Tagged: Carl Pavano

Twins Weekend; DY and Pavano Keep Producing

The Twins took 2 of 3 from the Phillies in Philadephia, smashing home runs and recovering from ugly starts by both Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey to win a wild one on Saturday and kind of cruise to victory on Sunday behind a strong start by Carl Pavano, aka Luigi.  

Friday night’s game made me yell at my computer monitor and switch over to the Dodger-Red Sox game before settling in front of the tube for Cliff Lee’s masterful domination of the Reds.  Since the rumors say the Twins covet Lee I watched and daydreamed and drooled.
Saturday’s Twins-Phillies game was a wild one, with the Phillies busting out to a huge lead, but the Twins rallying for 5 runs in the top of the 9th–more Phillies’ bullpen woes–and then a crazy top of the 11th.  June-loving Delmon Young put the Twins ahead for good with an RBI single.  He was huge in this game, with a .376 WPA.  
Young has had a  huge June for the Twins, putting up the following numbers: 25 hits in 66 at bats with 4 doubles, 3 home runs, 12 runs scored, and 16 RBI, which comes out to a slash line of .379/.388/.576 with an OPS of .964 and a wOBA of .414.  His isolated power (ISO) is .197.  His walk and strikeout rates are career bests, and his BABIP is still below his career rate.  His season line stands at .306/.350/.502 with an OPS of .852, a wOBA of .367, and ISO of .196, and 17 doubles, 8 home runs, 32 runs scored, and 43 RBI which puts him second on the team.  Go DY!
Pavano paced the Twins on Sunday. contributing a mammoth .454 WPA, and dazzling the Phillies’ hitters, though, of late, it seems like almost all starting pitching is dazzling the Phillies’ hitters. But we’ll take what we can get!  Nick Nelson of “Nick’s Twins Blog” says Pavano’s is justifying his contract and then some.  The money shot quote:
After two young and relatively inexperienced starters were forced out very early over the first two games of a series in a tough opposing ballpark, Pavano faced off against one of the game’s most dominant pitchers and delivered a masterful complete-game victory, relieving a beleaguered bullpen and salvaging a series that at one point looked completely lost.

Pavano has completed seven or more innings in 11 of his 14 starts this season and has accumulated more innings than all but four starters in the AL. It’s no coincidence that he has factored into the decision each time he’s pitched this season; he’s routinely lasted deep into games and he has heavily impacted their outcomes. Talk about earning your paycheck. (That last sentence can be read with a not-so-slight tinge of irony by my friends who follow the Yankees.)

Wednesday Night at Target Field

The Twins beat the Royals 6-2 Wednesday night in front of the largest crowd in Target Field History.  The Twins are averaging attendance of 38875 at home, good for 3rd in the AL, and hosted over 40000 in their 26th consecutive sellout.

Starting pitcher Carl Pavano was great for the Twins–a far cry from his last start at home versus Kansas City–contributing a game-high .290 WPA in the win as he allowed six hits and two walks in eight solid innings of work, improving his record to 6-6 and his ERA to 3.92. It’s gotta’ be that mustache.
 Jon Rauch worked a scoreless ninth, even though it was not a save situation.  The Twins nickled-and-dimed the Royals, scoring a run here and a run there as they improved to 35-24 on the season, opening a 4.5 game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central; the Tigers got smoked by the White Sox, 3-15.  
The other two Twins top WPA contributors were Joe Mauer (.,140) and Delmon Young (.126).   
In ex-Twins news, we find that Boof Bonser is up to his old tricks for the Red Sox: not getting outs while giving up runs.  His WPA “contribution” for the day came in at “only” -.017, but he was still horrible, with 4 earned runs allowed off of 2 hits and 2 walks in 0 (zero) IP.  
Additional evaluations are available from both Aaron Gleeman, who says the Twins added college arms and high school bats, as well as from MLB.com where it’s noted that the Twins drafted an incredible 30 pitchers over the course of the 2010 draft.
The Twins look to complete a sweep of the Royals tomorrow night with Scott Baker starting for Minnesota while lefty retread Bruce Chen will start for Kansas City.

