Tag Archives: Hector Santiago

Game 21: Twins at Rangers

The Tale of Two Lefty's
Hector Santiago (2-1, 2.19 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 4 BB:17 SO's through 24.2 IP, 3.65 RS/9)
Cole Hamels (1-0, 2.77 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 9 BB:14 SO's through 26 IP, 7.62 RS/9)

I actually think Santiago's a better pitcher than I'd given him credit for. As cheaptoy noted, this is probably due to the fact that someone was willing to trade him to the Twins in exchange for Ricky Nolasco.

Fun Fact: Mauer is 0-12 facing Hamels - most at-bats without a hit against any pitcher... so, he's due?

After some early miscues and missed opportunities, the Twins nearly managed a 'GreekHouse call' last night, falling only 1 run short of the necessary 8. Sure wouldn't mind them accomplishing that goal this evening.

Last year the team was never over .500 (closest they'd get was 17.5 games back at 46-66, a .411 winning percentage) through 20 games, they were already 6-14. At 10-10, the fellas are in 4th place, but only 1.5 games behind 1st place Detroit. A win puts the Twins back over .500 on the season.

Game 2 Recap: Twins 9, Royals 1

When Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were hired to run the Twins, much was made about their emphasis on "analytics".  These two men, we were told, were the men who were going to bring the Twins into the twenty-first century.  We would see new strategies that Twins teams had not previously employed.  I think, two games into the season, we are already starting to see that.

The main strategy the Twins have employed so far is to score several runs per game while limiting the other team to just one.  This strategy is foreign to Twins fans, and may take some getting used to.  So far, however, it seems to be effective.  Yes, it's a small sample size, but many experts believe that this strategy will continue to work if the Twins will just stick with it.

It's a strategy that has at least three components.  One of them is to score six runs in the seventh inning of every game.  A second one is to have you starting pitcher give up exactly one run:  no more, no less.  A third is to have your relief pitchers give up zero runs.  Again, these concepts may seem radical to Twins fans,  They are certainly different from what we've seen in recent years.  And, of course, two games are not enough to know whether these things will continue to bear fruit over the long-term.  Still, I think the Twins should continue using them as long as they're working.

Looking at the game a bit more seriously, Hector Santiago managed to pitch five innings and just give up one run despite throwing just seven first-pitch strikes in twenty attempts.  He apparently did better on second, third, and fourth pitches, as he threw 52 strikes out of 88 pitches.  That means that, other than the first pitch, he threw strikes about two-thirds of the time, which isn't bad at all.  Obviously, starting with ball one is not the recommended procedure, but if you can throw enough other strikes, and are helped out by facing a team that doesn't walk much, you can get away with it.  Watching on TV, I wondered if perhaps his back was bothering him--I saw him appear to try to be stretching it out a few times between pitches.  If so, that would account for him having trouble getting the ball down.  If it was bothering him, it is hoped that he was simply having trouble getting loose on a chilly day, rather than something that will be a chronic problem.

When Santiago came out after five innings, Tyler Duffey came in.  Duffey is supposedly the "long man", but he pitched only one inning.  Now, Molitor has expressed a preference--shared by many managers--of getting as many players into a game as early in the season as possible.  That may be all he was doing here, and if so I have no problem with it.  On the other hand, Molitor has seemed to believe that relief pitchers can work no more than one inning per game, which is one of the reasons the Twins always think they need eight relief pitchers.  I'm not upset about this, but it is something to keep an eye on as the season rolls along.

Byron Buxton got an infield single, which I assume sent Dick Bremer into all kinds of ecstasies.  Bremer was talking earlier in the game about how Buxton needs to hit more "line drives and ground balls".  I'm all for having Buxton hit line drives--it's a good idea for almost every batter to hit line drives.  But ground balls?  No.  It amazes me that someone will talk about how pitchers need to keep the ball down and force the opposing batters to hit ground balls, and then turn around and recommend that your own batters hit ground balls.  Yes, Buxton is a fast man, but he's not going to beat out very many two-hoppers to the shortstop.  If he hits ground balls consistently, the number of infield singles he gets will be dwarfed by the number of ground outs he makes.

Buxton is 1-for-10 on the young season, to which I say, so what?  There won't be five batters in the majors who don't go 1-for-10 at some point in the season.  If he does it in June, no one will even notice.  I don't think I'd have started the season with Buxton batting third, but having decided to do it, the Twins need to leave him there for a substantial period of time and give it a chance to work.  In other words, if they thought they had good reasons to bat him third at the start of the season, nothing that happens in the first couple of weeks should convince them that they were wrong.  Leave him alone and see what happens.

I find it interesting the Robbie Grossman has started the season 0-for-6, and yet I don't hear any of the complaints about his slow start that I hear about Buxton.  Yes, Grossman has drawn a few walks, and yes, there are different expectations.  Still, I think if Buxton had started 0-for-6 with three walks, the reaction would be quite different than it is for Grossman.

The Twins are 2-0 and in first place, and it feels good to be able to say that.  They go for the series sweep this afternoon, and it feels good to be able to say that, too.  It'll be Jason Hammel going for Kansas City and Kyle Gibson pitching for Our Heroes.  If the Twins use the same strategy they've used in the first two games, I predict another victory.  Go Twins!

