Twins 3, Braves 2

ESPN – Braves vs. Twins Box Score, June 14 2007 – MLB

Oh, there’s the anger.

Tim Hudson was brilliant, but it wasn’t enough; like the last time he was brilliant, against the Marlins a few weeks ago, he was submarined by a sub-standard Bob Wickman performance, as Wickman blew a 2-0 lead in the ninth, getting only one out. I’m not so sure how much was Wickman’s fault, how much was Yunel Escobar’s, and how much was whatever idiot decided Escobar wasn’t supposed to guard the line in the ninth.

Hudson was great, as I said, going 7 1/3 and allowing just two hits and one walk. He just struck out two but was constantly getting late movement down in the strikezone, getting ground balls. 62 of his 84 pitches were strikes. He left with some apparently minor soreness in the eighth — he didn’t go to the clubhouse or anything — and Soriano did his thing.

Most of the time, I don’t mind using Soriano to pitch the eighth and Wickman to pitch the ninth; Soriano is the better pitcher, but it doesn’t matter a whole lot. Against the Twins, it mattered, because Soriano got a bunch of weak hitters and Wickman the Twins’ good hitters. Anyway, Bob allowed a single past Escobar leading off the inning, then got a groundout with the runner going to second. But Escobar was still playing off the line, and a ball got past him for a triple. The next man reached when Saltalamacchia — playing first base — couldn’t properly handle a groundout. The next ball was grounded to Escobar and wasn’t a double play candidate, so he came home with it, but threw it over McCann’s head to allow the run to score. The single to end it was merely a formality at that point.

The Braves’ two runs both came off of Johan Santana, so I guess they have that going for them. McCann hit a long homer in the fifth, and Diaz doubled home Chipper in the sixth. But the insurance runs didn’t happen; with two on in the eighth, Diaz hit a 3-1 pitch hard but the pitcher speared it. Chipper, DHing again, was 1-2 with two walks; Santana basically wouldn’t pitch to him. The Braves again outhit their opponents in a loss, 8-6.

I really hate the Metrodome.

76 thoughts on “Twins 3, Braves 2”

  1. Wickman was off tonight, but his defense didn’t help. Actually, they (and their positioning) hurt. I feel sorry for Hudson right now. Pitched an amazing game and not only doesn’t get a win but also doesn’t help the team break out of a losing streak.

  2. I think Bobby should consider moving Soriano into the closers roll, or going with the hot hand like he has in the past….

  3. The problem with closer’s like Wickman is they don’t strike anybody out, leaving the door open for seeing eye grounders, bad defense and just bad luck. I thought he had decent stuff tonight, but the Twins dinked and hustled and artificial turfed there way to scratch out a win, helped along by some spotty defense and positioning. Credit to them for that. Too bad for Hudson…he did his job and did what stoppers are supposed to do.

    I wonder if the Braves will recover from this one…it has to be tough to swallow. Smoltz will probably gut out a win on Saturday, but let’s hope we can steal another one in Cleveland and right the fast sinking ship.

  4. On another note….anyone notice how many hittable fastballs AJ missed tonight. A couple of weak popouts and a strikeout as I recall. Those pitches looked very straightforward. i think he is just off mechanically and has been all year. He reminds me of a golfer fighting a slice.

  5. You can’t put it all on Wickman in the 9th. You simply cannot give up a triple with the lead in the ninth. I can’t even remember the last time I have ever seen a triple with a save situation in the 9th. I listened to most of the game on XM (which was a whole ‘nother atrocity), and they were mentioning how far Diaz was playing off the line when Cuddyer was up. They even said that if he hit it down the line, he could run forever, which incidentally he did. Don’t just blame Escobar for not guarding the line on the first hit against Castillo, at least he hits left handed and you don’t exactly expect him to hit it down the line. Playing Cuddyer in left center is inexcusible. Wickman was put in a bad situation with the bad defensive positioning.

