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Minnesota Twins Opening Day Primer

2011 Record: 63-99 Manager: Ron Gardenhire

Name it, if it could have gone wrong in Minneapolis, it went wrong during the 2011 season. Gone are some old mainstays in the outfield, Mike Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, and also Joe Nathan. Unfortunately, they left in free agency instead of getting some decent prospects in a trade deadline deal. So now Terry Ryan is back at GM to straighten things out.

Player in the spotlight: Joe Mauer C

Great hair and a great swing. But pneumonia and other assorted issues have sidelined or affected Mauer for the past two seasons. He’s at the beginning of his megadeal that will net him over $180M and the Twins can’t afford any more seasons like last year. They need 150 games and his typical top 5 hitting season to give this team any kind of hope for this season.

Biggest question mark in the lineup: Justin Morneau 1B/DH

It’s been a season and a half since Morneau suffered that concussion in July of 2010. Since then Morneau hasn’t been the same with problems from post-concussion syndrome and other physical issues. If he can climb his way back to being an average middle of the order hitter to go along with a healthy Mauer, the Twins could climb back over .500. That’s a lot of ifs, and only with two players.

Pitcher in the spotlight: Francisco Liriano

Most potential contenders would have already given up on the enigmatic, yet extremely talented LIriano. But the Twins are still hoping against hope and they need a season like 2010 out of Liriano if they have any chance to compete this year. If he doesn’t start showing the kind of consistency they are looking for, expect Liriano to be wearing a new uniform by the end of July.

Biggest pitching question mark: Scott Baker

The oft-injured Twins best pitcher from 2011 was Baker. Now he’s on the shelf with some elbow problems and he’ll be getting a second opinion next week. The Twins need a healthy Baker to contribute if they hold any hope of returning to the postseason.

Prospect with a chance to make an impact this year: Joe Benson OF

It’s just a matter of time for Benson, who will start the year at AAA. Denard Span has been rumored to be traded for a little while now and he’ll probably get dealt for some pitching health when Benson is ready.

Prediction: 5th in AL Central

Ron Gardenhire is one heck of a manager. That’s the only real reason for optimism for this edition of the Twins. He’s been able to stabilize some of the most challenging situations over the years and he’s a primary reason for hope this season. Of course, it helps if Mauer and Morneau are able to bounce back and if the pitchers can stay healthy and pitch well enough. They should be better than last year, of course. But how much better? If everything goes right, they could surprise and win 85-88 games and compete for the wildcard. But that’s a HUGE if. More likely is a season with less injuries than last year but where there’s a lot of turnover on the pitching staff and a season spent looking for the right mix in the lineup. It feels like a 75-78 win team that will compete with Kansas City more than Detroit in the standings over the season.

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The Giants Lose Buster Posey, How Do They Replace His Production?

Posey is probably done for the season

Buster Posey’s home plate collision with the Marlins’ Scott Cousins on Wednesday knocked the 2010 NL rookie of the year out; probably for the season. The Giants offense has been mediocre, at best, and bordering on atrocious even with Posey. Only the Twins have scored fewer runs than the defending champions in all of baseball. The Giants needed to upgrade their offense before the injury; now that HAVE to upgrade it soon to remain a viable contender in the NL West.

Offense is down across the board in baseball and the Giants won’t be the only contender searching for an upgrade to their lineup. As the calendar turns to June, trade talk will be heating up and it’s probably prudent to be the team that strikes first. There aren’t going to be more than a few impact bats available this summer and the Giants have to ensure that they acquire at least one of them.

So who’s going to available and who should the Giants target?

Jose Reyes’ name continues to pop up as player that the Giants would want to trade for and they have a need to upgrade shortstop. Reyes is heading to free agency after the season and the Mets have been unwilling to extend his contract and will probably look to move him eventually. The problem for the Giants is that they need offense now. But even if the Mets don’t deal Reyes now, the Giants should still have interest, if, and when they deal him in July.

Carlos Beltran is also in his last season with the Mets. There’s probably no chance that he returns to Queens and he might be the best hitter available this summer. While Beltran can still play center field occasionally, he probably more suited to a corner now. But that’s fine since the Giants could use production anywhere in the outfield, especially in right field where Cody Ross has struggled so far this season. Beltran probably wouldn’t cost the Giants a top prospect, especially if they were to take on the remainder of Beltran’s $20 million salary for this season.

The Twins are probably going to be sellers this summer. The question then leads to which players are going to be made available? Jason Kubel and Mike Cuddyer are both free agents following this season and should be made available. The Twins biggest need is high end starting pitching and the Giants have that with Madison Bumgarner and potentially Zach Wheeler in the minors. Both might be available in the right package. The Twins would probably have to trade both of these players and pay most of their remaining 2011 salary for the Giants to part with either young pitcher.

