he has as many RBI (2) as the guy who leads the team in OPS (Kubel) in the same number of at-bats (10). Gomez has been a very positive surprise. I am sure that there is nobody west of the Mississippi who would like to see Span or Pridie over him up here. If he keeps it up (and indications are that he will only get better), by the all star break, a certain number 48 would be forgotten. His bunting the last 2 games has vastly improved and his last 2 bunts for hits can be repeated, with any infield defense in any formation... and this is just scary. I don't see Tolbert starting over Harris any time soon, but he could be a very useful piece of the bench, which makes Punto pretty much disposable. He can do everything Punto can, only better. I would not doubt that Bill Smith would (and should) be on the phone trying to unload Punto (but where and how?)

  • Cuddyer's injury lands him on the DL and Span is recalled from Rochester. Most likely, Kubel would be the starting right fielder with Monroe the starting DH and Span on the bench

  • Cleveland lost to the A's last night, so the Twins are 1.5 before the leaders of the division and the play them in the next two games. If they sweep, it is possible that they will lead the division by Sunday night. It is likely that the Twins will meet Mr Nomo tonight, and this is a good thing.

  • Meanwhile, Bill James alledges that Puckett and Gaetti used steroids. Insane and inane. On another not, I received Hrbie's book. Look forward to reading it.


Notes & thoughts from today

  • Detroit lost to Chicago 8-5 (at home) and is now 0-4; the White Sox's win automatically puts the Twins' in the 4th place, regardless the outcomes of the other games; will be rooting for the A's who are playing Cleveland at Oakland later tonight (10PM ET)

  • Glad to discover that mlb.com has the AAA games on gameday play-by-play, so I can follow that while I watch the Twins on mlb.tv tonight

  • About the Twins' game: John Bale who found his way to the Royals' bullpen last year through Japan is the starter. I just hope that the Twins pound him

  • Looks like Baker wants to be part of the sideburns brother's club

  • Tolbert made 2 mistakes in the first inning at second base, which cost an additional run in the first inning

  • Bottom of 1st: Gomez starts with a bunt single. Steels second. Mauer singles up the middle, Gomez in 2-1. Cuddyer has an infield hit to the SS. Man on 1st and 2nd no outs. Morneau grounds into DP, two outs, Mauer on 3rd. Young breaks his bat and ground out to the 1st baseman. End of 1, 2-1

  • Baker got himself in trouble in this game so far, but seems energetic and hitting low 90s. His slider is not that much working though. 40 pitches through 2 innings

  • Monroe fouls out to the catcher, Lamb grounds out, Toblert singles through the middle.Everett flies out. End of 2, 3-1 Royals

  • Much needed 1-2-3 inning from Baker top of the 3rd. Gomez grounds out to the pitcher. Mauer gets an infield hit, Cuddyer hits to the left. Mornaeu doubles Mauer in (his first hit of the season) , Cuddyer is hurt sliding to 3rd, Kubel in for him. Young drives Kubel home with a groundout at 1st. Monroe strikes out on a high fastball. End of 3, 3-3.

  • 1-2-3 inning for Baker, just 5 pitches. Lamb doubles to right. Tolbert lays a sacrifice bunt, Lamb to 3rd, 1 out. Everett suicide squeezes Lamb in for the lead. Gomez gets an infield hit to the SS. Steals second. Mauer out to 2B. Twins up 4-3.

  • Baker settles, another 1-2-3 inning. (Rochester down 4-3 to Richmond, btw) Kubel at bat. He so looks like Hrbie at bat... he walks. Morneau DPs at the pitcher on the first pitch 2 outs. 3 straight balls to Young then flies to right. End of 5, 4-3 Twins.

  • Baker cruised over next inning in a Guillen DP to Tolbert after the home plate umpire had to do some equipment adjustment due to a foul bowl to his face mask. Monroe strikes out. Lamb pops up to the SS. Tolbert grounds out to the 2B. End of 6, 4-3 Twins.

