Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Disappointing Start

The Twins' first series of the year is now in the books and if I summed it up in one word, that word would be: disappointing. From Carl Pavano's opening inning on Friday to Joe Nathan's white-knuckle save to win today's game, the Twins looked to be on shaky ground the entire time. I suppose there are several caveats that should be mentioned before people think I'm getting too down on this team.

a) The series was on the road and last year's 94-win team only won 50% of their road games.
b) The series was against an AL East opponent and, say what you will, the Twins have had perennial struggles with AL East opponent for several years now.
c) It's the first series of the year, there's a lot of baseball yet to be played.
d) Hey, the Twins are getting these tough road games out of the way early right?
e) Both Liriano and Pavano are better pitchers than they showed in their respective starts. If it was Blackburn, Baker or Duensing that had struggled, there would be more reason to worry going forward, but Pavano and Liriano will bounce back.

I think it's that last point that gives me hope. Sure Pavano and Liriano got roughed up and it was ugly, but they are both good pitchers who, more than likely, just happened to have rough starts in back-to-back games. It's not what you'd like to see, especially to start a year, but it's not the end of the world. That said, there are a few other things that happened that do have me worried...

a) Tsuyoshi Nishioka had 2 errors in three games,...that kind of defense is not going to win you any Gold Gloves in the Major Leagues. It could be nerves, but it's something to watch going forward.
b) Justin Morneau looks like he could have used a couple more weeks of Spring Training. He's 1 for 10 on the young season, with a strikeout and a walk and he hasn't looked anything like his old's hoping he turns it around.
c) The bullpen looked shaky and they were used a lot on Friday and Saturday.
d) As mentioned earlier, Nathan looked very hittable today, and the Pitch FX data on his outing suggests that he's still in recovery-mode from Tommy John surgery. His fastest fastball today was 91.8 mph, almost a full 2 mph slower than his average fastball in 2009 and 2009. Not only that, his command was very spotty, which indicates that he's not all the way back. This will be something to keep a close eye on, if he has another outing like he did today, Gardenhire may choose to make Capps the closer for awhile.

So now it's on to New York City to play the Yankees for four. I don't even need to go into how much the Twins have struggled again New York for the last several years, every Twins fan is painfully aware. We'll get our first looks at Scott Baker and Brian Duensing in the series as they go up against Ivan Nova and Yankee-ace CC Sabathia. I'm looking to see some more offense for the Twins in this series and hoping for a little better defense as well. It think it would be a big boost of confidence for the Twins if they could split this series, though I'm not holding my breath.

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