Closing It Down
Today’s final tilt in the series against the Anaheim Angels reminds me of the annoying klaxan that can be found in nearly every cheesy science fiction movie, just modified a little bit to: “Warning, complete bullpen self destruct after seven innings”.
For most of today’s contest, the Twins held a slim lead. Heading into the sixth inning, the Twins were up 3-0 thanks to RBIs from Justin Morneau on a single, double, and solo home run. However, Mark “New Angel Twin Killer” Teixeira put the Angels on the board with a solo shot of his own in the sixth, and the next inning a Chone “Old Angel Twin Killer” Figgins grounded made it a two-run game.
It was in the eighth inning, however, that the bullpen collapsed. Dennys Reyes gave up a double to Mark “Him Again” Teixeira, then was pulled in favor of Jesse Crain, who did strike out Torii Hunter…but only sandwiched between not one but two triples and a sacrifice fly, giving Anaheim the 5-3 lead that would prove to be the margin of victory.
In the ninth inning, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez absolutely slammed the door for his 50th save, now just seven behind the major league record set by Bobby Thigpen.
-Well, Crain fell into his usual pattern of just when you think it is safe to trust him, he lets you down. Crain is still the most overrated (due to one statistically overblown season) player on the entire roster.
-If the Twins needed more incentive to win the AL Central division instead of the Wild Card, they have it now, as Anaheim will almost surely have the best record in the AL and thus draw the WC in the first round of the playoffs. The Angels have solid starting pitching, a fireballing bullpen, and K-Rod finishing things off. On offense, they can manufacture runs (Chone Figgins, etc.) or hit the long ball (Teixeria, Guerrero, Anderson). Defensively they have a solid infield and spectacular outfield. Not a good team to face in any series, much less a playoff.
-Though this series feels like a letdown (because the final two games were lost, not vice versa), splitting on the road with Anaheim is nothing to scoff at. The Twins also played the Angels very tough, something most AL teams (as evidenced by Anaheim’s record) do not do.
Preview (74-56, 2nd, 0.5 GB CWS): Francisco Liriano (4-3, 4.24) vs. Miguel Batista (4-12, 6.55). As long as Cisco doesn’t fill the bases with walks, this should be an easy Twins victory.