The Minnesota Twins will open up brand spanking new Target Field later this afternoon against the Boston Red Sox. But before getting into that the Twins did finish up their 7 game road trip to open this season. After taking the final three games from the Angels the Twins took on the Chicago White Sox in a three game set. The first 2 went to the Twins, and Minnesota was beating the Sox at their own new game which was pitching and defense. The first game was an 11 inning war that ended with a JJ Hardy single drove in Joe Mauer. In game 2, Scott Baker pitched great going 7 strong innings and Jason Kubel hit a 2 run home run to give the Twins a 2 to 1 victory. Game 3 got off to a good start as the Twins scored early in the 1st and 3rd innings. Although Nick Blackburn pitched into the 8th innings he gave up 5 earned runs, and 3 HR. The game ended when Jim Thome mashed a hard hit ball of the wall in the 9th but JJ Hardy was unable to score from 1st base and the game ended.
Twins bull pen: Their is no other way to put it. The Twins bullpen has been fantastic. In Chicago Matt Gurrier and Brian Duenseng both threw 2 big innings each in the 11 inning game. Jon Rauch recorded 2 more saves giving him a Major League Leading 4 on the season. He looked shaky in both outings but has not folded. At the beginning of the year I said Rauch would get at least 20 saves. So far so good. Also Jesse Crain has easily looked like the best guy out of the pen so far this year.
Scott Baker: After a disappointing first start on Opening Day, Scott Baker pitched great against the White Sox. He went 7 strong innings, only allowed 6 base runners and give up just 1 run. Baker is the key for Minnesota getting off to a good start after a dismal April the past few years.
The combination of Fransisco Liriano and Drew Butera: Scanning quickly it was a positive that Liriano got a quality start (6 innings and 3ER) and kept the Twins in a game that they would eventually win in extra innings. But this duo was not functioning well at all (5BB and wild pitch). To me Liriano's stuff looked very good. His fastball was 92 to 95 with late movement in all 6 innings. His slider and change up were good but not great. They were not great because they were being thrown too often. In my opinion, Liriano's secondary offerings are not used to be thrown for strikes. They should be used to get strikeouts. As the game went along, Butera called a lot of first pitch off speed pitches that Liriano was not able to locate. Again it was Butera's major league debut and I also understand that a good amount signals come from the coaches, but at some point Liriano and Butera had to know that they were turning away from the fastball and shouldn't of.
Aaron Hicks: I am reaching down in the minors to my number 1 prospect has made me look rather unintelligent. Hicks has started the year off 1 for 14 with 8 strikeouts. Reports have said he has looked rather ugly doing it, but hopefully this is just an early season slump due to cool weather on Beloit.
Next Up: The long awaited opening Target Field has arrived. The Twins will take of AL East contender Boston Red Sox (3-3). After today's game both teams will get a day off Tuesday (much needed for Twins) and will finish off series Wednesday and Thursday which means Joe Mauer will likley catch all 3 games. Pitching Match ups will go as followed:
Today: John Lester vs Carl Pavano
Wednesday: John Lackey vs Kevin Slowey
Thursday: Tim Wakefield vs Fransisco Liriano