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Tales of a Sweep

Before I start, I want to make sure nobody misses Jesse's great entry on the upcoming series with the Tigers below.  I was going to do something along those line, but Jesse hit it right on the head, so my comments weren't necessary.  Also, I'll be continuing my overview of the Twins (ever improving) playoff outlook with part 2 sometime tomorrow night.  I'm sure you're all waiting with bated breath in  rapt anticipation...

I picked a good time to go to a bulk of Twins games again as I watched victories in all three of the Twins weekend games against the A's.  As I was keeping score, I jotted a couple of small things in the margins of my pad that I wanted to bring up around here.

  1. After any inning in which he ended on the bench (which was often) and any other Twins player, especially an infielder, was left standing on base, Nick Punto would bring out all their gloves and hats for the next defensive inning.  I first noticed it when the Twins left the bases loaded on Friday night in the bottom of the first inning.  Cuddyer, Bartlett, and Morneau were all out there and they all gathered together and shared some words and a chuckle with the practically giggling Punto as they grabbed their stuff.  He looked like a pack mule the whole game bringing out armfuls of equipment.  I sure thought it was kind of funny, but has anyone heard anything about this that I missed?  Did he lose a bet?  Is it some kind of slump breaking activity?  What's up with it?  It isn't usual for a tenured ML player to haul stuff for younger guys, but Punto brought Bartlett his stuff a couple of times.  Maybe Justin Morneau decided he needs his glove as well as a slushie brought to him by Punto
    to play well.

  2. I'm having good luck with Justin Morneau hitting home runs.  The last time the Twins were down late in a game I was at was fathers day.  That was also the game, one might remember, where Justin Morneau broke a ninth inning tie with a leadoff bomb into the right field bleachers to send us all home happy.  Hopefully, the next Justin  homer will be just as exciting.

  3. We've talked abut this before, but the droppoff in power ability after Hunter bats is shocking.  There is no threat whatsoever in the lineup for a LOOOOOOONG way after Torii takes his hacks.  5 piranhas in a row is an awful lot to stomach, even though they did do their part this series.  not anything we didn't know, but it still almost shocks me every time I see it.

  4. Speaking or piranhas, somebody needs to explain to the Twins video board staff exactly who is and who isn't a piranha.  After Justin Morneau hit his one-out, sol home run in the bottom of the  8th to tie the game and Redmond followed with a well placed double down the line, the Metrodome screens flashed a "Little Piranhas" graphic.  Morneau and Redmond, as probably the two slowest players on the team (as well as our premeir power hitter), are probably the least piranha-like players we've got.  Not to mention they'd just put forth a display of power, not a usual piraha activity.  Once again, doesn't really mean a whole lot, but I am a slave to the margin notes, and I thought it was chin-scratch worthy, so...

  5. Then comes to my one large managerial beef of the game, and really, the season.  Saturday night, with the bases loaded full of valuable insurance runs in the 8th inning of a game that had the Twins clinging to a one-run lead, Gardenhire elected to let Punto hit against Allen Embree with two outs.  Lew Ford, Mike Redmond, and Jason Kubel were all available as pinch hitting options.  None fo thsoe are exactly a Ruben Sierra type option, but why let the team's worst hitter step in when there were three superior options off the bench?  At least Ford would ge the righty/left matchup, as would Redmond.  Kubel would be lefty/lefty, but, well, that brings me to my second point...

    When will Gardenhire let Kubel hit against lefties?  Kubel is hitting .300 against lefties on the season (which, last time I checked, is 80 points higher than the reigning AL MVP is) and he has no minor league history of any kind of platoon splits.  On Sunday, Kubel was pulled with Redmond on second base and one out in the 8th inning and the Twins again clinging to a one-run lead.  That decision itself wasn't so bad, as the pinch hitter, Jeff Cirillo, has been hitting pretty hot lately and is the guy we have around to deal with lefties like that.  But if you're going to pull Kubel, who again, has a .300 BA against lefties this year, why on earth are you letting Jason Tyner hit right after him?  The same Jason Tyner who is hitting .190 against lefties this season?  How is Cirillo and Tyner in any way better than Kubel and Cirillo?  Predictably, Gardenhire came up with the lame excuse of Tyner's "hot" bat (hot meaning a soft liner and a couple well placed grounders over the last two days), but when will Gardenhire stpo treating Kubel like he's Cuddyer?  How may times did we watch Jacque Jones has pointlessly bad at bats against lefties with Lew Ford or Cuddyer available off the bench with Gardenhire never getting the picture?  Gardenhire has been right most of the time this year, and I seem to have been wrong quite a lot, but this is one thing that won't stop bugging me until it ends.  Based on what happened with Cuddyer, expect Kubel to get his full chance and start really playing well in about 2009.

Cya' tomorrow.  Here's to the Twins taking a little roar out of the motown kitties.  I'll try to watch, but I don't know if I'll be able to handle watching Gary Sheffield stand at the plate, his bat waving, his muscles bulging, his eyes tightened at the thought of crushing the next pitch into oblivion...

I gotta stop, I'm trembling just thinking about that walking terror.  Adam out.