But, what about Justin Morneau? Morneau isn’t a free agent but is owed two more years at $14 million per season plus the remainder of his $14M for 2011. While Brandon Belt is seen as the first baseman of the future for the Giants, he’s played both corner outfield positions and could probably play left field until Morneau’s contract expires after the 2013 season. The 2007 AL MVP has struggled to start the season since coming back from the concussion that ended his 2010 season. But if Morneau can start hitting well, the Giants could have an interest. The Twins would be interested in moving Morneau if they can get quality pitching in return and it would open up first base for Joe Mauer. It would also give them some financial flexibility going forward.

Derrek Lee is another first base option should the Giants pursue him. Lee is on a one-year deal with the Orioles for just over $7 million and has been a gold glove fielder in the past. Lee’s currently on the DL with an oblique strain, but could be a good option when he gets healthy.

Juan Rivera is in the final year of his contract with the Blue Jays and might be a cheap option if the Giants were to deem him an upgrade over their current outfielders.

Out of this group, Reyes is the best player, but the price will be steep to obtain him. They have to know that they can re-sign him if they are to give up the top prospects that the Mets would want. If the Giants wanted to really make a big move, they would try to get both Reyes and Beltran in the same deal, with Bumgarner/Wheeler headlining it and two other quality prospects. The Giants ability to take on salary would be a huge advantage when dealing with the Mets.

Unfortunately for the Giants and others, there won’t be that much offense that’s going to be available. That means the price for decent hitters could be at a premium. The key will be to strike quickly and aggressively upgrade sooner to avoid engaging in a bidding war.

If the Giants wait until July to pull the trigger on a big deal, more teams will be dealing with injuries and looking for last minute offensive upgrades. Most teams can’t take on salary, especially this early in the season. But the Giants have sold out every game so far this year and should have the extra money to invest in reinforcements.  The time to make a deal is the next ten days when other contenders are willing or haven’t decided who to target in a deal.

MLB Daily Balk 5/25 Plus Geren’s Troubles in Oakland

Umpires aren't the only people Geren likes to argue with

Is Athletics Manager Bob Geren in Trouble in Oakland?

Geren was called out after Monday’s game by veteran reliever Brian Fuentes following an 8th inning blowup on the mound where Fuentes blew his 6th save opportunity of the season. They discussed their issues before Tuesday’s game and supposedly cleared the air. There is obviously more to the story than has been revealed and former A’s closer Huston Street chimed in from Denver. He called his former manager his “least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports.”

While the A’s brain trust probably takes former players inputs into their managing situation with a grain of salt, Street’s immediate involvement with this situation has to be considered. It’s been three years since Geren and Street got into it and there have been other problems with players.

Geren is obviously a no-nonsense, dictatorial type of manager that doesn’t compromise often. With the A’s improved level of talent and postseason aspirations, GM Billy Beane is going to have to keep a close eye on his manager/player relationships to make sure that he’s got the right guy for the job.  

Geren hasn’t has a winning season since taking over before the 2007 season. The 2006 team won the AL West under former manager Ken Macha and changed managers following their 4-0 loss in the ALCS to the Tigers.

Geren’s lack of winning experience, combined with potential problems with players, could lead the A’s to look for a more player friendly manager to take the A’s back to the postseason. Some managers are better suited for rebuilding teams like the A’s have had over the past few seasons and other managers are better when the talent has already been assembled and is looking to take the next step.

Perhaps the A’s might see their situation in this light and decide to move to a proven playoff manager later in the season. Maybe Beane will patch up things with Art Howe and bring him back?

 

AL News/Notes

Angels Scott Kazmir struggled in his minor league rehab start on Tuesday. He didn’t get through two innings and his return to Anaheim has to be in question.

The Twins Joe Mauer is going to DH in a rehab game on Wednesday. The Twins expect to have a better idea for a timetable for his return after he’s played a few games. Mike Cuddyer missed Tuesday’s game with a sore hip.

Dan Johnson cleared waivers and the Rays were able to send him to AAA.

  

NL News/Notes

The Phillies are planning to activate Jose Contreras either today or Thursday. Also, Shane Victorino is progressing and could be heading on a minor league rehab stint next week.

Barry Zito threw before the Giants game and should be heading to Arizona soon to begin his rehab for his sprained right foot. Whether his spot in the rotation will be there is up in the air. Ryan Vogelsong has pitched really well in Zito’s absence. It’s possible that Madison Bumgarner might get sent down for a little while to make room when Zito returns.

The Braves Tim Hudson is on target to only miss Wednesday’s start and should be able to return for next Monday.

The Cubs lost their third starting pitcher as Matt Garza went on the DL on Tuesday. They expect to get Randy Wells back this weekend. With Kevin Slowey reportedly available in Minnesota, perhaps GM Jim Hendry gives them a call as the Cubs at least need depth, if not more quality starting pitchers.