  • 7th. Baker back in. 1 pitch 1 out. 2 pitches 2 outs. Neshek up in the pen. (Reyes was up before now he is down) Gload hits at the left. Gardy in Baker out, Neshek in, standing ovation for Baker. (Rochester loses 4-3 to Richmond. Duensing pitched a decent game.) Neshek gets Buck out on a broken bat grounder to the pitcher for the 3rd out. Everett grounds out to 2B. Gomez long double to left center. Pitching change. Gobble in. Mauer strikes out. Kubel strikes out. End of 7, 4-3 Twins.

  • Punto defensive replacement at 3B. Goundout, 1 out; Flyout, 2 down. K, 3. out. Middle of 8th. Morneau strikes out. Pitching change (Ramon Ramirez in), Young up, he flies to right. Nathan is up. Monroe strikes out. End of 8. 4-3 Twins.

  • Top of 9th, Nathan in, 1 out. 2 out. A hit. 3 outs. Twins win

Twins MVP: Gomez


... is the only winless team in the majors.

There is a nice tone to that

Randy Ruiz watch

After 1 game (AAA, Rochester):

1 4 2 0 1 0 1 1 .500 .600 .750 1.350


Alright, I don't want to nag...

...but this is totally unacceptable.

To quote (Gardenhire talking about Liriano): "But it has to continue. If he stays flat and stays about the same with his location and he's throwing the ball all over the place, then we'll extend [the Minor League stint] out. It's up to him now to keep elevating [his game]."

Gardy was there in Bosner's outing this year
Gardy was there in Bass' 2 outings this year
Gardy was there in Rincon's 2 outings this year

They were throwing the ball over the place; did he make similar comments?

Gardenhire has been seen as an overachieving manager of an overachieving team, given a free ride for several years and never held accountable for his shortcomings, including having dismal postseasons, underachieving last year, alienating one of the best hitters in baseball (Ortiz), being on the verge of alienating one of the best pitchers in the game (Liriano), refusing to understand that it is the 21st century and people from different cultures might have different needs & refusing to communicate with his latin players (I couldn't understand a word he was saying so I took him out of the game re: Gomez or We don't really know about what he did down in the Dominican re: Liriano), making bad decisions about rosters (Punto, Hockin, Rabe, Garett Jones etc) and managing the game... etc... etc... etc...

All I am saying is that the Twins have a chance to compete this year. If they don't, Gardenhire and his staff should be held accountable and take a hike.

[/end rant]

Some comparisons with last year after 4 games

The first series of the year is in the books, so are the first 4 games of the year. I will try to compare the performance of this year's team with that of last year's in the end of each series, trying to have a leading indicator on the outcome of this season. Of course, doing this after 4 games is too early to be significant, but I am starting now just for the sake of completeness. I will be comparing several categories, in batting, pitching and fielding

Last year, the first 4 games for the Twins were a 3 run home series in which they swept the 0rioles and the first game of an away series with the White Sox, which they lost.

After 4 games:

Record: 2007 3-1, 2008 1-3 (-2)
Runs scored: 2007 17, 2008 8
Runs surrendered: 2007 11, 2008 16

Innings from starters: 2007 25, 2008 23.1
saves: 2007 2, 2008 1
blown saves: 2007 0,2008 0

double plays: 2007 3, 2008 4
errors: 2007 3, 2008 2
outfield assists: 2007 0, 2008 0

home runs: 2007 2, 2008 1
GIDP: 2007 4, 2008 6
stolen bases: 2007 6, 2008 5

Notes & thoughts from today - early edition

  • 4-5 loss, today; 1-3 for the season, 3rd place overall

  • Kubel hit the 1st HR of the season (upper decker over the baggie on a high fastball by Spier.) Gomez got the hang of laying down a band on turf. That could be a great weapon this year for him. Harris made another couple of great plays this game. I don't think that there is a loss on D when he is in. Good to see Harris, Everett and Gomez with back to back to back singles. First IBB of the season (Mauer, 9th)

  • "Strained right bisep" without being hit or overworked with weights, sounds like an elbow or shoulder issue (unfortunately). Gardenhire kept the first 2 pitchers in the game too long. They both showed signs of ineffectiveness at least 3 batters before they were done.

