I was again out of town over the weekend and without Internet access, so here is my quick review of the Cleveland series:
Game #1: The Fat Man pitched a complete game, but allowed five runs in the process in the 5-4 loss. Carlos Gomez was carted off in the first inning after crashing into the center field wall, while a Justin Morneau home run in the ninth inning was not enough to complete a comeback.
Game #2: The whupping sticks came out against Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona. Delmon Young collected three hits, as did Brian Buscher (who also homered and drove in five runs). Scott Baker improved to 7-3 on the season thanks to all the run support.
Game #3: With the game tied 2-2 heading into the ninth inning, the Twins finally outlasted Jeremy Sowers, who had held them to two scratch runs in the previous eight innings. Facing new Cleveland “closer” (kind of like Mike Trombley closing for the Twins in the late 90s!) Rafael Perez, Alexi Casilla hit a ground-rule double. Then, favoring the lefty-lefty matchup, Cleveland skipper Eric Wedge let Perez pitch to Morneau. Of course, the Big Canuck smacked a double to break the tie, and was later singled home by Jason Kubel for the 4-2 final score.
Some thoughts about the series:
-This series pretty much belonged to Denard Span. At bat, he worked deep into counts and seemingly always got on base in some fashion. In center field, he made numerous running or jumping (as pictured) catches that saved countless runs. When Go-Go’s back is ready for action again, Gardy will have an interesting decision to make. Things will even get murkier when Cuddyer returns. My vote is for Gomez to be sent down and go with a Young, Span, Kubel outfield for now, than sub in Cuddyer when ready and have Kubel platoon at DH with Craig Monroe (a right-handed batter). Gomez’s “slump” has turned into a trend. He still has a very bright future, but pitchers have finally figured him out and he needs to make the adjustment, which hasn’t happened yet. In the middle of a pennant race, patience with him his tough to stomach, as he strikes out so many times and makes himself look foolish on many occasions.
-I think it’s also time for the Fat Man to go. Sure, he is a veteran presence, but he is clearly now finally showing his true statistical line. Many people will point to the fact that he pitched a complete game on Friday night, but he also gave up five runs…that’s a 5.00 ERA (not very impressive in my book). Time to call up the Cisco Kid and see what happens. Perhaps Livan would be willing to go the pen for a while? Doubtful, but in that case we would have to release him and take a chance on Liriano…a chance I am willing to take.
-Finally, I am always hopeful for a Twins victory when Scott Baker is on the mound, but he really needs to find a way to limit is pitch count before I will count him as a truly reliable starting pitcher. He almost always has his good “stuff”, but that “stuff” often requires 100+ pitches in 5-6 innings and leads to many short starts. Johan Santana had kind of the same problem, but he was usually able to find a way to pitch into the seventh inning.
Preview: (57-47, 2nd, 2.5 GB CWS): Kevin Slowey (6-7, 4.41) vs. Mark Buerhle (8-8, 3.56). In under an hour, the Twins begin their most important series of the season to date…a four-game with the Chicago White Sox. A win against notorious Twin-killer Buerhle would really boost confidence.