The Brewers might get CF Nyjer Morgan back for this weekend as Morgan plays in extended spring training games in Arizona.

 

Best of Yesterday May 24

Last Night’s Games  
American  
Kansas City 3 Baltimore 5
Boston 4 Cleveland 2
Tampa Bay 6 Detroit 7
Toronto 4 New York 5
Chicago 8 Texas 6
Seattle 2 Minnesota 4
Oakland 6 Los Angeles 1
National  
Arizona 4 Colorado 12 GM 1
Cincinnati 6 Philadelphia 3
Atlanta 2 Pittsburgh 0
New York 1 Chicago 11
Los Angeles 5 Houston 4
Washington 6 Milwaukee 7
Arizona 5 Colorado 2 GM 2
St. Louis 3 San Diego 2 F/11
Florida 5 San Francisco 1

 

Top Aces    
Player Team Stats
Nick Blackburn W (4-4) MIN 9 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 6 K
Jair Jurrjens W (6-1) ATL 7 2/3 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 4 K, BB
Ricky Nolasco W (4-0) FLA 8 1/3 IP, ER, 7 H, 5 K, 2 BB
Joe Saunders W (1-5) ARI 8 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 4 K, BB
Guillermo Moscoso W (1-0) OAK 6 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 3 K, 3 BB

 

Hitting Heroes    
Player Team Stats
Carlos Quentin CWS 3-5, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R
Carlos Gonzalez COL 2-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R
David DeJesus OAK 3-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Alex Avila DET 2-4, 2 HR. 3 RBI, 2 R
Kelly Johnson ARI 2-3, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R

 

Walkoff Winners    
Adam Jones BAL 2-run HR in 9th
Mark Teixeira NYY Single in 9th

  

The scene at the Rangers game courtesy of @evan_p_grant on Twitter

What Happened (!!)Yesterday?

The Rangers and White Sox played past 1:00 CDT due to the storms in the Dallas area. The fans were evacuated from their seats during the tornado threat. You have to wonder why they couldn’t suspend the game and restart it before Wednesday’s game.

 

Streaks of the Day

  • Giants Buster Posey extended his hit streak to 12 games
  • Brewers Ryan Braun ended his hit streak at 13 games

 

Top Wednesday Matchups

2:05 EDT White Sox (Floyd 5-3, 3.88) at Rangers (Wilson 4-3, 3.42)

6:35 EDT Cardinals (Carpenter 1-4, 4.88) at Padres (Latos 1-6, 4.60)

7:05 EDT Reds (Wood 3-3, 5.17) at Phillies (Halladay 6-3, 2.21) — ESPN2

10:05 EDT Athletics (Cahill 6-1, 1.79) at Angels (Santana 2-4, 4.18)

 

Yesterday’s Balks: 1

  • Doug Fister of the Mariners against the Twins

MLB Daily Balk 5/17

Where next for the big slugger?

Where Does Prince Fielder Go From Milwaukee?

A few weeks ago, Ryan Braun signed a long-term deal with the Brewers that will keep him in Milwaukee through at least the 2020 season. Braun expressed a desire to finish his career where he started and declared his love for Milwaukee.

Prince Fielder hasn’t signed a new contract and has not professed his desire to remain with the Brewers. Reading the baseball tea leaves, that isn’t going to change, either. Fielder is highly unlikely to remain with the Brewers for two related reasons. First, he hired Scott Boras to represent him and Boras ALWAYS takes his clients into free agency. Second, every Boras client goes on the auction block and signs with the highest bidder, period.

Click here to read the rest of this column

 

Best of Yesterday May 16

Last Night’s Games  
American  
New York 5 Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 4 Detroit 2
Baltimore 7 Boston 8
Texas 4 Chicago 0
Cleveland 19 Kansas City 1
Minnesota 2 Seattle 5
Los Angeles 4 Oakland 5 F/10
National  
Philadelphia 1 St. Louis 3
Pittsburgh 2 Washington 4
Houston 2 Atlanta 3
Chicago 4 Cincinnati 7
Florida 2 New York 1 F/11
San Francisco 4 Colorado 7
San Diego 8 Arizona 4
Milwaukee 2 Los Angeles 1

 

Top Aces    
Player Team Stats
Colby Lewis W (4-4) TEX 9 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 7 K, BB
Michael Pineda W (5-2) SEA 7 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 7 K
Shawn Marcum W (5-1) MIL 7 IP, ER, 5 H, 4 K, BB
Tommy Hanson W (5-3) ATL 7 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 10 K, BB
Jake Westbrook W (3-3) STL 7 IP, ER, 4 H, K, 3 BB

 

Hitting Heroes    
Player Team Stats
Henry Blanco ARI 2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
Matt LaPorta CLE 4-4, 4 RBI, $
Michael Brantley CLE 2-4, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Ryan Ludwick SDP 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, R
Adrian Gonzalez BOS 3-5, 3 RBI, R, GW 2B

 

 

What Happened (!!)Yesterday?

