Tagged: oakland a's

The Twins Made a Move

In a stunning move that will undoubtedly be sending shock waves throughout the land, the Minnesota Twins actually made a trade move before the deadline today. It’s true! It really happened! A’s short-stop Orlando Cabrera is now a Twin, and the organization didn’t have to give away an outstanding prospect like Danny Valencia but instead gave up a still very good prospect by the name of Tyler Ladendorf, who’ll no doubt go to Oakland and become the greatest player ever in the history of baseball.

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photo: AP/Ben Margot

This seems like a positive move for Minnesota. I doubt Cabrera will be stunning (though you never know, he’s been scorching in July so far), but he can’t be any worse than what we’ve got now, and the Twins apparently got some cash too. More than anything, sometimes such moves can provoke a bit of excitement for fans and players alike, and it was encouraging to see the Twins doing something to address their weaknesses at the very least.

Still, the Tigers and White Sox both boosted their rosters with pitching talent instead, something I think the Twins might have been better off doing. The Tigers got Jarrod Washburn from Seattle, while the White Sox had to give up four good prospects to the San Diego Padres just for the single, currently injured arm of Jake Peavy. Now don’t get me wrong, Peavy is an ace, no doubt about it, but this looks more like a move for the future as Peavy will probably get maybe 4-5 starts this season when he’s back from the DL at the end of August. But if post-season play is in the future of either the Tigers, Sox, or Twins, those extra arms could prove very useful, and the Twins might regret not bolstering their starting pitching sooner.

Welcome to the Twins, Orlando! Look forward to seeing you at the Dome tomorrow to take some sweet revenge on the Angels.

Yet More EPIC FAIL

As both the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays showed earlier this season, sometimes being 10 runs in front is not enough to win a game. On Monday night, the Oakland Athletics rallied from being 12-2 down at one point in the game to beat the Twins 14-13 in the end.

Anyone who saw the game though, even when Minnesota was 10 runs up, knew that a victory for the Twins was not a foregone conclusion by any means. After Jason Kubel made it 3-0 in the first with his 16th home run of the year, the A’s immediately bounced back to make it 3-2. Things then looked to be going the Twins’ way after Justin Morneau cranked a grand-slam, and followed that up with a three-run shot the next inning, but still the Athletics kept stringing together hit after hit to make sure they were never really out of it.

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photo: AP/Yahoo!

Pitcher Nick Blackburn never looked in command of his pitches, and the Twins’ defense was fairly lackluster all night, but the fatal blow was struck in a seven-run seventh inning by the A’s. With the Twins’ comedy bullpen trio of Brian Duensing, Bobby Keppel (whose start had been suspiciously good prior to this game and was due to implode any moment), and Jose Mijares on display, Matt Holliday’s grand slam tied things up and was topped-off by Jack Cust’s solo home run shot to make the game 14-13 in Oakland’s favor.

Sure, the Twins had let a big lead slip, and to be honest, didn’t really deserve to win after giving it all up so stupidly, but in end, it was a controversial umpiring decision that settled the affair. In the top of the ninth, Michael Cuddyer was called out sliding into home plate on a passed ball, and it was very, very clear from the replay that he was safe by a mile. That poor decision pretty much cost the Twins the game, and it was a cheesy way for the A’s to finally get the victory. Of course, it’s easy to blame an umpire, but when you’ve given up 14 runs in a game, you pretty much deserve everything you get.

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photo: AP/Yahoo!

Still, Oakland needs what little joy it can muster in what’s been a poor season for them so far, and in the end it was a shame there were only around 10,000 folks at the Coliseum to watch their epic comeback as this once historic franchise continues to struggle. In the meantime, it was yet another terrible meltdown for the Twins, and a bullpen performance which was almost hilarious and tragic in its ineptitude.

I’ll be there tonight (Tuesday), and frankly, I’ll settle for a 9-0 blowout A’s win rather than what transpired on Monday night.

Splitters!

A 2-2 series split with the Oakland A’s was hardly the most exciting of results for the Twins, but to be honest, the way this team has been playing on the road so far, not unsurprising. Amazingly, Minnesota has only won one paltry road-trip series all season (against Cleveland at the end of April), so if a tied series against the A’s is an indication of even a slight return to form, that’s something. I’m hoping the Twins can start to at least perform averagely in games away from the Metrodome over the next few months, that will certainly be a step up from sucking horribly.

