Category Archives: MLB

Harmon Killebrew, 1936-2011

image by Flickr user BaseballBacks, used under a Creative Commons license

Harmon Killebrew, the first Minnesota Twin inducted into the Hall of Fame, passed away today at home in the same manner in which he lived his life, quietly and with exceptional dignity. Esophageal cancer claimed the gentle giant at age 74. At his side was his wife, Nita, and their family. For perspective on Harmon and his accomplishments, I direct you to Joe Posnanski's piece, "The Gentleman Called Killer", published just yesterday.

There's much which can be said about Harmon Killebrew, and what he meant to Twins fans, either as a great player, a matchless ambassador of the game and representative of the Twins, or as a Minnesota icon. Feel free to pay your respects below, either by relating a story about Harmon, by sharing some thoughts on his accomplishments, or any other way you see fit.

Game 37: Jays 9, Twins 3 (11)

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins set a major league record Saturday by stranding 33 base runners in a 9-3, 11-inning loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

The Twins also continued their losing streak, which extended to 37 games, also a record to start a season. Reliever Glen Perkins dropped to 0-8 after allowing a leadoff single in the 11th. Perkins was pulled from the game and the Blue Jays proceeded to hit five consecutive home runs to put the game away.

With his bullpen overworked and ineffective, manager Ron Gardenhire was forced to bring in reliever Kevin Slowey, who normally is a right-hander but was forced to use his left arm to pitch. With his right arm in a sling, Slowey wore catcher's gear in hopes that if a ball came back to him, he could knock it down with his body and throw it with his healthy arm.

Fortunately, it never came to that as the Jays batters were laughing too hard at Slowey to swing the bat and Slowey struck out all three batters he faced on just nine pitches.

TV analyst Bert Blyleven was heard to remark about Slowey, "Not too bad, but he needs to work on keeping the ball down."

The heartbreaking loss was followed by even more bad news when six more players were put on the disabled list following the game, also a major league record. All six had broken wrists after slapping hands with Michael Cuddyer after he homered in the seventh, which was the first by a Twin other than Jason Kubel on the season. In fact, it was the first hit by a non-Kubel to leave the infield this season.

Game 32: Twins at Red Sox

Pavanostache (2-3, 5.84 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) vs. Dice-K (2-3, 4.33, 1.33)

Happy Mother's Day, all! MLB marks the day with breast cancer awareness. Any batters who want can use a pink bat. Plus, you'll see pink armbands and cleats, and possibly even gloves. This subject is near and dear to my family as both of my boys' grandmothers have had breast cancer. Fortunately, both were caught early and both are in remission.

Still, this is a worthy cause and not one to be taken lightly. Plus, it's a good reminder to make sure to give your mom a hug (or a call if like me you can't be with her today).

As for the game, Carl Pavano needs to get rid of the beard. He needs to return to the Pavanostache that intimidated hitters into submission last year.

The Twins need to show patience at the plate. Dice-K alwayshas been prone to control problems in the major leagues and the Twins need to take advantage of that. Maybe this can be a breakout game for Justin Morneau. He's 6-for-12 with a home run and two doubles against Dice-K.

This game would have been a media circus if Nishi hadn't gotten hurt. Oh well. At the very least, the Twins can improve to .500 in their last 14 games with a win today. Plus, it would guarantee a split in the series with a chance to win it tomorrow. Let's get er done. Go Twins!!!!

Game 31: Red Sox 4, Twins 0

I hate Fox with a passion.

I have discovered the greatest help to baseball watching ever conceived. I record the games with a DVR and I set my Skip function to skip ahead 10 seconds. This allows me to skip ahead between each pitch, eliminating 10 seconds between each one. I also can skip through the commercials, pitching changes, umpire arguments, pitcher-catcher discussions, and, yes, rain delays. Which has been working fantastic until today.

The Twins were on Fox, and only on Fox (I have MLB Extra Innings package that I paid a pretty penny for), and I started to watch it a couple hours after it started. This, of course, means that I have to remain offline, or at least avoid sites that will display the score, as well as other channels, like ESPN. (I once turned on the TV to start watching the game, but it was on ESPN and the Twins score was at the bottom of the screen at the exact moment I turned it on. I would have really been upset, except it showed the Twins won, so I was still happy to watch the game in its entirety). So, I had no idea the Twins went into a rain delay. I was OK about it (I set the DVR to record 4 1/2 hours for each game) because I could fast forward it. I was fine until I saw a different score at the bottom of the screen, which meant the game had resumed, but Fox had not gone back to the game. So, I had to go to the computer to find out that I had missed three innings of the game.

Of course, as it turned out, I didn't really miss much. I listened to the rest of the game on XM, but there wasn't much drama to it, especially once Alex Burnett came in. If the Twins are going to make a move, I would bet on it being a setup right-handed reliever. At the very least, maybe they can give Anthony Slama another shot.

Justin Morneau does not look good right now. A week or so ago, he was hitting line drives and not having much luck. Now he looks like he's trying to do too much and trying to pull everything. He probably should have gotten the whole day off today and not just DH. That is probably the worst thing to do is DH when you are struggling. The player can only sit around and think about his last weak swing instead of go out and play defense. I know some are panicking that this is the result of the concussion and that he'll never be the same, but we have no evidence of that and it's not like he hasn't gone through stretches like this before. He just needs to remember that there is a left field out there as well.

The good news is Kevin Slowey pitched well in his return, so the bullpen has been bolstered. Hopefully, Delmon Young will be back soon as well.

