The Twins Home Run Surge Is a Franchise First

I am sure there is a lot that has been written about the Minnesota Twins' home run power in this very early season by pens mightier than mine, so I do not want to repeat the facts, but will attempt to put it in a historic perspective: This is the first time in the Twins' franchise history (including the Senator years) that the team reached 9 team home runs 4 games into the season. Several other teams, most notably in the 2000s and the Killebrew Twins (not the Senators) have seasons when the reached the 9 HR marker in the first week of the season. Also, it is interesting that the 9 HR marker has been reached playing against the Angels more times than playing against any other team. Here is a list of the games and dates that the Twins' teams reached the 9 HR marker since they moved to Minnesota. In bold are the season the Twins reached that mark in the first week of games in that particular season and an asterisk marks the seasons they reached that mark against the Angels:

*2010: Game 4, April 9 at LAA
*2009: Game 12, April 17 vs. LAA
2008: Game 19, April 20 vs CLE
2007: Game 16, April 20 at KCR
2006: Game 7, April 11 vs OAK
2005: Game 7, April 12 vs DET
2004: Game 5, April 10 at DET
2003: Game 13, April 15 vs DET
2002: Game 6, April 7 at TOR
2001: Game 7, April 10 vs DET
2000: Game 7, April 9 at KCR
1999: Game 11, April 17 at CLE
1998: Game 11, April 12 at KCR
1997: Game 16, April 18 at SEA
1996: Game 13, April 17 vs CLE
1995: Game 11, May 7 at CLE
1994: Game 14, April 23 at TOR
1993: Game 9, April 16 vs MIL
1992: Game 14, April 22 at SEA
*1991: Game 12, April 21 at CAL
*1990: Game 12, April 21 vs CAL
1989: Game 10, April 16 at NYY
1988: Game 16, April 24 vs CLE
1987: Game 6, April 12 at SEA
1986: Game 9, April 16 vs OAK
*1985: Game 9, April 16 vs CAL
*1984: Game 12, April 17 vs CAL
*1984: Game 10, April 16 vs CAL
*1982: Game 6, April 11 vs CAL
*1981: Game 12, April 24 vs CAL
1980: Game 12, April 20 at SEA
*1979: Game 12, April 19 vs CAL
1978: Game 12, April 16 vs SEA
1977: Game 11, April 18 at KCR
1976: Game 16, May 4 at DET
1975: Game 19, May 4 vs KCR
1974: Game 16, April 24 at DET
*1973: Game 9, April 18 at CAL
1972: Game 13, May 5 at BOS
1971: Game 17, April 24 at NYY
1970: Game 7, April 18 at OAK
1969: Game 6, April 15 at OAK
1968: Game 7, April 18 vs WAS
1967: Game 12, April 28 at WAS
1966: Game 11, May 1 at WAS
1965: Game 6, April 22 at NYY
1964: Game 7, April 22 vs WAS
1963: Game 11, April 21 at CHW
1962: Game 7, April 18 vs CHW
1961: Game 7, April 21 vs WAS

After winning the series at Anaheim 3-1, the Twins traveled to Chicago and they play the White Sox in a 3 game series starting at 7:10 (CDT) tonight (It seems that the 7-11 stopped their sponsorship so the White Sox are starting their games in different times this season). Fransisco Liriano is taking the mound and the Twins are on their way of facing the team many predicted to be their strongest rival in the division this season. Be there. Twins Win!


Twins on Top of the Central and Other Tidbits

With their victory against the Angels last night at Anaheim, the Twins are in sole possession of the first place of the American League Central division and tonight with their ace, Kevin Slowey on the mount facing the Angels Joel Piniero ,who is 2-6 with 4.32 ERA and 1.484 WHIP in 15 games againt the Twins for his career (the Twins have an .807 OPS and hit 9 HR in 91.2 innings against him, with Mauer and Morneau leading the stats parade with 1.806 OPS in 20 PA and 1.601 OPS in 17 PA, against Pineiro respectively), the Twins have a further chance to solidify their lead in their division. Here are my thoughts from the game and the season so far:

  • I think I like this home run happy team. The Twins had their second multi-home run game of the season and lead the AL (and tied with Arizona for the lead in the majors) with 6 HRs. The SS position produced 10 HRs last season, while the number 8 position in the lineup produced seven. J.J. Hardy already has 2.

  • Pavano will be a solid pitcher for the Twins. As Ed Price indicated earlier this morning he is the only opposing pitcher since Brad Penny in June of 2006 to hold the Angels to less than 2 R in 7 seven or more innings without walking anyone and striking out six or more. A truly great performance and I hope the sign for many more good things to come. Food for thought: Pavano last season was as much removed from surgery as Liriano and Crain are this season. Liriano and Crain have beem much more improved, this might indicate that Pavano's arm might be close to his world championship season form

  • Jon Rauch collected his second save of the season in 2 opportunities. As a reminder, Joe Nathan did not get his second save before game 12 of last season

  • On an unrelated, with last night's game but very related to the Twins note:
    There have been several break-downs of Pat Neshek's delivery (this one from the Baseball Think Factory is exceptional) and recently, in the Twins' spring training game against the Phillies, the Phillies announcers described his delivery as "throwback" and indicated that it "reminded them of pitchers from the 1920s". I have always thought that I have seen a delivery like Pat's before and that 20s remark lit up a lightbulb. So, without further ado, I present you a former member of the Twins' franchise (and a legendary Hall or Famer) whose delivery has been re-incarnated into Pat Neshek: Walter Johnson, the big train

Game time at 7:05 PDT tonight. Be there. Twins win!