The Royals let Vin Mazzaro pitch long enough to give up 14 earned runs in only 2 1/3 innings. Mazzaro was the scheduled starter for Tuesday’s game but was called into action after Monday’s starter, Kyle Davies, left in the first inning with an injury. Evidentally, Royals manager Ned Yost didn’t think that 8 or 10 or 12 runs were enough to pull the plug on Mazzaro. Yost allowed the rookie to get hammered in a game that was over long before he pulled Mazzaro. Now the Royals have a severely scarred young pitcher on their hands who may never be the same. Better discretion was needed by Yost as the manager.

Cliff Lee had only allowed 7 walks all season before Monday’s game. He ended up walking 6 Cardinals to set a personal game-high for his career. His previous high walk total for a game was 5, most recently in 2009. Lee is now 2-4 for the Phillies and his teammates have only scored 4 runs in those losses.  

 

AL News/Notes

The Orioles lost Derrek Lee on Monday night with an oblique injury and Cesar Izturis was sent back to Baltimore to get a nerve problem checked.

John Lackey is headed to the DL for the Red Sox with a strained right elbow, but it’s probably as much the strain that his starts are putting on the bullpen that led the Sox to disable him. It’s safe to say that the Sox will take their time in bringing Lackey and his 8.01 ERA back.

Adam Lind was placed on the DL by the Blue Jays on Monday and they called up power hitting prospect Eric Thames to replace him. Thames, who was ranked by Baseball America as the Jays #12 prospect, will see time in LF and at DH.

The Royals sent Vin Mazzaro to AAA after his atrocious outing on Monday and called up left-hander Everett Teaford to replace him on the roster. Kyle Davies will be getting a MRI on his right shoulder on Tuesday and will likely head to the DL as well.

Joe Mauer is heading to extended spring training and the Twins hope that the warm weather will speed up his recovery time from his leg weakness.

  

NL News/Notes

According to Pirates GM Neal Huntington, there are no plans to send Pedro Alvarez to the minors. Also, Evan Meek pitched a perfect inning in a rehab appearance.

The Phillies Roy Oswalt comes off the DL to start on Tuesday against the Cardinals. Oswalt struggled with his velocity during his rehab outing last week. Placido Polanco got a day off on Monday because manager Charlie Manuel felt that he needed a day off.

Injured Cubs pitcher Andrew Cashner had a setback and is going to get another MRI on his shoulder. After Monday’s game, Tyler Colvin was optioned to AAA to get more consistent playing time.

Chipper Jones received two cortisone shots in his right knee and felt better on Monday. He could return to the lineup on Tuesday for the Braves.

Pablo Sandoval‘s rehab is going really well and he could be able to return to the Giants in a month from his broken hand.

 

Streaks of the Day

  • Cubs Marlon Byrd extended his hitting streak to 16 games
  • Marlins Logan Morrison hitting streak ended at 13 games
  • The Twins lost their 9th straight game on Monday night
  • Angels Erick Aybar ended his hitting streak to at 13 games

 

Top Tuesday Matchups

6:40 EDT Yankees (Nova 3-3, 4.70) at Rays (Shields 4-1, 2.08)

7:05 EDT Blue Jays (Litsch 4-2, 4.14) at Tigers (Porcello 3-2, 3.67)

7:10 EDT Cubs (Garza 2-4, 4.17) at Reds (Volquez 3-1, 5.74)

8:15 EDT Phillies (Oswalt 3-1, 3.33) at Cardinals (Garcia 5-0, 1.89) — MLB Network

10:05 EDT Angels (Chatwood 2-1, 3.67) at Athletics (Gonzalez 4-2, 2.68)

 

Yesterday’s Balks: 1

  • Chris Richard of the Padres against the Diamondbacks

MLB Daily Balk 5/14

The Rays look like they have another ace with Hellickson

Best of Yesterday May 13

Last Night’s Games  
American  
Seattle 4 Cleveland 5
Kansas City 1 Tigers 3
Boston 5 New York 4
Baltimore 0 Tampa Bay 3
Los Angeles 1 Texas 4
Toronto 2 Minnesota 0
Chicago 4 Oakland 3
National  
San Francisco 4 Chicago 11
Florida 6 Washington 5
St. Louis 5 Cincinnati 6 F/10
Philadelphia 5 Atlanta 4
New York 6 Houston 4
Pittsburgh 2 Milwaukee 5
San Diego 7 Colorado 12
Arizona 3 Los Angeles 4

 

Top Aces    
Player Team Stats
Jeremy Hellickson W (4-2) TBD 9 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 3 K, BB
Ricky Romero W (3-4) TOR 8 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 8 K, 3 BB
Clayton Kershaw W (5-3) LAD 7 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 11 K, 2 BB
Justin Verlander W (4-3) DET 8 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 7 K, 3 BB
Doug Fister SEA 8 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 6 K, BB

 

Hitting Heroes    
Player Team Stats
Cameron Maybin SDP 4-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R
Troy Tulowitzki COL 3-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, SB
Jose Bautista TOR 3-4, HR, RBI, R
Ryan Howard PHI 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
Darwin Barney CHC 3-5, 3 RBI, 2 R

 

 

What Happened (!!)Yesterday?