    When people cry for Salty at first all the time, you have to be able to accept the fact that he’s not going to make every play over there, you’re trading defense for offense and you’d better be able to accept the consequences. I also didn’t think the throw from Escobar to McCann was that bad, he can’t drill the guy in the back, so of course it’s going to be a little high, it’s not like McCann had to jump for it.

    In short, I still hate the Twins, I still hate the Metrodome, and I still hate “color analyst” Dan Gladden. I’ll allow Saltalamacchia to be mispronounced, I’ll allow Diaz to be mispronounced, but going a three game series and calling the Braves All-Star catcher Brian “McCain” as it Sen. John McCain, is enough to make me want to rip the mullet off of his head.

    Anyway, venting made me feel better.

  6. SportsCenter just had a replay of the Escobar to McCann play in the 9th. It didn’t look like that bad a throw and it looked like McCann might have pulled his glove down too soon in an effort to tag the runner. It was probably moot–it looked like the runner might have been safe even with a better throw. I’d score it a FC allowing the run to score then given an error if the errant throw/catch allowed the runner to advance.

    It’ll sound like damn if you do, damn if you don’t, but Cox has to have Thorman at 1B in the 9th.

  7. Wickman was the Messiah last year. Yates was universally despised. Oh how quickly we change our tunes after a tough loss.

  8. It was a Gut Punch Loss (even though I hate Simmons). Did all of the Twins hits in the 9th come with 2 strikes? If not, it sure seemed like it.

  9. Most of the time, I don’t mind using Soriano to pitch the eighth and Wickman to pitch the ninth; Soriano is the better pitcher, but it doesn’t matter a whole lot. Against the Twins, it mattered, because Soriano got a bunch of weak hitters and Wickman the Twins’ good hitters.

    I don’t agree with you a whole lot, Mac. That was save situation. IMHO, I knew Wickman’s power couldn’t mow down the Twins hitters. So I’d just hoped Hudson would pitch through 8IP or more. You know he was great tonight. And we know Soriano who has shown outstanding ability like POP OUT or K for this season.

  10. One more thing, let’s settle down with the “Wickman sucks” crowd:

    Smoltz ’01-’04 2.62 ERA 90.9 SV %
    Wickman ’01-Current 3.25 ERA 88.9 SV %

    We can all agree that Smoltz was more dominant, but Wickman has been pretty damn good since he stepped into a Brave uniform and pretty damn good since ’01.

    As was stated earlier by Hanan, since Wick doesn’t strike many people out, you’re going to have some “flukey” blown saves like the one the Braves experienced tonight.

    If you want to make the case that Soriano is more dominant than Wickman, that’s one thing, but Wickman does not “suck.” I have no problem with Sori in the 8th and Wick in the 9th.

  11. Wickman ’07: 2.53 ERA, 161 ERA+

    Also, a handful of smart teams don’t use their ace reliever as the “closer” because it’s easier to come into a blank-slate ninth than to get out of some of the jams we entrust to Soriano. You certainly don’t want a trainwreck like Kolb or Reitsma pitching the ninth, but by the same token it’s not necessarily the ideal use for Soriano when Wickman is capable.

    The real problem is that as bad as things are, we’re actually outplaying our Pythagorean by three games. We’re due for more fluky crap breaking against us, not less.

    And yeah, this happened in large part because we had the n00bs playing corner infield spots, but did anyone really want to see Woodward and Thorman? Me either.

  12. A really awful loss…but every season has a few like these….Wickman has been pretty strong for us and sometimes even the best closers get hit. It certainly wasn’t all his fault.

    On the bright side, I am really glad that I was wrong about Tim Hudson. I worried that we had seen the best of Huddy in the Spring–but he was really brilliant last night and clearly deserved to win–which would still be the case even if he was a little less impressive….

  13. I want to echo much of what has been said about this being a tough loss, but it wasn’t Wickman’s fault. Two of the key hits were inches from being foul and as Mac pointed out, Wickman’s defense let him down. I do agree that not having the strikeout pitch hurt him though.

