Results tagged ‘ Joe Maddon ’

Two Model Franchises (And Managers)

Twins_Rays_Baseball_sff_186220_game.jpgTonight’s marathon Twins-Rays game featured two of the most solid franchises in the American League duking it out deep into extra innings.

For “starters”, David Price (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7 K) and Scott Baker (8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7 K) matched each other hurl for hurl, with only an early Jason Repko double (driving in Danny Valencia) lighting up the scoreboard whatsoever.

Unsettlingly, though, Matt Capps came in for the save situation and promptly blew it, allowing the tying run to score on a Dan Johnson single.

From that point on, it was a battle of the bullpens, with the Twins holding the slight edge and thus the 2-1 victory:

Tampa: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER (all from Lance Cormier)

Minnesota: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER (Crain, Mijares, Guerrier)

In a game featuring such quality managers as Joe Maddon and Ron Gardenhire, what can you expect?!

Notes:

-It was nice to see Guerrier redeem himself after last night.  This is a guy who doesn’t have the most talent in the world, but relies instead on location and pitch movement.  Really strong performance tonight.

-Capps had better buy Baker a nice dinner sometime this week.

-Delmon Young finally got the big hit against his former club!  Hopefully that will break him out of his little mini-funk.

Preview (60-48, 2nd, 1.5 GB CWS): Kevin Slowey (10-5, 4.44) vs. Wade Davis (9-9, 4.21).

(Yes) Way, Jose!

8acf1f82-902d-4688-b1df-dd27ea66c3b0.jpgAlright, I was wrong…I’ve got to stop carrying my negativity towards the Minnesota Vikings (the NFL’s perennial messed-up franchise) to the Twins.  When Jose Morales first broke camp with the team (filling in for Mauer), I was on his case right from the very beginning.  He couldn’t throw out baserunners, couldn’t track down pop-ups, and couldn’t hit worth a darn.  However, Morales has now reminded me that baseball, unlike football, is a grind, where a couple of weeks is relatively nothing in comparison to the whole schedule.  Now, Morales (currently a .375 hitter) is hitting line drives all over the place, threw out his first baserunner the other day, and has caught all the sky-scrapers.  He even scored the winning run in last night’s contest against the Rays when Justin Morneau legged it down the line to prevent being doubled up on a sharply hit grounder (that was probably only fielded in the first place because TB skipper Joe Maddon had five infielders in).

Francisco Liriano turned in a great start as well last night, pitching nearly seven frames and only allowing two earned runs.  He isn’t striking out quite the number of batters he once did pre-Tommy John, but (in spurts) he has shown that he can be a very effective starting pitcher on this staff.

Even more impressive, though, was the relief outing from “the other Jose”, that being Jose Mijares, once exiled to the minor leagues (and presumably Weight Watchers) for looking and pitching sluggish during Spring Training.  He definitely didn’t look “sluggish” last night, as all his pitches had bite to them and the batters couldn’t touch them.

Oh yeah, and Joe Nathan is human.

Preview (10-11, 4th, 1.5 GB DET): Scott Kazmir (3-1, 3,97) vs. Nick Blackburn (1-1, 4.44). The bats better get to Kazmir early, as he can be nasty if allowed to find his groove (or get a big lead). 

Gardy At The Helm

070528_gardenhire_hmed_4phmedium.jpgThe Minnesota Twins organization announced today that manager Ron Gardenhire (who has been in that capacity since the start of the 2002 season) sign a two-year extension, pushing his tenure to the end of the 2011 baseball season.  This will assure Gardy an office in the Twins’ new stadium, Target Field, come 2010.

This was a no-brainer move for the Twins to make.  While I often disagree with Gardy’s careful handling of his starting pitchers and his careful playing of the lefty-righty numbers, he has proved me wrong more times than not.  His real talent, though, is in cultivating young players, as he has found the right balance of treating the youngsters with respect but showing them some tough love as well.  This year (2008) might have been his greatest achievement yet, taking a team that absolutely no one thought would contend and taking it within a few innings of a playoff berth.  I wouldn’t want anyone else manning the end spot in the dugout!

Twins Notes:

-In other Gardy news, he again finished second in the Manager of the Year award voting to the Tampa Bay Rays’ Joe Maddon.  Although Gardy deserved the award as much as anyone, how could it not go to Maddon for what he did for the Rays’ franchise?!  This is one of those awards where it’s better to be lucky than good, and Gardy has never been very lucky!  I doubt he cares though…he’ll probably go bowl a few games and forget about it!

Glad For Phillies Players, Disappointed At Philly Fans

Howard.jpgTo be honest, I really can’t say this year that I am glad one team won the World Series over the other.  Being a Twins fan I don’t follow the NL much, so the Phillies (besides their star players) were pretty much a mystery to me, while the Rays only came unto my “baseball radar” screen when they made the playoffs.  Thus, I didn’t know enough about either team to have a rooting interest in either direction.  However, after watching Phils closer Brad Lidge whiff Rays batter Eric Hinske to give Philadelphia its first baseball champion since 1980, there were two things I noticed about the Phils that will always shape how I remember their 2008 championship season:

First, I was very impressed by the genuine excitement and gratitude shown by Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel.  While on the outside “Charmin Chuck” (as he was known when he played for the Minnesota Twins from 1969-1972) seems like a grumpy old codger (I likened him to Tom Kelly in his mannerisms), one could easily tell from his “acceptance speech” while being given the World Series trophy that he is one of the genuine “good guys” of the game of baseball and am I happy for him.  I’m sure Rays manager Joe Maddon is just as genuine of a guy, but he (being young) will likely get another crack at a championship.  Manuel may not be on this Earth much longer so I’m glad he got to experience what it’s like to hoist up a championship trophy.

On the other hand, I was very disappointed with the fans of Philadelphia, as they booed MLB Commissioner Bud Selig when he stepped up to make the trophy presentation.  To be honest, I understand exactly WHY they are booing (I think Selig is a no-backbone goon as well), but is that really the time or place to express your feelings?!  No!!   In what should have been a moment of jubilation, many Philly fans were just looking for something to ridicule, and to me that says a lot about the character of the people who walk into Citizen’s Bank Park on a nightly basis.  I know I’m generalizing here, as many fans didn’t boo Selig, but by and large the lack of sportsmanship was permeating.  Over the last few years I have heard all the stories (e.g. booing Santa Claus at an Eagles game) about the rude behavior of Philadelphia fans, but last night I experienced it first hand and was appalled.

With the baseball season now “closed for the winter” (much like my local DairyLand ice cream shop), I don’t know how much I will be contributing to this blog in the coming months.  I will keep you updated on the happenings involved with the Twins, as well as every once in awhile write on a topic that may intrigue me as it comes across the media.

I started this blog in June of 2008, so I am looking forward to 2009, when I can blog about my favorite team (the Twins!) from beginning to end!

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