After a tough 6-3 loss to the California, er, Anaheim, er, Los Angeles Angels last night, the Twins look to even their record at 1-1 tonight in Anaheim. A key to the opening night loss was the Twins dreadful 1-6 performance with runners in scoring position, the only hit being a Joe Mauer dribbler off the pitcher to load the bases before a Justin Morneau lineout in the 7th inning. The Angels, on the other hand, went 3-7 with RISP, and added two home runs off Jose Mijares for good measure in the 8th. Here's hoping we balance things out tonight.
#53 / Pitcher / Minnesota Twins
Feb 24, 1982
Playing the part of Ferris Bueller this evening will be the Twins Mr. Consistent, Nick Blackburn. Fresh off signing a $14M contract extension this offseason, Nick makes his first start of the 2010 season. During his first two full years in the Twins rotation, Blackburn has made 33 starts both seasons and posted nearly identical ERAs (4.05 vs 4.03), BABIP (.309 vs .308), WHIP (1.36 vs 1.37), FIP (4.30 vs 4.27) and HR/9 (1.07 vs 1.09). A sinker ball pitcher, Blackburn doesn't strike out many batters (career 4.43 SO/9), but when he gets that late movement on his fastball he can get batters to beat the ball into the ground (career 45% GB). Last year, Blackburn started (3.10 ERA in April, May and June) and ended (3.41 ERA in Sept and Oct) the season strong, but struggled during July and August (5.17 ERA). In five career starts, Blackburn has never beaten the Angels, posting an 0-3 record and 5.72 ERA in 28.1 innings. During the spring, he was 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA and gave up 14 hits, 4 walks and 6 strikeouts in 16 innings.
#51 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Angels
Jun 16, 1981
Playing the part of Principal Ed Rooney this evening will be Angels left hander Joe Saunders. After a solid 17-7, 3.41 ERA season in 2008, driven by an off the charts low .267 BABIP, Saunders regressed quite a bit last season, posting a 4.60 ERA as his BABIP rose to a still-low .290. But with the solid Angels offense and defense behind him, Saunders still managed a 16-7 record despite giving up the extra runs. Like Nick Blackburn, Saunders doesn't strike out many batters (4.68 and 4.89 SO/9 the last two seasons) and induces a lot of ground balls (career 46.6% GB). In fact, looking at the numbers, Joe Saunders may be as close to a left handed Nick Blackburn as one can find in the Majors. Saunders has a career 3-1 record in four career starts against Minnesota, giving up 28 hits, 3 walks and 11 strikeouts over 26.1 innings.
Lineups will be posted closer to first pitch. In the meantime, random notes and items follow after the jump.
- According to Joe C. this morning, Orlando Hudson is expected to play tonight after getting hit in the kneecap by a Kevin Jepsen pitch last night. It was a rough opening night for Hudson, as he took a few shots covering second base during steal attempts as well. Also, Brendan Harris is expected to get the start against LHP Joe Saunders tonight.
- Jim Souhan is pessimistic about the Twins chances this year, citing the lack of an ace and closer. Sure, I'll give you the closer concerns, but did we have an ace last year? And Souhan cites Rauch's "miserable" failure as the Arizona closer in 2008, but despite a 6.56 ERA he managed to save 6 of 7 opportunities. And Rauch was very good as Washington's closer in 2006 and 2007.
- The Twins now have the 10th highest payroll in Major League Baseball.
- Note to Francisco Liriano: Fastballs are Pretty Important.
- Dave Cameron posted Predictions That Will Be Wrong, picking the Twins to win the World Series over Colorado. Here's hoping Dave is right on the money there.
- Kelsie Smith talked at length with Bill Smith about the effect long term contracts can have on players.
UPDATE: Lineups Below
04/06/10 10:05 PM EDT
|Minnesota Twins||Los Angeles Angels|
|Denard Span - CF||Erick Aybar - SS|
|Orlando Hudson - 2B||Bobby Abreu - RF|
|Joe Mauer - C||Torii Hunter - CF|
|Justin Morneau - 1B||Hideki Matsui - DH|
|Michael Cuddyer - RF||Kendry Morales - 1B|
|Jason Kubel - DH||Juan Rivera - LF|
|Delmon Young - LF||Howie Kendrick - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Brandon Wood - 3B|
|Nick Punto - 3B||Jeff Mathis - C|