    We need a good solid win tomorrow and to put this loss behind us. Repeat after me, losses like this will happen, but we don’t have anyone (except maybe Paronto) in our bullpen who remotely resembles Kolb or Reitsma.

  14. Defensive positioning aside, I think Saltalamacchia and Escobar are playing well for being call-up rookies. Saltalamacchia stayed down on the ball, blocking it with his chest, keeping the ball in front of him. What’s more, he didn’t try to make a throw, which might have resulted in an error, thus eliminating a potential double play. Escobar, though his throw was high, did the right thing in going home; he had to prevent the tying run from scoring. In short, the kids made some mistakes, but they showed good instincts.

  15. QFT:

    “This happened in large part because we had the n00bs playing corner infield spots.”

    Thanks, Chuck G, for pointing this out. A shortstop at 3rd and a catcher at first, these kinds of things were bound to happen. How about a Thor defensive sub in the 9th? Chipper taking over 3rd? It’s easy to second guess, of course.

    The only good thing to come from that horrible inning was seeing Bobby mouth “You have got to be s*****g me!”

    Gah.

  16. I can’t read the comments, and I haven’t posted yet due to my disbelief/madness. Why was Salty playing first in the ninth? Bring in the defensive replacement! I don’t know what to say, that was pitiful. Soriano should be the closer, but that won’t happen, but even more so he should be in the rotation.

  17. This was probably mentioned in the game thread, but why wasn’t Redmond walked to load the bases with 1 out in the ninth? I figured that would’ve been a no-brainer. Set up a force at every base, maybe get a DP.

    I also wondered why Thorman wasn’t inserted as a late-game defensive replacement, but whatever, I just wanna get a W and forget about this loss as soon as possible.

  18. Remy, you are correct, as well. The kids *did* show good baseball instincts on those misplays. Maybe it is better to let them make their mistakes now. Get it out of their system. Something to think about, anyway

    KJ also looked a bit out of sorts, defensively. When 3 of your infielders are off, and are playing positions outside of their normal ones in the majors for the first time evar, bad things can happen.

    And did.

    We’ll get it together. Count me in the optimist club for another 6 weeks or so, at least.

  19. Big D, Redmond wasn’t batting against Tom Glavine, so there was no need to walk him there.

  20. Wickman was not great, but was really let down by his defense, for sure.

    Simple to say, but if Escobar makes that throw—a challenging play, but not an overly difficult one—there’s a very good chance the Braves win the game.

    Yes, worst loss of the year, but gotta shake it off & get it up again tomorrow night.

  21. That Hudson fellow can still pitch a little. I believe the Twins had two good swings off him all night: the Hunter double and the ball Morneau hit eight miles foul. This game was all but over until he had to come out in the 8th. He had thrown 82 pitches to Johan’s 108 and got one out more.

    The defensive alignment decisions in the 9th really let your team down. Allowing a right handed hitter with below average speed to get a triple on a ball down the left field line at the dome is just criminal. Wickman then paused on the way to first when he saw the ensuing ground ball get mishandled, and Morneau beat him to the bag where there might have been a play. Escobar had a tough throw with the game on the line and he couldn’t make it happen. If he was a Twins player he’d be on a bus to AAA by now, but the Braves seem to have a bit more sense than that.

    Good luck with the Indians, they’re a handful. Help us out and we’ll take care of business at Shea. See you in three years!

  22. I am angry, but I don’t think there is anyone to blame except extreme luck on the Twins side. Honestly, I have never seen Bobby guarding the lines in late innings and never consider such a great idea to begin with.

    Although I know Soriano is a better pitcher than Wickman, I don’t have a confidence crisis with Wickman. The hits by Castillo and Cuddyer were extremely unlikely. This is only Wickman’s first “real” blown save for the year from my perspective as I consider his first two injury-related. So, this is bound to happen…unfortunately, it happens at the worst time of all…

    …yes, we are all very unhappy with tonight’s loss, but the Braves have been extremely unlucky. Hopefully, luck will be on our side soon.