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photo: arago4.tnw.utwente.nl/stonedead/movies/life-of-brian/

The upcoming three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs should be an interesting one. Rather like the Twins, the Chicago Cubs have been having a fairly uninspiring season so far, but for many of the Twins players it will probably be thoroughly exciting to be playing at the historic ballpark. We know Minnesota has a habit of performing well in interleague play, but this is the Twins on the road, so anything could happen. With three day games to look forward to this weekend and the prospect of watching a floundering Delmon Young lose the ball in the ivy, it should make for a great series.

Twins Make it Interesting

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What is it about these Twins lads? Nothing is ever straightforward with them, but I suppose that makes watching them all the more exciting, and sometimes, an anxiety-ridden experience. With a 10-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth against the A’s last night, Scott Baker was three outs away from a complete game shut out. But of course, it was never going to be that easy. So, instead of talking about a successful offensive performance by the Twins last night, we’re instead discussing how they almost blew it again.

Baker loaded the bases with a walk and a couple of singles, so in came Jesse Crain. Of course, Jesse did what Jesse does best: choke in vital situations. Adam Kennedy got a single off him which scored two, Jack Cust walked, and Chris Denofria got an infield single which Alexi Casilla fumbled (so not necessarily Crain’s fault this time) to score another. Turns out Casilla had already made a couple of mistakes earlier, so the quicker he gets sent back down to Rochester, the better. When Nick Punto returns on Friday (from what I’m reading on other blogs), Gardy will probably keep Brendan Harris at short-stop and put Punto at second, so it’ll likely be bye-bye Casilla.

With the score at 10-3, in came Jose Mijares, fresh from his cross-dressing exploits. He got Jason Giambi swinging for a vital first out, but then walked Kurt Suzuki to score one AND Daric Barton to score yet another, so now the game was at 10-5.

So would you believe it, this has now become a save situation, what with the bases loaded and the tying run in the on-deck circle. Thankfully, Joe Nathan emerged from the bullpen and was inch perfect, showing all those young’uns exactly how it’s done. He made short work of things and struck out Jack Hannahan and Rajai Davis for his 12th save of the season.

The win for Minnesota stopped their three-game losing skid, and put an end to Oakland’s impressive seven-game winning streak. The A’s young rookie pitching roster looks very promising, and I’m sure they’ll perform well this year, but whether they’ll be able to last out the long season is a different matter. And, as usual, even faced with virtually impossible odds in the ninth, their batters still hustled and played hard until the end. 

Right now, the series is tied at one apiece with two more to go tonight and tomorrow. Obviously, us Twins fans will be hoping to finally get a good string of road victories under our belts, but Oakland won’t make that an easy task.

Sleepy in Seattle

The Twins’ bats barely woke up all weekend when they lost two out of three at Seattle. True, they were facing an excellent pitching line-up of Rodriguez, Washburn, and Bedard, but even then, just a pitiful five runs in three games was all Minnesota could muster. Admittedly, the Mariners could only score seven themselves, but at least they won the series, and that’s what counts in the end.

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photo: Chris Gin

On Friday night, Francisco Liriano pitched pretty well. He even got past the fourth inning for a change! But so did Felix Hernandez. In the end, the game went to extra innings, and the Twins were lucky to come out 2-1 winners. In the top of the 10th, Jason Kubel was robbed of a three-run homer due to an excellent catch by Franklin Gutierrez. Next, Joe Mauer was caught in a run-down at third base after a failed squeeze-play, and it seemed things just weren’t going to go our way. Then Matt Tolbert hit a deep fly ball which came off left-fielder Wladimir Balentien’s glove, and Justin Morneau scored, and that was pretty much it: a lucky break and a fortunate victory.

On Saturday, Nick Blackburn also pitched pretty well, but Minnesota squandered numerous chances to get runs home, and lost the game later when that man again, Ken Griffey Jr., got a clutch double that scored Ichiro from first. In the ninth, the Twins failed to get the tying run home, so once again it was a game of missed opportunities.

I didn’t see Sunday’s game, but the Twins lost 4-2, so I can’t really comment on what happened. I did read articles saying Minnesota went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring positions on Sunday, and 2-for-24 with runners in scoring positions over the entire series, which doesn’t surprise me, and has pretty much been the story of our season so far. That’s a statistic which will probably come back to haunt us if the Twins don’t make it to the post-season this year.

Now the Twins face a tough four-game series against the Oakland A’s. The Athletics have won their last six straight, including a sweep of the Orioles this weekend, and it looks like things have finally started to click for them after a fairly poor start to the season. So, it’s just our luck that the team with one of the worst road records in baseball now faces a resurgent team that’s just won its last six. It should be an interesting series. An unlikely four game sweep by the Twins would totally revive them of course, but if the A’s took four in a row instead (equally unlikely), it could really pump life into a season where they’ve struggled to even get close to .500. I’m guessing things are going to be pretty tight at the Coliseum, but who knows? Minnesota continue to see-saw from brilliant to incompetent with every game, so anything could happen, and probably will.