Random Thoughts from Twins' Second Game of the Season

The Twins beat the Angels last night to put their fist victory of the season in the books. Here are some random thoughts about the game:

  • The hitting of the team so far has been phenomenal. And, yes, four different batters (Young, Mauer, Morneau, Hardy) hit home runs in these 2 first games of this young season, but this is not the whole story. A very interesting sign is that the hitters so far are 8/14 (.571) collectively in BB/K ratio. This is much better than last season, when after the first 2 (home) games that ratio was 6/19 (.317) and after the whole season 585/1021 (.546). So (and yes, it is a small sample size) this team does not only look more powerful (team isoP after two games is .219, which is higher than that of the Yankees' last season, .183), looks more patient. If they keep this up opposing rotations and bullpens will need to watch out.

  • Blackburn is Mr. Consistent. It is fair to say that what you saw the last 2 seasons is what you get from him: Rope walking on a high rope over a burning pit. Sometimes he cruises to the other side, sometimes he has to stop and take a breath and sometimes he falls in the pit. He didn't last night

  • The bullpen will be ok. Now everyone other that Alex Burnett has been though a game. Crain, Neshek and Guerrier were excellent in their spots, Mijares was beaten up pretty badly, but I am certain that this was just a bad outing, Duensing was ok, but faced a single batter and Rauch was lights out recording his first save as a Twin, pitching a perfect 9th and striking out 2 batters. Yes, there will be bad moments, but all in all I believe that this pen will be one of the strengths of this team

  • Having an attempt to a snuggie-wearing world record (The Anaheim Stadium is right off Disneyland, so everything is possible) on Bert Blyleven's Birthday is a bad combination. Ergo:

    Bert looking like one of the Magi or Burger King donning a birthday cake hat and the aforementioned snuggie. Notice the shame of the person to his right, hiding his face from the cameras, while Dick, far left, cannot believe his eyes. Notice pitcher with unidentified brown liquid between Dick and Bert

  • Last season the Twins went 1-3 through their Aneheim trip. This year they are guaranteed to at least match this record and possibly better it with Carl Pavano facing Santana tonight and their ace, Kevin Slowey taking the mount in the last game.

I am certain that this will be an exiting season for the Twins and their fans


8 reasons to rejoice after yesterday's Twins opening day

Rejoice all, it was opening day for the Twins yesterday, and despite the loss to the Angels just outside Disneyland, there are a lot of positives to take home from yesterday's game; in no particular order:

1. Delmon Young was an offensive machine (he practically provided all the Twins' offense and was fine on the field. He hit a two-run home run about 20 rows deep in the left field benches to tie the game at 2, then beat and infield single and stole second base on his way to scoring in a Punto sacrifice fly to shallow center field.

2. Pat Neshek had a great outing. He pitched a scoreless inning facing 4 batters and striking out one. His fastball averaged 87.2 mph (high 88, which is a couple mph less than his pre injury seasons, but it is very early in the season to discuss velocities) and he complemented it with a very effective slider. He would have had a perfect inning, if Cuddyer did not misjudge the ball on the single hit surrendered.

3. Jesse Crain has a suberb outing. He pitched one-and-two-third innings of perfect baseball striking out one. Mixing of pitches (something he did not do well for most part of last season) was the key to his success. He threw 9 fastballs (93.1 mph average, 94.3 max), 7 sliders (83.5 average, 84.4 max), 5 curve balls (74.5 average, 75.8 max). His slider was exceptional.

4. Yes there were some problems, but Denard Span will not usually strikeout 3 times in a game, Morneau and Young will not always leave the bases loaded, Cuddyer will not always misjudge balls and throw the ball wide to bases and Mijares will be effective. Scott Baker is a slow starter (Career 5.45 ERA and 1.335 WHIP in March/April vs. 4.30 ERA and 1.265 WHIP career total.)

5. Those new road uniforms are exceptional

6. It was opening day

7. Losses in opening day do not determine a season's result. Here are how the Twins' teams that made the post season (since the move to Minnesota) fared on their opening days during the times:

2009: Lost to Seattle 1-6
2006: Lost at Toronto 3-6
2004: Beat Cleveland 7-4
2003: Won at Detroit 3-1
2002: Won at Kansas City 8-6
1991: Lost at Oakland 2-7
1987: Beat Oakland 5-4
1970: Won at Chicago 12-0
1969: Lost at Kansas City 3-4
1965: Beat the Yankees 5-4

8. Today is another day and another game. Blackburn vs. Saunders, 7:05 PDT, Anaheim, CA. Be there