Talk about a missed opportunity! The Minnesota Twins came into a 3-game series with a chance to really shine in front of their home crowd. After going just 2-4 in a rain shortened season opening series against the Blue Jays and the Yankees, the Twins were ready to be back home. They were home without their imported second basemen, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, thanks to Nick Swisher and the cut throat nature of Major League Baseball. They were home without the immediate services of Kevin Slowey, bullpen phenom, due to lingering soreness in his throwing arm. But they were home. Baseball was back in Minnesota and Mother Nature was happy to lend a hand, bringing beautiful weather back to a population decimated by winter blues.
But all was not lost for the Twins. With Nishioka out of the lineup, manager Ron Gardenhire had a great opportunity to put some extra pop in his starting 9. Using a combination of recently called up Luke Hughes and Michael Cuddyer at 2B, the Twins should have seen a boost in offensive performance. Moving Cuddy over to 2B gave room for DH Jason Kubel to come in and play RF and long time home run masher Jim Thome to fill in at DH. A lot of bats, a lot of home run potential, and Joe Mauer and his consistently high OBP (Career .406) in the 2-hole should have meant lots of opportunities for the Twins to score.
What did Twins fans see? 5 runs. Including a shut out on Saturday (which included stellar defense from Alexi Casilla). The Twins amassed just 19 base runners in 3 games, and pinch hitters were just 1-5!
What made this offense so offensive was the quality pitching for the Twins. Twins pitching gave up only 6 earned runs against the Oakland Athletics (1 unearned) and received quality starts from Carl Pavano, and Nick Blackburn. Scott Baker was knocked around in a short 5-inning outing on Saturday, but the bullpen picked up the slack, giving up only 1 run through the final 4 innings, the only run they would give up in the entire series.
The bullpen is doing well after numerous off season departures, giving up only one run in the last six games against the Yankees and the A’s. Pretty good stuff for a staff that’s been pieced together from Minor Leaguers and left-overs.
The Twins will hit. And they will start winning series. But starting the season 3-6 means the Twins are going to work extra hard when the summer starts to heat up.
Enjoy the off day today. The Twins should be back on track against the Royals on Tuesday.
In unrelated news, I have a lucky Twins hat. Actually, a hat that I purchased to replace my lucky Twins hat from 2 years ago. In an effort to determine to luckiness of this new hat I’ve been monitoring its performance this season, and I’ll be updating you as the season rolls along. I don’t wear the hat for every game (sometimes even bloggers go to work) and I don’t always think to put the hat on even if I’m at home watching the game. Sometimes, as was the case on Friday, I put the lucky hat on at the end of the game, hoping for a Twins rally. And sometimes I leave my hat somewhere and I’m unable to wear it, as was the case when the Twins started 0-2 in Toronto.
Here is what the hat has done through 9 games:
Hat on: 3-3
Hat off: 0-3
We haven’t won without the hat, so that’s lucky enough to keep it on this Twins fan’s head for now.
Topics: Alexi Casilla, Carl Pavano, Jim Thome, Joe Mauer, Kevin Slowey, Luke Hughes, Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Nick Blackburn, Nick Swisher, Oakland Athletics, Ron Gardenhire, Scott Baker, Toronto Blue Jays, Tsuyoshi Nishioka