Monday, May 26, 2008

Baker's not quite half-dozen

Minnesota Twins

GCL Pirates 8 at GCL Twins 1

I am not a big fan of extended spring training games in general, and rehab games in particular. Hosting a pitcher on rehab isn't bad, it's the batters that get to me. Winning or losing or even how you play the game is not the point. The point is getting the work in for the individual that is rehabbing, so that he'll get back up to the Twins as soon as possible.

Scott Baker pitched the first five innings of Monday's Annual Memorial Day Game (with Terry Ryan). He pitched very well and was a pleasure to watch, from the first strike out to the last line out. He allowed one run a pair of wind-fed doubles in the fifth inning, but was otherwise solid, allowing four hits and at least 3 strike outs (I missed two outs in the second inning as I was messing with the camera.)

Baker is expected to make one more minor league start, most likely on Saturday. As the Fort Myers Miracle are in Tampa, I'm going to guess it's not going be with the Twins High A Affiliate. As the GCL boys are in Bradenton on Saturday, I'm guessing it's not going to be with them either.

Most likely Baker's next start will be at Frontier Field in Rochester on Saturday.

Baker's performance was heartening from a Twins fan perspective. After Saturday's 19-3 loss to the Tigers including Bonsor's 9 run, 7 hit performance, it's clear the Twins need Baker back A.S.A.P.

The less then happy side of today's game was Nick Punto's six at bats, in which we had four fly outs, one double play and one strike out. Punto did play second base through the first six innings as well, and his defense was not part of the problem. He still has a ways to go though, and will be sticking around the Lee County Sportsplex at least for a little while longer according to Terry Ryan who said "He's not ready".

And given that the idea was to get little Nicky Punto as many at bats as possible, it was a little hard for the regular GCL boys to get anything going with the batting order disrupted.

As a result, the Twins did not get onto the board until the 9th inning, when Anderson Hidalgo doubled, then came home on a failed double play that took out Andres Diaz at second base. After tagging the base for the first out, the Pirates shortstop threw the ball into Diaz - an accident - but I'm sure that didn't make Andres feel any better. It's tough to see a player get injured anytime, but it's doubley so when his parents are watching.

Curtis Leavitt would take over from Baker and would work the 6th and 7th innings. He faired well enough in the seventh, although I had made my way over to the first base side to talk to my buddies.

"Hey, where are you going?" Ryan asks me.

"I occasionally like to go to the English speaking side of the park so I can have a conversation," I explain.

And Winston Marquez wasn't around to translate for me today, as he suffered an ACL tear and will be headed up to Minnesota for surgery. He is done for the season.

It was in the 8th with two outs that Leavitt got into trouble allowing 4 hits, including a double and a triple and a walk for five runs - all earned. I was considering whining to Jake to please, please, please roll the inning, when Leavitt finally got the last out, striking the batter out looking.

Chris Anderson, the new little lefty from New Hampshire, worked the 8th inning, allowing only 1 base hit and striking out 1. Lee Martin pitched the ninth. The first batter would reach on a fielding error (E6) and the second Pirates' boy would put one over the fence.

Note that the Pirates had new uniforms which did not have their names on the back and as I do not have a roster for them I have no idea who was who on their team. He would also allow a single before getting the fourth batter he face to hit into a double play and the final out on an outfield fly.

As for our guys, Jeanfred Brito was 0-for-4, James Beresford was 0-for-2, and reached on a throwing error in the fifth inning. Angel Morales was 0-for-2 with a walk and a pair of strike outs, Danny Rams was 0-for-3, Hidalgo was 2-for-2 with a double, Alex Soto was 0-for-1 with a walk, Hyun-Wook Choi (the outfielding Choi - we have two) was 0-for-2 with a walk and Reggie Williams was 1-for 2.

And Eli Tintor...well...Eli was our new first baseman and he went 1-for-3 with one strike out. He hit into a very controversial triple play in the bottom of the the fifth, fueled by a terrible call by the umpire, who made several questionable calls in the game. I also got my first look at Tim Atherson, the new Aussie infielder, who was 0-for-1. He would be hit by a pitch in the 6th inning. Nick Papasan would take a walk for him in the 8th.

So while we didn't win, and the game was certainly a let down from that aspect, we did get a good outing from Baker, so I'll take the positive from the experience.

Hurry back Scotty, Minnesota needs you!

Video of Baker's third inning is currently uploading and will be available a little later today. Photos are also in the works. We are very multi-media friendly around here.

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