Oh, Danny boy

The Twins are ready to make some changes. While I agree something probably should be done at this point, I just hope they don't do the wrong ones. Getting Casilla out of there is obvious, but this is the part that has me concerned:

The club also is concerned third baseman Danny Valencia has regressed defensively and is not the player he was last season, when he batted .311 in 85 games as a rookie and was solid in the field. Valencia is batting only .211, and his defense has been shaky at times. Manager Ron Gardenhire also has not been happy with Valencia's baserunning.

Valencia actually leads the Twins with 13 RBI, but that's more a reflection of the struggling players around him. Some with the club believe Luke Hughes' best position is third base, but there have been no indications the club is ready to make a change there for now.

I'll give them that Valencia hasn't been as good as last year on defense, but the defensive metrics say he has gone from a terrific defensive player to slightly below average. He's only been credited with two errors. And at this point in his career it's more likely this first month of the season is a fluke than three months last season, although we really don't have enough defensive data to make any true judgments at this point.

However, as for his offense, Valencia has a .225 BABIP after having a .345 BABIP last year, so he went to being somewhat fortunate (the Twins had a .306 team BABIP last year) to extremely unfortunate. Valencia actually leads the Twins in walks with 11 and only has 13 strikeouts for by far the best K/BB rate on the team. He has increased his walk rate from last year, dropped his strikeout rate and maintained the same line-drive rate, which is right at the major league average.

As for baserunning, I'll give them that he hasn't been aggressive enough, but he hasn't regressed in that area, he just hasn't improved. Last year, he only took an extra base 25 percent of the time, while the Twins as a whole did it 41 percent. This year, Valencia is at 23 percent in very few opportunities, so he has essentially remained the same. He may not be aggressive, but at least he isn't costing the team outs on the basepaths.

The Twins have many problems, but I don't think Valencia is one of them. Unfortunately, he hasn't been around long enough to get a free pass like many others are getting. I hope his luck changes before the Twins do something stupid.

2011 vs. 2010 Thought Experiment

So far this season, the Twins have played 3 games at Toronto, 3 games at NY, three vs Oakland, two vs KC, four at TB, four at Baltimore, two vs Clelveland, three vs TB, and three at KC. So 17 away games and 10 home games.

As a thought experiment, let's consider how the Twins did in those games last year. For situations where the Twins played more of that type of game, I will use the results of the 2010 games that were played first in chronological order.

@TOR, W 1-0
@TOR, L 1-1
@TOR, W 2-1
@NY, L 2-2
@NY, L 2-3
@NY, W 3-3
OAK, W 4-3
OAK, W 5-3
OAK, W 6-3
KC, W 7-3
KC, W 8-3
@TB, L 8-4
@TB, L 8-5
@TB, W 9-5
@TB, W 10-5
@BAL, W 11-5
@BAL, L 11-6
@BAL, W 12-6
@BAL, W 13-6
CLE, W 14-6
CLE, W 15-6
TB, L 15-7
TB, W 16-7
TB, L 16-8
@KC, W 17-8
@KC, W 18-8
@KC, L 18-9

Huh, here I thought with 16 of 27 games against the AL East and 17 of 27 games away, that looking back at last season the Twins would have been somewhere around .500 in that group of games, but it turns out they did great in those matchups last year.

More than anything, at this point I worry that the Twins don't have much depth and that seems to have hurt them so far this year as much as anything. It's possible they'll get healthier, but as they see some players come back to the lineup, they'll likely see others hit the DL.

The schedule isn't doing them any favors for a while, either. 40 of their first 61 games are on the road. These are the times which try fans' souls.

Game 27: Twins at Royals

WARNING:

Watch this game at your own risk. The writer of this game log assumes no risk or responsibility to what may happen to you if you do watch this game. Watching Twins baseball in 2011 has been known to cause shortness of temper, stomach pain, nausea, violent fits of rage, depression, deep despair, uncontrollable weeping, extreme cravings for alcohol, convulsive arm muscle spasms, flying remotes, cracked television screens, uncontrollable shouting of expletives, incontinence and impotence. Some fans have even begun to believe that Bert Blyleven and Dan Gladden know what they are talking about.

Remember, you have been warned.

2011 Game 25 Recap: Twins 3, Royals 4

Weather: 73 degrees, partly cloudy
Wind: 17 mph, right to left
Time: 2:53
Attendance: 31,407

Box score

Fangraphs

The Crisis

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer and the sunshine will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their team. The Royals are not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as winning should not be highly rated.

Okay, so I took a little liberty with the words of Thomas Paine. And I'm not sure you can call this a crisis just yet. It probably is too early to panic. The sky probably isn't falling. Being eight games under .500 is worrisome in August, sure, but not so much to spark heartburn about at the end of April. Did I mention that it's probably too early to panic?

Continue reading 2011 Game 25 Recap: Twins 3, Royals 4

Game 21: Indians at Twins

Time: 1:10 CDT

TV: FSN

Radio: TRN, XM 179

Starting Pitchers: Carlos Carrasco (1-1, 4.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) vs. Carl Pavano (1-2, 5.47, 1.22).

Saturday's outburst was great, but it's about time for the Twins to win a series and no better time to do it than against the team in first place.  The aged Twins need to give the upstart Indians their comeuppance.

The Twins are now 4-0 in Brian Duensing's starts an 4-12 the other days. That trend needs to be remedied (not the Duensing part, of course).

It also would be nice to finally get a three-game win streak and ensure the White Sox are in last place for at least one more day. Go Twins!!!!1111!!!