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Monday, April 28, 2008

Off Day and an Amazing Catch

Twins off tonight after they completed a 2-4 West Coast roadtrip to Oakland and Texas. The trip saw Francisco Liriano hit an ultimate low showing no command and being sent down to minor leagues, a offense stymied by Oakland's pitching scoring only 5 runs in three games, a surprise offensive burst of 12 runs in Texas to claim a victory, Michael Cuddyer hit his first homerun of the season in his first game back from the DL, and of course the return of Livan Hernandez to earth as he was roughed up by the Rangers.

All in all, not a great road trip, but the Twins remain at 11-14 and are right in the pack of a crowded AL Central through the first month of the season.


- With the return of Cuddyer, Ron Gardenhire has decided to move Delmon Young down in the order. This should put less pressure on Young who seems to be pressing at the plate, but I need to see him start hitting! He has no homeruns and only 8 RBIs.

- We knew the rotation would have some question marks this year, but we thought our bullpen would be very solid. Gardenhire can't be afraid to use Joe Nathan in non-save situations and the rest of the bullpen (excluding Dennys Reyes) needs to step up.

- As figured with a young club, the Twins seem to score 1 run one night and 9 runs the next night. I need to see some more offensive consistency. With Cuddyer healthy, hopefully the Twins can settle into a set batting order.

I'll be in Minneapolis tomorrow evening for the opening game of the 2 game series against the White Sox. This will be my first game since opening day, so hopefully I will see the THINGS I NEED TO SEE.

Until then, see this... an amazing catch made from college baseball that was the #1 play of the week on Sportscenter!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where's the Love for Griffey?

As the first unrelated Minnesota Twins post on this blog, this post is somewhat special or unique. I wrote this article for another online baseball publication and since Ken Griffey Jr. was my favorite player growing up as a kid along with nearly every other kid my age I thought I would publish it.

In case any of you baseball fans haven't noticed, Ken Griffey Jr. is approaching a milestone. With his 597th career homerun today against the Houston Astros, "the Kid" is set to join an elite club that contains only five members: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Sammy Sosa.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like Junior isn't getting the love he deserves. Yeah, now ESPN has the Junior graphic and is beginning to flash to his at bats, but 600 homeruns is a big deal. It makes me wonder if Griffey's pursuit at 600 has gone silent because of the lack of controversey in his homerun total.

I can only speculate (but can do so with 100% confidence) that Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa achieved 600 career homeruns partly due to the use of performing-enhancing drugs. Ken Griffey Jr. is the poster boy of how to play baseball the honest way during the steroid era of the 1990s and 2000s.

Perhaps it's because of all the injury shortened seasons or the fact that he has played on losing teams in Cincinnati, but many have forgotten the days when Ken Griffey Jr. ruled the world of baseball. He was a perennial All-Star, a Gold-Glove outfielder, a fan favorite across the country, and a member of the All-Century team.

Griffey was not only in pursuit of the single season home run record year-in and year-out, but was on pace to pass Hank Aaron and become the homerun king. Tragically, in his eight years with the Reds, Griffey has played in more than 140 games only twice and from 2002-2004 played a total of only 206 games.

As a kid growing up in the 90s, Griffey was my hero. I wore the cap backwards, played the video game, and even wore his sneakers. He certainly is not the player he used to be and we can always wonder where he could have been if he stayed healthy.

A few things are for certain: Griffey will be in the Hall of Fame, Griffey plays the game the way it should be played, and Griffey will hit his 600th homerun very soon. When he does, let's give him the love, respect, and appreciation he deserves.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Buster Olney's thoughts on Livan

Sorry for the delay in posting, things have been busy here as the end of my college career is nearing. I don't have time today to post either, but I wanted to post the opinion of one of my favorite sports writers Buster Olney of ESPN. He had some interesting things to say about Livan Hernandez...