  23. I’ve been complaining about the defensive positioning thing on this board since mid-April. Last year and for every year I can remember, Pat Corrales was in charge of putting the defense where it needed to be. Every notice how the Braves were seemingly always where they need to be then? Ball hit up the middle, there is Renteria. Ball hit in the leftcenter gap, there was Langerhans.

    But Corrales is gone, and whoever replaced him has not the slightest clue what he’s doing.

    And Chipper Jones would have made that play in the ninth. Chipper is clutch. He’s going to have to play third eventually, the Braves won’t be in the AL ballparks for much longer. Let Chipper play.

  24. Salty looked much better at first than I had seen him previously, but he has to be lifted in the ninth in a 2 run game for Thorman. Error Bobby Cox. I also thought Escobar’s throw was catchable. I hope Big Bob doesn’t have sore fat, er, back again. Hey at least the good Huddy was back and McCann went yard. The team needs a big trade soon. Waiting until the end of July will be too late like it was last year.

  25. I think the defensive positioning thing is a little bit of hindsight. Cuddyer hit a rocket in the first inning right at Diaz, who was playing in left center.

    Positioning is only half the equation, anyway. You have to pitch to it.

  26. Bitter. Very bitter.

    Okay, it’s not all his fault. But when your clean-up hitter can’t hit his weight and can’t find his ass with both hands, you’re up sh*t creek.

    C’mon, Chubbo! Tell JS you’ll take 33M for three years and get your head out of your butt. You can probably live on your wife’s realtor business.

    I’m totally out of patience.

  27. I wish someone would explain to me the whole “guard the line in the late innings in a close game” thing to me. If this is a good idea, why not guard the line in the early innings? The game is always close in the first inning and a run in the early innings counts as much (and sometimes more) than a late inning run.

  28. Shoot I was blaming McCann on the throw. But he did have to make a tag, right? Escobar threw high to avoid the runner. Just bad luck.

    Have to get the bats going. No one is hitting much this month.

  29. While it was a painful loss, it did speak to what a LOT of people have been saying about Hudson. He doesn’t seem to do as well in the heat (weather not pressure). Put him in a dome and he pitched as well as he was in April and early May. Can Bobby shuffle the rotation to give Hudson as many night game starts as possible now?

    As others have pointed out, we wanted and should have won this one, but these are the sort of games that are going to happen over the course of a season. For me it’s the games where we don’t do ANYTHING that drive me nuts more.

    Come on Cy Carlyle let’s break out of this funk before the Mets break out of theirs.

  30. Also, I know this is Wickman’s last year, but the guy really needs to drop some pounds. I can hear his waistline expanding through the television speakers. I don’t have any confidence that he can make it over to first on any grounder hit away from the bag. His injuries are probably caused by his offseason training program of “little chocolate doughnuts.” They worked for John Belushi.

  31. Last night pissed me off, but it was pretty much a string of good luck for the Twins. I feel that if any of these 4 plays are stopped by good defense and converted into outs, the Braves win the game: Cuddyer’s triple, Castillo’s single, Salty’s block in the “dirt”, or Escobar’s throw.

    The only Brave I’m still annoyed at is Andruw. Even my grandmother called me today during the game and said “What the hell is wrong with ol’ Andruw? He looks like he can’t find a baseball from his ass in the ground.” It brightened my day.

  32. A tough loss, but ones like that happen to everybody.

    Wickman, fortunately, has experienced these before and he’s shown he has that great closers memory that Kolb and Reitsma don’t – “Blown save, what blown save?” I’m sure Bob is mad at himself for letting Huddy down, but he’ll be fine and will want the ball the very next time we’re in that situation.

    I am more concerned about our second straight June Swoon. At some point the front office has to quit saying ‘It’s early, we’re still evaluating.’ and get in gear. I hope we won’t dig ourselves too big a hole to get out of, but I’m not encouraged by the Bravos recent play.

  33. Trivia: Who has the best expected W-L record in the majors right now?

    The fucking Padres.

