A (Very) Clean Sweep
After finishing off an easy series sweep against the Washington Nationals, this past weekend the Twins also swept another interleague series…this time against the Arizona Diamondbacks. I attended the Friday and Saturday games, thus was unable to post until today. Here’s a quick recap of how the series panned out:
For the first game, Randy Johnson was matched up against Scott Baker. Johnson actually pitched a complete game, but one bad inning did him in. In the Twins half of the third, they put six runs on the scoreboard, beginning with a bleeder up the middle from Matt Macri that scored two runs and a ending with a two-run dinger to left-center from Craig Monroe. With that big cushion, Baker sailed through six innings, striking out seven while giving up just one earned run. After Bass pitched the seventh and eighth, Nathan was given the ninth to just get some work in and he struck out the side on 12 pitches…complete domination.
Yes, the picture is strange, but let me explain in a little bit. Saturday night’s game was pretty much a clone of Friday. Despite the D-Backs jumping out to a 1-0 lead, the Twins put together a six-run seventh inning. Beginning with a Mauer bunt single, the Twins didn’t stop hitting until Mauer was up again in the same inning. In fact, only Carlos Gomez did not collect a hit for the Twins in the contest. As with Baker the night before, Blackburn turned in a quality start, going seven innings and just allowing one earned run on three hits. Perhaps the strangest moment of the night, though, occurred as I was walking outside the Dome following the end of the game. Down in the Metrodome Plaza area, I walked right past former MN Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura. He has now shaved off his goofy facial hair and had a baseball cap tucked low over his head, so I had to look twice to make sure it was him. What was hilarious to me, though, as I looked back at him from time to time, was that not too many people seemed to recognize him or talk to him. Perhaps this is indicative of the job he did while in office?!
I wasn’t present at Sunday’s game (I can’t get to them all!), but I really didn’t have to be…it was pretty much the same as the other two. This time, the Twins fell behind 3-0 (but what do you expect with the Fat Man on the mound?!), and did so when Delmon Young failed to pick up a ball in the outfield and let it roll all the way to the wall (argh!). However, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Young hit a monstrous pop-fly that the Arizona left fielder lost in the roof. After that, Arizona could not stop the bleeding and allowed five Twins runs. Brian Buscher and Alexi Casilla each added run-scoring singles. Then, the Fat Man settled down and turned in seven innings of three-run ball, and Crain and Nathan closed out the rest of the game.
A few notes from the series sweep:
-On Saturday, I saw Rick Aguilera get inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. For some reason, he was always a favorite of mine when I was a kid (I think I was fascinated by the bushy beard). Does he deserve to be in the Twins Hall of Fame? To me, he is borderline. His longevity is what gets him the nod, as he never was a dominating pitcher (about halfway between Eddie Guardado and Nathan on the “domination” scale…but perhaps a little closer to Steady Eddie). However, he is a very nice man and I am glad that he was able to have such an award bestowed upon him.
-For perhaps the first time ever, I’m liking what I see from Crain. With Neshek gone, Crain needs to keep turning in quality outings, as Matt Guerrier can’t do all the work himself.
-Finally, remember 2006: For the first two months, the Twins flirted with the .500 mark, then caught fire in June and eventually won the division on the last day of the season. The spark of that fire was interleague play, which the Twins dominated. Hopefully, this season can elicit much of the same, as the Twins are currently 8-1 against NL teams.
Preview (40-36, 2nd, 1.5 GB CWS): Kevin Slowey (4-6, 4.37) vs. Jake Peavy (5-4, 2.88). Despite the fact that Peavy can be dominating, the Padres have stunk (32-45) so far this season, so Slowey should be able to stifle them as well. Heck, Slowey might be able to drive in a few runs of his own!