Game 2: Kansas City at Minnesota

Starting the season with a win, as opposed to the recent standard "L" is so much fun, I was disappointed the Twins didn't play yesterday. Instead, I watched the Wild clinch home ice for the playoffs and the Timberwolves hang with the  Warriors for about 2 quarters before the Splash Brothers blew the thing up.

So, with limited optimism for this season, and with the understanding that Spring Training results mean next-to-nothing, basically all I have to point to today will be historic results.*

The last time the Twins opened the season with a win, 2008, they proceeded to lose the next three games in a row. After 10 games, they were 5-5 and ended the season at 89-74, good for 2nd in the Central (losing Game 163 to Chicago ... booo!)

The last time they won multiple games out of the gate was a decade ago - 2007 - when they won 3, had a couple days off, lost a game and then basically traded wins & losses on their way to a 6-4 start. They went 79-83 and finished 3rd in the Central.

In 2010, the Twins lost their opener, and then pulled off 5 wins in a row, and 7 wins out of the first 10 games. They finished the season with 8 losses in the last 10 games. They still won the Central, but were swept by the Yankees in the LDS and have not returned the playoffs since.

Whatever - I certainly like the idea of a 2-0 start to an 0-2 start. Though I'd argue the Twins are pitching-poor if Hector Santiago is your #2 starter, I certainly wouldn't mind if he can get back to the 2015 version of himself (32 games started, 180.2 IP, 8.1 SO/9, 3.59 ERA, 105 ERA+, 1.256 WHIP).

The Royals counter with Ian Kennedy on the mound.

*Historic results also mean nothing ... but what else am I going to talk about?

2013 Game 122: White Sox at Twins

With under seven weeks left in the season, I find myself so apathetic about the Twins that I didn't even feel like referring to Chicago as the "Hosers" in my title. Still, there are interesting things going on. Pitcher Wins and Losses are dumb, but Max Scherzer goes today and he's 17-1. Team wins and losses are legitimately meaningful, and the Dodgers are one of just three teams in the past 71 years to win 42 games over a 50-game span. That team is eight and a half games up, and was at one point 30-42, well behind the Diamondbacks. Danny DeVito was spotted at a Dodgers game wearing a Nick Punto jersey, prompting the question of whether DeVito is an even bigger loser than the character he plays on TV. The Pirates seem to be heading to the playoffs for the first time in over twenty years, and early signs say there's going to be an interesting playoff chase in the AL.

Meanwhile, the local lottery team sends the enigmatic Sam Deduno to the hill to face Hector Santiago, whose numbers are better than Deduno's with much worse "results" (he's 3-7). The lefty can strike guys out and the Twins are ready and willing to strike out, so this could be painful at times.

The quest for 73-89 is also heating up, as the Twins need to go 19-22 from this point forward to reach my arbitrary magic number. If this doesn't motivate them, nothing will.

2013 Game 35: Pale Hosers at Twins

I used to love to hate the White Sox, but that fiery passion has cooled considerably in the past few years. Now I just like to dislike them. For this I blame Ozzie Guillen, who somehow against all odds and expectations brought a new level of civility and respect to the formerly fierce and nasty rivalry. I blame Ozzie because this is America, and we all know that in America the way a person feels about anything can never, ever, ever be blamed on the person doing the feeling; it must be either God's will or somebody else's fault. Ozzie's outspoken admiration for the Twins' brand of baseball during his Chicago tenure cowed the South Side trash talkers, and for that I don't think I can ever forgive him.

Continue reading 2013 Game 35: Pale Hosers at Twins

2012 Game 135: Land of Sky-Blue Water at City of Native Garlic

Television - FSN
First Pitch - 6:10pm CDT

Happy Labor Day, citizens. I hope you've been enjoying your day of leisure; it was hard earned by those who came before us. I hope you're having a cold beer with friends or spending some quality time with family or both. Maybe taking in a ball game. And somewhere along the way, if you haven't done so already, perhaps pausing for just a moment to think about the rivers of sweat and the the mountains of toil and the generational expanses of endeavor and industry as wide as the prairies that it took to build this nation. And maybe, if you are so inclined, hoping for better days to come for everyone looking to earn an honest day's pay for an honest day's work but finding the doors of opportunity thrown shut in their faces.

Today the Twins start a three-game set against the team we love to hate. Sam Deduno is on the mound for the good guys, Hector Santiago takes the hill for the White Sox. The Sox are battling the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central title. The Twins are struggling to climb out of the division cellar. What the heck, there's just a month left of Twins baseball this year. We might as well stock up on what's left. Winter comes early in these parts and hangs on like a fat and stubborn tick. Best to enjoy every day of baseball summer has left to offer, there will be precious little autumn ball for the Twins this year.

I find myself feeling a bit poetic for some reason, but in the spirit of the holiday I'm just going to take it easy and toast the work of others who have better saluted in verse the homes of today's natively eponymous contestants:

Continue reading 2012 Game 135: Land of Sky-Blue Water at City of Native Garlic