Calvin Griffith...You DIABOLICAL!!! Just six short years and a protracted legal battle after inheriting the Washington Senators franchise from his Hall of Fame father, the late Calvin Clark "The Old Fox" Griffith, young Calvin finally convinced Major League Baseball to allow him to move "his" team to Minnesota, where the Twins were born in the American League in 1961, to be replaced in DC by another "Senators" team shortly thereafter. That Senators team...well some other time for that story, for now it's the Twins that concern us...
On The Hill...
Livan Hernandez was known here for a long time as "Mr. National Himself" Livan Hernandez, in recognition of the fact that this one-time Montreal Expos' starter, and Original '05 National, had led the team through perhaps its darkest time, in those wayward years up North and even for some time in Puerto Rico, Livan Hernandez took the mound time and again and held the Expos/Nationals close, compiling a (50-43) record for a moribund franchise. Traded to Arizona in August of '06 for pitchers Matt Chico and Garrett Mock, Livan Hernandez provided even on his way out the door, and since leaving DC, he's managed to win 21 of 58 starts for the D-Backs and this year the Twins, for whom he's (6-4) with a 5.84 ERA in 15 starts and 89.1 innings on the mound.
In his career against the Nationals/Expos, Livan Hernandez, the 33-year old right-hander is (6-5) in 12 starts, with a 4.19 ERA in 81.2 innings pitched, allowing 80 hits, 38 runs, 8 HR's and 22 walks with 55 K's.
Livan Hernandez's opponent on the hill tonight is the Nationals' John "Cool Hand" Lannan, who has lost 3 of his last 4 starts, without a win, and now finds himself (4-7) with a 3.43 ERA in 76.0 innings, having given up 78 hits, 29 ER, 7 HR's and 26 walks with 46 K's in 13 starts. Lannan's never faced the Twins, though he is (1-0) in Interleague play, besting the Baltimore Orioles back on May 18th of this season.
Nationals' #'s Against Livan Hernandez...
Ronnie Belliard - 10 for 36, .278 AVG, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Aaron Boone - 4 for 10, .400 AVG, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI's.
Felipe Lopez - 10 for 25, .400 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI's.
The "If They Were Playing" List...
Ryan Zimmerman - 4 for 13, .308 AVG, 1 2B, 2 HR's, 3 RBI's.
Austin Kearns - 11 for 25, .440 AVG, 1 2B, 2 HR's, 11 RBI's.
Paul Lo Duca* - 18 for 54, .333 AVG, 3 2B, 2 HR's, 10 RBI's.
* = According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Clippard optioned to Triple-A Columbus", young DC starter Tyler Clippard was sent back to the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate to make room for the return of Nationals' catcher Paul Lo Duca, who's missed 36 games after suffering a fractured hand earlier this season, but that's not the big news out of the article, as Mr. Ladson concludes with the following information on Washington's plans for Lo Duca:
"Lo Duca is expected to back up Jesus Flores behind the plate, play left field and first base and serve as designated hitter during Interleague Play."
Now what tempers my enthusiasm for the fact that Jesus Flores is now considered the Nationals' starting catcher (and rightly so), is the fact that the Nationals actually believe Paul Lo Duca can play any other position in the field? To be clear, Lo Duca has played the outfield and first base before...but not since 2004 in Los Angeles, where the then-32-year old Lo Duca played 9 games in left field, and 3 games at first. Since then, Lo Duca's either been behind the plate or the designated hitter, (and rightly so)...
...And just in case you're finding this hard to believe, a frequent contributor to federalbaseball.com, the estimable Doghouse, provided a link earlier today, in a FANSHOT I'll include below, to Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman's article entitled, "Lo Duca to Left?" in which the Times' reporter notes:
"Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta said Sunday that Lo Duca is likely to get some playing time in the outfield (and possibly first base) once he returns from a broken right hand (possibly by Tuesday)."
Lo Duca in left? Hope he doesn't have to throw anyone out at the plate...(ed. note - "Is that too mean? Sorry. I'm a big Jesus...Flores fan.")
It's Brother vs Brother In Minnesota's Thunderdome Metrodome... or DY vs Delmon: Twin Perspectives...
Both MLB.com Twins' writer Kelly Thesier and MLB.com's DC baseball scribe Bill Ladson wrote pieces on the upcoming meeting on the field between the Twins' young outfielder Delmon Young and his older brother DY, Dmitri "Da Meat Hook" Young, the Nationals' veteran first baseman and in Interleague play, DY the DH.
At the Twins' official MLB site, Kelly Thesier went with the title, "Young brothers to reunite on field", while Bill Ladson went with, "Young excited to face brother", at washington.nationals.mlb.com. The younger Young, 22-year old Delmon, in his first season with Minnesota, told Mr. Thesier, "I'm just looking forward to playing against him in a real game," as opposed to the Spring Training game the two played against one another back in 2004. Dmitri Young seems to be slightly more excited about the game than his younger brother, as the 34-year old veteran's quoted by Mr. Thesier stating:
"Words can't describe how I feel," Dmitri said about facing his younger brother. "Let's put it this way, the whole family is coming up. Once he got to the big leagues, I thought I would face him, but when I got released, I thought that may not happen. After he was traded and I saw the schedule, I thought, 'This is going to be fun.'"
...and MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article uses the same DY quote as Mr. Thesier's, but also includes DY's assessment of his younger brother's potential, with the elder Young telling Mr. Ladson:
"'Within the next 10 or 12 years, he(Delmon) is going to set the standard,' Dmitri said. 'He has a great arm and wheels. Once he gets used to the league, watch him take off. Once he figures it out, the sky is the limit.'"
So far this season, Delmon Young's batting .287 with 12 doubles, 4 triples, 1 home run, and 9 stolen bases with 22 RBI's in 66 games. DY's played just 27 games this season, due to a variety of injuries, but in 80 at bats, Young's collected 22 hits, 3 doubles, 2 home runs and 7 RBI's.
The Young Brothers and their respective teams get underway at 8:10 pm EST in Minnesota for the first of three that end the Nationals' road trip through San Diego, Arizona and now the Twin Cities. "Cool Hand" Lannan vs The Former Mr. National Himself, Livan Hernandez...Watch out for the slow curve, Nationals. To the Dome...