It’s funny how quickly things can turn around in baseball. Just 12 hours ago the Twins were 0-4, the only winless team left in baseball, and they had just learned Scott Baker would miss the entire season. With the Rangers, Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox coming up, there was a high probability the team wouldn’t win a series all month. In short, it was a low point for the Twins.
Suddenly, things look much brighter. Baker’s still out, but the Twins somehow rallied against Jered Weaver and coasted on a strong performance by their bullpen to pull out a 6-5 victory. And today they have a chance to win this series. Believe it or not, it’s actually a pretty good chance because Dan Haren is starting for the Angels.
Sure, Haren is a three time All Star and perennial Cy Young candidate who posted a 3.17 ERA last year. But for some reason, the Twins seem to hit him very well. Nine players on the Twins’ roster have at bats against Haren, and they have hit a combined .325/.360/.496 off him. Among the highlights: Joe Mauer has hit .375 vs. Haren, Justin Morneau .348, Josh Willingham .364, and Jamey Carroll .333. Of all the Twins with a significant number of at bats against Haren, only Ryan Doumit (.154) has struggled. On the plus side, one of Doumit’s two hits off Haren was a homer.
So it’s reasonable to expect that the Twins could put up a few runs against Haren, especially after last night’s six run performance seemed to break the offensive logjam that plagued the team for the first four games. If Francisco Liriano can pitch like he did in his first inning of the season instead of the way he pitched in the next three innings, we have to like the Twins’ chances (For the record, I also looked up Liriano’s numbers against the Los Angeles lineup, and I did not like them too much – in his defense, a lot of that damage was done in his bad seasons, 2009 and 2011).
A series win against the Angels, whom some are labeling as one of the American League’s “Super Teams,” would be a major boost to the confidence of Minnesota’s Not Quite Super Team. It could set a much better tone for the season than the Baltimore series did.
Also of note:
A certain writer for Puckett’s Pond has been highly critical of the Twins for re-signing Matt Capps. Capps earned his first save of the season yesterday by pitching a scoreless ninth, marred only by a Torii Hunter double. Capps now has a perfect 0.00 ERA in two innings, which is a very good start. I will not be afraid to say good things about Capps if he keeps this up. In fact, I hope that happens. But I still reserve the right to complain about the lost draft pick.
Before Capps came in, Glen Perkins pitched a 1-2-3 eighth that included a strikeout versus Albert Pujols that might be the highlight of the Twins’ young season. If he continues to dominate and the starting rotation continues to disintegrate, how long will it be before people start pondering sticking Perkins in the starting rotation? Sure, he was awful when he actually was a starter, and he got good when the Twins moved him into the bullpen. But is it really the bullpen that makes him a good pitcher? Theoretically it’s possible that he just matured as a pitcher or improved his “stuff” last year, and the move to the bullpen was just a coincidence. Stay tuned on that, because I think it might become an issue eventually.
Also, Brian Duensing. With Baker gone for the long haul, it makes even more sense to think about putting Duensing in the rotation. I explained the reasoning behind that move last week.