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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Home Openening Reflections

The Twins continued their offensive struggles yesterday in a disappointing home opener against this summers’ big spending Angels. After struggling to make his sinker, well, sink in the first inning, giving up two early runs, Nick Blackburn settled down in a big way, at one point retiring fourteen straight and inducing twelve ground ball outs in six innings of work. Once again the Twins defense let their pitching down, committing two errors behind Blackburn and despite the fact that these did not lead to runs, it was another defensive miscue that allowed the Angels to open up their lead in the 7th inning.

With the now pedestrian Bobby Abreu on 1st, Alberto Callaspo hit ground ball up the middle which SS Jamey Carroll over-dived for and what should have been a routine double play was deflected allowing both runners to advance. Blackburn was made to pay as he left a meat-ball over the plate for Chris Iannetta to drive to the left center field wall for a two run double. This passage of play again was indicative of the carry over the Twins have seemed to experience from last season, poor fundamental defense and no hitting.

Josh Willingham was perhaps the only Twin ho looked like a real threat at the plate, hitting the ball hard all four times against C.J Wilson including a solo home run in the 4th and narrowly pulling another potential long ball foul his next at bat. Wilson himself induced 14 ground balls, another indication of how much Twins hitters have struggled so far to drive the ball, yesterday’s struggles putting the Twins at six runs through their first four games.

Interestingly Ron Gardenhire went with his 4th different line-up in as many games and while it was understandable getting as many right handed hitters in the line-up against a dominant southpaw like C.J Wilson, to me this speaks to the fact that outside of his core players, Ron Gardenhire really isn’t sure of what his best lineup maybe. So far the most noticeable and yet least talked about offensive struggle had been getting the Twins speedy table setters on base, Span, Casilla and Jamey Carroll combining for an OBP of just .146 through four games. The next two starters the Twins face are Jared Weaver and Dan Haren and with Scott Baker’s return anything but immediate, the Twins face a real test of character over the next few days.

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