Brandon League just blew his third save opportunity in four days and has now taken the loss in 4 of the last 5 games. Prior to this horrible 4-game run, League had pitched really well. He had completed all 9 of his save chances and had a 2.08 ERA for the formerly overachieving Mariners. Now the M’s are 7 games under .500 after dropping their 6th straight game and injured closer David Aardsma is still far away from returning (see below).

 

AL News/Notes

Adam Lind was scratched from the Blue Jays lineup before the game because of lingering back soreness. The Jays have until Monday to decide to DL him. Jayson Nix began his rehab assignment in Dunedin and could rejoin the Jays on Monday.

Magglio Ordonez‘ ankle problems finally landed him on the DL. The Tigers have recalled Andy Dirks to fill the open roster spot. Carlos Guillen made an appearance at Comerica and took batting practice. There’s still no scheduled return date for the former all star shortstop.

Joe Mauer took batting practice with the Twins before their game on Friday. There’s still no timetable for his return, but he’ll head to Florida for a rehab assignment when he’s ready to go.

David Aardsma‘s will not need surgery, but he’s still not close to returning to the Mariners. The M’s could really use their closer with Brandon League‘s current struggles.

Julio Borbon injured his left hamstring in the Rangers’ win on Friday night. He’s day-to-day but a trip to the DL isn’t out of the question. Fellow outfielder, Nelson Cruz, won’t be ready to return from the DL when he’s eligible on Thursday. Manager Ron Washington wants Cruz to be able to run before sending him on a rehab assignment. Josh Hamilton took batting practice for the first time since his shoulder injury. There’s no timetable for his return, yet.

  

NL News/Notes

Brandon Beachy left his start for the Braves after only 2 innings because of a strained oblique muscle. Beachy is probably going to be heading to the disabled list. Julio Teheran, who pitched decently last weekend, could get recalled to fill Beachy’s spot.

The Cubs’ Randy Wells threw two innings in an extended spring training game and will make a rehab start in Class A on Tuesday.

The Reds activated Scott Rolen from the DL before the game and sent Chris Valaika to AAA.

The Rockies activated Ty Wigginton from the DL and sent Ian Stewart back down to AAA. Stewart continues to struggle and third base could become a “need” position for the Rockies as the season goes on.

 

Streaks of the Day

  • Phillies Shane Victorino extended his hitting streak to 15 games
  • Astros Hunter Pence ended his hitting streak at 15 games

 

Top Saturday Matchups

3:10 EDT Padres (Harang 5-2, 4.07) at Rockies (Chacin 4-2, 2.68)

4:05 EDT White Sox (Floyd 4-2, 3.67) at Athletics (Ross 2-2, 2.51)

4:10 EDT Angels (Haren 4-2, 1.87) at Rangers (Ogando 3-1, 5.18)

4:10 EDT Cardinals (McClellan 5-0, 3.30) at Reds (Cueto 1-0, 0.00) — MLB Network

7:05 EDT Red Sox (Beckett 2-1, 1.99) at Yankees (Sabathia 3-2, 2.89) — Fox

 

Yesterday’s Balks: 2

  • Dillon Gee of the Mets against the Astros
  • Ernesto Frieri of the Padres against the Rockies

MLB Daily Balk Morning Rundown 4/29

 

Zobrist had a day for the ages!

Best of Yesterday April 28

The Giants beat the Pirates 5-2 and Ryan Vogelsong won his first game since 2005 for the Giants. Vogelsong earned his first career win with the Giants, who drafted him in 1997 and then traded him to the Pirates.

The Mariners broke out the brooms in Detroit as they beat the Tigers 7-2 in the finale of their 3-game series. Rookie Michael Pineda won his 4th game as he struck out 9 in 6 innings. With 24 runs in 3 games against the Tigers, maybe the M’s offense isn’t THAT bad after all?

The Rays swept a day-night doubleheader against the Twins on Thursday, 15-3 and 6-1. Ben Zobrist was enormous as he knocked in a Rays record 8 runs in the opener and then drove in 2 more in the nightcap. Zobrist was 7 for 10 with 2 homers, 3 doubles, 5 runs, and 10 RBI. AL Player of the Week, anyone? He also did something that hasn’t been done in the AL since Reggie Jackson in 1969.