Maybe you prefer pure power, total domination. Maybe you loved Dwight Gooden in 1985 and Roger Clemens in the 2000 playoffs and Joel Zumaya's 101 mph fastball in 2006. But maybe you like a pitcher who works a game like Indiana Jones -- lots of tension, lots of vulnerability, a pitcher who seems to be at the mercy of circumstance, and yet at the same time possesses a lot of swagger and moxie. You cover your eyes watching this pitcher work into and out of jams, and yet somehow he seems to have a measure of control.

If this is what you like, we present Livan Hernandez, American Leaguer.

Pitching in the National League last year, Hernandez allowed 247 hits and 78 walks in 204.1 innings, including 34 home runs. He throws his fastball in the mid-80s and a breaking ball in the mid-to-low '60s. The idea that Livan Hernandez would have a chance to pitch in the bigger and badder AL seemed, on the face of it, completely absurd.

And yet he is spinning his breaking stuff and nicking the corners and getting ahead in the count and making burly hitters get themselves out with big swings. Five starts into the 2008 season, Hernandez has 11 strikeouts in 33 innings -- but he's walked just six, and has an ERA of 3.55; the Twins are 5-0 in his starts, after beating Oakland last night, in what was a no-decision for Hernandez.

And as always, Hernandez did something that reminded you of how he controls game, of what an old hand he is. In the first inning, Daric Barton slapped a single and reached second, and with Jack Cust at the plate, Hernandez and catcher Joe Mauer had a difficult time getting together on pitch selection; Hernandez glanced back at Barton and seemed impatient.

He summoned Mauer to the mound, as Twins manager Ron Gardenhire looked on with exasperation, and shortstop Nick Punto jogged into the mound; pitcher, catcher and shortstop all spoke through the webbing of their gloves.

Barton did not have a big lead, and there were two outs; he wasn't going to steal a base. And yet Hernandez wheeled and fired toward second base, toward Barton -- and Punto wasn't covering the base. Rather, the shortstop was positioned well behind Barton, in a wonderful spot if the ball ricocheted away. The throw thumped Barton right in the back.

It all seemed very strange: A pickoff play right after a mound meeting, with the shortstop not covering the base. Did Livan hit Barton on purpose, to remind him that he didn't believe in sign-stealing?

I figured the fleeting thought was absurd. And then Bert Blyleven, the Twins' broadcaster, chimed in that as a pitcher, he always thought he had a free shot at the baserunner while throwing toward the bases. Maybe the cagey Livan did plunk Barton on purpose.

It's all part of the guile that is Hernandez, who has been much better than anyone could have expected so far. Think about these numbers: Going into Tuesday's game, the Twins had more quality starts in their first 19 games of 2008 (11) than they did in 2007 (9), and their ERA is a half-run lower. And the Twins are hanging in there in the AL Central.

I missed the random pickoff moment as I was not watching the game, but I can only imagine what Bert Blyleven had to say about it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A closer look at Carlos Gomez

I admit my feelings toward Carlos Gomez on this blog have been similar to a 7th grade crush, so I decided to look deeper into the numbers to either justify my infatuation or come to that harsh reality that she doesn't even know who you are.

Since Opening Day, I've fallen for Gomez and his electrifying speed. The speedster has 9 stolen bases in 10 attempts with his only caught stealing coming on a pickoff at first base. No catcher has been able to neutralize the kid's speed. Go-go is currently on pace to steal 95 bases which would shatter the Twins record of 62, set by Chuck Knoblauch in 1997.

The most amazing part of Gomez's stolen base count is his poor .284 on-base percentage. The kid is only getting on base a quarter of the time and leads the majors with 9 steals. With Gomez it's not a matter of whether he can take 2nd or 3rd, but if he can get to 1st. Assuming Carlos can develop a better eye at the plate and raise his AVG. and OBP., 100 steals is certainly attainable.