  • Next series against the AL Central leaders, Royals, at home. Would be interested to see how Baker is. With today's long effort by Bass and 2 days in a row pitching by Guerrier, Baker better go at least 6.

  • Cleveland lost to Chicago & Detroit lost to the Royals; Cabrera is day to day with a leg strain

  • Matt Garza's line from yesterday (@BAL): 5.1 IP, 6H, 5ER, 2HR, 2BB, 3K

  • MLB.tv is just wonderful

  • Twins MVP: Mauer


    Notes & thoughts from today

    • Twins lose 0-1

    • Great close game. A pitcher's duo. Unfortunately, I thought that Saunders would be more hittable than that.

    • Tolbert turned a cool DP in the 8th, with bases loaded and one out...

    • Redmond's dp at the 8th after Monroe's walk was a backbreaker

    • If people think that Gomez is green at the plate just look at Aybar (and he's 2 years older than Gomez)

    • Morneau's backhand play on Figgins in the 5th was just amazing and the following play by Harris was great. Enough webgems, how about some O?

    • Blackburn is a gamer. He was fighting with every pitch, kept his composure on the mount and kept going...

    • I need a #22 jersey (and a #21 too...); don't know about a #27 though... He looks likes his buddy Torri in the box.

    • What's up with the lack of crowd in the Dome?

    • Blackburn, Lamb and Mauer are brothers in sideburns

    • Detroit lost 0-4 to KC. No errors, but the lineup is not clicking and Inge is
      still the starting CF. Polanco is 0-10 for the season & Jacque Jones (0-7).

    • Got an mlb.tv view of the Chicago - Indians game and Carmona started the gameb looking like "the wild thing" character from the movie Major League before he settled down. It seems very cold there also...[edit: eventually it seems like the Indians are winning comfortable this game]

    • Here is all you need to know about the helmets worn by the Twins' base coaches this season. I think that the whole team should probably wear them. I really like the look it somewhat reminds me of those crazy Expos uniforms in the 80s.

    • Brian McNamee is hitting ebay big times

    Twins MVP: Blackburn

    Story of the day

    Most important story in today's Twins' game (IMNSHO): I am psyched to see Blackburn's first start for the Twins not only because I'd like to see him pitch but, most importantly, because he is such a great personal success story. The man on a bike is one of those athletes for whom you would want to talk about with your kids. And this (unfortunately) is becoming a rarity...


    Here are some notes from tonight's game:

    • Alternate home blue tops tonight. Love the new 162+ T-shirt that Boof was wearing on his pregame interview (who sells them?)

    • Hate to see the dome that empty that early

    • Delmon took three straight pitches for balls in his first at bat

    • Harris made his second great defensive play in 2 days

    • Boof has to throw a ton of pitches to get through an inning, weight loss or not. Amazed to see him start the 6th.

    • Harris can work the count better than any previous Twins' second basement the last 20 years

    • Morneau needs to find his swing really quickly

    • Aright, move Delmon to the 3 hole already... Cuddy is just too slow and prone to the DP ball

    • Crain is back... 94mph consistently with the 4 seamer and the movement is there

    • I'd rather see Perkins than Reyes pitching... I could have hit that slider.

    • Bass has major butterflies and a decent slider, but just needs to learn to throw
      it (a couple of feet) closer to the plate and get his fastball lower

    • Delmon Young rocks. 'nough said

    • Glad to see Tolbert instead of Punto up there

    • Need to have Bass finish these games... what's the use of putting another reliever in there?

    • Rincon has to go

    Twins MVP: Delmon Young

    at least the Twins are ahead of Detroit...


    Quasi play-by-play notes from the Twins' season opener

    (unedited streamed thoughts typed as I was watching:)

    Great to see Gomez sprint to take the field. First pitch of the game a strike, first 3 batters retired, 9 total pitches for Hernandez. Gomez starts the game with a double and scores with a Mauer hit. Hunter catches Cuddyer's short to right center amid a chorus of crowd noise. Morneau walks and Weaver hasn't thrown a slider for a strike yet. Delmon flies to Guerrero on the first pitch and Monroe flies out on one
    pitch to Hunter (amid another chorus of noise). The strike zone has been pretty
    wide, which is a good thing for Hernandez, a finesse pitcher who likes to eat at the
    corners. Nineteen pitches for Weaver.

