Results tagged ‘ Carl Pavano ’

The Doc Is OUT

3305f3be-e2b9-411d-9bbe-9461d17e41dd.jpgI really don’t like to say anything bad about Roy Halladay, as he is one of my favorite pitchers to watch in the American League, but the Twins finally (for the first time in 12 years) got to him today and came away with a victory.

There have been a handful of pitchers over the years who have had the Twins’ number, including Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Mark Buerhle (for a time) and Chuck Finley. The latest in that string had been Halladay, 8-0 in his career against the Twins.

Of course, we really didn’t GET to him tonight (a couple of solo homers from Cabrera and Morneau) and a big hit from Cuddyer, and he still managed to pitch all nine innings of the contest (what a gamer!). It’s just that Carl Pavano was just as good through seven and one third, allowing just one run on six hits and striking out five.

A few things that were nice to see:

-Morneau and Cuddyer driving balls again. Morneau really crushed that one in the eighth inning (hitting it that deep in Rogers Centre is quite a feat), and Cuddyer had been in the pattern of giving away at-bats again until breaking out in the ninth.

-Pavano pitching deep (and well) into the late innings of a game.  If his price tag isn’t too high, I think that the Twins would do well to sign him up again for 2010.  He’s never going to be the next Johan Santana or even Brad Radke, but he can (on a pretty regular occasion) post a quality start, something the young guys in the rotation haven’t yet been able to accomplish.

-In other baseball news…

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With three hits in the Yankees game today, Derek Jeter tied Lou Gehrig for the most hits all-time by a Yankee at 2,721.  I have never been shy about letting people know that, while not hating the Yankees outright (like I do the White Sox!), I pretty much despise everything they stand for (big market greed, selfish owner, etc.).  However, Derek Jeter is the exception to that rule.  I have always admired his day-to-day ability, and (in a way) he sort of reminds me of Cal Ripken (just with a great skill-set).  A first-ballot Hall of Famer if he never plays another game.

Preview (70-69, 2nd, 5.5 GB DET): Scott Baker (13-7, 4.34) vs. Brett Cecil (6-4, 5.46). We gained a game on Detroit last week…now we have to do it again.  With the season running out of dates, the way I see the Twins having a chance is if, going into both series’ with the Tigers, we need to be close enough so that a sweep will pull us even with them.  Even then it is a long shot, but look at what happened with the Twins and Sox last year. 

A Farm Is No Place For Rauch-es

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Though Mr. McDonald may have all the animals listed above, I don’t believe that “Rauch-es” were one of those inhabitants. Basically, with the Twins cruising to what looked like a momentum-building victory against the Blue Jays earlier tonight, the Jays came back with a six-run sixth inning en route to defeating the Twins 6-3. The back-breaking blow came when John McDonald (Toronto’s #9 batter) connected for a three-run frozen rope off of Twins reliever Jon Rauch that just barely cleared the high wall out in left field

Well, there goes another chance at Big Mo (especially with KC knocking off the Tigers). The season is quickly growing short, and if the Twins don’t start winning they will be eliminated by pure arithmetic before we know it (a depressing thought).

Preview (69-69, 2nd, 6.5 GB DET): Carl Pavano (11-11, 5.09) vs. Roy Halladay (14-8, 2.98).

Two Disturbing Trends

I know that the next statement I am about to make is not at all fair to closers all over baseball, but (at least in my case) it is true nonetheless: Having your team’s closer blow the game in the bottom of the ninth is the single worst way to lose a ballgame, bar none.  Now, add to the mix the idea that your closer might do so against your hated enemy, with two outs, and two strikes (twice).  That’s pretty much what Twins fans are feeling towards Joe Nathan today.  He’s too important to our playoff hopes to give up on him now, but I think there has to be a cooling-off period (probably a good thing the Twins are travelling to Cleveland today).

Once Wednesday’s meltdown was complete, the impact of such a crucial and heartbreaking loss really drove home to me two disturbing trends that the Twins have fallen prey to both this season and the last.

First, are the late-season struggles of Joe Nathan:

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When all is said and done, Nathan’s stats inevitably compare very well with the best closers in the league, yet for the past two years he has struggled to close out games come late August and early September.  Now, we’re not talking about the Eddie Guardado-method of struggling here (filling the bases and then wriggling out of trouble)…Nathan’s problems get so severe that he often blows the save chance or the game.  He hasn’t been on his game as of late, and Twins fans will also remember how bad he was during that long, late-season road trip in September of 2008 (capped by that now-infamous throwing error against the Blue Jays in Toronto).   Sometimes he will still have the ability to blow guys away, but all too often he is not able to find the handle on this control, thus having to groove meatballs just to get strikes.  Gordon Beckham and Paul Konerko showed him EXACTLY what happens to grooved meatballs in major league baseball.

Disturbing Trend #2: A similar slump from Justin Morneau…

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If the league MVP award was given out after July, Justin Morneau would win the darn thing almost every single season.  Yet, in those final two months (it happened last year and is happening again now), the home runs disappear and the average begins to sink towards about .270 (after sitting at .310 or so for most of the year).  This trend may be even more disturbing (and perplexing) than Nathan’s, though, as Joe Closer can usually right the ship by season’s end.  Justin, however, continued to sink last year to the point where opposing pitchers were walking Joe Mauer to get to him.

I don’t quite understand why this is, as he plays about the least demanding position on the diamond in terms of physical conditioning and injury potential.  For example, I don’t know any of these splits, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Torii Hunter (while playing on the Dome turf) slumped in the later months due to the beating his body took from bouncing around on that carpeted concrete.  The same axiom is usually try for mortal catchers (e.g. those not named Mauer)…they take a physical beating the slump accordingly.  About the only thing “afflicting” Morneau, though, is that he gets less off-days than any other player on the team, but once again that should be expected out of his position.

