Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Twins Short-Hops: Tosoni's clutch, Ben's bunting, and avoiding 100

<> On Tuesday night, Rene Tosoni surprisingly became the first Twins player to hit a grand slam at Target Field. In the first two seasons at Target Field, there have been numerous power hitters that would have been much higher on the expectation list for the first grand slam. Tosoni was given the opportunity and on the first pitch he saw from Vin Mazzaro, he crushed a pitch out beyond the flag poles in right field.

Tosoni seems to be trying his best to keep the Twins away from the 100-loss mark for the season. He had a game winning double at Target Field last Thursday to end the Twins 11-game losing streak. The next Twins win came on Sunday and a home run from Tosoni in extra innings put the Twins on top.

Stat Summary (Last 10 Games)
BA: .385
HR: 2 
RBI: 8
R: 4
K: 1

Finding his swing at the MLB level has been a challenge for Tosoni in 2011. His rookie season has not gone exactly as he hoped but ending the year like this could make the Twins take a harder look at Tosoni when it comes to Spring Training.

<> Ben Revere has shown some positive signs in his first full season with the Twins. There have been some tremendous defensive plays and tons of speed on the bases. The team has also found some items for Revere to work on in the offseason and the one that has surfaced in the last two weeks has been his inability to bunt.

The speed that Revere has shown with the Twins would seem to make it natural for him to be able to bunt for hits. He has used his speed to leg out 31 infield hits this season but only four of those hits were on bunted balls. In a game last week versus the Mariners, Revere was asked to lay down a bunt to keep the runners moving as the Twins attempted a late inning rally. Both of his attempts to bunt were not close to landing in the field of play.

During his time in the minor leagues, Revere has always hit for a very good average. This meant there was little reason for his coaches to ask for him to bunt. The pitching at the MLB level has been more of a challenge for the speedy outfielder and his average has shrunk. For Revere to be a successful player at the MLB level, he is going to need to get on-base at a better rate next season. Perfecting the bunt could be the ticket Revere needs to be more of an offensive threat.

<> There is only one game left for the Twins to avoid the dubious 100-loss mark for the season. The team has to win the final game of the season to finish the year with only 99-loss and to stay clear of becoming the second team in franchise history to be defeated 100 times.

The Twins' opponent on the mound will be left-handed pitcher  Bruce Chen, a 12-game winner on the season. He was outstanding in the month of August by posting a 5-1 record for the month with a 3.19 ERA. The Twins have managed a 1-1 record in three starts made against Chen in 2011. His one win against the Twins was two-weeks ago. In that start, he went eight strong innings by only allowing two hits, no runs, and striking out eight.

Carl Pavano is scheduled to make the start for the Twins after a regressive season for the burly right-hander. He is leading all of baseball in hits allowed this season and he has given up at least nine hits in 10 of his last 13 starts. Pavano is the only member of the starting staff that has lasted through the entire season and rough infield defense behind him has played a role in his struggles. Some in the Twins clubhouse have voiced the opinion that Pavano is exactly the man they want on the mound to avoid the team's 100th loss.

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