Friday, April 07, 2006

Head Scratchers

All right, this won’t become a regular thing. If it did I may need an angioplasty from Gardenhire-induced stress. I won’t analyze all 162 games, but since I may lose interest in baseball by August, there isn’t much else going on and it’s been a few days, it’s time to ask some questions. The season is four games old and so far Ron Gardenhire and I are not on the same page. If he’s going to make dumb decisions he could at least consult me first. After a bad 11-6 loss to Cleveland, I wonder Ron, if you could address a few things for us?

- Starter Kyle Lohse allowed 4 runs through three innings, all to the heart of the Indians order. I imagined John Gordon’s call sounded like he was cheating at Battleship, “Hit, hit, hit.” Granted starters are rarely sharp this early in the year, but after digging the Twins an early hole, it was evident Lohse was quite off. After a scoreless fourth, the Twins battled back to trail 4-3. Lohse takes the mound to face Cleveland’s 4-5-6 hitters (in other words, the dudes responsible for four runs so far) in the bottom of the fifth. As soon as Lohse allows two runners to reach, Gardenhire could have acted. Long relievers Matt Guerrier and Francisco Liriano were rested and available. Instead Lohse stayed in to first load and then clear the bases on a grand slam by Casey Blake.

-Ninth inning Twins are down five, facing the right handed Fernando Cabrera. It’s a tall task to come back from five runs down, but it is still worth trying. Due up for the Twins is Luis Rodriguez, Juan Castro and Shannon Stewart. While Rodriguez isn’t the Twins best option he is a switch hitter and hits adequately versus righthanders. Castro is a below average hitter and does not walk. Keeping him in the game to hit is admitting defeat. At that point the Twins do not need slick fielders or quarterbacks on the diamond, they need the best hitters at their disposal. Looking at the bench is Jason Kubel a lefty with some power, and righties Mike Redmond and Tony Batista, all better power options than Castro. Judging by Gardenhire’s vote for status quo, either he felt the game was over or he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Castro stays in the game and strikes out, after working to a 3-1 count no less.

It is hard to assume the Twins will consistently score six runs each game. When it does happen, it is up to their able pitching staff to ensure it holds up. A manager does not often have much to do with the outcome of a game, but in this case Gardenhire deserves some of the blame for not taking action. I’m sure his postgame quotes will mention that “Lohsey” will be fine. Lohse will be fine, but the times when he isn’t rests on the manager to find someone else.