If the Twins think they can continue to play well and capture the AL Central, both those “wrongs” are going to have to be corrected, as the bullpen can’t survive without a closer and the lineup isn’t deep enough to support a slumping Canadian.

Preview (67-66, 2nd, 5.0 GB DET): Carl Pavano (11-10, 5.11) vs. Jeremy Sowers (5-9, 4.88). The schedule is again in our favor this weekend, as the Tigers draw the Rays while we get the Injuns.

Mauer Might Be Enough

2f99ccf2-40f9-4dfa-8b32-79d8284ae1f5.jpgOn a day when (most) Minnesota sports fans were declaring a national holiday (myself included!) because of the signing of Brett Favre with the Vikings, the Twins actually got a win tonight as well!

Tonight’s win didn’t really prove anything or right the ship, as Carl Pavano allowed five earned runs over four innings, but the bats came alive and got the Twins the “W”. Joe Mauer led the charge with two home runs, his 24th and 25th of the season, a single, and upped his season average to .383.

Besides one Albert Pujols, Mauer is the best pure hitter in the game of baseball right now and is a joy to watch (even when the team around him is imploding). I now know (being a relative youngster) what it must have been like to watch a guy like Rod Carew hit (except Jo-Mo is even better because he doesn’t just hit singles up the middle and drop down bunts).

Notes: -Delmon Young, much like last season, is having a decent second half, hitting another home run tonight and driving in four runs altogether. Perhaps the most encouraging sign from Young, though, is that he has been dead-on when hitting the ball lately, as his homers (I don’t know about tonight, though, as I didn’t see hit) having been going straight away to center.

Preview (57-62, 3rd, 3.5 GB CWS): Scott Baker (10-7, 4.54) vs. Kevin Millwood (9-7, 3.31). Which Scotty-boy will show up?

Open Mouth…Insert Foot

foot%20in%20mouth.gifLast night, I gave up on the Twins and expoused about how they would not win the division. I should have figured that something like this would happen (not that I’m complaining!). First, I complained that the Twins’ bats need to be perfect in order to beat their competition, and usually have no chance against the elite hurlers in the league. So, what happens when facing Justin Verlander…
28aee4e1-c8a1-4341-bd0b-ad25485e6842.jpgWell, let’s see…every Twins batter gets at least one hit, Denard Span gets five, Orlando Cabrera extends his hitting streak, and Joe Mauer hits home run #20 on the season en route to scoring 11 times (five off the flamethrower in six innings). Pitching-wise, I didn’t give Carl Pavano any love, and he was facing a potent Detroit lineup…

cc25d56d-a787-4090-acc0-63d571ea5c75.jpg Well, how about seven shutout innings on just five hits.

The message of the night?  Following the Twins the last few years has been like riding on one of these…

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Preview (54-56, 3rd, 2.5 GB CWS): Scott Baker (9-7, 4.59) vs. Jarrod Washburn (8-7, 2.93)

I Know The Feeling

9f801e53-3c06-46e2-a588-1e8d3f25b85d.jpgStory #1: During the summer of 2004, my Dad and I coached a Little League baseball team that reminds me a lot of the 2009 Minnesota Twins. We had one really good pitcher (Zane Stratton to Nick Blackburn) and a few guys who could hit, but other than that not much (we played decent D, again like the current Twins). We always had a chance against other similar-ranked teams, but against teams that had more talent we had to do everything perfect. One errant throw (and this was Little League, so imagine that!), a few costly outs from our big bats, or a couple of meatballs from our ace would immediately and automatically doom us to defeat.

Story #2: The next year, 2005, brought another Little League team with even worse results.  We couldn’t pitch, couldn’t hit, and could only basically field the ball (nothing spectacular).  On one dreary Minnesota night, however, our team was taking on the best team in the league and beating them by 7-8 runs.  For whatever reason (luck, primarily) everything was going right for them and wrong for us.  Yet, with an obvious thunderstorm fast approaching, our team ran out of pitchers (i.e. our “ace” was done).  With all the parents and grandparents starting to pack up the fort and get the umbrellas out in anticipation of the game being called, all we had to do was get three outs.  My memory of those next 5-10 minutes is a bit hazy, but I’m not quite sure we even got one of those.  The other team batted around twice, our guys didn’t catch/field the ball on defense, and at the exact second the game-winning run crossed the plate for the opponent, the clouds opened up and it began to pour.  It was almost like a message from God that we weren’t supposed to win that game.

On a macro-level, the Twins are very much like the team from Story #1.  We can compete with our equals, but (unless absolutely everything breaks right) we get squashed by our superiors (Anaheim and New York, primarily).

On a micro-level, though, as in tonight, the Twins are a lot like that sorry 2005 Little League team…struggling to do anything consistantly right and, at the same time, getting all the bad breaks.

I’m sad to have to say this, but for the first time all season I can definitively say that, barring a miracle, the Twins will not win the AL Central this season.  Will I still be tuning in and rooting for them down the stretch?  Yes.  But realistically, this team is a mess and cannot be fixed in the short time until October.

Notes:

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We “nabbed” Carl Pavano today. Gee whiz, what a move. He’s been just as bad as any of our current starters so far this season. In all honesty, sending down R.A. Dickey was probably a more important move than getting Pavano.

Preview (53-56, 3rd, 2.5 GB CWS): Carl Pavano (9-8, 5.37) vs. Justin Verlander (12-5, 3.29).

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