Jim Souhan finally preaches patience

Jim Souhan, the Star Tribune’s orneriest of ornery columnists, has a tradition of calling out players that struggle, and calling for players to be jettisoned if they don’t fit his mold of what a good ball player should be. A couple of players he has taken issue with, for example, were Trevor Plouffe, Aaron Hicks and Danny Valencia in their younger days. Sure he hit on Delmon Young, but more often than not, he has been unnecessarily shortsighted.

He was also one of the proponents of an extended stay of Torii Hunter upon his return, and the cheerleader for Hunter’s “leadership” upon his return last year. You would think that this year, without Hunter, and a lot of underperforming youngsters, Souhan would have nothing but bad things to say about the organization this year. It’s practically a perfect storm of things he hates.

Nope!

Gifted Byron Buxton deserves Twins’ long leash of old

Well this is interesting. I wonder wh–

The team should practice patience with their top prospect, just like they did with Torii Hunter.

Oh, I get it. This is basically a way to pine for Torii. (I should note, I don’t disagree with the idea that Buxton should get a long leash, I’m just amused by the way he framed it) Let’s grab a few choice lines!

The above chronology describes not struggling Twins rookie Byron Buxton, but Torii Hunter, who is proof that any judgments made about a raw prospect early in his career can wind up looking foolish.

Haha! That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to tell you literally for YEARS.

But like Hunter, Pierzynski, Santana and Morneau, Buxton has talent and is willing to work.

Like Hunter, Buxton is a wonderful fielder with a powerful arm who will have to learn how to hit major league pitching.

Like Hunter, Buxton is too talented to give up on, and that will be the case for a long time to come.

Ah yes, Byron Buxton, the second coming of Torii Hunter. Maybe he can dance, too.

Twins 7, Yankees 1 – The Twins hit another homer while I was writing this headline

The Moment: The Twins hit 6 home runs in this game, but which one was the biggest blast? That would be the only 2 run blast of that 6 pack, Brian Dozier’s 6th inning dinger.

The Hero: Tyler Duffey needed a big start in order to keep his spot in the rotation after a rough stretch of games. 8 innings with 8 strikeouts and only one run allowed qualifies as a good start, I’m pretty sure.

The Condolences: Of course, if a team is going to hit 6 home runs, they are going to hit them off of someone. That was mostly Nathan Eovaldi, who gave up 4 of the Twins’ dingers, including back to back to back blasts to Dozier, Trevor Plouffe and Max Kepler.

The Soundtrack: Jers – Chambray – I don’t know, it’s some electronica thing. Thanks, BBC 1.

The Story – So, that Twins offense that we had been talking about so much? They were just taking their time to get going. Maybe they should have considered getting going a little bit sooner, but I’m not a baseball player.

They hit 6 home runs, including three in a row in the 6th, and a few randomly assorted blasts from Eduardo Nunez, Juan Centeno and Danny Santana. The Twins had three times as many homers as the Yankees had hits. That works pretty well.

Now the Twins will have a day off to really enjoy all this positive momentum they are building.

Yankees 2, Twins 1 – The Twins were involved in a pitcher’s duel!

The Moment: The game was tied into the bottom of the 8th. Alex Rodriguez was aboard. Brian McCann then had a single, that nudged Rodriguez to third, with nobody out. The run didn’t score, but it made the conclusion inevitable.

The Hero: Ervin Santana did pretty ok over 5 innings, but then Taylor Rogers came in and pitched shut down ball for 2 innings after Santana allowed a lead off single in the 6th.

The Condolences: After Rogers was pulled, however, the Twins went with Ryan Pressley. He didn’t do so bad, but he did allow Rodriguez to score on a Brian McCann single . In the 8th, that’s pretty damning.

The Soundtrack: Bleeding Heart – Jimmy D Lane – Yeah, I would say the Blues are an appropriate genre for this season.

The Story: I called this a pitcher’s duel in the title, but it truly wasn’t. The Yankees had 10 hits and were only struck out 5 times. Brett Gardner got free french fries. It was more a miracle that the Twins even scored.

They did it when Brian Dozier had a solo home run, and rode that late into the game. It helped with appearances that the Yankees were unable to execute on any of their chances. There was a double play in which a runner was thrown out at home after a fly ball, for example Maybe that’s a bad example, since that came in the 8th inning, and after the Yankees took the lead.

