"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Series Wrapup and Roster Moves

Twins 8, Bankees 1 jillion

So, yeah. The first two games were, how do I put this? Execrable. Horrendous. Agonizing. Wretched.

Everything sucked. The pitching. (An object lesson in "throwing" versus "pitching".) The hitting. (What hitting?) The defense. (Don't get me started.)

And then came the third game. Seriously, can we give enough love to Ramon "Radke's Shoes" Ortiz? I speculated toward the end of spring training that Ortiz might just turn out to be another patented Rick Anderson miracle, and while the jury's still out, he's been great and he seems to think he's learned something here:

Ortiz was asked how he got through the fourth inning [when he allowed a single and a walk with no outs].
"You know what happened?" he replied. "I've got a good pitching coach."
(Star Tribune)

Last night, he went eight innings (the first Twins starter to reach the eighth, much less finish it) on 93 pitches versus the Damn Bankees. That ain't easy, my friends. Especially not for a guy without much movement on his low-90s fastball and a career ERA of 4.82. If I had been betting which starter would have the best outing in this series, I would have picked Boof. And I would have been so very, very wrong.

Also, for once? No errors! This is of great help to the pitcher, a fact which heretofore had slipped the fielders' collective mind. And hitting. There was hitting! With runners on! From the middle of the lineup! Who knew you could win a baseball game that way? Our Twins, always breaking new ground.

Speaking of the fielding, my boy Bartlett has kind of been stinking up the joint lately. And the "kind of" is probably an instance of unjustified generosity on my part. But let's give him this--he's admitting it.
"I'm not hitting that well, but I'm not frustrated about my offense right now," Bartlett said. "I do feel good and it's a long season, so I could have a couple good games and be right back up there. The defense -- it is bothering me because I take so much pride in that. It's just ridiculous how bad it is right now."
Gardy offered him an out, but he wasn't taking it:

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Tuesday that there has been an issue with the way the FieldTurf has been combed so far this season, leading to some bad hops in the infield. The adjustment back onto the turf after spending all spring on grass is often cited as an issue for some players, but even with Gardenhire's assertion, Bartlett didn't want to use any excuses for his poor play.

"I thought about that the first couple days, but last year, when I got called up, I thought it was easy," Bartlett said of the woes possibly coming from adjusting to the turf after being on grass all spring. "But it's just not the turf. I'm throwing balls away, and balls are popping out of my glove. It has nothing to do with the field."


He got the night off last night, partly to rest a tweaked muscle and partly to let him relax mentally. He should be back on the field (and, one hopes, back to his old self) tonight.

Unavailable for last night's game were relievers Jesse Crain (sore shoulder) and Juan Rincón (family emergency). Both are expected to miss at least one more game. With Dennys Reyes and Pat Neshek needing a day off after being used heavily of late, that left Gardy with a bullpen of Matt Guerrier, Joe Nathan and, in case of extreme emergency, Sidney Ponson last night.

Do you develop a nervous tic at the mere thought of Ponson coming on in relief against the Bankees? I sure do.

But the paucity of bullpen arms led to a roster move after the game--third catcher Chris Heintz was sent down so that Glen Perkins could come up and help out in relief. Let's see...hard-throwing lefty who also features a good curve and a high strikeout rate? Yeah, we might just find a use for him if we try really hard.

Tonight marks the start of a 4-game series at the Dome against Tampa (3-5). The probables:

4/12: LHP Fossum (0-1, 17.18), TB vs RHP Silva (0-1, 1.80), MIN
4/13: LHP Kazmir (0-1, 6.75), TB vs LHP Santana (2-0, 2.77), MIN
4/14: RHP Jackson (0-1, 6.35), TB vs RHP Ponson (0-1, 12.71), MIN
4/15: RHP Seo (0-1, 9.64), TB vs RHP Bonser (0-1, 6.97), MIN

2 rejoinders:

Anonymous sounded off...

First of all I can't belive they didn't call up Mike Venafro before the season started posting a 0.00 ERA and now they call up Glen Perkins instead of him. If I were Venafro I would hope they release me so I could go to another team that doesn't screw him around. Granted he did have a bad first appearance on the farm. Its also worth stating that he pitched in 30 degree temperatures and they used him as a long reliever which he is not in that game. Additionally he had not pitched in 2 weeks. For them now not to call up Venafro is a slap in the face.

Third Base Line sounded off...

Good point. I'd forgotten we had Venafro available to us.

Could it be that he didn't get the call in part because he hasn't pitched in two weeks? With a thin bullpen, they need someone who won't be shaking rust off in their first outing.

Mind you, the Rochester powers-that-be should know better than to let a reliever sit that long. Especially one who's earned a shot at the ML club.