Twins Drop Third Straight, Head to Oakland

So, the Twins traveled to Offensively Inept Seattle and managed to show even greater Offensive Ineptitude that the Mariners and drop the last three games of their four-game series, losing last night 1-4.  

The Twins have not been all that sharp on the road in 2010 and the series against the Mariners continued and added to their road woes.
Of course, in Thursday night’s game, the Twins ran into Mariner starter Felix Hernandez, aka King Felix, who showed why he has the title, displaying a great degree of mastery versus the Twins and shutting them down, collecting four (4) strikeouts in

the

an inning(!).

This was a bounce-back game for Hernandez, who was the anti-Blackburn: while Blackburn was unbeatable in May, Felix didn’t collect a single victory for the month, though the Mariner bullpen did pretty much all it could to bury the poor guy, blowing leads repeatedly in games he had started, with his May 13 start vs. the Orioles really standing out.
The Twins simply had no answer to Felix’s Kingly pitching.  Twinkie Talk succinctly notes that Felix is good.
Dave Cameron of the blog “U.S.S. Mariner” points out that last night’s game was a model of how the Mariners were built to work:

This game is essentially how
the Mariners drew up their game plan for the season – get some guys on base,
let the top of the order run like rabbits, and score enough runs to support
Felix. 

This brings me to something else that bothered me: the Twins’ utter inability to prevent base-stealing in the early innings.  The Mariners stole five bases in the first three innings, seeminly running at will against Pavano’s slow delivery.  I am blaming Pavano because we all know Mauer has a cannon.  This, I fear, is something we will see more of in Pavano’s future starts.  Unless Mr. Pavano manages to allow no speedy runners to reach base, we should all anticipate more stolen bases by other teams against him, which will be pretty excruciating to watch.  
Parker Hageman, both at his blog, “Over the Baggy” and in the pages of the Star-Tribune, points out that the top two lineup spots in the Twins’ batting order need to produce more and do a better job of table setting for the M&M boys.
On the comparative Offensive Ineptitude of the Twins and Mariners, a quick Excel session furnished me with the following sad tale of woe:
The Twins scored 8 runs (2/game) in the series to the Mariners 17 (4.25); the Twins collected 27 hits and 4 BB in the series, while the Mariners had 40 hits and walked 5 times for a 45 to 31 edge in baserunners.  The Twins slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) was .201/.225/.358 for a rollicking wOBA of .250; The Mariners, by contrast, produced at a .292/.317/.365 clip, with a team wOBA of .303.  Neither team pounded the ball, but the Mariners clearly out-produced the Twins at the plate.  Ouch.
The Twins clearly displayed a greater degree of Offensive Ineptitude than did the Mariners in the series.  And that really hurts.  Alternatively, the Mariners’ pitching is pretty good.  I think this is what a lot of people anticipated–see the Dave Cameron quote above–when they were making the Mariners the Flavor-of-the-Month in the AL West during the offseason.  I’m still skeptical.
On to Oakland to face another team that can pitch but doesn’t really hit the ball.  The A’s enter the series in a tie for first in the AL West, following a 4-3 roadtrip that saw them take three of four from the Tigers and then win the last of three games in Fenway from the Red Sox.  Hopefully jet lag gets them and/or the Twins’ can awaken their bats.
BONUS: A story about the Carl Pavono mustache that has Fetch at “Twinkie Talk” calling him Luigi…
BONUS 2:  The A’s enter tonight’s series 25th in scoring in the Majors at 4.04 runs/game while the Twins stand at 10th in the Bigs with 4.70 runs/game.  The A’s slash line: .259/.323/.383 and a team wOBA of .313 (but remember that the sheer magnitude of the foul ground in Oakland’s park suppresses offensive stats since a lot more foul balls end up as outs rather than souvenirs; their park factors show the Coliseum to be the most run-suppressing park in the Majors.)  The Twins slash line currently stands at: .270/.350/.418 and a team wOBA of .340.  While Target Field is hard on homers, it isn’t as hard on them as the Coliseum (.586 for Target Field vs. .381 for the  Coliseum).   
As always: Go Twins!

