Results tagged ‘ Francisco Liriano ’

Duensing Domination

Royals_Twins_Baseball_sff_192722_game.jpgIf the playoffs were to start right now, the Twins would go against the Rays and could trot out Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, and Brian Duensing in the first three games.  After Duensing’s domination of the Royals last night, I like those odds.

A starting pitcher SHOULD dominate the paltry KC Royals offerings, and that is exactly what Duensing did.  It may have been the most impressive pitching performance of the season, considering the fact that KC (despite scratching out one weak run) really had no chance against Brian all night long.

Big hits from Tolbert and Span provided the offense against Zack Greinke, who the Twins have now bested four times this season.

I’ll be rooting on my Minnesota Vikings tonight while the Twins hope a plane to Cleveland, but also be keeping my eye on the White Sox game, as a loss could put them a full six games back in the division race!

Preview (83-57, 1st, 5.5 GA CWS): Carl Pavano (16-10, 3.52) vs. Fausto Carmona (11-14, 4.05)

Jammed

Twins_White_Sox_Baseball_sff_187721_game.jpgTonight, Francisco Liriano went 5.2 innings and only gave up one run. Without observing the game and just going by that stat line, you’d think that maybe he walked a few too many guys or just ran out of gas.  This was not the case whatsoever.  In fact, Frankie (if not spectacular) was remarkable in his ability to get out of jams.

In the fifth inning, with the bases loaded with Sox and no one out, Cisco got Rios to hit into a force play at the plate, then struck out both Konerko and Quentin on nasty sliders to end the inning.

In the sixth, the Sox again loaded the bases, this time with one out, only to see Liriano get Pierre to line out and then cede to Guerrier, who popped out Ramirez.

All told, it was a miraculous performance from Liriano in terms of pitching out of jams.

Then the seventh inning dawned, the Tighty-Whities put a man on base (Mauer) to pitch to Kubel, and that pretty much ended things:

Twins_White_Sox_Baseball_sff_187726_game.jpg Notes:

-With Valencia playing so well at third, there seems to be no rush to hurry along Nick Punto back from injury.  When Little Nicky does return, I would hope that Gardy would use him as a sub, not wrenching the starting job from a still-hitting Danny Boy.

-Will anyone really miss Mijares?  He’s basically what I call a 50-50 guy.  He might get the lefty out, but he also has just a great a chance at walking him or uncorking a wild pitch.  Is he worth it as a LOGEY?

Preview (65-50, 1st, 1.0 GA CWS): Gio Gonzalez (10-7, 3.51) vs. Carl Pavano (14-7, 3.28). As Bert Blyleven said on the telecast tonight, Oakland is playing some decent ball right now, and can throw some quality arms at us this weekend.  But is it any match for the stache?  I think not.

Today’s Lesson: Don’t Pitch To Kubel With The Bases Loaded On Sunday

Mariners_Twins_Baseball_sff_185682_game.jpgLast year, Jason Kubel finally become the big lefty bat the organization saw all along by putting up these stats: .300 AVG, 28 HR, 103 RBI, .907 OPS.  This year (at least so far), the numbers have dwindled: .256, 12 HR, 58 RBI, .756 OPS.  Unfortunately, Kubes has been just as likely to ground into a killer double play or whiff on 3-4 pitches this season than provide the big hit.

However, there is one obvious exception: When the bases are juiced (particularly on Sunday!) and the Twins need runs:

In early May against the Yankees, Big K did this off Mariano Rivera to prevent a sweep:

 

Less than two weeks ago, Jason did likewise to the Orioles.

Today, the damage was done in the form of a three-run double, once again with the bases loaded on a sticky Sunday afternoon, that put the Twins up for good.

Of course, it also helps when Francisco Liriano (7 IP, 11 K) is pitching lights-out, at home, against one of the worst offensive teams (Seattle) in the majors.

8 in a row for the hometown crew!  The road gets a lot tougher from here, though, as a big four-gamer is nigh against the Rays.  Whaddya say we show a potential (hopefully…anybody but the Yanks) playoff opponent what Twins baseball is all about!

Preview (59-46, 2nd, 0.5 GB CWS): Carl Pavano (13-6, 3.21) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 0.00).

Right Move…But Right Guy?

Just heard today that the Twins got closer Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals…

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From a purely personnel standpoint, GM Bill Smith got it right. I’m glad he realized that Jon Rauch is not a playoff-caliber closer, and that adding a reliever to allow Duensing a spot in the starting rotation might be just as good as a high-caliber, high-risk, rental-player trade.

