What a great series! Kyle Gibson got hosed on Saturday, but the rest of the weekend was pretty saucy. Phil Hughes was great on Friday (more below) and the Twins parlayed an exciting 8th inning on Sunday into a 2-1 series win against the defending AL Central Champs. With so much excitement to discuss, I literally cannot wait another second.
Hughes was outstanding on Friday, outdueling Justin Verlander and leading the Twins to a win in the first game of the series. Hughes went seven innings, gave up zero earned runs, eight hits, zero walks and recorded three strikeouts. He only needed 86 pitched to get through seven and heroically removed himself from the game because he thought he was done.
In his past four starts, Hughes has a 2.05 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched. He's averaged just over 95 pitches, has walked just one batter and struck out 15. He is pumping strikes and limiting homers. It's a winning combo. Hughes has surrendered just four home runs through seven starts. He had given up seven home runs through seven starts in 2013. He's also friendly to umpires, so that's cool.
Plouffe collected three hits on April 20. After that game, Plouffe had 13 strikeouts and 12 walks. Since then, Plouffe has hit .176 with 26 strikeouts and just 5 walks. That kind of rotten production from the three-hole cannot continue. That said, who do you put in Plouffe's place? Josmil Pinto? Chris Parmelee? Joe Mauer? Yikes, maybe it's just best to ride out this Plouffe slump. Chris Colabello has slumped as well, so he might need to be moved as well. Should we go through the above list once more? Is there any way to just bat Brian Dozier over and over? Or perhaps...
This is the portion of the show when some Pen 15 comes along and tells you that "Santana isn't this good, it's not going to last, he'll be back in the Minors by June, I'm a nerd..." and so forth. Well, it won't be me. I'm just going to enjoy his incredibly hot and exciting start. Santana is hitting .412/.444/.588 with three doubles and a bunch of lightning-fast running. Santana was the reason that Kyle Gibson got robbed on Saturday (well, Gibson pitched poorly too) but beyond one defensive lapse, Santana has been the most exciting player on the team since his debut. I'm enjoying Danny Santana and I don't care how long it lasts.
Super Amazing Top Five List
Here are the top five MLB players by fWAR:
Ok, the Charlie Blackmon thing is pretty crazy, but seeing Brian Dozier as the fourth most valuable player in all of baseball is pretty striking. Dozier hit his ninth home run on Saturday. He stole his 12th base on Sunday. He's on pace for 40 home runs and 54 steals. What if he just kept racking up stats and got to those numbers? I'm starting to think that 30/30 isn't out of the question. Is that crazy? It's probably crazy. Is it? Yeah, most likely. But, I mean, couldn't it just maybe happen?
That's a list of pitchers with a higher career batting average than Aaron Hicks (since 1989). Not only do these pitchers have higher batting averages, three of them have a higher OPS. On Sunday, Hicks was pinch hit for with Danny Santana, a player with fewer than 20 MLB at-bats. I want Aaron Hicks to pull out of this ridiculously prolonged slump, but I'm starting to lose faith. Please re-claim my support with a monster game, Mr. Hicks. It really doesn't take much to get me back on a bandwagon. I hate walking.
Random Callback Image
Here's Mark Portugal's face from his 1991 Score baseball card, but really blown up for some reason. Here's why I have that. Should I do more Baseblol cards posts? Can I link to myself more than once per post?
Half-hearted Mini-rant - Catchers
Last week, I ranted about Danny Santana's lack of playing time. Now, he's the most exciting player on the team. I must harness this power. I'm completely over reserving the backup catcher in case the starting catcher gets injured. This has to stop. Josmil Pinto and Kurt Suzuki have been two of the most productive hitters on the team. The lineup is weak. Those two guys need to bat every day, or at least most days. If Suzuki gets hurt while catching, Pinto can slide over and the Twins can just GIVE UP THE FREAKING DH FOR LIKE A FEW INNINGS. Pinto only played once this weekend; that's unacceptable!
What will this really hurt? Gardenhire played Pedro Florimon for weeks and he hit like a bad-hitting pitcher. Did you see that Aaron Hicks list above? Why can't Kevin Correia go get some hacks on the odd chance that Suzuki or Pinto get hurt? But wait, what if both guys get hurt? Then who catches, genius? Well, that would suck. However, if two regulars are hurt in one game, isn't that game likely a huge disaster already? Would slapping a mask on Eduardo Escobar for a few innings be that much worse than making him play left field? Pinto can't sit twice in a series; he just can't.
Here's an update from loyal reader The Dude:
Escobar is on pace to have 384 at bats this season! Almost on pace for #Eddie400.
Escobar appears to have a hold on a spot in the lineup. He's going to play all over the field, although his adventures in left field may have ended when he thought the warning track was an inch long. Escobar already has nine doubles and a game-winning home run. He's the best fielding shortstop on the active roster and he's still got that winning smile. He's going to get to 400 at-bats and I would love it if he kept hitting .333. It would be so unexpected and I would look like a super genius. That is, unless you read anything else I write, then I don't look so genius-y.
Plugging My Way
I started a multi-part post about the Twins' center field situation. The first part was posted on Friday and you can read it here. I'm going to be posting at least two more parts this week, maybe more depending on how generous I'm feeling. If you want to relive a pretty sordid tale, you should probably keep an eye on this beautiful blog.
Parting Thought - Mauer's Back
THIS COULD BE TWO THINGS! Joe Mauer returned this weekend and my interest in the team increased. I love to watch Mauer hit, so having him in the lineup is a personal bonus. The Twins have exciting players beyond Mauer and Mauer hasn't been as excellent this year, however, he's still a tremendous talent. Plus, if he performs well, we might get a patented bombastic Mauer interview. Have a great week, everyone!