Twins went 2-3 on their trip to Boston and Cleveland. Some things that struck me:
THE FENWAY FACTOR
I was ready to go hard with the Fenway-is-in-their-head angle, but the list of Red Sox assaults on the Twins’ pitching staff there isn’t as lengthy as I first thought.
From 2005-07, the Twins gave up 46 runs in 10 games at the Pawk not faw from da Hawbawh. Not good, but not awful. What’s been awful is have been the 42 runs they’ve given up over the past five games at Fenway.
The Twins won three-game series in Fenway in 03, 04 and 06 and split a four-gamer there in 07.
The only concern is that members of the current rotation have had rough nights there over the past two years. If it happens again next year, it might be time to worry. But if some of the rockets the Twins hit during Francisco Liriano’s outing on Wednesday fall in, the Twins would have made that one interesting.
I thought Liriano pitched OK until he walked the leadoff hitter in the fourth – right after the Twins scored twice to get within 5-2. Boston scored two runs in like 18 seconds, and the game was over. Liriano has to hold Boston right there and see if the offense gets a few to fall in.
MORALES CAN HIT
That was the book on Jose Morales in the minors and it sure looks that way now. Some of you have clamored for Morales to remain with the club when Joe Mauer is activated this week.
Unless Mike Redmond lands on the disabled list, it’s going to take an unforeseen development for Morales to stick around.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has said that Mauer will catch and catch only when he returns. It would be hard for the Twins to carry three catchers because it would limit their flexibility on the bench. It would be hard to DH Morales and move Jason Kubel to right because there’s no way Michael Cuddyer is coming out of right for more than an occasional day off. And Morales was converted from second base to catcher because his play at second wasn’t very strong, so it’s not wise to look at him as an infield backup.
The Twins could surprise me and figure out a way to make it happen, but I don’t see it.
Defensively, he has some things to improve on. He threw out his first runner of the year on Sunday and the ball bounces off of him more than what we’re used to seeing when Mauer is behind the plate. My view is that he’ll probably be the backup next year, so two-to-three days of Morales a week isn’t a bad thing. Trust me, I’ve seen him work with Terry Steinbach during spring training for a few years now, and he’s improved! So maybe he’ll eventually tighten up his game behind the plate. He apparently calls pretty good games behind the plate, so that’s not a problem.
SLOWEY ON SATURDAY
Kevin Slowey pitched well on Saturday – but he did benefit from some generous strike zone judgement from the umpire.
That’s not really a complaint. Pitchers benefit from those things all the time – think about all the times it’s happened to Twins hitters! Give Slowey credit for taking advantage of it.
I changed my opinion about Cleveland winning the AL Central right before Opening Day. And their pitching during the weekend confirmed by beliefs.
Carl Pavano is not going to work as the No. 3 starter. Jake Westbrook could help at midseason, but what state will he be in coming off of Tommy John surgery? Cleveland could be too far back in the AL Central by then. Even with their bullpen issues, the Twins can win this division. The White Sox might be the bigger threat.
We have been unable to run the weekly minor league notebook because of continuing space problems. In fact, the minor league report was moved to this blog last Wednesday.
But I was in the office last week when my sports editor walked over and asked, “what if we ran the minor league notes on Saturday?”
I’m was all for that. So, hopefully this Saturday, the weekly minor league report will appear in the print edition, again. I’m also thinking about a short minor league report to run on this blog each Wednesday.
While we are discussing minor leagues, here’s the boxscore from Joe Mauer’s game on Sunday.
Unless Paul Allen has come up with a way to interrupt his, “Up With Percy Harvin,” three-hour special tomorrow, the Looney La Velle baseball segment on KFAN will take place at 11 am Tuesday.