At this point in the year, the strikeout to walk ratio is expected from the young hitter. Carlos has taken 2 walks and struck out 16 times. Certainly not what you want to see, but coming over from the Mets it was known Gomez was a free swinger and needed to work on his plate discipline. He was rushed through New York's system and now is in a situation where he needs to play in the big leagues everyday. Hopefully with time hitting coach Joe Vavra and the Twins organization can fine tune Gomez's at bats.

On a positive note I've been over impressed with Gomez's defensive ability. The kid makes a lot of plays. He is obviously no Torii Hunter with his reads on the ball and the direction he takes to make the catch, but his speed makes up for many "rookie mistakes" and his defense will only continue to get better. With Denard Span playing out of position in right field this week, Gomez has adequately been covering more than his third of the field.

It remains to be seen whether or not Go-go will actually steal 90 bases. At his currently clip of getting on base 25% of the time I want to say it won't happen. But perhaps speed does kill and Gomez will continue to impress us. As each week of the season moves on we'll continue to learn more about the centerpiece to the Johan Santana trade, so for now I'm going to remain a wallflower and keep my crush.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tiger Frustrations

The Twins suffered a tough loss last night falling 11-9 to the Detroit Tigers. Despite having a 5-0 lead in the 6th and a 9-4 lead in the 7th, the Tigers were able to take advantage of a bullpen collapse scoring six runs in the 8th and claiming their third victory of the season.


- The Twins may have awaken a sleeping giant. They faced a 2-10 Tigers club at the perfect time and seemed to have a victory all but wrapped up. A big come from behind win like this may be all Detroit needs to get rolling.

- Matt Guerrier and Pat Neshek do not look good. This is bad considering these two are the best bullpen arms outside of Joe Nathan. I expect Jesse Crain and Juan Rincon to have some struggles, but the Twins need Guerrier and Neshek to be sharp. That's the second time this week the bullpen blew a win.

- Pitchers are figuring out Carlos Gomez. So now that the Gomez jerseys have flown off the shelf and people have claimed Gomez the savior, we all must wake up a bit. Gomez is 0 for his last 14 and it seems pitchers are figuring hime out a bit. He's been getting a lot of fastballs up and in and is having trouble adjusting. This is expected with a young player like Gomez, but hopefully he and hitting coach Joe Vavra can make the necessary adjustments.

- Everett can't hit... or field? Yeah we knew he wouldn't hit, for proof look no further than his .185 BA, but we were told he would be a phenomenal fielder. "Gold Glove Caliber" I believe were the words that Gardy used, yet Everett made his 3rd error last night in this very short season and it came at a very crucial time in the end of the game. There is rumor he's having shoulder problems which would come as a legitimate excuse for the errors, but then why is he playing? Let the kid Matt Tolbert play. He's crushing the ball and has something to prove. Frustrations go to both Everett and Gardenhire for his managing decisions.

Scott Baker takes the hill tonight facing off against the Tigers' Nate Robertson. Hopefully the Twins can split the two game series and clear away some of my frustrations.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thoughts from a Fellow Fan

One thing I like to do on this blog is for the readers to hear opinions from people other than me. There are a lot of Twins fans out there, so here is the first installment of Thoughts from a Fellow Fan.

A good friend of mine from high school days back in South Dakota made the trip south to K.C. this weekend to see his first look of the 2008 Twins. Here are Thoughts from a Fellow Fan, Taylor.

Over the weekend I was lucky enough to go along with some friends down to Kansas City for the Saturday and Sunday Twins vs Royals games. Although the weather was probably more suited for football, the baseball games were fun nonetheless.

