Juan Castro subs for Jason Bartlett at shortstop, so he hits second. Matthew LeCroy subs for Justin Morneau at first base, so he hits cleanup. Lew Ford subs for Torii Hunter in center field, so he hits fifth. Someone really should tell Ron Gardenhire that it's the player who should determine where they bat in the order, not the position they are playing. At least he resisted batting Mike Redmond third. And yes, I realize I keep commenting on this every couple games. However, in my defense, Gardenhire keeps doing it.
It was great to see Ford break out of his early season slump with a big game. As I noted here, he hit the ball very well in the first two games of the Detroit series, but couldn't get anything to fall for hits. They finally did last night, as he went 3-for-5 with a walk, a double, and a three-run homer. Ford went from hitting .214/.290/.250 to hitting .267/.333/.433 in one night, which tells you how worried people should be about early struggles from good players.
LeCroy continued to do a nice job replacing Morneau's bat in the lineup, going 2-for-4 with an RBI single to raise his season line to .304/.385/.478. He also had a homer taken away by Craig Monroe. Jacque Jones also kept up his hot hitting, collecting three hits in four at-bats to raise his batting average to .407 on the year. He even went 2-for-3 against lefty Nate Robertson, which will keep his strongest supporters e-mailing me for another few weeks (until his numbers against southpaws fall back to more typical levels).
After failing to draw a single walk in his first eight games of the season, Michael Cuddyer drew not one, not two, but three free passes last night. Of course, he also struck out twice in two at-bats to drop his batting average to .188, but I'm calling it a very good night anyway.
On the opposite end of the hitting spectrum is Luis Rivas, who went 1-for-3 to raise his batting average to the emptiest .316 in baseball history. He has zero extra-base hits and has yet to draw a single walk, which when combined with his sacrifice last night gives him an on-base percentage that is actually lower than his batting average. In other words, he's an 0-for-3 night away from having a .500 OPS.
How Kyle Farnsworth gives up four runs all season, let alone in the same inning, is beyond me. Seeing him get knocked around after looking at him and watching him throw in the bullpen is really jarring. Farnsworth now has a 5.40 ERA this year after having a 4.73 ERA last season. That would be like if you sat in awe as Albert Pujols took batting practice before each game, watched him strut to the plate before each at-bat, and then saw him hit .220 with 11 homers on the year. I guess that's the difference between pitching and hitting.
That's it from me for this game. It's late, I'm tired, and there's no sense basking in the glory of sweeping the Tigers when the Twins are on the way to Cleveland as I write this. Oh, by the way, Dmitri Young appears to be better at hitting a baseball than he is at handicapping division races.
If the Twins beat the Tigers and no one sees it, did it really happen? Because FOX Sports Net was contractually obligated to show the embarrassment that is the Timberwolves rather than the three-time defending American League Central champions last night, the majority of Minnesotans missed the 8-4 win over Detroit. Fortunately for me, I was able to watch the game thanks to the miracle of technology ...
In what is becoming the early theme of the 2005 season, the Twins' starting pitcher could not record three outs without allowing a run yet again last night. This time it was Kyle Lohse, who gave up a first-inning homer to Brandon Inge on the ninth pitch of the game. Fortunately for Lohse and my sanity, the Twins' lineup broke their own early season trend by exploding for five runs in the bottom of the first.
Here's how Detroit starting pitcher Jason Johnson's night went:
Fly Out Single Single Double Single Stolen Base Home Run Double Single Walk
And that was it. Well, presumably he took a shower and maybe smashed a few things in the locker room, but you know what I mean. I think it's probably safe to say you're really having a bad night when the number of pitchers warming up in the bullpen equals the number of outs you've recorded in the game.
After getting Shannon Stewart to lead off the game, Johnson allowed eight straight Minnesota hitters to reach base, the first seven of them on hits. With that said, I was surprised when Detroit yanked him. Johnson looked extraordinarily bad, sure, but taking out your starting pitcher after a third of an inning is really a disaster. I suppose the move worked out pretty well though, as Detroit got 7.2 innings of three-run relief and only had to burn through three additional pitchers.
The amazing thing about the five-run inning is that there was the potential for a lot more damage. Johnson left the game down 5-1, with the bases loaded, one out, and Stewart at the plate. Matt Ginter came in and Stewart hit a line drive off him that was snagged and turned into a double play to end the threat (that's right, Stewart made all three outs in the first inning). When Ginter came strolling in from the bullpen, I had visions of a double-digit inning dancing through my head.
