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After neatly disposing of Felix Hernandez, the Jays move on to an even more daunting adversary: Johan Santana. He'll face Shaun Marcum in a quality pitching matchup tonight. Thereafter, the Jays will see two righties they've already seen twice this year.

The Twins continue to hang around the playoff race, but they were dealt a crippling blow by the Tigers last week: a three-game sweep at the Metrodome. They rebounded by taking two of three from the Angels and will look to continue that trend in Toronto before heading off to Cleveland for a big three-game weekend series.

Tonight, it's two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. If voters had a pulse, he would be the three-time-defending Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. Despite his 7 losses he is still a front-runner for the Cy because of his 2.65 ERA and tendency to no-hit every single team he faces in the second half. Santana has been remarkably consistent from year to year. Here are his ERAs since 2002: 2.99, 3.07, 2.61, 2.87, 2.77, 2.65. Kinda speaks for itself.

Santana throws hard - usually between 93 and 97 with his fastball - and has a powerful slider in the high 80s that exhibits varying degrees of slurviness. Unlike many lefties, Santana stands on the right side of the rubber and has absolutely no reservations about pitching inside to righties. His best strikeout pitch is of course his Bugs Bunny changeup which breaks substantially down and sideways and, because it hovers around 83 mph, presents a massive change of pace too. Santana will throw all three pitches to both righties and lefties.

He works quickly and has been pitching very aggressively in recent games. If that pattern continues, he's going to be tough. But the Blue Jays franchise has had pretty good success against him, and Reed Johnson in particular is 9-16 with a walk. Troy Glaus is 7-18 with 7 strikeouts and 4 walks - when he's managed to put the ball in play he's had success. Vernon Wells is 3-21 with 6 strikeouts; Matt Stairs has homered; Lyle Overbay is 1-11 with two walks and 8 strikeouts. Stairs may play first tonight. Actually, Curtis Thigpen may play first tonight...

Santana faces fellow changeup maestro Shaun Marcum, whose stats this year are very similar to Santana's, just a little less good across the board. Tonight's tilt may not quite be Doc-Felix, but I had this matchup circled on my calendar all weekend.

Scott Baker faces the Jays for the third time this year tomorrow, opposing Dustin McGowan. He throws lots of sinkers around 89-90 and pitches off them with a slider. He also has a curve in the high 70s and a change. The Twins broadcasters think Baker really needs to keep the ball down to succeed; the chart does not disagree: he's a flyballing sinker-slider pitcher with some slight homer issues. They are also concerned that Baker tends to leave the ball up more as the game progresses because he tires quickly and loses velocity.

Wednesday, it's Carlos Silva against Jesse Litsch. Silva throws his sinker a bit harder and a bit more often than Baker does his, and he lives and dies with his ability to make it sink. He has a pretty good changeup and a slider, but he's all about pumping the sinker in there over and over and over, ideally down and away. You'd better come prepared to hit one of those sinkers, because he's very unlikely to put you on first. He probably regards his (still very good) 5.1% walk rate as an embarrassment. Troy Glaus is 0-11 with 2 strikeouts against Silva and will probably sit because it's a getaway day. Lyle Overbay is 6-15 with a triple; Matt Stairs, 10-29 with a homer; Aaron Hill, 1-11. Frank Thomas is 6-15 with a walk(!) and all six hits going for extra bases - four doubles, two homers.

In the bullpen, Joe Nathan rebounded from an extra-inning loss in the Tigers series by nailing down two easy saves against LA of A over the weekend. Pat Neshek suffered only his second blown save of the year in one of those games, but picked up the win. In that Detroit series last week, Neshek appeared in all three games and struck out 6 of 13 hitters. Neshek's peripheral stats show a big platoon split. His K/BB numbers are pretty good against lefties, but they're ridiculous against righties. Hence, if the game comes down to the Twins nursing a 3-2 lead in the eighth and Aaron Hill facing Neshek with the bases loaded and one out, the Jays should pinch-hit Matt Stairs and not think twice about it.

LOOGY Dennys Reyes has Schoeneweis '06 tendencies. The big lefty from Higuera de Zaragoza has a very good groundball rate but can only get one kind of hitter out: .250/.323/.308 against lefties, .389/.511/.528 against righties.

Second baseman Luis Castillo, who hits a remarkably high quantity of singles (always has) and beats the ball into the ground with great purpose, is apparently having visa issues and may not make it up to Toronto for tonight's opener. Blame Canada, blame Canada... He arranged to have a friend fly up from Miami to Minnesota with his visa in time to hand it off before the Twins' team flight to Toronto. If that didn't work, someone else will probably man second tonight.

Joe Mauer hit an inside-the-park homer on Saturday when Gary Matthews missed an attempt at a leaping catch at the warning track.

Rondell White was activated off the Twins' DL to provide some pop from the DH hole. He had a hamstring injury. He doesn't walk, but he does bring a bit of power to a mostly punchless lineup. The Twins already have a DH type on their bench in Jeff Cirillo, and Mauer usually fills that hole when Mike Redmond catches, so it's a mystery how much playing time White will get. It probably depends on his ability to handle the outfield.