Saturday's game was great for two reasons. One, the Twins won which always constitutes for a great game, and second, the game was sold out due to Billy Butler jersey night. Coming into the game I expected a high scoring affair with a Bonser, Tomko pitching matchup. Naturally I was mistaken, and instead I witnessed a pitching duel. The Twins jumped up early thanks to a Jason Kubel solo blast, which contributed to his already solid start. If Kubel can stay healthy this year I expect a very solid year, ending with him surrounding the 20 home run mark. The Royals couldn't get anything going, as Bonser looked wonderful on the mound, carrying a no-hitter into the 5th, only to be jynxed by a Royals fan behind us and thus gave up a single to Ross Gload. That was about the only positive for Royals fans as their offense mustered up no real threats throughout the game. The Twins had a chance to blow the game out in the 7th up 2-0, but failed to score a run after having the bases loaded with no outs. Thanks to the solid Neshek/Nathan combo the Twins shut to door and took game 2 of the series.

This game was direct opposites for both teams coming in. The Royals fans failed to come out on a chilly Sunday afternoon, probably because of the back to back losses without scoring a run. On the otherhand the Twins fans came in full of anticipation for Fransisco Liriano's first major league start since late 2006. The game looked as if it would be more of the same from the previous two nights as the Twins knocked on across in the first. But Liriano couldn't hold the lead long as the Royals chipped away and took the lead with runs in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th innings. One positive to take from Liriano's start was he didn't let the game out of hand, which was something that easily could have happened because it seemed the Royals were constantly threatening. Obviouslly the main concern after Liriano's start is with his command as he never seemed to be able to get ahead of hitters and finish them off. It was nice to see the development of his changeup, which if it was controlled properly reminded this me of a former Twins Lefy ace's changeup. Bannister didn't allow any real threat for the remainder of the game, and he continued the dominance he has shown all year, helping the Royals finished off the sweep.

Random Notes I got from the games:
-The Royals stadium is incredible! They have the biggest HD jumbotron in the nation, and it is just wonderful for the fans. Also they have wiped out the old left outfield seats because they are putting in new seats in front of the waterfalls throught the staduim.

-The Royals fans hate Jose Guillen, constatnly chanting 12 million dollars which is what they are paying him to hit .100. It didn't help when he dropped an easy fly ball in the first Sunday, leading to the only Twins run

-If you do attend a Royals game in the future, buy the cheapest available ticket. My friend and I baught the 9 dollar tickets, and ended up front row behind home plate both games. They do not have people checking tickets at each gate, and we basically wondered and sat wherever we pleased.

- The Royals will be good and soon. Their lineup is young and potent with emerging stars in Teahan, Gordon, and Butler. Plus the pitching staff is set up to be real solid with veterans Meche and Tomko and young guys coming into their own with Bannister and Grienke.

-These two teams are very similar, and will probably battle throughout the year in the standings. Who knows, maybe another 2003 is in store with both teams being in the division race after the all star break!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hernandez crafts another victory/Liriano called up

Livan Hernandez became the winningest pitcher in the majors improving to 3-0 as he allowed no runs runs through 7 innings Friday night in Kansas City. Hernandez got himself into some sticky situation, but walked away unscathed and confused the Royal batters with offspeed pitches and pinpoint control. I could have been a rich man had I bet people Livan Hernandez would start the season 3-0.

Carlos Gomez had another solid night picking up a double, triple, and knocked in 2 RBIs. Justin Morneau hit his third homerun of the season, a solo shot in the third inning, and two Twin rookies, Denard Span and Matt Tolbert, picked up their first career RBIs. Amazingly, Matt Tolbert who was the last man to make the Twins roster this spring is batting .556 to start the season. After collecting 3 hits tonight, Tolbert is 12-21 and making a good case to be in the lineup everyday. Very fun to watch the kid play. He plays tough, works hard, and adds some energy and electricity to the team.


Even bigger than the Twins victory was the announcement before the came that Kevin Slowey will be put on the 15-day disabled list, setting the stage for Francisco Liriano to make his first major league start since September of 2006.