The Blue Jays took 3 out of 4 against the defending AL champs by beating the Rangers 5-2 on Thursday afternoon. The Jays received a scare when Jose Bautista was hit by a pitch on his hands in the 7th inning, but he never left the game. Brandon Morrow pitched fairly well in his second start and Adam Lind hit his 4th homer for the Jays.

Jon Lester and the Red Sox salvaged the third game of the series with the Orioles by winning 6-2. Lester won his third game with 8 solid innings, giving up 2 runs and Adrian Gonzalez got his 10th multi-hit game of the season for the Sox. Vladimir Guerrero hit his 4th homer for the O’s.  

Fausto Carmona won his 2nd game and Grady Sizemore continued his impressive comeback by hitting his 4th homer in under two weeks as the Indians completed the 3-game sweep of the Royals 8-2 on Thursday night. Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana, and Shelley Duncan all homered as well for the Tribe.

CC Sabathia easily won his 2nd game of the season as the Yankees beat the White Sox 12-3 on Thursday night. The struggling Nick Swisher broke out with his first homer and went 3 for 4 with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored.

Livan Hernandez helped the Nationals snap the Mets winning streak by throwing 8 strong innings with only 2 earned runs allowed in the Nats 4-3 win. New father Ian Desmond came off the Paternity Leave list to go 2 for 4 with a triple, homer, and 2 runs scored for the Nats.

Welcome home, Lance! Well, Lance Berkman might not have been welcome, but he made himself at home as he slugged two homers in the Cardinals win over the Astros 11-7. Berkman went 4 for 5 with 3 runs scored and 5 RBI to go with the homers. He’s now alone in second place in the NL with 8 homers. Kyle McClellan did struggle, but he still won his 4th game of the season.

The Diamondbacks knocked out Cubs starter Ryan Dempster with a 7-run first inning on their way to an 11-2 win. Stephen Drew went 2 for 5 with a grand slam and 5 RBI and Miguel Montero continued his campaign for an all star selection with a 2 for 5 night, including a homer and double with 3 RBI.

 

What Happened (!!)Yesterday?

The Twins gave up 21 runs in their doubleheader loss to the Rays on Thursday and 29 runs in the 3-game sweep. The Twins now have the worst ERA in the AL at 4.95 on the season. The Twins are 4-0 when Brian Duensing starts and 5-15 when he doesn’t. But that’s not the only problem. They are 13th in the AL with a .236 team batting average and their slugging is an AL worst .323, thanks in large part to a MLB low 10 homers. Joe Mauer is still not ready to return and Delmon Young just joined him on the DL. The Twins are now 7 games behind the first place Indians and are in jeopardy of falling out the AL Central race before Memorial Day.

Ryan Dempster of the Cubs gave up 7 runs and didn’t escape the 1st inning against the Diamondbacks on Thursday night. He’s given up at least 4 runs in ALL 6 of his starts this season and his ERA is now 9.58 on the season. Dempster has given up 9 homers, walked 16, and 33 earned runs in only 31 innings for the Cubs. Dempster had pitched well over the past 3 seasons as a starter for the Cubs, but the time has probably come to move him back into the bullpen. The problem for the Cubs is that Dempster is making $13.5M this season and holds a PLAYER option for 2012 at $14M. Gee, I wonder if Dempster will exercise that. He’s as sure to receive that from the Cubs as Carlos Silva is to receive over $7M this season and another $2M next year.  

 

AL News/Notes

The Twins finally acknowledged that Joe Mauer wasn’t ready to start the season. He’s still a week or two away from returning as well.

Peter Bourjos is coming into his own as a hitter for the Angels. The second year player is batting .318 on the season, but despite possessing great speed, is still at the bottom of the order. Manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t have any plans to change that either.

The Indians top pitching prospect, Alex White, is being called up to make his big league debut on Saturday against the Tigers. White is filling in for the injured Carlos Carrasco, who was placed on the DL on Thursday with a right elbow problem.

The RaysSean Rodriguez dislocated his pinkie finger in the second game of the doubleheader on Thursday.

 

NL News/Notes

The Mets are thinking about starting Dillon Gee instead of Mike Pelfrey on Friday due to Pelfrey’s illness.

Pirates 2010 first round pick, Jameson Taillon, struggled in his pro debut on Wednesday. Bad weather and nerves played a role in his struggles.

The Phillies problems are beginning to mount now. Joining Brad Lidge, Chase Utley, and Jose Contreras on the DL is 5th starter Joe Blanton. Blanton is suffering from an elbow impingement. The Phils called up Vance Worley to take Blanton’s start on Friday. Roy Oswalt left the team on Tuesday due to the bad weather going through his home state of Mississippi.

The Cardinals offense has been very good this season, but they’ve hit into an inexplicable 34 double plays so far this season. That’s 11 more than any other team in the majors.

