The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Twins drop game two in 12.

The Good

Alexi Casilla:  Casilla's been a god-send for the top of the order.  In six plate appearances last night he reached base on four occasions, three of them by working a free pass.  He's only swinging at 21.4% of pitches that are outside the strike zone, which is fantastic considering how much time he's seen in the majors.  Additionally, he's not really swinging a lot period, taking cuts at only 38.7% of pitches seen overall.

Eight walks (and only seven strikeouts) in 61 plate appearances is a pretty decent ratio.  What impresses me about Casilla this season is just that:  his willingness to simply not swing.  While his strikeout rate has actually declined from his time in Rochest the last two years, his walk rate is 136% of his previous career high.  It's natural to think that perhaps pitchers just aren't throwing him strikes, but the fact that he swings at so few pitches outside of the strike zone is a strong indication that he's either A) recognizing pitches and location much better, or B) that he's been lucky in how unselective he's been so far.  Either way that patience is paying huge dividends right now, and I'm ecstatic.

Mike Lamb:  Lamb was 3-for-6, with a double and a triple.  This means he closes out May with a .302/.340/.407 line.  That, is improvement.  While he's still not showing as much power as the organization had hoped for, that line beats the hell out of his .476 OPS for March and April.  If he can keep that up the rest of the season, the Twins will have the best offensive season from their primary third baseman since Cuddyer's .263/.330/.422 in 2005.

Michael Cuddyer:  Cuddyer collected a pair of hits on Saturday night, including an RBI single as well as the home run that tied the game at 6 in the bottom of the seventh inning.  He's still having a rough time, tallying 23 strikeouts in the month of May (and eight in the last six games), and is still swinging at more than 27% of pitches outside the strikezone on the year, but every time something positive like this happens you hope it's a catalyst for better things to come.  He's still hitting a fair amount of line drives (20.3%), which is a good thing.  If the Twins are going to continue to play "over their heads" (or just simply be a better team), they're going to need Cuddyer to be better, and more consistent, in his production at the plate.

The Bad

Jason Kubel:  Our "everyday" DH didn't produce a lick last night, and while he stranded only four runners he missed a big opportunity with Joe Mauer on third (with one out) in the bottom of the 3rd.  He struck out swinging on five pitches after going up 2-0; he struck out three times on the night.  He never looked comfortable.

Boof Bonser:  Bonser looked pissed on a number of occasions last night, and I can hardly blame him.  A booted ball by Nick Punto in the top of the third (with two outs, it would have been number three) led to three runs in the inning for the Yankees.  While Boof was inefficient in pitch count, and did nothing to rectify the situation his shortstop put him in, it did mean that at the end of the day he only allowed two earned runs.  But, he did allow five runs overall on five hits and a trio of walks.  The Yankees had his number and likely put the coup d'etat on his immediate future with the club.  He's likely headed to the bullpen after an absolutely horrific month of May.  Even if the peripherals insist he wasn't as bad as his numbers, when you have a month like this it doesn't really matter.

The Ugly

Nick Punto:  Punto's error in the third inning, as I mentioned, put the squeeze on Bonser and the Twins.  Later, he missed a line drive into left field that saw an increase in the Yankee lead.  While bad things happen, the bottom line is that they directly contributed to runs being scored when in all liklihood the inning should have been over.  He's just back from the disabled list...but that couldn't have been a very welcoming return for LNP.

Juan Rincon:  Rincon was charged with the loss.  He recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the 11th, collecting a pair of ground outs and a fly out on eight pitches.  Following a ground out, three consecutive singles led to what would be the deciding run in the top of the 12th.  He notched 23 pitches (11 strikes), recording two outs while allowing those three hits and a walk before being replaced by Brian Bass, and what we saw from Rincon in his second inning of work is what we're always afraid will happen whenever he toes the rubber.  From attacking hitters in the previous inning, suddenly he's erratic and missing his spots, unable to find the strike zone.  Then, when he does, he's leaving hanging sliders and some fat fastballs right over the plate.

It's been frustrating watching Juan be unable to regain his confidence and his old form.  If his future isn't already in question with the Twins, it likely will be very soon.  Something is missing, and it doesn't look like he'll be able to get it back with Minnesota.

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