I must admit, the move comes as a surprise to me as Liriano has struggled in his two minor league starts this spring posting a 6.75 ERA and allowing 11 hits and 7 runs in 9 1/3 IP. The Twins are not in a situation where they need Liriano and I think he should be brought back from surgery slowly. However, I trust the organization's decision and lets hope that this begins the road back to Liriano circa 2006. As I stated this winter, if Liriano can return to his dominating form the 2008 Twins will be a dangerous team.

Sunday in Kansas City, we will see...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Twins Rout White Sox

A 12-5 victory over the White Sox last night was filled with highlights for the Minnesota Twins.

In the 6th inning Jason Kubel broke a 7-3 lead into an 11-3 rout with a grand slam. Kubel went 2-6 with 6 RBIs in the game. Brendan Harris went 3-4 and scored 3 runs. Scott Baker pitched solid, not great, but he did strike out 7 in 5 innings and gave up 3 runs.

Ron Gardenhire said before the game,
All we're looking for is some more consistent swings throughout the lineup. We've had a guy hot here and there. We haven't really clicked as an offense yet.

Gardy got what he was looking for as the Twins set season highs scoring 12 runs and collecting 13 hits.

Of all the highlights, Carlos Gomez may have stole the show in the first inning. Gomez had a phenomenal diving catch in the center/rightfield gap. The play won himself a Web Gem and a #1 spot on Sportscenter top plays!

Tonight's game in Chicago has already been postponed due to heavy rain, so the team will move onto Kansas City for the weekend and the off day should actually help the rotation out. With Kevin Slowey unable to start Sunday and Francisco Liriano appearing unprepared to be called up, the rotation will get pushed back a day and everything should be fine.

Stay dry!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Linked into the Twins

No game yesterday as the Twins enjoyed their first off day. Still plenty news to report, so I'm going with a linked up blog post today. Read whatever grabs your attention.

* The plan was to have Francisco Liriano return to the majors on Sunday after his second minor league start; however, some things don't always go according to plan as Liriano doesn't appear ready.

* Matt Tolbert continues to impress the Twins. His passion and ability have left an impact on the entire organization.

* Something to chew on: yesterday the Twins announced an eight-year partnership with Sportservice who will provide the food in the new ballpark. Plans are to offer a new, unique, local menu. Lefsa anyone?

* Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune gives his sad, but true observations on the Twins offense after eights games this season. Do the Twins have the worst offense in the American League?

* Twins beat reporter, Kelly Thesier, answers Twins fan mail. She is asked, does Carlos Gomez still have rookie eligibility?

After a minor technical difficulty, the Carlos Gomez stolen base count is now up on the sidebar.

Scott Baker (1-0) takes the mound this evening against Jon Danks (0-0) and the White Sox at 7:11 CST in Chicago. Go Twins!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Off Day Thoughts

One week ago today I wrote about Opening Day and the start of the baseball season. Seven days later the Twins are 3-5 with some questions as well as some answers. All in all, I'd say 3-5 is about expected with opening series against the Angels, Royals, and a game against the White Sox.


Is Livan Hernandez for real?
The ancient righty is off to a 2-0 start with a 3.86 ERA. He's providing stability and leadership to a young rotation. Hope it continues!

When will Jason Kubel become full time? Kubel's batting .221 and slugging .409, not great, but he's younger, has more potential, is a better hitter, and Craig Monroe is batting .091 and slugging .182.

How will the Twins replace Michael Cuddyer? Denard Span was called up when Cuddy went on the DL. A surprise move in my opinion. Span slides into the #2 spot in the lineup which makes a lefty/lefty duo of Mauer and Morneau batting 3rd and 4th. I think the Twins lineup will have even more trouble scoring runs now and I think Delmon Young should be batting between the M&M boys. At least this may give Kubel more at bats.

Will Francisco Liriano make an impact in the rotation? I sure hope so. He struggled in his first minor league start and will make his AAA start today with Rochester. Word has it that he make return to the big leagues on Sunday.