Ty Wigginton could land on the DL because of a sore oblique and that would require the Rockies to make a move. It looks like Alfredo Amezaga could get called up due to his versatility.

Former Padres GM and current Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers comes clean about the deceiving radar gun at Petco Park in San Diego. It turns out that the RedsAroldis Chapman might not have been having velocity problems after all last week.

Carlos Lee has been struggling so far this season, but Astros manager Brad Mills has no plans to move him in the batting order.

Ryan Zimmerman is throwing now, but is still at least a week away from rejoining the Nationals. He’s currently on the DL with an abdominal strain.

 

Streaks of the Day

  • Royals Jeff Francouer extended his hitting streak to 17 games

 

Top Friday Matchups

7:05 EDT Blue Jays (Romero 1-3, 3.00) at Yankees (Garcia 1-0, 0.69)

7:35 EDT Cardinals (Carpenter 0-2, 3.90) at Braves (Hudson 3-2, 3.57)

8:05 EDT Brewers (Marcum 2-1, 2.73) at Astros (Myers 1-0, 3.31)

8:40 EDT Pirates (Correia 3-2, 3.48) at Rockies (Chacin 3-1, 2.67)

10:05 EDT Rangers (Wilson 3-0, 3.51) at Athletics (Cahill 3-0, 2.30)

 

Yesterday’s Balks: 1

  • CC Sabathia of the Yankees against the White Sox

MLB Daily Balk Morning Rundown 4/28

April 28, 2011 1 comment

Uh-oh. If Colon's weight continues to exceed his ERA, the AL is in trouble this year.

Best of Yesterday April 27

The Dodgers’ Andre Ethier extended his April best hitting streak to 24 games on Wednesday afternoon and then homered in the 10th inning in the Dodgers 5-4 win over the Marlins. Vicente Padilla got his first save since 2000 and left people wondering about Jonathan Broxton‘s status as closer.

The RedsDrew Stubbs also hit a 10th inning homer to give the Reds a 7-6 win over the Brewers. Joey Votto hit his 5th homer in the 1st inning off of Yovani Gallardo. The reigning NL MVP had 4 RBI on the day and Aroldis Chapman got his 2nd win.

Tommy Hanson was dominating as he struck out 10 and gave up no runs in 7 innings as the Braves beat the Padres 7-0 on Wednesday afternoon. The score might have been closer had the Padres’ Brad Hawpe not committed a key error in the 2nd inning. That error led to five unearned runs for Mat Latos.

Chris Young homered twice for the Diamondbacks but they lost the series finale to the Phillies 8-4. Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, and Jimmy Rollins all homered for the Phils. Cole Hamels had a solid outing as well, winning his 3rd game as he struck out 8 and gave up 3 runs in 7 innings. The Phillies are back in first place with the Marlins loss.

A third inning error by Howard Kendrick led to the Athletics only run before extra innings and a misplay in the outfield led to their second and winning run in the 10th inning as the A’s beat the Angels 2-1. The game went to extra innings after Kevin Kouzmanoff‘s error in the bottom of the 9th let the tying run reach base. Starters Dan Haren and Tyson Ross each went 7 innings and didn’t give up an earned run.

Vladimir Guerrero came through with a RBI single in the 8th inning after Jason Varitek had allowed a passed ball to give the Orioles the lead and eventual win over the Red Sox 5-4 on Wednesday night. Josh Beckett had his worst start of the season, giving up 4 runs in 6 innings, including homers to Adam Jones and Luke Scott.

Josh Tomlin won his fourth game as the Indians beat the Royals 7-2. Tomlin’s ERA is now 2.45 on the season. Alex Gordon‘s hit streak ended at 19 games for the Royals.

Justin Smoak went 2 for 4 with a 3-run homer and 5 RBI on the night for the Mariners in their 10-1 win over Justin Verlander and the Tigers. Eric Bedard went a solid 7 innings, giving up 1 run to earn his 1st win of the season.

Hello, Bartolo Colon. The 2005 AL Cy Young winner went 8 innings and only gave up 1 run as the Yankees beat the White Sox 3-1. Robinson Cano provided the offense with a 3-run homer in the first inning.

The Mets, led by David Murphy, came back with a run in the 8th inning and then four in the 9th to beat the Nationals 6-3. Murphy went 2 for 2 in his late game at bats with a homer and double to drive home 3 runs. Francisco Rodriguez got his 6th save of the season and the Mets have now won 6 straight games.

Mitch Moreland hit the deciding home run in the bottom of the 7th to give the Rangers a 7-6 win over the Blue Jays. The Jays starter, Jo Jo Reyes, was victimized by Edwin Encarnacion‘s 3rd inning error that led to all six unearned runs allowed. Despite the bad luck, don’t be surprised if Reyes is designated sometime in the next few days or weeks.

