“I’m coming home…to a place where I belong…where your loves has always been enough for me. These places and these faces are getting old, so I’m coming back home”
Last year, a former American Idol (Daughtry) made those lyrics, and they couldn’t be more appropriate to describe tonight’s Minnesota Twins contest at the Metrodome (finally!) against the Detroit Tigers.
After being on the road for what seemed like an eternity (in actuality 14 games), the Twins returned to their home stomping grounds tonight. The game started off like many Twins games during the long road trip: The Twins loaded the bases in the first inning…and got one run out of the deal. A Delmon Young home run in the fourth inning extended the lead to 2-0, though.
The most telling inning of the game, however, came in both halves of the fifth. In the top portion, Marcus Thames homered off Francisco Liriano (who had been making the Tigers look like fools in the batters box to that point) to cut the Twins lead to 2-1. At this point during the last few weeks, so many times have the Twins’ starting pitchers been unable to stem the opposing team’s rally and thus give up the lead. Cisco got the next two batters easily and allowed the Twins to get back in the box.
Another depressing portion of the road trip was how the Twins were seemingly unable to bounce back from a lead change not in their favor. Tonight, they quickly loaded the bases in the top of the fifth and Justin Morneau launched a deep drive to right (just a few feet below the “Subway Hotspot”) for a grand salami, giving his bunch a nice cushion.
Before running into a bit of trouble in the eighth inning, Liriano cruised the rest of the way, ultimately allowing just two earned runs. Matt Guerrier did a nice job of getting out of the eighth, while Boof mopped up in the ninth.
-Boy, do the Twins sure look like a different team in the Dome than they do on the road. One thing I never considered until tonight is that perhaps the playing surface at the Dome (artificial turf) helps the team more than we think. I know that it REALLY made a big difference a few years ago, before they softened it and took out all the seams, but maybe it still is a difference maker. The Twins’ attack is based on speed and athleticism, so it is plausible that, while at home, we beat out those infield hits and bunts that on the road turn into outs.
-Over the next two weeks, here is what the Twins need to do: Before the big four-game series with the White Sox, we need to be NO MORE than 1.0 games behind them in order to have a realistic chance to win the division (which it looks like we will need to do, with Boston pulling away with the Wild Card). This means that the Twins will have to win on the road starting the middle of next week, unless the Sox completely falter (not likely at this point).
Preview (78-63, 2nd, 1.5 GB CWS): Scott Baker (8-4, 3.66) vs. Justin Verlander (10-15, 4.74). Verlander has always been tough on the Twins, but in the past we have been able to knock him out of games at the Dome. Baker needs one of his seven inning, 1-2 earned run starts, not five innings and 3-4 runs. National TV tomorrow!