Tagged: Jason Kubel

Tuesday Twins OmniPost

Despite injuries hampering their starting middle infielders and having to face Kansas City’s Zack Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award Winner, the Twins soundly beat the Royals 7-3 at Target Field on Tuesday night using help freshly brought up from the farm.

Ironically, the Twins had to return to the North Star State to remove their bats from the deep freeze, their offense returning to life in Target Field, where they bashed out twelve hits and plated the most runs the Twins have scored since their May 29th game against the Rangers.
Kevin Slowey was reputedly dominant and masterful, actually perfect over the first 4 1/3 innings as he retired the first thirteen batters he faced.  He complete seven strong shutout innings, allowing only three hits while walking none.  I say reputedly, since I missed the first five innings of this game, mesmerized instead by Stephen Strasburg’s impressive debut.  
While Slowey was dominant, the Twins’ bullpen continued it’s, uh, inconsistent ways, pouring gasoline on the Royals’ barely flickering hopes, with Burnett entering a 7-0 game in the top of the eighth and proceeding to give up 2 hits and a run before handing the reins over to Jose Mijares in the ninth.  For his part, Mijares surrendered 2 hits, a walk, and two runs over two-thirds of an inning, setting up a save situation for Matt Guerrier.  Guerrier threw two pitches in one-third of an inning and managed to end the game with the tying run on-deck, thus earning a save.  Thank goodness Gardenhire didn’t put a call in for Crain.  *Shudder*
Slowey contributed a game-high .243 WPA, with Kubel, who drove in 3 runs with a double and a solo home run, added .159 WPA and Michael Cuddyer chipped in another .096 WPA.  Greinke, who has had a very tough year thus far following last year’s utterly dominant performance, ended up with -.257 WPA.  Ouch.
In other news, with the Twins’ middle infield hurting, Brendan Harris will likely see more playing time.  He has not been good at the plate so far this season.  While some of that is a function of his .193 BABIP, there are other issues as well.  Andrew at the Twins’ blog “Off the Mark” offers some semi-humorous advice on how to deal with his struggles.  It is worth a read.
While it seems like every baseball site is focused on the Nationals’ new Next Big Thing, Bryce Harper, the Twins also drafted themselves some amateur talent.
Claiming it’s “Another Arm to the Stockpile,” Over the Baggy highlights some scout-talk about the Twins first round draft pick, Ohio State University right-handed pitcher Alex Wimmers.  Twinkie Town has more writing, kind of an extended scouting report.  Aaron Gleeman also chimes in, with quotes comparing Wimmers to Brad Radke and Kevin Slowey.  (Gee, guess the Twins’ record was too good to be in a position to draft the next Stephen Strasburg, though I suppose I’d settle for the next Mike Leake.
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Twins Sweep Rangers, Head West

Starting pitcher Scott Baker wasn’t particularly sharp, though he got big outs when he needed to do so, and the Twins’ lineup came out slugging against really, really inefficient–and possibly injured–Rangers’ starter Derek Holland as Minnesota swept slumping Texas 6-3 and opened up a 3.5 game lead in the AL Central over the Detroit Tigers.

Jason Kubel collected two hits and drove in two runs, contributing .119 Win Probability Added; Nick Punto (!) chipped in .101 WPA, and Scott Baker, who scattered eight hits over six innings while walking three and striking out four, rounded out the top three WPA contributors with .075.  WPA saw this as an evenly matched effort by Twins’ pitchers and hitters, with the pitchers contributing .260 and the hitters .240.
However, the game had an ugly ending as second baseman Orlando Hudson and centerfielder Denard Span collided with one another as they both pursued a short fly ball.  Span made the catch to end the game, but both players lay in the outfield grass for several moments, with Hudson lying face down and remaining almost motionless for a scary amount of time, obviously in pain.  X-Rays of Hudson’s wrist came back negative but he is scheduled to receive a CT scan while the Twins head West for series with both the Mariners and the A’s.
Because of how the game ended, Erin at “Twinkie Talk” calls it “Sweeping Ugly.”
Jon Marthaler at “Twinkie Town” wonders what’s up with all the double plays the Twins are hitting into.  He gives us three theories (actually, they are hypotheses, but given the general scientific illiteracy that pervades popular culture I will just shrug and shake my head).  Hypothesis Three has by far the highest probability of being correct: Batters can only hit into double plays if there are runners on base.  
Finally, thanks to some neat linkage from “Twinkie Talk”, we learn some disturbing details about a few Twins fans that the Twins could do without.  Baseball isn’t a bloodsport; there’s no reason for boorish and obnoxious behavior at the ballpark.   