Joe Nathan is a stud. The Twins signing of Nathan was a sign of commitment to winning and it kept a shutdown closer in the bullpen. At least we know that if we're winning going into the 9th inning, we'll get the win. Nathan's current line: 3 SV, 3 SV opportunities, 3 IP, and 3 SO.

Nick Blackburn is for real. In 2 starts and 12 IP, Blackburn has a 2.25 ERA with 12 SO and only 3 BB. He owns an 0-1 record due to poor run support, but this kid will be very important this season and may never lose his rotation spot that he won this spring.

The American League is deep. Baltimore is in first place, Oakland is not just rebuilding, Kansas City is so much better, and this leaves Boston, Seattle, and Detroit in last place. These three teams will not be in last place for long, but it doesn't matter who the Twins play because the American League is good.

Carlos Gomez is really fast. The kid has stolen 5 bases already which has prompted the MVB to start a Carlos Gomez stolen base count in the sidebar. But he's not just fast, Gomez is batting .333 and has scored 5 runs in 8 games. If he can continue to get on base, Mauer, Morneau, and Young will be very happy.

We'll see what questions and answers emerge in week 2 of the season...

YOUR OPINION: What questions do you see so far concerning the Twins?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Angels Recap/Royals Preview

So the first series is in the bag. After the adrenaline and excitement cooled from Opening Day, the Twins lost three games in a row against a strong Angels club. Other than Nick Blackburn's outstanding start pitching was inconsistent and hitting has been awful. Justin Morneau is still hitless in 2008, but Joe Mauer had a good game yesterday, Jason Kubel hit the Twins first homerun of the season, Carlos Gomez is still using his electrifying speed, and most importantly the Angels will not visit the Metrodome again this year and we won't have to watch any more of this...

Now we move on to the Royals, arguably the hottest team in baseball. With a quick glimpse at the AL Central, Cleveland, Chicago, and Minnesota in 2nd/3rd/4th respectively makes sense, but I don't think anyone would have predicted an undefeated, first place Kansas City club and a winless Detroit team in the cellar. That's why they play the game!

Kansas City got two great starts from their young pitchers Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke, and there young hitters Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, and Mark Teahen have been swinging strong bats. However, tonight Scott Baker takes the mound in his first 2008 start. Last year, Baker killed the Royals going 3-0 against KC and came within 2 outs of a no-hitter against this club. I'm looking for the Twins bats to wake up and the Twins to take 2 out of 3 at home in the dome.

As a part of the preview for the Twins/Royals series, Royals blogger Jeff Parker and the MVB teamed up and asked each other a few questions. Here are Parker's thoughts on his Royals club...

1) What's the biggest difference between this year's Royals and last years club?
Two things really; 1. Addition by subtraction. Odalis Perez, Jorge de la Rosa, Scott Elarton, Jason Larue, and Emil Brown are all gone. Last year Perez started the second game of the year and this season Brian Bannister did, big difference. 2. The young guys are all a year older and they seem locked in. Somebody forgot to tell them that they are supposed to lose 100 games. They (and new manager Trey Hillman) seem unaware of the culture of losing that has defined Royals baseball the last 15 years.

2) What one player from the Twins would you want to play for the Royals?
I figure most people would say Mauer but he is a little too injury prone for my liking so I'd take former MVP Justin Morneau. He would provide a power hitter at a position where KC usually have been playing slap hitters (Ken Harvey, Doug Mientkiewicz, Ross Gload). Stick him after Gordon and Butler in KC's lineup and they would score some runs.

3) If you were Royals GM, what's the first move you would make?
I would find another shortstop. Tony Pena Jr is a great defender but he just does not get on base enough to justify being a starter. If the Royals had an offense like the Yankees or Red Sox then they could live with a no hit all glove SS but they don't so they need at least league average production from that position.