  34. Suck it up, win tonight, and if the Phillies and Mets lose, everyone will forget about yesterday.

    Go Braves! Go Tigers! Go Yankees!

  35. I’m angry, too. But I have to get over it b/c I need to get some work done today. Right now it’s hard to think of anything else. If even one of those outs is made, I think we win.

    We are a team in transition. I view that as a good thing though. Most teams in transition play like the Royals for several years. We’re still in contention. Let’s make the mistakes now so the same thing doesn’t happen down the line.

    Don’t trade Salty. He will mash for years to come. I also think he’ll get better at first. He has good instincts. I know he’s blocked by McCann just as Marte was by Chipper. This feels different though. Marte didn’t come up and show his potential. Instead, he showed flaws.

    The bright side from last night’s game. We did beat Santana. Just not the Twins.

  36. Wickman wasn’t bad. I don’t have a problem with him being in there. Just awful defense and horrible luck.

    That pretty much ruined my night.

  37. Bad loss, but it’s only June. Plus I like what I saw out of Salty, McCann showing some pop and Huddy coming up big. Earth to Andruw!! You have got to be shitting me.

    Bobby, just b/c Wickman is off the DL, he doesn’t have to close every night. Especially since he is carrying quintuplets….

  38. We really need to make a move and get a starter. I think it would make a splash and maybe fire the team up some.

  39. I do agree that Soriano would be a better candidate for the ninth simply because he can get strikeouts when they are needed (like first and third one out). But last night was not his fault at all. Every ball that was hit against him was on the ground with the exception of the last single to score the go ahead run. POOR defense spelled a big loss. Can’t blame Wickman for the people behind him.

  40. Can’t blame Salty, Wickman was never going to make it to the bag in time anyway, and that would have been a dangerous throw anyway. Also, looked to me that Wickman didn’t have his normal velocity, and sharpness. Maybe he wasn’t completely loose. Booby should have stuck with Soriano, the dude had thrown like 10 pitches, and they couldn’t touch him. Escobar had a tough play, but you gotta make it. To me the bigger issue is the K-twins that occupy the middle of the lineup. I think that had four or five between them, and an incredible 7 lob.

  41. Even the stadium announcer mispronounced Diaz, not just the TV and radio announcers.

    My calculations say Wickman gave up one earned run. I suppose they gave Torii Hunter an infield hit, with him advancing to second on the throw to first, even though the play looked like a fielders choice.

  42. I was at the game last night and I agree that Redmond should have been walked in the 9th. The next batter, Kubel, ground out 3 times to second base in previous at-bats. Why not juice the bases, convene on the mound, and hope to get a double play in that situation? Leaving 1B open forces Wickman to get 2 outs without allowing a baserunner to advance from 3rd. Did Cox think he was going to strike out the next 2 batters? Poor coaching and poor defense.

  43. I was at last nights game. Had great seats for that craptacular meltdown.

    I’m still depressed about it this morning.
    Nothing worse than watching your pitcher dominate for almost 8 innings only to watch your team throw the game away in the ninth.

    It was the most disheartening loss of the season. And from my perspective it wasn’t Wickmans fault. Salty and Yunel lost us the game.

    I don’t know how we are going to win anything at this point. I’ll be happy if we just finish above .500

  44. Just got back from a cruise (Costa Maya and Mexico), I guess my watching wasn’t jinxing them after all, as it looks like they stunk it up all week long.

    Lucky me, I have tickets for Monday, looking to witness a win in person for the first time this season. Outlook’s not great though with Schilling vs James.

  45. Ahem, that should say Costa Maya and Cozumel, not that it matters, but I don’t want you to think me another fine product of Georgia public schools.

  46. You guard the lines because of the small amount of outs left in the game. Plus, the fact neither giving up one run nor giving up more than three matters at all. I can understand the positioning on Castillo (even though I didn’t like it). There isn’t really a point to guarding the lines up two with nobody on.