    Anderson out in 3 pitches. Hunter is getting an ovation coming to bat, flies to
    Cuddyer in short right in the second pitch. Kotchman singles, Cuddyer almost picked him off at first with a smart throw. Livan has been a master of the outside corner
    so far tonight with a well working slider and change up. Force at 2nd. 6 outs, 20
    total pitches for Hernandez. Weaver is wild with his 2-seamer also, Lamb growns out to the second baseman. Harris long fouls a hanging curve to the opposite field and
    then takes a fourseamer down the middle for a called 3rd strike. Everett grounds out
    , 3rd inning over. 30 total pitches for Weaver and all the new Twins' starters have
    taken a taste of the Dome.

    Napoli looks like Tim Laudner on the plate with Livan's 12-6 curve, K in 3 pitches.
    Delmon throws out Figgins at the second base but the umpire calls him safe (very
    clear at the replay). Man on second 2 outs, Matthews up, Livan working the inside
    corner with a 2 seamer then a slow curve. The crowd gets behind Livan. Livan gets
    Matthews on a slow grownder to the pitcher on a sinker. 3 outs, 39 total pitches,
    the top of the Twins' order is up. Gomez bunts for a hit; head first slide on first.
    3 throws on a row on 1st base by Weaver then ball high and out. Gomez steals second
    on a pitchout. Man on 2nd no outs. 3-1, bouncer to the right, Gomez to 3rd with 1
    out. Cuddyer out on 3 strikes, Morneau up & out to the second baseman.
    Guerrero singles to the left, Anderson flies to Gomez, Hunter DPs to Harris, great
    bare hand catch by Morneau (definite Webgem). 44 total pitches for Livan. Delmon
    singles on a Texas leaguer on short right, Monroe up. Young steals 2nd on a hit and
    run. Monroe stikes out. Lamb singles to right center, Young is in, 2-0 Twins.
    Harris singles to center, Lamb to 3rd, Everett up, mount conference. Do I see a
    bunt? Nope. Weaver's sliders are hitting the dirt now. Pickoff try (must have been
    the 15th throw to the 1st base by Weaver). Fastball low 2-2. Double play to

    5th inning, Angels' bottom of the order. Kotchman has a hit to right (2 for 2 in the game) Hernandez is getting a bit wild. Kendrick base hit to left. Man on 1st and
    2nd no outs. Napoli singles to left. Bases loaded nobody out. Izturis up. Great
    time for a strikeout. Double play, a run scores. Man on 3rd 2 outs. Figgins up.
    strike one. 1-1 outside. 1-2. Crowd on their feet. 2-2. Mauer at the mound. 3-2
    outside. Fastball inside low, base hit, right field. Score tied. Gary Matthews Jr
    on the plate. 1-0 outside. 2-0 high. Gomez incredible running catch at right center
    (another webgem, Torii who?). 65 pitches for Hernandez. 3-1 for Gomez, draws a walk.
    Mauer takes a strike and another. Throw to first and another. Gomez off, steals
    2nd. 1-2. 2-2. Mauer out to second basement, Gomez to 3rd 1 out, Cuddyer up. Single
    at left on 1st pitch (slider), Gomez in, Twins 3-2. Morneau fouls a long one then
    takes a strike down the middle. Another throw to 1st and another. Full count.
    Cuddyer steals second on a missed hit and run. Morneau out. Young up. 1-2. 2-2 on
    the dirt. Fies out to the right. Inning over. 85 total pitches for Weaver.
    Guerrero grounds out to Everett. 2-1 to Anderson. 2-2. 2 foul balls. Curve. Flied
    out to Delmon Young. Hunter up. Boos. Flies out to Gomez. Devine symmetry... 1-2-3
    inning. 77 total pitches for Livan. Monroe grounds out to 2B. 2-2 to Lamb. Out at
    the shortstop. Harris up. Nice slurve for a strike by Weaver. Harris get a double
    with Izturis and Anderson both looking for the ball. (Noise please). Harris on 2nd 2
    outs Everett on the plate. Oday warming up for the Angels. Everett flies to
    Anderson. End of 6. Twins up 3-2. Weaver at 100 pitches.