The Twins wasted a similar opportunity in the second inning after loading the bases against Ginter with no outs, as Jason Bartlett led off with a single and Joe Mauer and Terry Tiffee followed with back-to-back walks. Torii Hunter then popped a pitch up in the infield for an easy first out, and Jacque Jones grounded into an inning-ending double play. If the Tigers could have mounted a little more late-inning offense, last night would definitely have been one of those games that leaves a team kicking themselves for not putting the opponent away.
Setting aside the fact that Tiffee went 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, and 3 RBIs (a tough fact to set aside, admittedly), is there some rule I'm not aware of that says the Twins' first baseman has to bat cleanup, regardless of who it is? Matthew LeCroy batting cleanup against right-handed pitching while subbing for Justin Morneau is bad enough, but Tiffee batting cleanup in his first game after being called up from Triple-A seemed pretty ridiculous (before his two hits, I mean).
Jones continued his hot hitting last night with a mammoth homer off Johnson in the first (I'm not sure why I feel the need to say it was in the first, since Johnson only pitched in the first). It was one of those pitches that Jones turns on and yanks into right field, before emphatically dropping his bat and sort of hopping out of the batter's box. After reaching the upperdeck, I'm pretty sure the homer bounced down the tunnel and into the concourse, which must have been interesting for the people waiting in line for popcorn and a Dome Dog up in the nosebleed section.
I'm always pleased to see someone -- in this case Nick Punto -- getting a start over Luis Rivas at second base. Punto was the eighth straight hitter to reach base in the first inning when he walked, and he drew another one to lead off the bottom of the eighth. He also did a nice job defensively, working well with Bartlett on two double plays.
Speaking of Bartlett, I'm not ready to compare him to Ozzie Smith or anything, but it's amazing how different his play at shortstop is than Cristian Guzman's. Bartlett is sprinting after bloopers in short center field, diving to knock grounders up the middle down, sliding and popping up to make plays in the hole, and all sorts of other things I don't remember Guzman doing much of. Now, I'm certain my memory is doing Guzman a bit of a disservice, and I don't think Bartlett is a huge improvement over him yet, but I think he will be. It also helps that he's hitting .360.
While Lohse's final line wasn't very good (6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO), he looked very impressive at times last night. His breaking ball was really diving down and out of the strike zone, and the Tigers were chasing it all game. He got Craig Monroe to strike out in the fifth inning by throwing him two identical sliders that broke sharply down and away. He still needs to keep it up for more than a couple innings at a time at some point, but Lohse sure looks good when he can do something other than try to throw straight-as-an-arrow low-90s fastballs past everyone.
And finally, Juan Rincon is such a stud that it's not even funny. He got all three of his outs last night on strikeouts, giving him the following season line:
IP H R ER BB SO HR OAVG 6.0 3 0 0 2 12 0 .150
The man is just sick right now. Dating back to the second half of last year, Rincon has 64 strikeouts in his last 44 innings (13.1/9). He also has 118 strikeouts in 88 innings (12.1/9) since the start of the 2004 season, during which time he's held opponents to a .179 batting average.
When I went there yesterday afternoon it was a pretty good Red Hot Chili Peppers song. For some reason I found that really cool, perhaps in part because I have absolutely no clue how to do anything like that for this blog. Of course, considering what you guys think of my musical taste, it's probably better that I don't.
It does sometimes make me sad that I'm not more computer-savvy. For instance, I had the bright idea to allow reader comments for a small sampling of my entries, but when I tried to enable them I found that I have made so many misguided modifications to my blog "template" that adding comments didn't work. I have no idea why it wouldn't work or how I can get it to work, just that it won't work. And therein lies the problem. So, instead of making brilliant additions to this blog, I'll have to settle for talking about last night's game ...
Like seemingly every Minnesota starting pitcher this year, Joe Mays couldn't record three outs without giving up a run. He didn't get hit hard in the first inning, but was all over the place. His fastball was consistently in the 88-90 range, and it must have looked very hittable because the Tigers were going after it well above the strike zone. The Twins now have a -12 run differential in the first inning, which obviously can't continue if they hope to avoid making me insane.
Aside from the lack of control (he walked four batters in five innings), Mays' biggest problem of the night was the two-run homer he served up to Craig Monroe in the fifth inning. It came on an 0-2 pitch, which is a pet peeve of mine. What's the point of trying to get ahead in the count if you're just going to throw an 88 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate anyway? I'm not really picking on Mays specifically here, since he has a good excuse for being a little rusty.
