Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Losing Games, Blowing Calls, and other Twins Notes

Unfortunately, the Twins seem destined to spend 2011 learning the hard way how many different ways they can lose a baseball game. In Monday’s game, the Tigers broke a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the 8th inning when a grounder bounced, hit a fan in an orange shirt and the umpires called it fan interference even though it should have been a ground rule double. Johnny Peralta, who had been on first, was awarded home base instead of third, and thus scored the winning run. When asked about the seemingly inexplicable call after the game, crew chief Gary Darling explained: “We ruled spectator interference and we ruled the runner would have scored without it. [You know, because we said so.]”

The bad call provided baseball writers with fresh fodder to once again bemoan the fact there isn’t more instant-replay in baseball. Although I didn’t like Monday’s call, my position on expanded instant-replay remains the same—I don't like it. As I explained almost exactly one year ago:

Personally, I find anything that makes baseball any bit more like football revolting. When Gardy goes out to challenge a close call, do I want to see all the umpires run off to a little room where they will huddle around, watch a video tape, and decide what to do? Heck no. I want Gardy to be ejected, everyone to throw their hats on the field, and then be able to blame all of the Twins’ misgivings on the umpires. After all, it wasn't all those missed chances that lost the game for the Twins last night, it was that one blown call.

Come on guys: was it really that one stupid call that lost it for the Twins yesterday? With Kubel and Thome already pulled from the game, Matt Tolbert and Drew Butera the only available pinch-hitters, and the Twins already three-relievers deep into the 2011 Twins bullpen, were they really going to pull out a win? Maybe... but maybe not.

However, a tearful apology from Gary Darling tonight when Jerry White or whomever trots out to present the Twins lineup card would still be very welcome.

Guess Who's Hot...

Between May 1st and May 30th, when it comes to Twins players who had at least 20 at-bats, guess who had the highest batting average (.302), on-base percentage (.362), slugging percentage (.444), and OPS (.807)? If you guessed Jason Kubel... you’re wrong.

It’s Alexi Casilla.

I know—you might retort that Casilla has a smaller sample-size due to having fewer at-bats than some regular regulars, or that these stats aren't advanced enough, or the fact Casilla led May in all these categories just shows how bad the 2011 Twins are. But Casilla actually has been looking confident and playing well lately—take advantage of a hot streak. Casilla's certainly looking MUCH better right now than Trevor Plouffe, who has been repeatedly failing to catch the ball, repeatedly air-mailing throws, and repeatedly not hitting.

Over the past week I've seen many people suggest benching Casilla and starting Plouffe instead, but there is simply no reason to be doing that right now.

Nishioka Nearing Return

Tsuyoshi Nishioka played in his first extended spring training game last Saturday at shortstop, and he got a hit his first two at-bats, ultimately going 2 for 3 with one RBI. On Monday Nishi went 0 for 3 playing second base, but did turn a double play without breaking a leg. The training staff has been helping build Nishioka's instinct to jump while throwing to first on a double play—something not normally needed in Japan—apparently by chucking big rubber balls at him.

The Japanese media originally reported that Tsuyoshi would return to the majors on June 9th, but it appears it could be a couple days later. After running out a grounder to shortstop at full-speed on Monday, Nishioka told reporters, "I wanted to test my condition during the game. I still feel a sense of discomfort. After I finished running, I still felt some pain."

In any case, it appears Nishioka will be back within the next two weeks, and probably before Mauer—who is still suffering from some mysterious knee problem/leg weakness/flu. It makes me worried, knowing Mauer is never one to not want to play, not work hard, and not want to be back ASAP.

In any case, here is a photo of Nishi and Joe exchanging hellos at practice on Tuesday.

Mom's Finnish Language Lesson

Mom, who is from a large Finnish family, says there is a word in the Finnish language that means "ish," "ew," or "yuck." The word is "hyi"—pronounced quite a lot like "Hoey."

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