Twins Avoid Sweep; Yankees Still Slumping at Plate

It’s awfully strange to think that the Yankees took two of three games from the Twins and are mired in something of an offensive slump.  But both these things are true: the Twins won the last game of their series with the Yanks, 8-2, avoiding a sweep, and while the Yanks won the first two games of the series, their offensive doldrums continued as they scored only six (6) runs in the series.

Once again, Jason Kubel and his big bad bat prevented the Yankees from sweeping, He had a huge night on Thursday with two home runs, a double, three runs scored and five runs batted in.   His 3-run jack doubled the Twins’ lead from 3 runs to 6 runs and pretty much put the game out of reach.
Denard Span somehow managed to score zero runs in the series despite collecting seven hits in 13 at bats and raising his average and on-base percentage to .290 and .376, respectively; his wOBA stands at .357 in 2010, just a tick under his career mark of .360.  He is clearly doing fine.
Twins’ starting pitcher Nick Blackburn deserves a ton of credit.  He has started both the games that the Twins have won against the Yankees this season, and he has performed brilliantly in those starts.  On Thursday night he went 7 innings, allowing only a pair of runs and earning a game-high WPA of .232. In his two games against New York this season, Blackburn has pitched 14 innings and given up only 5 runs, posting an ERA of 3.21. [UPDATE: According to the New York Post, Blackburn became the first Twins starting pitcher  to defeat the Yankees twice in the same season since 2001 (look way down at the bottom under the heading “Unsung Hero”).]   
In the month of May Blackburn is 5-0 in five starts with a  WHIP is 1.27 and an ERA of 2.72.  He’s not the ridiculous Ubaldo Jimenez, but his performance has been a real lift for the Twins.
As for the Yankees, since they traveled crosstown to play the Mets, they have scored 2, 3, 4, 1, 3, and 2 runs in their last six ballgames, averaging just 2.5 runs/game.  Given that their season-long average is 5.36 runs/game, this has clearly been a weak week for the Bombers.  It hasn’t been as bad as the Phillies’ recent woes at the plate, but the Yanks and Phils have one thing in common in their recent lack of offensive punch: The Mets(!).

Twins Avoid Sweep Thanks to Kubel’s Granny

The Twins finally won a game at Yankee stadium, 6-4, avoiding a sweep at the hands of the reviled (loathsome?) Bronx Bombers and halting the Twins’ nine game losing streak to New York.  
Trailing 1-3 in the top of the eighth inning, the Twins got a little bit of luck, when slick-fielding Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira dropped a soft line drive off the bat of Michael Cuddyer, extending the eighth inning, loading the bases, and forcing Yankee manager Joe Girardi to remove relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain and bring in Mariano Rivera.
The usually reliable Rivera proceeded to walk in a run, when Jim Thome displayed extraordinary patience, setting up a confrontation with Jason Kubel, who has started slowly for the Twins in 2010.  But Kubel hung tough against Rivera, finally launching a low and inside cut fastball into the right field seats for a grand slam, giving the Twins a 6-3 lead which they would not relinquish, though close John Rauch made it interesting, allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base int the bottom of the ninth.
The fabulous “Twinkie Town” coverage is here.
FanGraph(ical) representation of Kubel’s contribution:
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