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April 26: Game Preview, Game Thread

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GAME TIME: 7:10pm, CST

Looking ahead to tonight's match up, there isn't much history from the pitchers on the season nor in the past.  Scott Baker, who has been Minnesota's most consistent starter in the young season, has just one start in Kaufman Stadium in which he allowed one run in seven innings of work.  On the rubber for the Royals is Superchunk Runelvys Hernandez, who in six starts versus the Twins is 1-4 with an ERA closer to 8 than to 7.  For a nice overview of tonight's match up, check out ESPN.


Scott Baker

In spite of having logged only one quality start in three tries, the 24-year old Baker has pitched relatively well.  At least, his results have been solid.  In his last start on the 20th his pitch count elevated quickly, and resulted in his exiting the game after 5 innings.  On the season he's 1-1 with a 3.31 ERA, a 5.51 k/9 and a .710 OPS against.  If this is the line we get for Baker on the season I'd consider it a good year for him.  A better innings/start average I suppose, and maybe a slightly better win ratio (y'know, for the team),  but beyond that, sure, I'd be happy.

I'm so hard to please.

One key for Scott tonight is keeping the pitch count in control in order to avoid exiting the game again in the fifth inning, and forcing the Twins to use what's been a pretty shaky bullpen up to this point.  Liriano, Rincon and Nathan did good last night, so let's hope we don't need to use more than one of them again tonight.

Shaky Bullpens

In yesterday afternoon's post I talked about how pitching was the one area we didn't need lose sleep over.  Well, this carried into the bullpen.  The troubles the starters have been having, well, they too carry into the bullpen.

Player     IP  ERA    K/9  WHIP    Player     IP   ERA    K/9  WHIP
Nathan    6.0  0.00  7.50  0.50    Dessens  11.2   3.09  8.49  1.20
Rincon   10.1  3.48  8.71  1.74    Burgos    8.1   2.16 10.80  0.96
Crain     9.1  8.68  6.75  1.82    Sisco     7.0  10.29  9.00  2.29
Guerrier  7.2  8.22  2.35  2.61    Hudson    9.0   7.00  5.00  1.89
Liriano  11.1  0.79 12.71  1.24    Gobble    6.0  12.00  9.00  2.17
Eyre      7.2  2.35  2.35  1.37    Wood     12.2   4.26  5.68  1.82

Kansas City has used 3 more men in relief roles, but I'm taking pity and stopping the anguish at six.  In their bullpen there isn't any way you could make out like things aren't a complete mess.  Sisco, who was supposed to be one of very, very few bright spots for the Royals, has managed to be a blow-hard in spite of keeping the strikeout numbers up.  He's allowing over two runners per inning which is pathetic, although not as pathetic as Guerrier who's put up even crappier numbers.  As great as Burgos has been, and to a lesser extent Dessens, they can't pitch everyday.  Usually this isn't a problem for a team, but in the Royals' case it is a huge problem because of all the other guys waiting in line to take the mound and absolutely suck.

Out of the Twins bullpen things come out roses by comparison.  Crain, whose k/9 numbers are actually way above his career average, has managed to repeatedly get himself into trouble.  In 8 appearances he's been scored on 6 times.  One of the two times he wasn't credited with allowing a run, he only pitched 1/3 of an inning.  Maybe we need to start doing this more often.  For Rincon's case, he gave up all four runs in out outing.  Guerrier, on the other hand, is like Crain in that he hasn't been scored upon in two appearances.  With his strikeout ratio it's no surprise; all the batter has to do is wait for the inevitable pitch to saunter through the zone.  Perhaps having Liriano as another dominant-style pitcher in the bullpen is a good thing for the moment, if/until Crain gets himself under control.  Not that I don't trust Eat At Denny's Reyes.

Lineups

Pos Name      AB  AVG  HR  RBI  OBP   Pos Name          AB  AVG  HR  RBI  OBP
LF  Stewart   60 .333   2   10 .385   CF  Costa         53 .302   3    7 .321
2B  Castillo  51 .373   0    7 .448   2B  Grudzielanek  68 .294   0    4 .329
C   Mauer     59 .322   1    7 .408   DH  Sweeney       53 .170   1    4 .318
DH  White     71 .155   0    4 .162   RF  Sanders       59 .254   3   11 .274
CF  Huner     74 .216   5   13 .266   1B  Mientkiewicz  57 .246   0    5 .302
1B  Morneau   69 .203   4   14 .257   LF  Brown         62 .210   1    9 .288
3B  Batista   64 .266   2    8 .347   3B  Teahen        50 .220   1    5 .273
RF  Ford      40 .250   1    3 .333   SS  Berroa        64 .313   0    7 .323
SS  Castro    52 .288   0    4 .315   C   Buck          39 .231   0    5 .295

Wow, things look pretty at the top of our order.  As long as Stewart and Castillo...and, well, Mauer for that matter...stay healthy, it looks like we'll have the opportunity to score a number of runs this season.

I repeat:  opportunity.  For as wonderful as the top third of the order appears, the middle third has been nothing short of disappointing.  Rondell White hasn't been himself, nor has he had a break on balls in play.  Torii Hunter is going through one of his incredibly unproductive streaks that have become infuriating.  Justin Morneau still looks lost at the dish, and appears to have picked up no new skills with the bat in his hand.  Oddly enough, if we batted the bottom third of our order in the four-five-six spots, we'd be statistically better in all three slots.  We wouldn't be as dangerous, and the talent isn't comparable, but we would have failed less given the same numbers.  Sad.

Key Match Up

VS

Runelvys Hernandez VS Tony Batista

I have no statistics to give you here, because the match up has nothing to do with the wins and losses to be given out tonight.  These two are having a hotdog eating contest.  They best hope Matty LeCroy doesn't show up with his bib on.