Pavano Really Strong, Twins Offense Strikes Quickly Putting Minnesota on the Brink of a Series’ Sweep

A record crowd of 39,659 watched Rangers’ starting pitcher C. J. Wilson silence, or at least seriously muffle, the Twins’ bats for five and two-thirds innings Saturday afternoon at Target Field.  He was coasting along, with the Rangers holding a 2-0 lead.  And then things changed quickly.    

Denard Span singled, and second baseman Orlando Hudson followed with a home run, his  third in a Twins uniform, tying the game.  Hudson’s blast seemingly awakened the rest of the Twins’ bats, and the lineup suddenly came alive in the seventh, propelling the Twins to an 8-3 victory over the Rangers.
Meanwhile, as Wilson and the Rangers’ bullpen’s drama was playing out, Twins starter Carl Pavano was masterful, scattering seven hits over seven innings of work, walking one, and allowing only two runs.  He received ample help from his defense as the Twins turned three double plays, including a flyout-throwout gem from Jason Kubel to catcher Joe Mauer with one out and runners on second and third.  Mauer once again demonstrated his superior ability to show the baserunner an opening at the plate before sealing it off and tagging him out.  Pavano also helped himself out in the second inning by snagging a liner and throwing out the runner on first.   
Delmon Young continued to make me happy, ripping the first pitch he saw from Rangers’ reliever Chris Ray for a bases-loaded double during the Twins’ big seventh inning scoring rally.  If you’re into RBIs, take note that he already has 24 this season, putting him on pace for 80 or so.  If you’re not, take note of: his improving walk rate, the fact that his BB/K ratio is five times higher than it was last season, consider his career best slugging percentage and isolated power, and the fact that he’s still been unlucky as his BABIP is still .065 below his career rate.  I must sound like a broken record, but his slash line numbers will improve over the course of the season.  
“Twinkie Town’s” cmatheson emphasizes the “ambush” aspect of that seventh inning rally, and that post’s recap of the inning deserves reproduction:

The Twins could
barely get the bat on the ball against [Rangers’ starter C. J. Wilson] until
the sixth, when Denard Span singled
with two outs and Orlando Hudson homered
to left field to tie the game.

This
seemed to relax the boys, who came out swinging in the seventh and put up six
runs against Wilson and Chris Ray. It started innocently enough, with a Justin Morneau walk.
Then Michael Cuddyer launched
one towards the overhang in right that was dropped at the wall by David Murphy. With runners on second and third, Wilson
then walked Jason Kubel to
load the bases, earning an early trip to the showers. Delmon Young smoked
the first pitch he saw from Ray to the wall in left to plate two.  The
wheels came off for the Rangers when Josh Hamilton lost
a JJ Hardy pop up in the roof sun for another two-run double. When all was
said and done, the Twins had batted around plus one and scored six to put the
game out of reach.

“Twinkie Talk’s” recap, along with the obligatory WPA chart and best/worst assignments can be found here.
The Twins go for a sweep tonight on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball–my advice is to turn off the TV volume and listen to the radio feed so Joe Morgan’s bitter-old-man routine won’t piss you off–with Scott Baker starting for the Twins while lefthander Derek Holland takes the mound for the Rangers.
Go Twins!

Twins Crushed By Powerful Blue Jays

Egads, the Blue Jays can hit some bombs.  

The Jays reminded the Twins of this fact on Tuesday, as Toronto hitters deposited 4 baseballs on the far side of the Rogers Center outfield wall, battering Carl Pavano, Ron Mahay, and Jesse Crain along the way and crushing the Twins 11-2.