    But when a team is up with the tying run at the plate and no outs there is no excuse for allowing a triple on what was basically a medium hit grounder. In that situation I think you have to take the small risk of giving up a single to save a base or, in this case, two bases.

  47. I love playing the Braves in the Metrodome. It brings back all those wonderful memories of the 1991 World Series. Who was the runner that Kent Hrbek lifted off first base? I forget. But I haven’t forgotten Lonnie Smith slowing up as he rounded second base. Sweet memories. It was sweet last night too for Twins’ fans.

  48. I also do not understand why your manager chose not to walk Redmond with first base open and only one out. Seems like a mental blunder to me.

  49. Just a response from a Twins fan… Cuddyer does not have below average speed-far from it. While he’s not a blazer, he’s definitely well above average.

  50. .500 would be a failure for this team. We have one of the best starters in the league, a dominate third baseman (when healthy), and all-star caliber players sprinkled here and there. We are better than last years Cards team. Anything less than the playoffs would be a disaster…..

  51. But the Cardinals didn’t have any absolute zeros in their rotation last year. Coming into the year, Marquis, Carpenter, Suppan, and I guess Mulder were all expected to be league average. By the end of the year, somehow Weaver, Reyes, and Wainwright were solid.

    Compared to us, we expect Smoltz and Huddy to at least equal their Carpenter and Suppan, but James and XXX isn’t nearly as good on paper as their group of 3rd-5th starters.

    Plus they had to deal with Sir Sidney. Anyone care to explain how he still gets major league deals when he hasn’t had a ERA+ better than 90 since 2003 and has been wretched since 2004?

  52. Christ, I leave the country for 1 g.d. week and the roof falls in. Perhaps my return will turn things around on Sunday.

  53. (1) Mets fans should take note of Yevy. That’s how you post on someone else’s board!

    (2) I’d hang this one on the manager and coaches. Yes, Redmond should have been walked. Yes, Thorman and Woodward should have been brought in to play defense in the ninth. (Chuck G, you say nobody wants to see those guys instead of Salty and Escobar—that’s not true in the ninth, IMO. You want your best defenders in there.)

    (3) I’m not exactly urlhix-style optimistic (6 more weeks?!?), but as I said yesterday, this team just feels like it should be better than it is, Pythagorean record notwithstanding. I have to think most of that—my perception of talent vs. the reality of our performance—is due to Andruw The Black Hole. If he ever starts hitting, I think we’ll be good enough to make the playoffs, even if we don’t acquire another starter. (Note: I’d like to acquire another starter.)

  54. The Twins announcers — John Gordon and Dan Gladden — are notorious for mispronouncing players’ names. It isn’t cute or charming like ol’ Dizzy Dean was. Gordon even gets Twins players’ names wrong! Gordon also frequently loses track of the count, the number of outs, and even what inning it is.

    And the Metrodome is without question the worst baseball venue in the majors.

    As a long-time Twins fan, I’m hoping that the move to a new stadium in 2010 will also mean a new announcing crew.

  55. I wonder what will happen if Andruw’s avg dips below .200 by the All Star break. How much value will he have lost by then? Also, how many games will that cost us by then

  56. From The Hardball Times. For 2007, they rate Ichiro #1 centerfielder (20 “extra” outs), Andruw # 2 (17 “Extra outs”) and Torii Hunter as below average at 11 less outs than expected.

  57. Yeah, I hate that dome, too.

    I’ll always remember the first time I walked into that place, July of ’99, an A’s-Twins game. First thing I did was look up at the roof and think, “Yep, it’s white. That’s the stupidest idea in the world.”

    But the people are so nice up there, it was hard to stay disgrutled for too long.

  58. Chip Caray pun of the night:

    “There’s nothing funny about getting hit in the funny bone.”

    I have this weird feeling that C.C. is going to throw a no-hitter tonight.

    I’m going to the game tomorrow in Cleveland, and I think Byrd is very hittable. Either way, the team I loved to watch in April is long gone. I just hope they start playing to their ability.

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