Your place for Minnesota Twins and New Britain Rock Cats coverage, analysis and opinion.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Anatomy of a Rock Cats Loss: Beyond the Box Score

The Rock Cats lost big last night, 10-3, against the Reading Phillies. You can read a good re-cap of the game by Seth Stohs here at TwinsDaily, and here at the Rock Cats' website, but I thought I'd try to provide you with a few things that won't show up in the box score, which you can check out here.

Wearing #30 for New Britain,
Joe Benson looked like a man
on a mission at the plate
Let's start with Joe Benson. He was just demoted a few days ago from AAA Rochester, and you can only imagine what a blow to his pride that was. Here's a guy that -- although he looked rough in his September call-up in 2011 -- was on most any short list for Twins outfield vacancies, and had fought for a position this Spring. Instead, he was placed in AAA and didn't hit at all. I was curious what his demeanor would be being relegated back to New Britain. I'll tell you, from everything that I witnessed, Benson seemed to be in good spirits. He was joking around with teammates and coaches just before the game started, and spoke to a few season ticket holders at the stadium that had developed a good relationship with him. The box score will tell you that Benson went 1-for-4 with a walk tonight. I'll tell you that 2 of his 3 outs were smashes to left field. 1/8 of an inch higher or lower on the bat, and we're looking at a rocket single that falls in front of the left fielder, or a double (or home run) to left field. Funny enough, his one hit to right field was probably his weakest contact of the night. That's just how baseball works, unfortunately. But from what I observed tonight, Benson put very, very good swings on the ball and, just as importantly, took good at-bats and appeared to be in a good place mentally.

Logan Darnell had a really tough night. After cruising through the first two innings, Darnell got in trouble in the third. A walk, followed by consecutive singles, loaded the bases for Darin Ruf, who looks like a prototypical power hitter. He hit a no-doubt grand slam, and it was suddenly 4-0. I wasn't sure if Darnell, like many young pitchers, would become rattled, or would be able to shake it off. His pitch sequence to the next batter, lefty Steve Susdorf, was his best of the night. Darnell started Susdorf off with a called strike, then threw a great curve that buckled the batter. And on 0-2, Darnell threw a perfect change-up that looked (from where I was sitting) low and away, and Susdorf flailed helplessly at it. Unfortunately, the positives for Darnell were few and far between last night. His fastball was pretty consistent at 89, although he did hit 92 a couple times when trying for a strikeout pitch.

Journeyman Chris Colabello
taking infield before the game
I also want to mention Chris Herrmann. I'm one of the people that believes he's just about ready for the next step in his progression. But to do that, he needs to get that average up, and he made a step in the right direction last night, going 3-for-5 with a double and a run. The double was actually pretty close to a home run to right-center field, and Herrmann was robbed of another double in his first at-bat: he smashed a line drive down the third base line, but Reading's defender made a fantastic play on the ball. You could see the frustration on Herrmann's face as he was walking back to the dugout. Luckily, the negative result in the first at-bat didn't get him down, and he put together a nice game.

Finally, there is a new Rock Cats player, Shawn Roof. I wouldn't have noticed it, but thanks to a couple friends at the ballpark, it was pointed out to me that a new and unfamiliar player was in uniform, wearing #5. After investigation, this person was revealed to be Roof. Here's a little more information on him. Roof can probably best be viewed as middle infield depth, which is something that New Britain needs right now after losing Pedro Florimon to Rochester.

Sometimes on Fridays, I'll link to other great Twins blog posts from the week. This week, you'll find a few links, but to different material. I'm not sure if you have ever visited the UMPS Care Charity website, but it's pretty cool. In short, it's connected to MLB and was established by MLB umpires, and the proceeds from this charity provide sick or at-risk children with unique baseball experiences -- like on-the-field events and the opportunity to meet players.

Not only does this just sound like a good charity, but it is relevant to Twins minor league fans, because right now there are 3 Twins-related auctions taking place for ticket packages. The first is 4 GA tickets to a Snappers game of your choosing, and the opening bid is $11. That's right, $11 for all 4 tickets. There's already one bid, so the tickets will go for more than the minimum, but it's still worth checking out if you're in that area of the country.

If you're near Rochester, NY, then you're close to the AAA Red Wings. This auction is for 24 premium box seat tickets, and the opening bid is only $106. The tickets can be divided into groups of 4, so you could attend up to 6 games. I know Rochester is never great, but can you beat $4.42 for a baseball ticket? Also, Tsuyoshi Nishioka will strike out in front of you at least twice each game (it's in the fine print).

Finally, the organization's rookie level Appalachian League team, the Elizabethton Twins, have a great package up for auction. They haven't started play yet, but when they do, for $60 you can bid on a skybox pizza party for 12 people, which includes tickets, pizza, popcorn and drinks. That comes out to just $5 per person.

These auctions end Sunday, so if you have any interest, make sure you check out the links!

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