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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Scott Diamond allowed five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings on Sunday, and it could have been worse. Clete Thomas saved a home run and Aaron Hicks made a diving catch of a line drive in centerfield.
In fact, those two plays preceeded a stretch of five batters that knocked Diamond from the game, a walk, single, single, popup and bases-clearing triple in the fifth.
I spoke with Twins' pitching coach Rick Anderson about Diamond after the game. Diamond has failed to contribute a quality start (six innings or more and three earned runs or fewer) in seven of his last eigth starts.
``He's inconsistent right now,'' Anderson said. ``He'll throw a good curveball, then he'll try to throw one that's even better, and it will just spin up there. He needs to get back to throwing strikes early in the count.
``I called down and asked (bullpen coach) Bobby Cuellar, `Is this the same guy we saw warming up earier?' Scott just has to relax and have some fun with the game.''
Although the Twins don't have any pitchers at Class AAA they consider worthy of an immediate callup, they could find a way to give Diamond a break from the rotation. They could always use a long reliever for a spot start if they think Diamond would benefit either from a mental break while in the big leagues, or if they think he needs to work on his pitches in the minors.
I think Diamond could return to being a good big-league starter, but he falling behind in the count right now, and his stuff isn't good enough to allow him to pitch in those situations. He has to get strike one, then turn to his breaking pitches and try to get hitters to at pitches down in, or out of, the strike zone.
``He's just trying to do too much right now,'' Anderson said.
Bits: Joe Mauer's eight-game hitting streak ended on Sunday. He hit .483 during the streak...Justin Morneau's slugging percentage fell to .405. That's going to dampen his trade value. I wrote the other day that the Twins need to trade him, but they won't get much...Brian Dozier leads all big leaguers with 18 doubles since July 1.
Upcoming: I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon every weekday. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Here's why I don't hate the home-run derby as much as most baseball writers:
It's on cable TV.
Are we really going to start enforcing old-school standards on modern cable?
Have you seen what becomes a hit on modern cable TV?
Duck Dynasty: A show about inbred southerners who make duck calls. (It's actually pretty funny in small doses, but Shakespeare it ain't.)
Cooking shows: Get one angry chef and a bunch of lowlife wannabe chefs and have 'em cook stuff. Brilliant!
Reality TV about wives: I'd review this genre if I could bring myself to watch any of it.
By these standards, the home-run derby IS Shakespeare.
Chris Berman is an embarrassment to himself and his profession, but the home-run derby is mediocre cable TV stretched out long enough to fill prime time. It's not awful. It's just not as good as ESPN and MLB want it to be.
It's like the NBA all-star game. There's no defense, but it can be interesting if the right personalities are involved.
The Josh Hamilton-Justin Morneau duel was fascinating theater. Seeing Yeonis Cespedes win the Derby on the same day that the San Francisco Chronicle published a wonderful story about his and his family's struggles to make it to America was heartening. Seeing Bryce Harper hit homers off his father's nasty cutter gave us insights into what made Harper such a prodigy.
It ain't Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but even those brilliant shows offer a few bad episodes.
The home-run derby is like most cable television: A decent way to kill time when nothing better is on.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon with Judd & Dubay. Planning a couple of name guests for Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on Sunday on 1500ESPN, following the Ron Gardenhire Show at 9:30. (We will take a lot of calls this week if you'd like to ask the manager anything.)
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Joe Mauer went 1-for-3 on Thursday.
He has at least one hit in his last eight games at Target Field, hitting .423 in that time. He's hitting .424 at Target Field in his last 16 games with a .521 on-base percentage.
He's hitting .378 at Target Field this season. Entering last night's game, he ranked second in the AL and third in baseball in home average.
He's hit only two of his six home runs at home.
The dimensions of Target Field, with a deep leftfield fence, limit his power production.
The Twins are 29-34, and I'm not sure how their record is even that good.
Their rotation hasn't been good enough. Their fielders lack range. They don't have speed to create runs. They have only one true home-run hitter on the team, Josh Willingham, and his 10 home runs are offset by the slump that has reduced his average to .214.
The bullpen has been the team's strength, but the bullpen tends to be most important for good teams that frequently attain leads.
Wrote about closer Glen Perkins for the Friday paper. He's a Sabermetrician who doesn't think Sabermetrics properly appreciate the way a bullpen should be set up in real life.
Ben Revere, who had four hits last night, is hitting ..319 in his last 35 games.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow, and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m.
P.J. Walters is now the Twins' ace.
Seriously. The guy is 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and has shown the aptitude known in the big leagues as ``pitchability.'' Tuesday, he limited Philadelphia to one earned run in 7 1/3 innings by throwing his breaking pitch as slow as 73 mph. ``That makes his fastbal look like it's about 95,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Justin Morneau (the subject of my Friday column) went 3-for-4 with the game-winning hit, and Jamey Carroll broke out of a slump with two hits and a walk, and Glen Perkins recorded his 14th save and lowered his ERA to 2.66.
But there were a few mistakes that shouldn't happen on a major-league diamond.
Brian Dozier ran into a doubleplay in the fourth inning, ending a rally that had already produced two runs. He was on first with one out when Clete Thomas hit a chopper to second and ran into the tag so the Phillies could turn an easy double play, preventing the runner on third from having a chance to score.
Shortstop Pedro Florimon has looked good compared to many of his teammates this season, but he made a low throw that was ruled an error on Morneau when the ball went under Morneau's glove, and was playing Ben Revere up the middle when Revere's single went into leftfield to produce a run.
Miss Aaron Hicks? You should. While Clete Thomas made one spectacular catch on Tuesday, he couldn't get to two balls that Hicks routinely catches.
Sometime in the next two years the Twins hope to field an outfield of Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton and Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia made a fine running catch in left on Tuesday. Hicks is an outstanding centerfielder, and Buxton could become the best centerfielder in the game.
Spoke with Morneau before the game. He's gone 168 plate appearances without a home run ,and he admits it bothers him. He was gracious when speaking about it. That column will be in the Friday paper on on the web site.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 and 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow.
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