The Cardinals tried to blow Kyle Lohse‘s very good start in which he shutout the Astros for 7 innings. The Cards bullpen ended up holding on to win 6-5 and preserving Lohse’s 4th win. The Cardinals lead the majors in GIDP and hit into another five in this game.

 

What Happened (!!)Yesterday?

Yovani Gallardo got lit up again on Wednesday afternoon by Joey Votto and the Reds. This was the fourth consecutive start that Gallardo gave up at least 4 runs and his ERA now stands at 5.70. It could just be an early season funk, or Gallardo might have something wrong that he’s not disclosing. Either way, the Brewers need to find out what’s wrong and either get him straightened out or get him healthy. Nobody is running away with the NL Central race yet.

The Rays and Twins played their game with snow flurries in the air and temperatures in the 30’s. While the Twins have played more on the road this season, many other cold weather teams have played more home games. The Yankees (14 to 7), Mets (13 to 11) and Cubs (14 to 9) have all played more home games and the Cubs seem to play in miserable weather conditions daily. In fact, Wednesday’s Cubs game was postponed due to bad weather. The Rockies have played more road games, but they’ve played road games in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and New York. Why aren’t they making a tour of their NL West rivals during April? That’s four moderate to warm cities and no rain/snow postponements. This needs to change next season.

In the Arctic conditions of the Twin Cities, the TwinsFrancisco Liriano got lit up again. Liriano gave up 7 runs in only 3 innings and he’s now given up 24 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings on the season. That’s a 9.13 ERA, not K’s per 9 innings. 18 walks and 4 homers allowed appear to be a major part of the problem. He’s only put together one solid start all season and you have to wonder how much longer the Twins can afford to give up once every five days?

 

AL News/Notes

If you’re a Sam Fuld fan, and who isn’t? Then you can vote for the Rays surprising outfielder for the all star game this year. Evidently, Manny Ramirez retired in time to be stricken from the ballot and replaced by Fuld.

Angels‘ rookie Mike Trumbo is going through his first big league slump right now. He’s trying to adjust to the pitchers, but he could find himself back in AAA if Alexi Amarista hits enough to move Howard Kendrick to first base.

Despite being eligible to come off the DL on Thursday, the TwinsJoe Mauer doesn’t look like he’s even close to returning. Also for the Twins, Delmon Young was placed on the DL because of a strained oblique. The move is retroactive to April 19.

 

NL News/Notes

The Dodgers are without Casey Blake, who is probably heading to the DL with a swollen left elbow. Aaron Miles has been playing third base with Blake and Juan Uribe out of the lineup.

The Marlins have a hole at third base as top prospect Matt Dominguez is recovering from a elbow injury just before opening day. With the Fish in first place, they could be looking to upgrade their current situation with the GiantsMark DeRosa.

Carlos Gonzalez wasn’t in the lineup for the Rockies on Tuesday, instead he spent a lot of time in the batting cage trying to work his way out of his 0 for 22 slump. It’s got to be scary for the rest of the NL that the Rockies have the best record in baseball and CarGo is off to such a slow start.

The Nationals have to be concerned about Livan Hernandezconnection with a drug kingpin in Puerto Rico. This might be the only way that Hernandez ends his 13 year streak of 180+ innings pitched.

Former big league pitcher and current Braves pitching coach, Roger McDowell, directed a few derogatory epithets towards the fans in San Francisco last weekend. The comments were over the line and need to be addressed through a suspension of a least a week.

Diamondbacks rookie pitcher Josh Collmenter developed his unique pitching style in an interesting way. With that story, he’s destined to become a Brave someday.

Pirates‘ manager Clint Hurdle benched shortstop Ronny Cedeno for the second night in a row in favor of Brandon Wood. Hurdle called it a “manager’s decision.”

Clint Barmes played in his 3rd rehab game on Wednesday and is expected to be called up to the Astros for Friday. With Angel Sanchez hitting over .300, Barmes will probably see some time at third base to keep Sanchez in the lineup while he remains productive.

 

Streaks of the Day

  • Dodgers Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to a MLB record for April 24 games
  • Royals Jeff Francouer extended his hitting streak to 16 games

 

Top Thursday Matchups

1:05 EDT Mariners (Pineda 3-1, 1.78) at Tigers (Penny 1-2, 6.35)

2:05 EDT Blue Jays (Morrow 0-1, 5.06) at Rangers (Ogando 3-0, 2.13)

7:05 EDT White Sox (Jackson 2-2, 4.88) at Yankees (Sabathia 1-1, 2.73)

8:10 EDT Rays (Hellickson 1-2, 4.32) at Twins (Baker 1-2, 3.24)

 

Yesterday’s Balks: 2

  • Ryan Webb of the Marlins against the Dodgers
  • Chris Resop of the Pirates against the Giants