Twins (and Gomez) Fall Again
Towards the end of the 2007 major league baseball season, the Cleveland Indians faced a dilemma regarding ace pitcher C.C. Sabathia. They had three options (much like the Twins regarding Torii Hunter and Johan Santana): 1. Trade him for the biggest possible bounty; 2. Sign him to a long-term contract for big bucks; 3. Keep him around for one more season (his last under contract) in hopes of contending and either trade him at the All-Star break or lose him outright at the end of the season. Why couldn’t the Indians have picked the first option?!
Once again tonight, as has become so familiar to Twins fans, Carsten Charles dominated Twins hitters, shutting them down through nine full innings on just five hits (all singles). For some reason, the Twins have always had problems hitting left-handed pitchers (perhaps because Mauer and Morneau are lefties themselves?), and powerful lefties with great command and velocity…forget about it. It was one of those nights where you just knew the Twins weren’t going to get a hit. I thought the Twins might have had a chance in the ninth inning when C.C. went to a 3-1 count on Matt Macri (as the top of the order was due up next), but of course he came back to whiff the new third baseman.
A game like tonight gives me flashbacks to the 2005 (shudder) season. That year, it seemed like when the Twins hit well (rarely) their pitching failed them, and when they pitched well their hitting failed them (often). The same pattern is developing this season. Take this last week: The Twins actually hit quite well against the White Sox, but the starting pitching was so atrocious that they were swept out of town. Now, in this first game against Cleveland, Baker turned in a gem of an outing and the bats went completely silent. Wasn’t this the reason why Torii Hunter took a swing at Justin Morneau in ’05?!
Finally, I don’t want to sound like I am nit-picking here, but I was really disappointed by Carlos Gomez again out in center field. Sure, the Twins aren’t going to win tonight’s game without scoring any runs, but he was the reason why Cleveland’s lone run scored in the first inning. After Ben Francisco doubled, Ryan Garko lined a single into center field. Gomez charged the ball hard for a play at the plate…and, once again, overran the ball and let Francisco score unchallenged. If that would have been the first time Gomez made that mistake I wouldn’t be so frustrated, but it has happened time and time again. I know that a center fielder must charge the ball hard, plus the adrenaline begins to flow when a play at the plate looks possible, but Gomez MUST secure the ball first. Too many times it has squirted under/over/sideways past his glove and behind him.
Preview: Tomorrow night, Nick Blackburn (4-4, 3.94) toes the rubber against Paul Byrd (3-5, 4.46). Blackburn is looking to bounce back from a poor outing (but, at this point, aren’t all Twins starters?!), while the Twins often struggle to hit Byrd’s funky delivery. Sounds like another “fun” night…