Thanks to Jeff for his insight, and to read my comments from Jeff's questions just check out Royally Speaking right here.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Guest Blogging, Boof, and Blackburn

An exciting Twins MVB first: I was asked by Kansas City Royals Blogger, Jeff Parker, to be a guest blogger and do a team preview for the 2008 season on his blog. To read my thoughts on 2008 Royals and a very good blog check out the link. Parker's Royally Speaking can also be found in the MVB sidebar.

So after a thrilling opening day things for the Twins have come back to reality. Tuesday night Boof Bonser got hit hard and looked confused at times. The Twins managed just six hits against the Angels Jon Garland and suffered a 9-1 defeat.

Wednesday night, pitcher Nick Blackburn made his first Major League start and definitely rose to the occasion. The rookie allowed 1 run on 5 hits over 7 innings. However, the Angels Joe Saunders did just a little bit more allowing no runs on just 4 hits through his 8 innings as the Twins fell 1-0. The pro was seeing a great performance from the young Blackburn who won the final rotation spot with a good spring and was called a "sleeper pick" for rookie of the year by ESPN expert Peter Gammons. The con was the slow offensive start this season. Justin Morneau is still looking for his first hit and the bottom half of the order is not delivering. I'm not in panic mode yet about Morneau's hitless start of year, but just slightly concerned. This young Twins team needs to have a strong April to have a good season, and to have a strong April they need their MVP to deliver.

Kevin Slowey takes the mound today for the Twins in their afternoon game. Let's hope for the bats to catch fire and the Twins to end the series at 2-2 against a very good Angels ballclub.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Play Ball!

Opening Day, the start of the Major League Baseball season and a sign of spring right? Well, on this opening day in 2008, large snow flakes were pelting the Metrodome roof and snow was blowing across the Minneapolis streets. Although it was cold and depressing outside the dome, things were warm and enjoyable inside the dome.

A 3-2 Twins victory saw a little bit of everything: great pitching, smooth defense, incredible baserunning, and timely hitting.


* Torii Hunter makes his return to the Metrodome with his new team. The veteran outfielder appeared choked up on the jumbo-tron as he was greeted with a warm welcome and video tribute from the Twins fans. Only a handful of boos were heard.

* Opening Day starter Livan Hernandez surprised everyone calmly cruising through seven innings allowing only two earned runs and picking up the victory while never throwing a pitch above 85 mph.

* Rookie Carlos Gomez greets Torii Hunter (the man he replaces in centerfield) and uses the Opening Day stage to prove to Twins fans why he was #1 prospect acquired in the trade for Johan Santana.

* In a surprise managerial move, Ron Gardenhire starts the righthanded Craig Monroe at DH over the lefthanded and favorable Jason Kubel upsetting many Twins fans across the blogosphere. Monroe went 0-3 while Kubel had a pinch hit double late in the game.


Carlos Gomez was the star of the evening scoring 2 runs, stealing 2 bases, and going 2-3 with a double, a bunt single, and a walk. Gomez also made some great plays in centerfield certainly reminding Twins fans of the old #48. It was great to see such a solid debut from Gomez after such scrutiny of the package the Twins received from the Mets in the Santana deal. Now I'm not ready to crown Gomez as the Rookie of Year, but the performance was encouraging. There will be many 0-4 days with 2 strikeouts and an error for the young 22-year old, but hopefully there will be more days like last night.


For proof of Gomez's electric speed and athleticism, check out this video I caught of him stealing 2nd on Angels catcher Mike Napoli. This was Gomez's second steal of the evening.


Although we all greeted Hunter with a warm welcome home, the highlight of the game would have to be when Joe Nathan came in for the save in the 9th inning and blew three pitches by Torii making the former teammate look silly. Every fan in the ballpark loved to see a little jab in Torii's side. Hunter went 0-4.


All in all, a great opening day. Newcomers Delmon Young and Brendan Harris picked up two hits, Livan pitched a great game, Gomez stole the show (literally), Nathan got a save, my dome dog tasted delicious, and the Twins are on pace to go 162-0. What's our magic number?