The only thing I’m concerned about is that, from what I’ve heard, Capps isn’t all that steadier than Mr. Rauch.  I don’t know too much about him, though, so I would appreciate some comments from more informed minds on the matter.

For now, though, I’ll say I like this trade going forward.  Pavano, Liriano, Duensing isn’t too shabby at the front end of the rotation, Blackburn will likely be pitching in big games (and probably suceeding, knowing him) in September again, and anything from Baker/Slowey is a plus at this point.

Making ‘Em Sweat

Twins_Blue_Jays_Baseball__sff_180650_game.jpgLast night, the Minnesota Twins look for all the world to be headed to another disappointing loss on the road.  Down 5-2 after five innings, Carl Pavano was getting beat by the long ball and the bats weren’t doing much of anything (besides grounding to Lyle Overbay, that is).

However, that is when the bats started to heat up:

Twins_Blue_Jays_Baseball__sff_180610_game.jpg Not only did it take back-to-back jacks from Morneau and Kubel to jump back into the game, but big hits were also needed from Mauer (dinger), and doubles by Thome and Delmon Young (who finished the game 3-3) since the pen kept serving up the meatballs.

As much as everyone is worried about the Twins right now, I think that our hitting is what it is and we aren’t going to change anything.  If we continue to trot out a Span-O-Dawg-Mauer-Morneau-Cuddy-Kubes-Big D-Big Jim-JJ lineup, we’ll score runs:

 If it doesn’t, then we probably just don’t deserve to make the playoffs anyway, so why worry?  Thus, are biggest area of improvement will be pitching.  Cliff Lee would be huge, but enough so to mortage away guys like Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks?  At this point, I would have to say yes.  With that kind of potent lineup day in and day out, we may actually have a chance to take on the mighty Yanks in the playoffs this year (one always has to assume that the AL road to the World Series runs through the Big Apple), but not without a few pitchers to hold back their firepower.  Sending Lee, Liriano, and Pavano/Slowey/Baker/Blackie to the mound would give as at least a fair shake against their big bats, I think, though of course nothing is guaranteed.

Another key…more pictures like this:

Twins_Blue_Jays_Baseball__sff_180646_game.jpg

Notes:

-Too bad Delmon Young won’t win the Final Vote balloting, but Kevin Youkilis probably deserves it.  Just as long as Swish doesn’t make it…man I hate that guy!

Preview (45-38, 2nd, 0.5 GB DET): Kevin Slowey (8-5, 4.57) vs. Marc Rzepczynski (0-0, 0.00).  The Tigers needed some late-inning heroics to preserve their division lead last night, so let’s keep the pressure on.  I don’t want to be two games back heading into Comerica this weekend.

Top Dog No More

Tigers_Twins_Baseball_sff_179244_game.jpgWith the way the Twins had been playing of late, this day seemed inevitable. I was hoping that a little hometown magic would boost the spirits and lead to a victory, but even that proved not enough tonight as the Twins were beaten (and vaulted in the standings) by the Detroit Tigers.

Though we finally got some clutch hits tonight, our pitching could not silence the Tigers’ bats long enough for us to stay in the game.  Liriano got roughed up early (4 runs in the first inning), then settled down nicely, but once the ‘pen was called in the Tigers kept scoring just enough runs to stay ahead of us.

It’s not the end of the world, I know, but after reigning at the top of the division for nearly two whole months, it actually starts to feel as if you belong there.

Notes:

-I really feel bad for Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya…

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy on a baseball field in such pain.  With his history of arm problems, it could very well be that he never throws another pitch again (if the pain matches the severity of the injury).  You never like to see a top talent get hurt, even if he plays for your rival.

-Jim Thome hitting a triple?  Yep.  Took a million-to-one bounce of the edge of the scoreboard…and Thome came up spades.  Only guys funnier legging one out were Mike Redmond and Matthew LeCroy.

Preview (41-35, 2nd, 0.5 GB DET): Armando Galaragga (3-1, 3.68) vs. Nick Blackburn (6-5, 6.10).  Just typing “GB” instead of “GA” gives me flashbacks to 2009.  Ugh.  Tomorrow it’s Mr (Almost) Perfect vs. Mr. (Almost) Pathetic.