The Blue Jays lead the Major Leagues in home runs and slugging percentage and are 3rd in runs scored.
It was a miserable day for the Twins, particularly Pavano, who was pounded for 10 hits and 6 runs in 4 innings of work, easily his worst start of the season.  Toronto came out swinging and never let up, the WPA chart for the game barely showing any positive signs for Minnesota over the course of the game. 
Adam Peterson at “Twinkie Town” provides up with a grisly recap of the carnage.  Nick Nelson of “Nick’s Twins Blog” wonders if Jesse Crain is salvageable.

Twins Stop Jays 8-3 Behind Morneau’s Big Blasts

The Twins brought their bats to the Rogers Center, sending the few fans in attendance home sad by beating the home team 8-3.

Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays continued his hot hitting, blasting a two-run shot and putting the Jays up early. (Dave Cameron of FanGraphs asks today whether Bautista is this year’s Ben Zorbrist.)
However, Twins’ first baseman Justin Morneau is the man of the hour, as he crushed two home runs helping the Twins cruise to victory.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote things up this way:

In 16 career games heading into Monday, Morneau was batting .177 with three homers and eight RBI at Rogers Center. That includes three walks and 12 strikeouts.

It appears to be the common case of trying too hard to please the homeland folk.

That ended Monday when he went 3-for-4 and socked his team-leading 10th and 11th home runs during the Twins’ 8-3 win over the Blue Jays. Unfortunately, there was an announced crowd of only 13,892 on hand as this once-bustling baseball town is suffering from too many beatdowns at the hands of the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays in the AL East.

Morneau actually reached base four times on Monday, walking in the first inning, then getting all his sprint work in during the Twins’ four-run fourth.

With a run already in, Morneau sent a shot toward first base that Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay waved at and missed for an RBI single. Joe Mauer, already on base with a single, went to third. Then Michael Cuddyer grounded to third but reached first when Overbay bobbled the throw. Morneau, not known for his speed, decided to advance to third on the play, drawing a wild throw from Overbay that allowed him to run home and give the Twins a 5-2 lead.

The power show began in the sixth with a solo shot to right off lefthander Rommie Lewis that gave the Twins a 6-3 lead.

He wasn’t done, as he mashed a two-run shot off Shawn Camp in the eighth that landed in the seats just to the right of the batter’s eye in center field as the Twins moved out 8-3.

Unsurprisingly, Morneau was the WPA leader for Minnesota, contributing a solid .247 to the Twins’ win. 

In other coverage, Jon Marthaler of “Twinkie Town” emphasized Overbay’s shakiness in the field, comparing him to a rattled hockey goalie.  While ’tis the season, Morneau’s power display can’t be ignored.
The Twins will look to sweep this two-game mini-series tomorrow morning (for those of us on the left coast) at 9:37 a.m.  Lucky midwestern-based Twins fans get to sleep in a little and watch the game at a more reasonable 11:37.
Tomorrow’s game will feature a matchup between Carl Pavano of the Twins and the Blue Jays’ Shaun Marcum.  Both starting pitchers have been good so far this season, perhaps better than their stat lines indicate: Pavano has six quality starts in his seven games started, allowing more than two runs in only one start all season, while posting peripheral numbers that are mostly right in line with his career rates, aside from a lower HR/flyball %, making this outing against the homerun bashing Blue Jays an interesting test; Marcum has received terrible run support so far this season, with only two wins and five no decisions despite seven quality starts in eight games started, and while his BABIP-against is a lower-than-usual .241, nothing seems completely out-of-whack with his peripheral numbers, meaning his sparkling ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP aren’t illusions, and that he has, in fact, been pretty good.  So it’s an interesting matchup tomorrow, with two pitchers who’ve received little comment from the baseball world despite performing very well for their respective ballclubs.  A hidden gem, as it were.  (The Angels at Rangers game features another matchup of low-profile guys: Jered Weaver vs. C. J. Wilson.)
As always, Go Twins.