In looking over the Twins schedule for 2010, the road trip to start the season is not the easiest bit on the schedule. The Angels have been the winningest AL team since 2008 (thank you AFLAC trivia), and the White Sox who figure to be among the teams contending for the AL Central crown. Winning 4-2 last night and earning at least a split in a four-game road series against the Angels is a strong plus to start the season.
-Music to Twins fan’s ears: that a Twins shortstop can say this (and not be in any way facetious): “My swing’s getting to where I want it to be; it’s pretty close,” Hardy said. “It’s definitely better now than it was at any point last year, so I’m pretty excited about that.” (quote from Christensen’s Strib column). In the small sample that is the first three games of the year, J.J. Hardy is second on the team in OPS.
-First in OPS is Justin Morneau, who also went deep in Game 3. Given his injury problems at the end of 2009 and the tough spring, production from Morneau this year seemed to be less of a given in any season since he took over for Mientkiewicz, so hopefully this will continue.
-Jim Thome went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first start with the Twins. The TV guys floated the notion that he might be in the lineup again tonight, with Kubel in left field and Young on the bench. Since I think that is the team’s optimal lineup against right-handed pitching, I hope they have some early success with it.
-Carl Pavano might have exorcised some personal demons with his strong performance. A year ago he was the Opening Day starter for the Cleveland Indians. He allowed nine runs and three walks over the course of one inning pitched. Last night, much like Blackburn on Tuesday, Pavano got into some early trouble. While Blackburn got some key ground balls to kill rallies, Pavano got strikeouts when it mattered. Needless to say, his start to the 2010 season was much better than 2009. Top stars according to FanGraphs: 1. Pavano, 2. Morneau, 3. Hardy
Min 2-1, 12-11, –
Chi 1-1, 9-5, 0.5
Det 1-1, 10-7, 0.5
KC 1-1, 7-10, 0.5
Cle 1-1, 5-9, 0.5
Tonight: Kevin Slowey v Joel Pineiro