Monday, May 25, 2009

A Brief Discussion of the Twins Sweep of the Brewers

As anyone who was watching Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN tonight knows, the Twins completed a three game sweep of the Brewers tonight.  A good chunk of the country was probably sitting there wondering, "Why is this the Sunday Night game on ESPN?"  Fuck you, Coast-Dwelling people--the baseball world doesn't revolve around you.

Other folks, who keep an eye on the Central standings, in both the AL and NL, may have been surprised not just by the sweep, but by the dominance of the Twins.  After all, the Brewers came into this series with a pretty healthy lead in the NL Central, and the Twins were a few games below .500.  

So it is understandable that Brewers fans might be surprised that the Twins had a lead of at least 4 runs going into the 9th inning of every game in this stand.  They outscored the Brewers 23-8 over three games.  That's holding the Brewers, with their mighty power hitting, to an average of less than 3 runs per game.  One could argue that the number is a little inflated actually, as the Twins sent out Sunday's starter Scotty Baker in the 9th inning, hoping to give him a complete game.  Baker gave up a two run blast in the 9th, courtesy of "Fat Boy" Prince Fielder, before being replaced by Twitchy Joe Nathan, who promptly shut the door.

Now, we could point to some explanations of how the Brewers got swept--one could look at the starting pitching--every Twins pitcher in the series completed at least 7 innings--no Brewer starter did.   Or maybe you would like to look at a comparison of the Ryan Braun & Prince Fielder vs. the Joe Maurer and Justin Mourneau.   And there wasn't a comparison--the Minnesota power hitters came through, and the Brewers hitters were handcuffed the entire series.  Ryan Braun, for example, had 1 RBI in three games.

But what I'd like to focus on, and what worries me a bit, is the fact that the Twins did this without any help, zero help, in fact, from the bottom of their batting order.  It's great that they can get wins this way, or even dominate a team doing this, but when you see that one team outscored another team 23-8, you might be within your rights to expect production from unexpected sources, ala the bottom three of the batting order.

To me, the most shocking aspect of the sweep is how awful the bottom three  hitters for Minnesota were.   Let's be reasonable, people--you score almost eight runs per game in a series, you expect production from everywhere, and in this instance, it just wasn't the case.

The Twins' bottom three (which over the course of three games was a rotating crew of the same 5 guys, each playing no more than two games--Carlos Gomez, Matt Tolbert, Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, and Delmon Young) combined to go 2-31.  2-31!  With all of 3 walks. In last night's game, the bottom three went 0-10!  And yet the Twins won comfortably.

Sooner or later, that lack of production from the bottom of the order is going to hurt the Twins.   And I'd like to send a special "fuck you" to Nick Punto, who in two games, went 0-4 with 2 walks, because he attempted to slide into first on possible infield hits.  God damn you, Nick Punto, sliding into first isn't faster than legging it out!

Also, Kudos to The Black Freighter, who predicted that Anthony Swarzak would play a role for the Twins this year.  TBF made his prediction back in early April--Swarzack went 7 innings deep against the Brewers on Saturday, giving up 5 hits and no runs.  

1 comment:

Louise said...

Minnesota Twins should be always competitive enough to keep pace with the others. I really like them; they’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB. Just read about them here: