Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.

Weekend of good caution

Posted by: Howard Sinker under Target Field, Twins offense, Twins pitching Updated: May 9, 2010 - 5:37 PM

I'm sure some of you imagined the Twins sweeping through the weekend series with the woeful Orioles and watching the home team's record improve from 19-9 to 23-9, currently known in baseball as Yankees and Rays Territory.

But the Twins pulled off two clunkers in the first half of the series -- losing plate discipline in Thursday's opener and having Francisco Liriano get too many pitches up in the first half of Saturday's doubleheader.

It was a good reminder that a bad major league baseball team isn't as bad as, say, a bad NFL team or a bad NBA team. You could watch the Wolves (you could because I usually didn't) and know that most opponents could pretty much name a margin of victory depending on what they needed to do or prove or whatever on a given night this season.

The Twins took care of Baltimore quite handily in the final two games.

Scott Baker pitched a game that was a joy to watch -- which we did from behind home plate, five rows up from the see-me-on-me-cellphone seats -- on Saturday night. Not a lot of lot of pitches (97 in 8 innings) and only one fly ball out, which meant he was keeping the ball typically low. Go back and look at his career stats and you'll see a dramatic predisposition for fly balls, which have a tendency to become home runs on days when he's a bit off.

In Saturday night's chill -- which wasn't bad at all, by the way -- he had most Orioles chopping routine grounders or striking out.

Sunday's Nick Blackburn was shutout good and the Twins showed much more of a clue at the plate than they did in the first two games. The game-breaking rally in the fourth was entirely the product of two-out hitting -- starting with Happy Harris and Alexi Casilla, doing fill-in work for the injured Hudson & Hardy. The backups allowed Justin Morneau to suffer through a 4-for-4 (in strikeouts) afternoon and keep all but the unhappiest souls from grumbling that Nick Punto was slipped into the No. 2 spot -- where he had two hits and a sacrifice fly.

Getting their game back means the Twins are now 5-2 on the homestand. Because of the way they came back from losses, I'm thinking it's better they lost two to Baltimore (which can be viewed as lapses from their A game) as opposed to losing two to Detroit (which could raise fears about the remaining dozen games between the teams).

Harris even had a cheerful postgame moment, when he explained on the radio that he didn't like the feel of the Mother's Day pink bat he using but, because he was lugging a .180 average, it was probably a good idea to change up something. Raising your average 42 points in a day can send the pouty face on hiatus.

One other weekend thought: Watching Drew Butera work behind the plate on Saturday night makes me wish that he can do something that would make him a .250 hitter. He works the game like a catcher well beyond his years, and it was cool to see him pick up that other catcher -- Mower or Mauer or Mauler or something -- with the two-run single that broke the game open after Mauer's strikeout in the eighth.

RBI: Butera 2, Ramos 1.

A day off and the 13-19 White Sox come to town. Don't get overconfident -- but it's OK to chuckle.

 

 

 

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