Thursday, April 17, 2008

Livan is still Livan

Yesterday, over at, I read an interesting entry about Livan Hernandez. A very informative piece, it detailed what Hernandez was doing in his first three starts and how it translated into his improved performance. Unfortunately, it also described why his success was unlikely to continue.

And he couldn't have been any more correct. Gleeman cited Hernandez's one walk in twenty-one innings and the fact that he hasn't given up any home runs, along with his 50 percent ground balls so far this year (as opposed to 38 percent last year). In yesterday's game, Hernandez walked three and allowed three home runs, producing a much worse line than in his previous three starts: 6 IP, 5 R, 8 H, 3 BB, 2 K. Now, none of this is to say that Hernandez will be horrible (and yesterday's performance wasn't that bad either); just that there are clear reasons why he has been doing well early on, and just as clear reasons why he may very well struggle to continue doing those things.

As for the rest of the game, a few guys faced their former team for the first time. Delmon Young went 1-4 with a stolen base and scored the game winning run on Mike Lamb's sacrifice fly in the ninth. Brendan Harris went 2-4 with a run scored, while Jason Bartlett was 1-4 with a stolen base. Both Harris and Bartlett made errors which eventually allowed two unearned runs to score.

Joe Mauer had a fantastic game. He went 3-4 with two runs and an RBI, bringing his average up to .300. That shows what early season averages mean; just two days ago, I was worried about him because he was hitting in the .230's! He also made a big difference on the defensive end, throwing out two potential base stealers in the early going (although Bartlett did have a successful steal in the ninth). Compare Mauer with Rays' catcher Shawn Riggins, who allowed the Twins to go 3-3 in base stealing attempts. Carlos Gomez swiped two of those and Delmon Young had the other. In a one-run game, those extra bases--or extra outs--have a huge impact.

And, yet again, Joe Nathan came in to shut the door, making him five for five in save chances this year. After watching Todd Jones struggle and keep Tigers' fans on the edge of their seats, and seeing struggles from the Twins' bullpen recently, it was refreshing to be reminded of who's at the back of the bullpen and how reliable he is.

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