The Twins only had two hits aside from Dozier’s home run, which means that the Yankees held up their end of the pitchers’ duel bargain. Michael Pineda was solid, striking out 8, and then the Yankees bullpen came out and then the game was over. The Yankees bullpen is your parents at sunset.

Yankees 5, Twins 3 – Try not to face the Yankees bullpen

The Moment: The Twins jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Eduardo Nunez drove in a pair with an RBI single. The Yankees came back in the bottom of the third, and had already scored 1. Twin killer Alex Rodriguez stepped up and drove in Carlos Beltran to tie it, with a bonus appearance by the other Twin killer: Their own ineptitude.

The Hero: Aaron Hicks was traded to the Yankees in the offseason, and as is the way things work with Minnesota sports teams, he stepped up in the 8th and broadened the gulf between the two teams. Also, meanwhile, John Ryan Murphy, the return for Hicks, is foundering in AAA.

The Condolences: Welcome back, Tommy Milone! Oh, don’t mind us, we’re just going to play like an extended comedy bit in the field behind you!

The Soundtrack: Oh, I’m listening to CBS Sports Radio. It’s mostly commercials.

The Story: The Twins didn’t look quite as hapless as they previously have in games in New York. I don’t think this is a function of the fact that they are better, or even that the Yankees are worse, but rather, the team is so young that they don’t have the ingrained fear of New York that they did for a decade.

I say that as the Twins went to 1-4 against the Yankees for the season, but honestly, that’s not altogether much worse than against other teams this season. And they were winning in this game!

The big issue in New York was the defense. Tommy Milone got the loss and the condolences tonight, but he only allowed 1 earned run thanks to shoddy play behind him. The big play was a booted ball by Joe Mauer which led to a pair of runs. So maybe there is one holdover with a built in case of the yips when the Yankees are involved.

The Yankees bullpen sorted out whatever issues they had in Minnesota. Well, Aroldis Chapman did. The rest of the pen, your Andrew Millers and Dallin Betanceses of the world have always been fine. The last time Aroldis Chapman faced the Twins, Eduardo Escobar and Kurt Suzuki homered off of him. This time, he only had one pitch register below 100mph, and it was a change up. Everyone struck out.

Aroldis Chapman is still scary.

Phillis 7,Twins 3 -But the Twins won the series!

The Moment: The game was tight through the first 5 innings, but the Phillies extended their lead and were on the cusp of breaking it completely open after Freddy Galvis hit  an RBI 6th inning triple. 

The Hero: Not only did Galvis get that triple, but he had another hit as well; a three run home run off of Kevin Jepsen. Not a bad day’s work got someone I had never heard of.

The Condolences: Ricky Nolasco remains the Twins best pitcher, but today, he gave up 10 hits through 6 2/3 while strikingout only 1. Not awesome.

The Soundtrack: Handclap – Fitz and the Tantrums. This song is in, I believe, a Nissan commercial. And also, this song is in your head. Forever.

The Story: The Twins had a successful series, winning two games from Philadelphia. It’s important to remember that before dwelling on the fact that the team was run over by Freddy Galvis today.

While Galvis will rightfully get attention for his performance, much of the attribution from this game should be blame, resting on the shoulders of the Twins’ pitching staff. Ricky Nolasco allowed a homer to the withering husk of Ryan Howard for heaven’s sake. Jepsen gave up a three run homer. Taylor Rogers loaded the bases, and he was the one who did fine!

The Twins managed only to strike out 6 times, which is the measure we use for their success nowadays, and they didn’t really have issues in important situations. There was no luck factor here, they were simply beaten by the better team.

Rough season, when the Phillies can reasonably ever be the better team.

The stinging departure of Oswaldo Arcia

Oswaldo Arcia

At the last game Kyle and I went to, we took stock of the players who hit the most home runs in games we attended since we got our season tickets 4 years ago. As one might imagine, the top spot went to Trevor Plouffe, who is the all time leader in home runs at Target Field. Second, mystifyingly is Eduardo Escobar. Third, though, was Oswaldo Arcia.

Perhaps that’s part of the reason why we are both so dismayed to see Arcia go. He always seemed to step up during the games we attended. Certainly, our perception bias is a large part of it, but on the other hand, Arcia has put up good numbers through his brief career, and his best years are still ahead of him.

Many people have already pointed to his designation for assignment and its similarities to David Ortiz’ departure from Minnesota more than 10 years ago. A lot of it is focused on Arcia, his skills and his numbers, but to me, there is a different issue that makes me crazy, that hasn’t gone away in since Ortiz departed.