How good would Jason Bartlett look in a Blue Jays uniform? Imagine plugging him in the 8-hole, far away from the lumbering sluggers, and letting him run wild as a kind of secondary leadoff hitter. Man. Bartlett is 19-20 on the basepaths this year and kind of gave the Jays a few headaches a couple of weeks ago in the four-game set at the Metrodome.

And the Twins called up journeyman outfielder Darnell McDonald to add some depth on Thursday. McDonald has had a really solid year in AAA and fits right into the Twins mold of slashing groundball and line-drive hitters who get the kind of hits that bug the hell out of pitchers, and then steal second. With White just activated recently, McDonald probably figures to get very limited playing time, but his versatility and righthanded bat suits a team that starts lefty hitters in both corners.

The Credit Section:
All offensive stats, pitches per PA for pitchers and league average stats are from the Hardball Times. Pitchers' stats and leverage indices are from Fangraphs. Minor-league stats are from Minor League Splits and First Inning. K% and BB% are strikeouts and walks as a percentage of plate appearances; GB% + LD% + FB% = 100.

Advance Scout: Twins, July 23-25 | 25 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Barry Bonnell - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#171955) #

Also check out Pat Neshek's blog where he says he will talk some more about Toronto when the series starts. He already has some comments up about going through customs, etc.

Mike Green - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#171958) #
You want your lefty to face Mauer, Morneau, Hunter and Kubel.  If they pinch-hit McDonald for Kubel, then you switch horses.  Hunter has a typical small platoon differential over his career, while White has been a beast against lefties.

Alex Obal - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 04:41 PM EDT (#171960) #
And something I completely forgot to mention: Michael Cuddyer.

Cuddyer's injury is a hand thing. His thumb is jammed from a slide into second base. There's some ligament damage, so he was put on the 15-day DL retroactive to Thursday. Darnell McDonald is in his spot; Rondell White was activated later in the weekend.

dan gordon - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 06:23 PM EDT (#171965) #
Former Blue Jays draft pick (1990, 16th round) Mike Coolbaugh, was killed in a AA game yesterday.  He had just been signed by the Tulsa Drillers as a batting coach and 1st base coach on July 3rd.  He was struck on the head by a line drive while coaching 1st.  Coolbaugh was 35 years old, and had played 44 games in the majors. 
Mike Green - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 06:48 PM EDT (#171966) #
Thigpen is getting the start behind the plate tonight.  It's a nice ice-breaker for him, as Marcum holds runners on very well.
Mick Doherty - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 09:29 PM EDT (#171968) #
It's a nice ice-breaker for him
"Hey kid, Santana's pitching, You're in!"

I know, that's not what you meant, but chee -- welcome to The Show, kid.

Chuck - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 09:48 PM EDT (#171969) #

Thigpen sure didn't look like a future second baseman gunning down Punto. That throw was textbook.

On an unrelated note, is Torii Hunter yet another sad example of a ten cent brain rattling around in a million dollar body? He was safe at third but boy, getting thrown out would have looked good on him. What a maroon.

scottt - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 09:49 PM EDT (#171970) #
Great Game!

2 homers from the Big Hurt.

Thigpen made a perfect throw to get his first base stealer.

And that crazy double play 3-5-6 to strand the tying runner at 3rd.
scottt - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 09:52 PM EDT (#171971) #
And that crazy double play 3-5-6 to strand the tying runner at 3rd.

Come to think of it, it was more like 3-2-5-6.
Mike Green - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 09:57 PM EDT (#171972) #
What a maroon.

Not to mention that Hunter slammed Mauer in the media for not being tough enough.  Hunter bugs me too.

Now that was what I call an efficient offence- 6 runs, 3 runners left on base. 
Ron - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 10:34 PM EDT (#171975) #
I don't even remember the last time Santana gave up 4 homers in a game. This was easily his worst outing of the season.

Before the game, JP said he has no interest in Jack Wilson and the Phillies haven't called about Josh Towers.

James W - Monday, July 23 2007 @ 10:56 PM EDT (#171976) #
Scanning Retrosheet, it appears to be the first time Johan has ever given up 4 home runs in a game. 
Samir - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 12:17 AM EDT (#171978) #
Fun game to watch tonight for sure... Santana left a lot of pitches up!

I like that Gibby is trying Vernon lower in the order the last few games. Glaus/Wells/Thomas looks pretty good 3-4-5, as does Rios/Glaus/Wells/Thomas 3-6.
scottt - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 06:44 AM EDT (#171979) #
Before the game, JP said he has no interest in Jack Wilson and the Phillies haven't called about Josh Towers.

"We have no interest in Jack Wilson, absolutely no interest in Jack Wilson. None," he said. "I have Jack Wilson. I have John McDonald (a light-hitting, good defensive player)."


The Jays are built to crush left handed pitching. The batting order doesn't matter so much against lefties.