Which brings me to the fact that Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven (and Clay Matvick too, during the pregame) kept acting as if last night was Mays' first appearance since 2003. It was his first start, which is a big deal, but he did pitch two innings in relief against Chicago Friday. He even gave up a run. It just seemed weird to me that the announcers kept acting like it was his first time back on the mound while his 4.50 ERA from this season was being shown on the screen. A casual fan who didn't see him pitch the other night would have been very confused. I, of course, was just annoyed.
This would be where I talk about whether or not Mays looked like the Mays of old last night, but to be honest I don't remember well enough to say. The last time Mays was healthy and pitching effectively was 2001, and while I certainly remember watching him pitch plenty back then, I don't remember the details well enough to compare it to last night in anything resembling a meaningful way. In a general sense, Mays has always been a pitch-to-contact, ground ball pitcher, and he did that well enough last night. He got nine of his 15 outs on the ground and induced two double plays. The guy on the mound last night definitely looked capable of giving the Twins quality innings this year.
Along with Mays' encouraging first start, the Twins also got some good news yesterday regarding Carlos Silva. After reports initially had him out for at least half the season with his knee injury, the Twins are now saying Silva could be back by the end of the month. As in April. This is one of those "I'll believe it when I see it" situations, and I'm not very optimistic about a guy pitching on a torn knee, but I feel better about Silva's injury than I did two days ago.
I can start swinging a bat as soon as I feel ready. The doctor just said if I start swinging too soon it will give me bad headaches, and then it will be longer. I feel better. If I come back before I'm ready and get hit again, I'm going to be out a lot longer to recover.
Even if the headaches and dizziness go away fairly soon, I'm still worried about his mental state the next time he steps to the plate. Missing another week or two isn't a big deal at all, but coming back tentative as a hitter would be. Only time will tell, I guess. In the meantime, at least Terry Tiffee gets his spot on the roster back.
I kept hearing all spring about how Ivan Rodriguez had slimmed down considerably. Well, it wasn't a lie. "Pudge" looked downright svelte last night. I don't really care one way or another why or how he lost the weight, but can you imagine the uproar if Barry Bonds had shown up to spring training with a similar weight loss? It apparently didn't hurt Rodriguez's throwing arm, as Jacque Jones found out the hard way last night. Bremer shouted out "Jones gets a great jump!" as Mike Maroth delivered a pitch to Lew Ford in the fourth inning and the ball was waiting for Jones at second base.
In what I'm sure is the same speech Mo Vaughn used to get every year, Ron Gardenhire apparently told Matthew LeCroy to play in a few steps at first base and not to go after any balls that aren't hit right to him. LeCroy has looked horrible at first base so far, but has shown in the past that he can play the position without looking completely awful. He'll be just fine as long as everyone stops bunting in his direction. Incidentally, if that advice from Gardenhire doesn't give you an idea of how slow LeCroy is, consider that he hit a grounder to shortstop last night, Carlos Guillen threw a three-hopper over to first base that Carlos Pena had to come off the bag to field on a knee, and they still got LeCroy by two steps.
As usual, the Twins are facing a ton of left-handed pitching this year. Maroth was the fourth lefty starter they've faced already, and they'll face their fifth in Nate Robertson in the third game of this series. With Michael Cuddyer at third base and Ford at designated hitter, the team is a little more equipped to deal with lefties than in years past. With that said, as long as the everyday lineup includes Jones, Morneau, and Joe Mauer they will be vulnerable to southpaws.
Just like last year, Jones is off to a good start against lefties. And just like last year, it won't last. I have to say that I was very pleased that, despite being down 0-2 in the count to lefty Jamie Walker last night, Jones was able to at least make contact to get Mauer in from third base to tie the score at three apiece. Hey, I just thought of a positive to Morneau being out: LeCroy is very good against lefties!
Maybe I'm just not enough of a jock to appreciate this, but why exactly is it being described as a positive thing that Mays tried to pitch through his elbow injury for a whole year? If someone gets shot in the stomach and they try to walk it off, do people talk about it as a good thing when the guy eventually crawls into the emergency room minus a few pints of blood? If I ever make a list of "Things I don't want my pitchers doing," I'm pretty sure "pitching through elbow pain" would be near the top of it. Well, that and "0-2 fastballs over the plate to Craig Monroe," I guess (it's a long list).
