Twinks 3, Rays 7 (Box Score)
- In his previous three starts, Bonser had managed to strike out 4 and was getting strong with each outing - producing Game Scores of 46, 53 and 68 respectively. The offense had been uncooperative for the Twins righty who was only receiving 1.33 runs of support in those starts, this time however, it was certainly a different Boof this go round. His four lackluster innings complete with 6 earned runs and matched his walk total for the season (2) plus failed to strike out one member of the team that had 4 players that had struck out more than 112 times in 2007. The run producing pitches, including the home run to Eric Hinske and the rbi single to Evan Longoria, appeared to be up in the zone.
- When Brian Bass replaced Boof in the 5th inning with the bases loaded and surrendered a two-run single to Nathan Haynes (who replaced an injured Carlos Pena). Right fielder Denard Span charged the grounder hard and missed it on the turf allowing the runners to move up. Earlier in the game, Span lost an Akinori Iwamura line-drive in the lights. These fielding mishaps coming in the wake of the Ivan Rodriguez escorted home run in Detroit recently. As I had suggested in the Rich Becker retrospective, rookies will struggle in the Metrodome outfield, partly because of nerves (Span had come into spring training determined to become the opening day centerfielder) but mostly because of the Dome's unforgiving terrain and backgrounds. "I saw the ball off the bat,'' Span said. "As it came down, I went blind and could not see it anymore. So I moved out the way.'' It takes a certain kind of crazy to be an outfielder in Minnesota, hard to do if you have a family to think about. I do think that Span will progress into a sturdy player but having Michael Cuddyer back in right field will certain solidify the outfield.
- About 40 yards to Span's right is Carlos Gomez in center who has suffered defensively, less because of the leather but more because of his unbridled arm. "He always thinks he's going to throw everybody out," said coach Jerry White, who works with the outfielders. "He's got a lot of confidence."
- Bass also injured his back in an intentional walk to Eric Hinske. He's listed as day-to-day for the time being. "[The doctors] don't think it is going to be long-term,'' Gardenhire said, "but we're a little short now. We used both of our long guys, and one of them is hurt now.'' If Bass is headed for the DL, the Twins might consider recalling Santana return Kevin Mulvey to the team. In his 3 starts, compiling a record of 2-1, Mulvey has tossed 17.2 innings while striking out 20 and walking just 3. Interestingly enough, 17 of those 20 strike outs have come against left-handed opponents. Though destined to be a starter, it would be interesting to see Mulvey audition in a long-relief role in the majors first.
- Adam Everett might also be headed to the DL with his shoulder ailment and the Twins are targeting Brian Buscher to take his spot on the roster if needed. Buscher has absolutely torn up the International League thus far: in 54 at-bats, Buscher has hit 4 home runs and is batting .352/.407/.611. These impressive numbers should be taken into context as Buscher is currently getting everything to land as indicated by his .395 babip. This high rate on his balls in play suggest that his batting line will equalize eventually. What Buscher's role would be once he reached the Twins is unknown. "We've got [Nick] Punto and [Matt] Tolbert,'' Gardenhire said Thursday. "That's pretty good there. Maybe a pinch hitter off the bench, a lefthanded-hitting pinch hitter.'' The Twins should consider having Buscher dispel Mike Lamb from third for several games while he finds his swing. Though four of his seven hits have gone for extra bases, currently, Lamb is only batting .156/.204/.244 in 45 at-bats once again placing a dire offensive situation at third base.
- It's okay Livan, you can come out now too.
- F-Bomb Day tomorrow. Rick Anderson is saying that just one bullpen session after his start in Kansas City he has made some small mechanical adjustments and this has improved his slider action. Look for it tomorrow. If you haven't read AG's analysis of his first outing in 2008 you should. Then supplement it with Baseball-Intellect's breakdown of his mechanics. Hopefully Anderson saw this as well when he began his tinkering.