I really do like Rios hitting third against right handed pitching.
Dave Rutt - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 07:52 AM EDT (#171980) #
I was at the game last night. If anyone was in the first deck on the third base side, we were the ones yelling "ULL-GER" after that awesome double play. (Not that Ullger, the Twins' 3rd base coach, was really to blame)
greenfrog - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 07:59 AM EDT (#171981) #
Great team effort for the Jays. I'm definitely cheering for Thomas to stay in the zone for the next 63 games. He's such a key part of our offense, and we need him to hit next year too.
Barry Bonnell - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 08:55 AM EDT (#171982) #
Neshek has updated his blog with some interesting observations about Toronto and the Dome, etc. Pretty interesting.
Maldoff - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 09:14 AM EDT (#171983) #
Wow is Neshek's blog hurts my eyes to look at!
Chuck - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 09:33 AM EDT (#171984) #
Neshek's blog reads like a 10-year old's "what I did on my summer vacation" essay. Everything is sweet, though I suppose it could be worse, they could be awesome.
China fan - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 09:43 AM EDT (#171986) #
    Two things I learned from Neshek's blog:    1)  he'll sign your autographs, but he doesn't want to read your letter.  Anything more than a one-sentence letter is a "problem letter."      2)  major-league ballplayers are exempt from lineups.  Instead of queuing up at the passport-control lineup like everyone else who travels internationally, they get to be pampered on the airplane by customs officials who come aboard to take care of all their bureaucratic needs.  Isn't it enough that these guys are paid millions of dollars to play a boy's game for a living?   Do they also get to be immune from all the official rules that apply to everyone else as well?   No wonder some of these guys are so aloof from the real world.  They don't think they should have to line up like everyone else.
Thomas - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#172004) #

Neshek's blog reads like a 10-year old's "what I did on my summer vacation" essay. Everything is sweet, though I suppose it could be worse, they could be awesome.

Would you prefer to read Jeff Kent or Ted Lilly's blog where every thing they do is the world's biggest ordeal and they never show any sign of happiness? I'll take a guy who seems genuinely thrilled each and every day to be in the big leagues over a malcontent every day. I'll take a guy who turly interacts with fans every single day rather than one who can't give anyone the time of day. I'll take a guy who stays on the field 10 minutes after batting practice has ended, after every other player but one has gone inside, signing autographs and posing for photos for anybody who wants. Neshek's one of my favourite players in the big leagues in large part because of his blog (and awesome sidearm delivery).

But hey, if you choose to complain because his vocabulary doesn't match your standards then that's your choice.

Chuck - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 12:59 PM EDT (#172009) #

But hey, if you choose to complain because his vocabulary doesn't match your standards then that's your choice.


Manhattan Mike - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 08:43 PM EDT (#172019) #

Reason #653 why listening to Rod Black is better than anything listening to the other team's announcer with the Extra Inning package:

After the Wells home run and Thomas grounded out on the third pitch he saw, the Twins announcer noted that the difference between the Jays and the Twins is that the Jays swing at more pitches early in at-bats than the Twins do. As proof of this brilliant statement, the announcer noted that the Twins have hit 80-something home runs compared with the Jays, who have hit considerably more than that.

Hmmm... I thought. Saying that a player who is renowned for taking pitchers deep into the count because he grounded out on the third pitch in a single at-bat is kind of odd. Extrapolating it to make a generalization about a team and then proving your point by referencing a statistic that is completely irrelevant seems even odder.

My gut tells me (I admit when I'm winging it!) that if I were to look at the data from or other such service, there probably wouldn't be that discernable a difference between how far the Jays work the count relative to how fat the Twins work the count. However, I'm no master at using these services and I want to watch the game and not look at stats so I just checked the wesbite. And whaddaya know? The Jays have walked 324 times this season where those hardy pitch-takers from the Twin Cities have walked a grand total of... 321 times! Wow - great analysis, guys!

Oh wait - now the good viewers of Twins baseball are being told that McGowan has been on-and-off all season and, since D-Mac's last start was solid, he's due for a bad performance tonight.  Proof of this is the fact that after D-Mac got shellacked by the Dodgers, he nearly pitched a no-hitter, as young pitchers are prone to do (be on and off, not nearly pitch no hitters, that is).

Do you guys feel lucky to be watching the Jays broadcast yet?!? You should!

Squiggy - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 09:26 PM EDT (#172020) #
Neshek's blog reads like a 10-year old's "what I did on my summer vacation" essay. Everything is sweet, though I suppose it could be worse, they could be awesome.

It should be interesting to read tomorrow after he got ass kicked in the 8th inning tonight. "Dude! The Jays are a buzzkill!"

VBF - Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 11:37 PM EDT (#172029) #
Neshek's blog reads like a 10-year old's "what I did on my summer vacation" essay. Everything is sweet, though I suppose it could be worse, they could be awesome.

And isn't that the purpose of a blog in the first place? To read about one's own personal accounts of life and to see the world in their eyes? I think Neshek does a very effective job of this. If baseball had more Pat Nesheks' the game would be so much more fun.

I think I'd probably rank the interest in the first 10 words of Neshek's blog ridiculously higher than anything Chuck's ever said.

Advance Scout: Twins, July 23-25 | 25 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.