It was great to see Jason Bartlett go deep for the first time in the majors. He has looked very impressive at the plate thus far, especially for a rookie shortstop who went 1-for-12 in a brief stint last year. I have no hopes of him ever becoming a power threat, but 8-10 homers a year, along with everything else he does, would be pretty nice. The walk he drew against Ugueth Urbina to lead off the eighth inning was a thing of beauty.
The Tigers gave Mauer the third base line, so he dropped a decent bunt down and got himself to second base after Brandon Inge compounded what was an infield single with a throwing error. If we didn't already have about 1,000 pieces of evidence for this being true, I'd tell you what a smart player Mauer is. His walk against Urbina wasn't bad either. His attempt to score on the ball that got away from Rodriguez, on the other hand, was not so great (I could do without seeing Mauer slide into home for a little while longer).
Kyle Farnsworth looks like the guy who would come out of the opposing team's bullpen in the bottom of the ninth inning in a baseball movie.
Ford had a better night than his 1-for-4 line in the boxscore this morning would suggest. He hit the ball very well on all of his outs, including sending two balls deep into right-center, and scored the winning run after singling off Troy Percival in the bottom of the ninth. If Gardenhire keeps Ford in the lineup, he'll get on track soon enough.
Speaking of Percival, his amazing streak of dominance over Minnesota finally ended last night. Percival came into the game with a 0.00 ERA in 40 career innings against the Twins, having held them to a .105 batting average. The guy running on fumes after signing as a free agent with the Tigers this offseason isn't the same guy who put up all those scoreless innings, but it's still nice to score an earned run off him before he retires. Let's just say the real Percival doesn't walk Nick Punto after getting ahead of him 0-2 in the ninth inning.
I was planning to do a big Link-O-Rama entry on Friday, but some serious problems with Blogger prevented me from providing my link-craving audience with what they needed over the weekend. In an effort to make up for that (and because there was no Twins game yesterday to babble about), here is an extra-large dose of links ...
Interesting that Juwan Howard would end up with the same problem that has plagued his former University of Michigan teammate, Chris Webber, for years.
Daniel Brown wrote a lengthy article about Billy Beane in the San Jose Mercury News last week and Yours Truly was mentioned very briefly near the end of it:
The A's have found such creativity essential to their success in the American League West, where they are consistently outspent. As baseball blogger Aaron Gleeman noted, the A's average payroll over the past five seasons is $43.2 million, which was wildly exceeded during that time frame by the Anaheim Angels ($68 million), Seattle Mariners ($76.5 million) and Texas Rangers ($84.7 million).
It's always cool to be mentioned in a mainstream media outlet, but that sort of makes it seem like I came up with those salary figures on my own. Brown and I spoke two weekends ago and I sent him a few links to some Beane-related columns I have written here over the years, one of which included those salary figures from USA Today. Brown's article was supposed to involve some discussion of how Beane and the A's compare to Terry Ryan and the Twins, which is why he wanted to read what I had written on the subject, but I guess his editors cut some stuff. Either way, my mom was impressed.
Do you ever read something that is seemingly innocuous and come away thinking that this country is completely out of control? From ESPN.com:
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said that players caught loafing will no longer wear pink jerseys during practices in an effort to avoid offending breast cancer survivors.
Nutt received negative reaction from people when they saw the players in the pink jerseys. Breast cancer survivors and their supporters often wear pink ribbons, and the nationwide Race for the Cure, which raises funds for breast cancer research, uses the color pink as well.
Does this strike no one else as completely insane?
Someone told me Sunday night that Joe Morgan has a new show on ESPN that comes on after SportsCenter. Sure enough, I checked ESPN.com and "SportsCenter Special: Joe Morgan on Baseball" was on the TV schedule for yesterday. I hadn't heard a word about the show and I guess I missed it, which probably shows you just how much I watch ESPN when there isn't a game on these days.
Sexy actress Jessica Alba turned her back on the born-again Christian community she grew up with when they started to make her feel ashamed of having a great body.
Alba says, "One of the reasons why I chose not to be (a devout Christian) is because a lot of people gave me a lot of grief for just being a woman and made me feel ashamed for having a body because it tempted men.
"I didn't understand what that meant because I was like, 'God created this...' That was a hard time in my life."