Way to Go, Joe!

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photo: Steve Wewerka, USA Today

I just wanted to extend my congratulations to Joe Mauer (not that he
reads this of course) for being voted the AL Player of the Month for
May.

I’m not sure what else I can say about his stunning month
to be honest. It’s actually been refreshing to read so much positive
press about Joe Mauer in the media outside of Twins Territory, and
his performance in May has been incredible, all the more so considering
he missed the entire month of April.

Just look at those figures:
106 at bats, 28 runs, 45 hits, 12 home runs, and a remarkable .425
average, .508 OBP, .849 SLG, and an even prettier 1.357 OPS. He’s only
struck out a mere 16 times too.

It’ll be hard work keeping that kind of production
up all season long of course, but if anyone has the natural ability to play like
this every month, it’s probably Joe Mauer. Meanwhile, behind him,
Justin Morneau continues to have an outstanding season, though the
spotlight so far this season has been falling firmly on Joe.

Today
though, Joe was outshone by Jason Kubel, who hit two 3-run home runs
and thus 6 RBIs in an 11-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
Minnesota took the series 2-1 and now face their extended road trip on
the west coast with games against the Mariners and the A’s, before a
weekend in Chicago against the Cubs.

Road Woes Continue

Man, these guys shouldn’t even be allowed to leave the Twin Cities! Another poor road trip, this time in Tampa Bay, saw the Twins only win one of three. Minnesota is still a fairly embarrassing 6-16 on the road, and this was just their second win in 13 games away from the Metrodome. Their Sunday performance was a nail biter, but the win was a very welcome one after two poor showings on Friday and Saturday. Nick Blackburn pitched a good game, only giving up a couple of solo home runs, and the Twins hustled home a few runs to claim a scrappy 3-2 victory.

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On Friday night, Scott Baker started well enough, but yet again had one of his mental breakdowns in the sixth inning, giving up a three-run homer to Evan Longoria. The Twins rallied a bit later on, but couldn’t get enough going and ended up losing 5-3. When Brian Buscher (.183) has to pinch hit for Carlos Gomez (.219), as happened in the ninth inning, you know there’s definitely something wrong with your line-up, even if that was the right move in the circumstances.

Saturday’s game was even more pitiful. There’s definitely something odd going on with Francisco Liriano, who only lasted four innings for the third straight time. He threw 47 (yes, 47) pitches in the third inning and gave up four runs, after which, I gave up watching. The Twins organization need to do something with poor Frankie, I’m not confident the whole “working out his issues on the mound” thing is really going to pan out if Minnesota wants to remain competitive. Saturday’s game also featured a woeful base-running decision by Scott Ulger, stopping Joe Crede at third after an overthrow instead of waving him home. Sure, it may have been a risky play to send Crede home, but with the way David Price was pitching, the Twins weren’t going to get many chances to score runs, and we blew one right there. Naturally, Alexi Casilla failed to get the run home the next at-bat.

Talking of which, Alexi is back. Nick Punto is on the DL with a groin injury, so the Twins brought back Alexi Casilla who they’d sent down a few weeks ago. The lack of batting production of players like Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla, Delmon Young, and Matt Tolbert is really beginning to hurt Minnesota’s chances of success this year. But it’s not just sucky performances, injury woes continue to mount for the Twins. Jason Kubel had a dodgy knee that kept him out of a couple of games, Joe Crede has had a few unlucky niggles here and there, Michael Cuddyer left Sunday’s game with a finger injury, and we’ve already mentioned Nick Punto who the Twins probably miss more in the field than with the bat.

Usually, I like to end each posting with a positive note, but today I’m just cranky. Even excuses like “it’s still early in the season” are starting to sound a little hollow now we’re almost one-third of the way through. Still, the AL Central doesn’t have a team storming away uncontested like the Dodgers in the NL West, so yes, OK, “there’s still plenty of time to go”. Checking the standings again though, Detroit are the only team who are over the .500 mark in the division, and Minnesota are 4.5 games back, certainly not cause for panic, but nevertheless a little disconcerting.

After three games at home entertaining the steadily improving Indians, the Twins upcoming 10-game extended road trip with stops in Oakland, Seattle, and Chicago (Cubs) could prove to be vital to their hopes this year.