Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Other than Scott Baker experiencing some opening-night nerves, and Jose Mijares having a lousy first outing, the Twins' first series couldn't have been much more impressive.
The Twins rarely play well in Anaheim. The Angels are a good team with a home-field advantage, and yet the Twins took three of four.
Their style of play was as impressive as the results. Their fielding - J.J. Hardy and Nick Punto, especially - was sharp. Their pitching, especially in the last three games of the series, was dominant. And their lineup looks like it could be as good as - or better than - advertised.
They hit six homers in their first three games for the first time in franchise history. They hit nine in their first four games, with question marks Hardy and Delmon Young combining for four, making the bottom of the order look intimidating.
A day after I said that Jim Thome's bat looked slow, he turned on a 93-mph fastball and drove it into the rightfield seats. So: Nevermind.
Denard Span had a poor series at the plate, but that's baseball - you're never going to have nine players hot at once.
This kid Mauer seems to have a future, too.
Kevin Slowey was outstanding on Thursday, pitching out of james in the first and second while allowing just one run, and easing into the sixth.
Pat Neshek, Mijares and Jesse Crain were dominant, and the Twins scored enough that they had no need to test closer Jon Rauch tonight.
This is a powerful club that throws strikes and catches the ball. Reminds me of the team I watched growing up, Earl Weaver's ``pitching, defense and three-run homers'' Orioles teams.
-The Angels' staff handed everyone in the press box miniature busts honoring Mike Scioscia as the AL manager of the year. The writers were thinking about putting about six of them on Gardy's desk after the game. Or would that be cruel?
-Wrote about Torii Hunter for the Friday paper. He's promising 30 homers and 80 walks this year. He didn't have a good night, but that's just the Souhan Jinx coming into play.
-Heard tonight that the Twins' relievers refuse to look at the Rally Monkey bits that play on the scoreboard here. Fear the Monkey.
-I hate the bunt. This is nit-picking, but Denard Span bunting with two on and nobody out in the seventh drives me crazy. The pitcher had just issued two walks. So now you're going to give him an easy out? Then Orlando Hudson grounds out, and suddenly you have Mauer up with two outs.
Play for the big inning. This is not 1908.
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