The Twins can’t seem to look past defensive deficiencies for the potential they might have elsewhere. With Ortiz, there was a better defensive first baseman already on the roster, and the organization decided to keep Doug Mientkiewicz.  That’s the thing that killed me with Ortiz, and that’s what kills me with Arcia.

There is the chance that Arcia never realizes his full potential, and there is a chance that the Twins have reached that conclusion, but the fact is, through his career to date, he has been an above average hitter, despite being relegated to light workloads and irregular play. He’s only 25, and he has mustered that kind of productivity in the face of strong doubts from his own team.

But again, the problem isn’t that Arcia is eminently talented, it’s that the Twins, instead of finding a role for him, opted to keep Danny Santana as a super utility outfielder (when Eduardo Nunez is already on the roster, and Robbie Grossman, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler had the ability to play center), and to keep a pitching staff of 13, not many of whom are terribly inspiring. Those very short term goals, and that desire to add flexibility when they weren’t lacking it in the first place cost them a talented player who hasn’t yet realized his potential

The thing the Red Sox did with Ortiz was look past his flaws and find a role for him. That’s what it will take for Arcia to be successful, and for the Twins to regret giving up on him. He will need to find a team where he can be stashed in an outfield with good defenders, or a spot as a designated hitter.

Now, where could there be a team in need of offense where Arcia could play with an excellent defensive center fielder?

Twins 6, Phillies 5 – Honestly, I slept through most of it

The Moment: The Phillies had the largest lead of the game, after Andres Blanco had an RBI single, which scored two when Max Kepler booted it in right field. Fortunately, things turned around for the Twins and Kepler.

The Hero: Not only did Blanco score two on the single seen above, but he also hit a home run to tie it in the third inning. Pretty good game for being on the losing side.

The Condolences: Adam Morgan has been pretty bad this year, posting a 6.50 ERA on the season. This game, he was greatly afflicted by the batted average on balls in play. The Twins had 11 hits off of Morgan, though none left the park. He wasn’t good today, but not all of it was on his shoulders.

The Soundtrack:: Down in the DM- Yo Gotti. Might be the most popular song about Twitter to date.

The Story: Kyle and I went to this game, and were all ready to watch the game…. and then the tarp came out. After waiting for a half hour, without a confirmation of a first pitch, looming heavier rain and a day that began at 530…. we decided to bail. I almost immediately went to bed when I got home.

And then I woke up 11 with fire in my blood!

The Twins also woke up in the 5th inning (segue), thanks initially to an Eduardo Escobar triple that scored two runs, followed by a Max Kepler single to tie it up at 5. In the 7th, Kepler had a sac fly to score the go ahead run as well. Escobar won’t get enough credit for his role in this victory, but he and Kepler came through when it counted.

Fernando Abad earned his first career save, which is apparently important, but maybe moreso this year, given that Glen Perkins is now out for the year and Kevin Jepsen has been a rolling disaster. Of course, all this likely means is that it ups Abad’s trade value, which is honestly not a terrible thing. I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

OK, back to bed.

Twins 14, Phillies 10 – Kurt Suzuki is transformed

The Moment: Well, this game, as you might be able to tell, was all over he map. The Twins eventually build a big lead, but when it was back and forth, a Tommy Joseph home run for the Phillies pushed things in his team’s favor more heavily than anything the Twins did. Had you ever head of Tommy Joseph? Don’t lie to me.

The Hero: Kurt Suzuki had 6 runs batted in and was a triple away from the cycle. This is real. I am not joking about this.

The Condolences: The good news for Aaron Nola was that he gave up only 1 home run. The bad news is that he was chased after 3 innings, and his team scored 10 runs and he still got the loss. That’s not what you want.

The Soundtrack: The Wanderer – Dion and the Belmonts: This song is about Chris Parmelee

The Story: I’ll have to check with my sources, but I believe that this is the first time all season that the Twins scored double digits. IT took a game with the equally deplorable Philadelphia Phillies to get there. Tyler Duffey was bad, Michael Tonkin was bad, but the Twins cobbled together about 4 innings of solid work. Tonight it was enough.

On offense, well, they scored 14 tun. That’s pretty good. Eduardo Nunez, Byung Ho Park and Byron Buxton had 0 hits. Everyone else did. Some people, like Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe had two. Brian Dozier had 4. Kurt effing Suzuki had 4. 3 of them were for extra bases. One of them was a home run. He had 6 RBI to set a career high.