I am ashamed that anyone would tell someone who looks like this to be ashamed of their body. Beyond that, how great would it be to see yourself described in print as something like "sexy actress Jessica Alba." Can you put that on a business card? I think the closest I've come to that is probably when someone called me "long-winded baseball blogger Aaron Gleeman," but for some reason that doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
Actually, along those same lines I stumbled across a blog the other day that referred to my aunt as "the poststructuralist Mae West." I of course have no clue what that means, but it sounds pretty cool.
This news made me surprisingly sad when I heard about it earlier this month. One of my favorites.
On the other hand, remember how I asked you to send me suggestions for a weekly Rotoworld column topic? We've decided that I will write a weekly column that, much like Seinfeld, is about nothing. The nothingness will be called "Channel Surfing" and will appear every Friday afternoon.
This made me laugh, mostly because I've had serious discussions about the exact topic with multiple people. Let's just say my #1 pick is named after a cartoon character and leave it at that.
A Hattiesburg, Miss., policewoman and her husband found out the hard way how popular Dave Chappelle's Comedy Central show is - especially his catch phrase, "I'm Rick James, bitch!" Diane James' husband, Rick James, is running for Hattiesburg City Council. She wrote to Comedy Central:
"Due to the popularity of the Dave Chappelle show, people keep stealing our 'Vote Rick James' yard signs ... we would appreciate a small campaign donation for more signs, as we are working-class people and financing this campaign out of our own pockets. Each time a sign is stolen, it costs us $4.75! Every time a 'Rick James' piece runs on your show, we stand to lose dozens of signs overnight, which end up decorating people's front yards and dorm rooms ... the yard signs have been spotted at least 100 miles from our home by truckers ... Also, young children on bikes scream, 'I'm Rick James, bitch!' as we drive by in our car with our 'Rick James' car signs ... People even drive by our home and scream, 'Super Freak.'"
Just to be clear, I feel bad for the "working-class people" who lose money when the signs are stolen. With that said, if I lived in Mississippi I would have one of them hanging in my dorm room right now.
Johan Santana once again struggled in the early innings last night, giving up a run in the first and another in the third, but he was extremely good after that. In fact, from the fourth inning on Santana was about as good as he ever was during his amazing second-half run last season. After Torii Hunter got Santana off the hook by putting the Twins up 4-2 in the bottom of the third, here's what Santana did:
Walk Ground Out Strikeout (Swinging) Strikeout (Swinging) Strikeout (Swinging) Strikeout (Looking) Single Single Strikeout (Swinging) Strikeout (Swinging) Strikeout (Swinging) Ground Out Double Strikeout (Swinging) Strikeout (Looking) Ground Out
Santana's overall line (7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO) was impressive enough, but even more encouraging is how strong he finished. If he can simply get rolling immediately at some point, rather than feeling his way through the first few innings, he'll be right back where he was last year. If you ignore the first inning of each of Santana's starts, here is his pitching line for the season:
IP H R ER BB SO HR 10.0 6 1 1 1 16 0
Incidentally, hearing Jon Miller and Joe Morgan gush over Santana was a very nice change of pace from hearing Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven gush over Santana. I found the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast unusually tolerable. Of course, my favorite part of the broadcast was Morgan's random happy birthday wish to the son of a non-famous person no one has ever heard of in the sixth inning. It is a weekly occurrence, but last night's was particularly enjoyable because it seemed to catch Miller a little bit off-guard.
Carlos Silva's knee injury is a big blow to the team. Losing a pitcher who had a 4.21 ERA last season may not seem like much of a problem, but it goes beyond that. Silva was being counted on to eat innings, as he did in his first start of the season by going seven innings despite allowing nine hits. Plus, Kyle Lohse appears to have picked up right where he left off last year and Joe Mays remains a big question mark, so the rotation isn't exactly well-equipped to handle losing its #3 guy.
The timing of Silva's injury is particularly hard to handle. If he had gone down with a week left in spring training, the Twins could have bumped Lohse into the third spot, let Mays fill in for him in the fourth spot, and made an organizational decision on what to do when they needed a fifth starter (they skipped that spot the first time through the rotation). Instead, they got one good start from Silva and now have to scramble to fill his spot in the rotation, which was shown by the team calling up Dave Gassner, rather than Scott Baker or J.D. Durbin.
With several early off days and what they thought was five starters ready to go, I think it is clear that the Twins decided to send Baker and Durbin down to the minors with the idea that they would each get at least a couple months' worth of seasoning. Rather than stray from that plan now that a sudden injury has come up one week into the season, Gassner gets the call. It's not necessarily a bad thing -- I am all for sticking to plans despite adversity -- but the team may have planned differently had they discovered that Silva needed major surgery three weeks ago.
