Here’s my take on the Minnesota Twins’ splitting a doubleheader Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers, leaving the Twins still two games back in the AL Central race:
- Nick Blackburn did a nice job in Game 1, ducking trouble in the early innings before settling into a nice groove. This was a big game for him, probably the second-biggest start of his young career, ranking right after the one-game playoff start he got against the Chicago White Sox last year. On both occassions, he held the opponent in check.
- The Nick Punto suicide squeeze in the ninth inning of Game 1 is inexcusable. I hated the play. And of course, if it works, it’s applauded. But with a runner on third and one out in a tie game in the ninth inning, if you can’t find a way to drive that run in there’s something wrong with you. Punto did what he could; I certainly don’t blame him.
- Jon Rauch did a nice job of pitching around the leadoff walk in the ninth, giving the Twins a chance to win the game in the 10th inning. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I like the way this bullpen is going to shape up for 2010. The Twins got Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares and Rauch. Not a bad four to start with.
- Expected a better outing from Brian Duensing in Game 2 after he shut the Tigers down just a week or two ago. He’s done a nice job this season as a starter, but he’s starting to show some chinks in his armor.
- Nice to see the Twins battle back against Justin Verlander, who thoroughly dominated them through the first five innings. Watching him make Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez look silly on high fastball after high fastball continues to leave me wondering how the Twins could have gotten so little for Johan Santana, Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett.
- I really didn’t understand Guerrier facing Curtis Granderson to open the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 2 with Mijares still available, and I did say as much before he homered. Yeah, Mijares pitched in Game 1, but just to a couple of batters. Guerrier has been one of the best middle relievers in baseball this season, but Granderson is hitting under .200 against lefties this year, and he’s a full 100 points better against righties. It seemed like a no-brainer spot to put Mijares in. Unfortuately, Granderson’s homer put the Tigers up by 2, and with the Twins managing just a run in the ninth, the Guerrier decision proved costly.
One other Twins story that caught my eye was the Twins reportedly agreeing to terms with free-agent Dominican teenage shortstop Miguel Angel Sano to a rich signing bonus.
"I’m very thankful to get this chance to sign with the Twins," Sano told the Associated Press. "I’m going to work very hard to try to get to the majors in two years."
There’s much being done to confirm Sano’s age. He claims to be 16 years old, but according to the story is much more physically developed than the typical 16-year-old.
The story does mention if the Twins do get this guy and he is 16 or near that, he will easily be the biggest prospect the Twins have ever had from Latin America.
I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I was concerned that the Twins seemingly don’t develop any prospects through the minor leagues from outside the draft, other than those they trade for. It’s nice to see them make a commitment to someone that wasn’t acquired through the draft. Sounds like he has first-round talent, so why not pay him first-round money?