Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Twins vs. Rockies: Game 1 Notes

Admittedly, I haven't done a great job of posting lately (starting a new job can be a little rough), but I figured a series against my current hometown team (geographically speaking, obviously not in my heart) should warrant a post.

I caught most of the game on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain as my subscription was unfortunately blacked out, and came away with a few observations. The Twins surged to a convincing win with an interesting offensive mix of both power from expected (Kubel) and unexpected (Tolbert?) sources and small-ball, beating ground balls through the infield to manufacture runs.

Pitching: Pavano was solid once again, going seven innings and striking out five while walking just one. Both runs came on solo home runs by Troy Tulowitzki and Todd "The Toddfather" Helton. Despite a few clunkers in May, Pavano continues to post excellent peripherals, with an excellent K/BB ratio of 3.78 and an ERA of 3.82 that matches up well with both FIP and xFIP (as of the time this was written, 3.81 and 3.92, respectively, but likely slightly better). Without factoring in tonight's start, he's been worth 1.4 WAR so far this season, ahead of plenty of other big names.

Duensing and Burnett contributed a scoreless inning each, and although neither has been quite as good as their ERAs would indicate, you can't argue with putting zeros on the board. Burnett's 2.37 ERA aligns a little better with his 2.72 FIP, although xFIP hates the fact that he has yet to allow a homer and thus places him at 4.02. Duensing has benefited from a very low BABIP at .218 and a unsustainably high strand rate at 90.1%, so FIP puts him at 3.77. He's peformed admirably for the role that he's been called upon to perform, but he's not 1.75 ERA-good. But enough pessimism - at the end of the day these guys are keeping runs off the board, even if some regression is likely on the way.

Hitting: Delmon Young continues to get it done, pure and simple, going 3 for 4 with an RBI. He actually got some help tonight after shouldering most of the offensive load for the last week-plus, and he's continued his trajectory towards becoming more and more the player that the Twins thought they were trading for in the first place. After a lackluster April that saw him post a .222/.291/.381 line, Delmon has been on fire in May and June, racking up a .331/.358/.567 line to boost his overall tally to .296/.335/.503 with 8 HR and 41 RBI. And as AK mentioned earlier, this is coming with a BABIP significantly lower than his career average.

Kubel continues to own the right-field bleachers at Target Field, and Matt Tolbert has now surpassed Mauer's home run tally at home (I sense a longer piece coming about Mauer and Target Field not getting along, or his lack of power in general, but I don't have the energy to go into it right now). Punto managed to get a third of his tripleslash over .300 (OBP at .307) and Span posted another multi-hit game after opening the month of June with a miserable 0-21 stretch.

The Tigers kept pace after downing the Nats 7-4, which, if you're wondering, was another step for Detroit in one of the easier interleague schedules this season. The Twins don't have it the worst, but I'd certainly take the Pirates and the Nats over the Rockies and the Phillies. Regardless, the Twins looked tonight like they're ready to stop treading water and start swimming, and a large part of that will be Scott Baker getting back on track. He'll face Colorado's young right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, who has cooled off as of late after a blistering first few starts, but still has been missing plenty of bats. He'll give up walks though, so a patient approach may pay off for Twins hitters.

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