Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Brief Opening Day Thoughts

I don't have a lot of time to write tonight (damn you, 8 a.m. classes!) but I thought that I would briefly share a few thoughts with all of you about yesterday's game, the first of 162 here in 2005. I was able to take time out of my busy schedule and caught every single pitch on TV (I wouldn't miss it for anything), so I'm coming from a position of familiarity here.

Here goes:

  • Brad Radke wasn't perfect by any means, but he did put together a pretty solid outing overall. The two mistakes that hurt him the most (the two home runs) came on fastballs that he simply left up in the zone. I had a sinking feeling that Brad might be somewhat flustered after his mental gaffe in the first, and sure enough, he grooved the very next pitch to Sexson. Sexson's third-inning homerun came on a pitch that only he could hit out: just a little bit above the knees and out over the outside corner. Not a terrible pitch, but that's the reason the M's gave this guy $50 million this winter.

  • The M and M boys didn't look stellar at the plate against the crafty lefty Moyer, as I thought might happen. Joe didn't hit the ball that well all day, and Morneau looked pukey in just about every at-bat (save his lineout to right late in the game). That's the risk you run with two young left-handed hitters batting back-to-back: the occasional off-day. I think both these guys will fare much better tomorrow against Gil Meche.

  • How about that throw by Mauer to nail Ichiro stealing? Even though Ichiro was probably safe, it was still a helluva play by Joe. There aren't very many other catchers out there that can scoop a tough pitch out of the dirt and still throw out one of the fastest runners in the game. Now I remember why we like this guy as a catcher so much :).

  • Jacque Jones and Luis Rivas, two much-maligned Twins this offseason, turned in a number of excellent defensive plays yesterday afternooon. Hopefully we'll see that excellence transter to the plate in the near future (although Rivas did have a single in yesterday's game).

  • Jason Bartlett looked very comfortable at the plate, a 100% improvement from his brief stint last summer. If he can cut it defensively (he wasn't tested at all Monday) this kid might just make it.

  • Despite suffering their first Opening Day loss since 2000, Monday's 5-1 loss wasn't a wasted effort by any means. Bradke pitched decently and the defense looked solid, and the Twins hit the ball hard a few times (with little to show for it). Johan K. Santana is in a good position to enact a little revenge tonight, and I think he is chomping at the bit to do so. Be sure and tune in to FSN at 9:00 p.m. CT tonight.

Tomorrow, Twins Chatter readers, should see the triumphant return of my long-absent partner John. Be ready to welcome him with open arms, as his presesce has been missed in the ever-expanding Twins blogosphere. Also, I have a nice little feature interview planned for later this week, so keep your eyes peeled for that as well.

Until next time,

Ryan Maus

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