Two Good Teams

This past weekend, the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves (both leaders of their respective divisions) played some hard-fought games that brought to mind another series between each club that you might remember:

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On Friday night, Francisco Liriano and Tim Hudson locked horns in an epic pitchers duel (I was at this one in person!).  Frankie struck out seven batters in a row at one point (tying a club record), and the Twins did Hudson in with one productive inning in the seventh.

For Saturday’s game, another pitching lockup commenced, this time with Nick Blackburn taking the hard-luck loss to Derek Lowe.

In the finale, Kevin Slowey came back down to earth after a series of outstanding starts, and the Twins effectively lost after the second inning (down 5-0).  Delmon Young did continue his hot hitting with a three-run bomb, though.

Notes:

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-It was nice to see the Twins organization recognize Bobby Cox before the opening game of the series (Cox has announced his retirement from managing effective at the end of this season).  He truly is a class act who will be sorely missed by Atlanta and all MLB.

-Boy, is Delmon ever on a tear!  Of course, he is also prone to those bone-dry stretches as well, so is it really necessary to re-hash the Garza/Bartlett for Young/Harris trade every time he goes on a streak?!

-We need to get healthy.  We may be able to beat some NL clubs (like the incoming Rockies) with the likes of Danny Valencia and Trevor Plouffe in the lineup, but we need O-Dawg and JJ back to compete with the big boys offensively.

Preview (36-27, 1st, 2.5 GA DET): Aaron Cook (2-3, 4.76) vs. Carl Pavano (6-6, 3.92).  Does Pavano ever get a no-decision?  I’m kidding…that’s actually a positive thing, as it means he’s pitching deep into games.

2001: A Twins Oddity

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4_11_mientkiewicz.jpg

Why the retro pics? Well, the last time the Twins defeated Andy Pettitte, the date was April 30, the year was 2001, Brad Radke pitched a complete game to run his record to 5-0, and Doug Mientkiewicz went 2-3 with a homer to up his average to .380 on the season.  Radke is now long since retired and Minty is a 35 year old glove/walk machine.  That should tell you all you need to know about today’s lopsided affair.

Basically, Pettitte shut us down once again, and while Liriano pitched well enough to keep us in the game, the bullpen finally imploded under the pressure in the late innings.  If old Andy can do this to us, I can only imagine what would have happened had we drew Sabathia in this series (would we even need to play the game?).

When will this miserable streak end?

Notes:

-Any thoughts as to why Jesse Crain still has a major league job?

Preview (22-14, 1.5 GB DET): Nick Blackburn (3-1, 4.76) vs. Sergio Mitre (0-1, 3.86).  Don’t so much care about the Yankee Curse in this one as just scraping out a win before the Tigers catch us again.

John Sterling Must Love The Twins

Seventh inning, bases loaded, one out, A-Rod at the dish, Matty Guerrier on the mound:

 

We’ll try again tomorrow.

Preview (22-13, 1st, 2.5 GB DET): Francisco Liriano (4-1, 2.36) vs. Andy Pettitte (4-0, 2.08).

Playin’ Big

pologrounds.jpgWay back in the day, there was a ballpark called the Polo Grounds that played host to the New York Giants of John McGraw and Christy Mathewson fame.  The park, pictured above, was shaped like an emormous horseshoe and was roughly 500 feet from home plate to the center field “garage” (imagine sitting out there!).  Though batters could hit lazy pop flies that would easily clear the 250 ft. lengths down both lines, the power alleys (aptly named for where the big drives go) were nearly impossible to clear.

During the current Twins homestand at Target Field, its looking more and more (at least in the soggy weather) that our new digs will play pretty big as well.  In today’s game, Michael Cuddyer hit a blast off of John Danks that looked as if it were so far gone that centerfielder Alex Rios wouldn’t even have a shot at it.  Somewhere, though, the cold air kept the ball in the air long enough to allow Rios, on a dead sprint, to extend his glove over the top of the wall and come down with ball in hand.  Cuddyer (as well as the announcers and all watching fans) was incredulous that the ball didn’t leave the stadium by a mile.

Luckily, the Twins got another solid performance from Pavano (7 IP, 2 ER) and managed not to waste it this time, slapping together a few runs in the early innings to counter a rough first inning and hanging on the rest of the way.  Without the baserunning daring of Juan Pierre, the Sox wouldn’t have had anything going for them today.

Preview (22-12, 1st, 3.0 GA DET): Francisco Liriano (4-1, 2.36) vs. AJ Burnett (4-1, 3.40).  Travel day Thursday in preperation for the big Yankee showdown over the weekend.

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