April 5, 2005
Twins 8, Mariners 4
Well, that wasn't quite how I envisioned Johan Santana getting his first win of the season, but it'll do. Some notes from last night's exciting, come-from-behind win ...
Santana then got Wilson Valdez, Ichiro!, and Jeremy Reed to each ground out for a 1-2-3 second inning. It was looking just like Santana's early struggles from last season, when he a) couldn't finish hitters off when he got them to two strikes, and b) got the majority of his outs on grounders. Both things are in direct contrast to what happens when Santana is rolling, when he's basically a strikeout-and-pop-up machine.
IP H R ER BB SO HR PIT
5.0 5 4 4 1 6 0 93
Not horrible, and certainly not as bad as it looked like it would be in the middle of the first inning. The good news is that Santana had the following line once Seattle scored the fourth run of the first inning:
IP H R ER BB SO HR PIT
4.2 1 0 0 0 6 0 68
The bad news, of course, is that he did give up four runs in the first inning. Plus, a concerning sign despite his getting on track is that he ended the game with eight ground ball outs and just one fly ball out. During the first two months of last season, when Santana was struggling, he had 77 ground ball outs and 72 fly ball outs, for a 1.1-to-1 ground-to-fly ratio. After that, when he went on his incredible run of dominant starts, Santana had a ground-to-fly ratio of 0.8-to-1. In other words, the more balls you see in the air when Santana starts, the better (which makes sense when you think about how he pitches).
Thornton had some bad breaks go against him -- namely Joe Mauer's hit-and-run single and Justin Morneau's check-swing blooper -- but he's also left-handed and gave up a long homer to Jacque Jones, a sin for which there is no excuse. Jones had two homers in 155 at-bats against lefties last year, giving him a grand total of nine homers in 628 career at-bats against lefties entering last night's matchup with Thornton.
This is obviously easy to say in hindsight, but I was very surprised by how quick the hook was for Gil Meche. He looked good early on, ran into some trouble giving up singles in the fifth inning, and then got yanked in favor of Thornton, who immediately let the game slip away. Not that I'm complaining or anything.
I expect him to sit out tonight's game, not only because it is the team's third in three days, but because Seattle is starting lefty Bobby Madritsch and the team has a day off on Thursday. So if Mauer sits one game against a tough matchup today he actually gets two days off, which is perfect for the early going. Mike Redmond needs to make his debut at some point anyway.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- Five Questions: Cleveland Indians (by Robert Dudek)
- Five Questions: Tampa Bay Devil Rays (by Craig Burley)
- Game in Review: Reds vs. Mets - A Fan's Perspective (by Mike Mundy)
Today's Picks (3-4, -$150):
Los Angeles (Perez) +115 over San Francisco (Rueter)
Oakland (Saarloos) +135 over Baltimore (Cabrera)
Boston (Wakefield) +160 over New York (Mussina)