Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The "Treasure Island" Twins?

When listening to a Twins game on the radio via AM1500, just before the game begins there is a message that comes across saying “you are listening to a Treasure Island broadcast of Twins Baseball.”

Kevin Slowey and Francisco Liriano have seemed to take that literally for the last couple of nights, appearing as if they are employed by the casino as they were both absolutely DEALING for 8 innings in their respective starts.

Slowey shut down the Indians for 8 innings on Tuesday night, finishing his 98 pitch outing having only given up one run on 5 hits, striking out 9 while walking none. Slowey essentially made only one mistake; a second inning first pitch fastball that Travis Hafner tagged to right for what would eventually be the Indians’ only run of the night. What impressed me most about Slowey's outing was that he threw 70 of his 98 pitches for strikes, regaining the “Greg Maddux like” control (as Bert Blyleven put it) that he has been known for.

Liriano followed up his superb outing against the Boston Red Sox with another gem Wednesday night against the Indians. Liriano needed only 4 more pitches than Slowey to finish his 8 innings, also throwing 70 of his 102 pitches for strikes. This is a very promising sign for Liriano who struggled mightily with his control last season. He finished the night having given up no runs on 6 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2.

The Twins were actually outhit by the Indians 7 to 6 Wednesday night, but unlike the past week, tonight's hits came with runners in scoring position. Brendan Harris drove in the first run in the second inning on a 2 out single to center, followed up shortly by a 2-run single to center by Denard Span. Michael Cuddyer accounted for the rest of the Twins’ runs, homering to right in the 6th, and driving in Mauer and Morneau with a triple in the 8th.

It is officially time to cease speculation regarding whether or not Francisco Liriano is for real. Liriano’s numbers combined through Dominican winter league performance, his dominant spring training, and now his first three outings of the 2010 season look like this: 98.1 innings, 1.19 ERA, 114-21 strikeout to walk ratio. I realize that the winter league and spring training are not the same level of competition that Liriano will face throughout an MLB regular season, but those numbers lead me to the conclusion that Liriano is as close to his 2006 form as the Twins could hope.

Also with tonight’s win, the Twins have won their 5th consecutive series to begin the season. The only other team in baseball with the possibility of doing that is the Yankees who could do so with a win either tonight or tomorrow against the Athletics.

This Twins team is for real. If they continue to receive starting pitching like they have thus far, and this lineup hits like it should, the American League should watch out!

Random Vikings Update:

  • The Vikings signed free agent cornerback Lito Sheppard to a one-year $2MM deal tonight. With the NFL draft beginning tomorrow night, it appears that the Vikings will no longer be looking to draft a CB with the 30th overall pick, as was expected up until now. This signing also increases speculation that the Vikings will possibly select a quarterback with their pick, more specifically Tim Tebow, whom they have been said to have “serious interest” in over the past couple of weeks. Personally, I like Tebow, and I would like to see the Vikings select him at 30, but I still believe if there is a solid safety available at #30, we will more than likely go that direction.

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