While he pitched in relief this weekend, Mays still has yet to make a start since the middle of the 2003 season, so at the very least he may struggle initially. If that happens and Lohse continues to stink, the starting rotation could go from being a major strength to a major mess in the span of a week. It's a shame too, because I was looking forward to seeing whether or not Silva could repeat his 2004 performance in his second year as a full-time starting pitcher (I was on record as saying he would).
As for Gassner ... I know a lot of people have been clamoring for him to get a chance based on his season at Triple-A Rochester last year (16-8 with a 3.41 ERA in 28 starts), but he is not the answer. A 25-year-old who strikes out just 93 batters in 174.1 innings at Triple-A simply isn't going to miss enough bats to be a quality starting pitcher in the major leagues, regardless of how good his control is. He could prove me wrong, of course, and he has certainly had enough sustained success in the minors to warrant getting a chance, but I just don't see it.
I expect the team to give shots to Gassner, Matt Guerrier (who is basically a right-handed version of Gassner), and Terry Mulholland (who is basically an elderly version of Gassner) over the next month or two, but if Silva is truly out for the majority of the season, a legitimate prospect with enough "stuff" to be a successful long-term answer will eventually get a chance. Who knows, if Baker is the one to get the call and he ends up pitching well, the team could be even stronger down the stretch if Silva returns from the disabled list at some point. (And yes, that was my lame attempt at optimism.)
Oh, and to close the book on Silva's injury for today, I just want to say how completely sick of injuries I am right now. Joe Mauer's knee, Jason Kubel's exploding leg, Justin Morneauwalking around like a zombie, Grant Balfour's strained forearm, and now Silva's knee. Add in Nick Punto's broken collarbone last year right when he was about to take Luis Rivas' job and the fact that Mays is just now coming back from Tommy John surgery and ... well, I'm tired of it. No more, I give up.
The Twins' defense did not look good over the weekend, but I'm not overly concerned. Michael Cuddyer has committed three errors already at third base, but he has also made a number of very nice plays over there and the error he got on Tadahito Iguchi's first-inning grounder Saturday night seemed a little iffy to me. Similarly, Jason Bartlett has been far from flawless at shortstop, but he is making the majority of the plays and it should be noted that this is really his first taste of playing regularly on the Metrodome turf.
Matthew LeCroy looked extremely rough at first base, but no one is counting on him to be Keith Hernandez over there as long as Morneau returns fairly soon. The most concerning thing to me about the defense continues to be Ron Gardenhire playing Shannon Stewart in left field over Lew Ford. The ball that bounced out of Stewart's glove as he dove for the catch Friday night? Ford may not have made the catch either, but the fact that there is even some doubt is what bugs me about the situation.
Is anyone else bothered by the fact that Gardenhire bats LeCroy cleanup against right-handed pitching in what is surely only because that's where Morneau would have hit? Same thing with Juan Castro batting second in place of Bartlett last night.
A few notes on the White Sox ... Orlando Hernandez looked great Friday night, and his staying healthy for 180+ innings this year could be one of the biggest keys to the American League Central race. I love watching him pitch. Dustin Hermanson also looked very good Friday night, which could become important if Shingo Takatsu continues to struggle this year.
I am amused by how everyone in Chicago hopped back on to the "small ball" bandwagon once the White Sox won a couple games in a row. The fact is that Chicago hit five home runs in the two games they won this series and scored seven of their 13 runs in those games on homers, regardless of how much lip service people feel compelled to give Scott Podsednik for running really fast a couple times. Just because Ozzie Guillen keeps saying something over and over doesn't make it so. With that said, the Twins may want to work a little bit on their bunt defense.
I would say something sarcastic about Timo Perez batting fifth Saturday night, while Aaron Rowand, A.J. Pierzynski, Joe Crede, and Juan Uribe hit behind him, but he homered off Brad Radke in the seventh inning. So instead I'll just shut up.
It is obviously never good to lose a series, particularly to Chicago, but all in all I'm not disappointed with being 3-3 after six games. Interestingly, the Twins were 3-3 after six games in each of the past two seasons, and that was while opening both years with easier schedules than the one they've played so far. Splitting against two teams that figure to both win 80+ games this year, while playing one of the series on the road, isn't bad at all. Remember, slow and steady wins the race in the AL Central.