    Kotchman grounds out to Everett. Kendrick 2-0, 2-1 soft grounder to Hernandez, 2
    down. Napoli flies out to Gomez. 1-2-3 inning. 84 total pitches for Hernandez. Gomez
    up. 1-0. Foul ball 1-1. Sliden outside 2-1. Another one (and low) 3-1. Foul 3-2. K on
    a curve on the dirt. Weaver is done, Oliver in, Mauer up. Mauer out at the
    shortstop. Cuddyer up out at the shortstop. 7 done. Twins up 3-2.

    Neshek in. One K (Izturis). Full count to Figgins. Foul ball, another foul and
    another. Got him looking. 2Ks for Neshek. Matthews up, drops for a hit in shallow
    left between Everett and Young for a double. Guererro up. Reyes is warming in the
    bullpen. 1-0 outside. 2-0 outside. 2-1 foul straight back. 2-2 strike inside. Crowd
    is in it. Way inside 3-2. Crowd yells. High fastball swing and miss. Stike 3.
    Neshek strikes out the side. O'Day (a submariner) pitching for the Angels, Morneau up
    grounds out to second. Nathan is warming up. Young hits throught the middle.
    Kubbel PH for Monroe. 0-2. Texas league double on the left field. Kubel on second,
    Young on third, Lamb is being intentionally walked. Bases loaded, Harris up, one
    out. Punto PR for Lamb. 0-1. 0-2. Foul ball at right. K on a singing fastball. 2
    out, Everett up. 0-1. Long foul, hr distance on the left field. Pop up to the left
    fielder. Inning out.

    Nathan in for the 9th. Anderson. 0-1, 1-1, 2-1, foul ball 2-2. Crowd is up. Fly
    ball, Gomez has it. One out. Hunter up. Swing and a miss on a slider. 0-1. Another.
    0-2. Another. Foul ball. Fastball inside 1-2. Broken bat foul. 1-2. High fastball
    swing and a miss. K. 2 out. Kotchman up. Slider for a stike 0-1. BH swinging bat to
    the pitcher. Willets running for Kotchman. Kendrick up. Foul 0-1, Foul 0-2. Crowd
    is going. Up the middle Everett steps on the 2b bag for the last out. Twins win 3-2.

    Tidbits & observations:

    • Impressed by the quality of Livan's pitching. He works the strike zone and changes speeds with ease and can throw strikes with all his pitches. He could be a great mentor for the Twins' young starters

    • Lamb's sideburns are rivaling Mauer's

    • Artificial turf likes Gomez

    • Gomex had a better game than Hunter

    • I think that Monroe should be more selective with his swings and run harder to the first base

    • Hernandez has the same ERA and record as Santana

    • Gomez's uniform is the dirtiest Twins' uni I've seen for a while

    • Neshek is on top of his game. (period)

    Twins MVP: Gomez

    Final score 3-2. WP: Hernandez 0-1; SV: Nathan (1)

    A couple of tidbids on other games of some interest today

    A wild one in Cleveland vs. the ChiSox (10-8 Indians): Buhrle gave up 7 runs in the first 2 innings and Sabathia 5 in the first 6 (including 2 homers to Thome) in a home run derby of a game. Both pitchers were taken out of the game early.

    A certain pitcher named Santana in his Mets' debut gave up 2 runs (in a Willingham HR in the 4th inning) in seven innings (3H, 2BB, 8K)

    First game of the season for AL Central is completed

    Royals 5 -Tigers 4 in 11

    3 total homers for both teams (Cabrera, Guillen, Gordon), Nunez looked very good for the Royals late in the game as was Bautista for the Tigers. Polanco went 0 for 6, Sheffield had 4 BBs. Inge was the starting CF for the Tigers (interesting move) and Rentaria batted 1st. Detroil left 18 men on base, including a man on third with no outs in the bottom of the 11th

    The official season DLIE (Detroit Left side of Infield Error) number count begun: 1 (Cabrera)
    For reference, the 2007 DIE number was 50