Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Well, that was deflating

Gone is the home-field advantage. Gone is the Twins Ace in the Hole, Johan Santana, a man who had not lost a game at home since last year. Gone seemingly are the Twins bats.

So what went wrong? First and foremost, the offense.

Barry Zito is obviously a good pitcher and he had his off-speed stuff working well, but I think a lot of this was because of the Twins approach at the plate. To say that it was bad is an understatement. Simply put, against a guy that did not have good control and struggled locating his fastball, the Twins chased balls out of the zone early in the count, which is why Zito kept such a low pitch count even without great control.

Things started out rocky in the 1st inning. Luis Castillo walked to leadoff the game (which should have been a lesson to other Twins hitters... TAKE SOME PITCHES), and then Punto worked the count to 2-1. Then, i'm not sure if it was a hit & run or what the call was, but Punto swings at a ball out of the zone, Castillo and his bad knee is running, and he's thrown out at 2nd. So instead of having a runner at 1st with no out and a 3-1 count, there's 1 out and it's a 2-2 count. That's a good way to ruin a potentially good inning. And while we're at, will someone please tell Nick Punto to stop sliding into 1st base. I think everyone in the world other than Punto knows that that slows you down.

As far as Gardenhire, there were some questionable calls I thought, but none bigger than going with Jesse Crain in the 9th. Crain has been solid in the 2nd half of the year, but Pat Neshek has been lights out since his callup. Seriously, every single stat says that Neshek is the better pitcher. And it's not like Crain has loads of postseason experience... before this outing he had gotten 1 out in postseason play in his career. This isn't even hindsight bias, I swear... I just don't understand going with Crain over Neshek.

By the way, a memo to the Twins:
Frank Thomas - 3/4
Everyone else - 4/30

As for the game coverage on ESPN, I'll leave it to Bat-Girl:

...but listening to these guys is like listening to the two drunk guys who sit behind you who've seen two games all season and are trying to impress each other with how much they know.... And I know I should get used to it, but this interviewing the managers while the game is going on is disgraceful. If you're borrowing techniques from Fox's coverage of the All-Star Game, it's probably a bad idea.

Sadly, Fox's coverage isn't any better.

Anyway, time to move on and forget about Game 1. Boof Bonser gets the start in Game 2 against Esteban Loaiza, a guy that the Twins have generally hit well against. I have confidence in Boof, but scoring sometime before the 7th inning would be nice too.

In other words, Game 2 would be a perfect time for The Sabean Special!