Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Minnesota Twins 4
Boston Red Sox 4

Round 1 of the Mayor's Cup ended in a 4-4 tie, with the game called in the 10th inning. The most interesting parts of the game were seeing Brandon Moss, a pitcher, pinch run, get picked off, and get to second anyway; and some guy named Chris Smith (#97 in your programs, #1 in your hearts) pitch the 10th inning. You usually don't see numbers as high as 97 outside of hockey or football.

I was forced to listen to this game online, and listen to the Twins Radio Network, as MLB Radio was working through some February jitters. The announcers were good, although there was a glaring "duuuuh" statement. Joe Mauer hit a homerun, and one of the Twins radio guys remarked "There's a slight win, but that ball had enough to carry out of the ballpark." Well, obviously. It went over the wall, right?

I also heard Twins manager Ron Gardenheyer (mispelled terribly) bark like a dog to his wife in some commercial. And if I'm ever in North Dakota, I now know where I should go to buy hardware and home improvement supplies.

Anyway, to the game...

Schilling started, went 2 innings, was decent, gave up a pair of well hit (but not very well hit) singles, threw 19 pitches and was done.

After Curt was pulled, a string of potential closers came in. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for Installment #1 of...

Joel Pineiro had a very unimpressive outing. He was hurt by an error (charged to Lugo, but Youk could have gotten it according to the broadcasters), but still allowed 2 hits, which resulted in a run. It was an unearned run, but it was as close to being earned as you can get.

Brendan Donnelly pitched the 4th inning and was perfect. Groundout, fly-our, strikeout. Of course, this was against Matt LeCroy (who might not make the Twins this season), Ken Harvey (last MLB at-bat was in 2005 with Kansas City), and Luis Rodriguez (290 career MLB at-bats, .255 average). So this wasn't exactly Murderer's Row that Donnelley dominated.

Julian Tavarez pitched the 5th inning, and didn't pitch it very well. I know Mauer is a good hitter, and one mistake to a good hitter, and the ball is probably leaving the park. But it was a 3 run homer, not a solo shot. Tavarez was making a lot of mistakes. It's probably just because it's still February, but his 4 hit, 3 earned run inning was not good.

Delcarmen pitched a 1 hit shutout 6th, but by this point the Twins were all backups or minor leaguers.

JC Romero had a hitless inning of work with a strikeout. He also picked a batter off.

Runelvys Hernandez pitched a 1 hit 9th inning, which is great in a regular season game, but with very little meaning in a Spring Training game.

So here are the rankings of closer candidates based on Spring performances:

1. Brendan Donnelly
2. Manny Delcarmen
3. JC Romero
4. Runelvys Hernandez
5. Joel Pineiro
6. Julian Tavarez

1% of precincts reporting.

Still too early to call.

The other interesting thing to watch with the Sox this Spring Training is who will fill the four "open" roster spots. The way I see it, here are the 22 players who will, barring injury or car show, will be on the Opening Day roster:

C Jason Varitek
C Doug Mirabelli
1B Kevin Youkilis
2B Dustin Pedroia
3B Mike Lowell
@@ Julio Lugo
IF Alex Cora
LF Manny Ramirez
CF Coco Crisp
RF JD Drew
OF Wily Mo Pena
DH David Ortiz
SP Curt Schilling
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka
SP Josh Beckett
SP Tim Wakefield
SP Jonathan Papelbon
RP Mike Timlin
RP Julian Tavarez
RP Brandan Donnelly

Now, I think the Sox will carry Eric Hinske is a backup corner infielder, as well as a possible outfield replacement, but if we decide to go with 12 pitchers, there isn't room for him.

The potential pitchers to fill out the roster are: Manny Delcarmen, Joel Pineiro, JC Romero, Hideki Okajima, Craig Hansen, Runelvys Hernandez, and Javier Lopez.

Tonight, we saw three of these potential roster fillers. Delcarmen was decent in a late inning, as were Romero and Hernandez. Pineiro was not so good. But it's still February, and there's a lot more Spring Training to go.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Sox split up and go up the coast to Dunedin to face Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays, and stay in Fort Myers to face Northeastern.

The Sox absolutely OWN Northeastern.