At one point, the Twins were ale to push the lead to 11-6, which is an ample lead, but the Phillies scored 4 in the 8th just to make Twins fans feel like they are alive. Well, alive, but feeling dead inside. The Twins were able to win while scoring 14 runs, but this is a team I could totally see losing with that kind of total.

They didn’t, though!  Kurt Suzuki pretty much just earned a new contract with that kind of game.

Twins 7, Yankees 4- Twins win against Yankees, claim superiority over Gardenhire teams

The Moment: Eduardo Escobar hit a triple to put the Twins in front, but what everyone will end up talking abut was Trevor Plouffe’s slide account for run number two on the play. The Twins were in front for good, and had all the momentum.

The Hero: Escobar has been on a tear lately, with his two home runs in this series, and his big, go ahead and ultimately game winning triple in this game. Very nice.

The Condolences: Nathan Eovaldi picked up a loss against the Twins. That alone is pretty rough. He gave up a home run to Max Kepler, only struck out 2 and allowed 4 runs. Rough day for Nathan Eovaldi.

The Soundtrack: I Made It-Kevin Rudolf and Jay Sean. Probably over the top, but winning just feels so good.

The Story: I went to my parents’ house today, and just like old times, we sat around and watched the Twins. Not unlike the mid 90s, we lamented how bad the team was. And then, Escobar hit that triple, and the entire mood shifted.

Brian McCann hit a couple of home runs, which marked the first time he contributed in this series, and with how early he hit his first, and the fact that it was off of Ervin Santana, Twins fans rightfully felt defeated.

But alas, the mood changed, and the Twins started putting the ball in play. This was around the 6th inning, when the Twins started putting the ball in play. It wasn’t a bunch of home runs or gappers or anything that facilitated the surge, but rather balls dumped barely into the outfield. Even Escobar’s big hit was a broken bat hit that just happened to roll down the line.

Sure, Brian Dozier and Max Kepler hit home runs, but it was the good luck of balls finding open grass that changed the outcome of this game. The Twins need to start playing better, certainly, but they definitely need to catch some breaks, too.

Yankees 7, Twins 6 – Almost happy

The Moment: The Twins were cruising in this game, especially while Ricky Nolasco was on the mound, but then, in the 8th, the Twins went to the bullpen. Kevin Jepsen came in in the 8th, and I’m sure everything is fine.

Ugh.

Were Ryan and Kyle visible in a highlight? YES
Suzukihighlight

The Hero: That blast was hit by Carlos Beltran, who has 18 on the year. The Yankees are twice as old as the Twins, but they sure are hitting.

The Condolences: Jepsen gave up the home run that tied it, but the heretofore excellent Fernando Abad has been a catastrophe against the Yankees. This time, he faced 4, walked two and allowed the go ahead single. Sub optimal.

The Soundtrack: Listening to the Pirates-Cubs game on the radio. It’s a good reminder that sometimes prospects CAN become solid players.

The Story: Ricky Noalsco was nearly unhittable, aside from an Alex Rodriguez home run in the 6th inning. As a fun aside, Kyle and I went through to figure out who has hit the most home runs in games we have been to since getting season tickets. Rodriguez is now tied for third, thanks to that blast.

But Ricky Nolasco was very good. It seemed inevitable that the Twins would lose, though, when they kept leaving runners on base. Also, that’s the way it’s gone all season. It was a sigh of resigned expectation when Kevin Jepsen gave up the game tying home run.

Despite the loss, it was a pretty fun game, I guess. The Twins were hitting, including three home runs. There was Byung-ho Park launching a rocket to center, and Aroldis Chapman giving up back to back home runs for only the second time in his career. Eduardo Escobar and Kurt Suzuki, in a pinch hit appearance, did the trick. For the record, that was the 5th time we’ve seen Escobar homer since we have been to games, second only to Trevor Plouffe. Incredible.

There were a few injury scares, which was especially frustrating, given that Danny Santana played left, to remind us that Oswaldo Arcia isn’t coming back (tied with A-Rod for third all time on our home run list). Escobar fouled one off of his foot, Mak Kepler ran into Michael Pineda at first, and Byron Buxton nearly collided with Brian Dozier. A little bit of excitement, I guess.

One last note: Not only did the Twins lose the game, but we lost the podcast. The tablet we’ve been using didn’t want to work today. Dang.