September 2009

This Is Why I Don’t Like Math

a6e817e2-6e28-4cc8-a1a0-66af8bec8585.jpgI contemplated doing a lengthy piece tonight about how the Twins are done and how it finally came to this point.  With the Tigers’ magic number down to 2 to clinch the AL Central, things sure are looking grim for our boys.

However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, it has been to never give up on the Twins.  They seem to play their best with their backs up against the wall, and I’m hoping that proves true tomorrow as well.

Here’s the way I look at it: A loss tomorrow and the whole ball of wax is gone, that much is mathematical.  However, a win would actually swing some momentum back in our favor a little bit.  Would we be in great position?  No.  But at least Detroit would have to beat the likes of Jake Peavy, Freddy Garcia, and John Danks, while we would get Zack Grienke on our turf and than not much else from the Royals.

So, I’m not giving up yet.  Two seasons of Twins late-season heroics (’06, ’08) are on my side.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Preview (82-76, 2nd, 3.0 GB DET): Scott Baker (14-9, 4.48) vs. Nate Robertson (2-2, 5.56). 

And Here…We…Go!

Well folks, it all comes down to this.  Four games that will likely determine the course of the 2009 American League Central division.  The Tigers are playing like they have all season (up and down, just waiting for someone to pass them), while the Twins are on fire when not facing Mr. Grienke and his practically unhittable stuff (just ask Jason Kubel).  Of course, the great equalizer is Comerica Park, where the Tigers have played even better than the Twins have at the Dome this season.

This is what September baseball is all about!

Preview (81-74, 2nd, 2.0 GB DET): Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.18) vs. Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.14).

On another note, Ozzie The Nut is at it again.

http://sports-ak.espn.go.com/mlb/clubhouse?team=chw (Click on Ozzie Rips White Sox)

These kind of rants… are exactly why I hate this guy so much. If I were a player (even one that might very well be in the doldrums), I would be personally offended by that type of language and the kinds of names he calls people. I wonder how the truly professional Sox like Konerko, Dye, and the now-departed Thome feel about that kind of bull crap?

 

Holding Serve

8315043e-c72e-4ca1-aa69-2191e65fac6d.jpgWell, the Twins managed to stick a fork in the White Sox for the second time this season, although this time I’m actually hoping they rise from that grave and put a beat-down on the Tigers this weekend.

It wasn’t pretty last night, but the Twins hung on for the Pale Hose sweep at The Cell and kept themselves in the thick of the AL Central race.

Basically, after today, the AL Central race will be down to four teams: Kansas City, Chicago, Minnesota, and Chicago.  Two are spoilers, while two are trying to reach the promised land.  Here are the remaining schedules for both the Twins and Tigers:

DET: 1 @ CLE, 3 @ CWS, 4 vs. MN, 3 vs. CWS

MN: 3 @ KC, 4 @ DET, 3 vs. KC

You know, for a team that hasn’t seriously competed for the division in quite awhile (the 2003 fade aside), the Royals have been in the thick of playoffs races almost every year.  In 2006 they helped the Twins overtake the Tigers on the final day of the season, while last year they forced the Twins to play a 163rd game that we would eventually lose.  It will be no different this year.  Both Detroit and Minnesota are talented enough to beat the boys from Kauffman Stadium, but the question is who will feel the pressure the most?

If I had to guess, I will say that the Twins will come into the big Detroit series about the same as where we are right now…2.5 GB, give or take 0.5.  That is, of course, unless KC plays spoiler again…

Preview (79-73, 2nd, 2.5 GB DET): Carl Pavano (12-11, 4.82) vs. Robinson Tejada (4-1, 2.94). Are you sure we can’t just skip Pavano and pitch him twice in the Detroit series?!  Maybe Rick Anderson can rig up a pair of glasses for him that turn the Royal batters into Tigers.

5 Alive

deef4233-3c42-49dd-9e36-6eb410141a30.jpgFor much of this season, I had been rather disgusted (perhaps a bit strong…but not much) with the at-bats taken by one Michael Cuddyer.  In fact, in terms of the dollars and cents of his long-term contract, he might just be one of the worst investments (factoring in injuries) that the Twins have made over the last few years (although the jury is still out on that verdict, obviously).

For now, though, the man known as Cuddy is carrying the Twins’ offense on his back after Justin Morneau went done with his season-ending back issue.  Whereas for most of the season Cuddy was giving away at-bat after at-bat by chasing the breaking balls that drop away from him from a right-handed pitcher, he is now locked in at the plate and hitting everything with force.

Tonight, Cuddyer was 3-4 with a single, double, and home run, keeping up his long-held tradition of blasting everything that White Sox starter John Danks throws in his general direction (Cuddy is hitting over .500 against Danks in his career).

Michael also had some help tonight and it was needed, as Jeff Manship struggled in the early goings and didn’t make it past the third inning.  Orlando Cabrera, Jason Kubel, and Matt Tolbert (yep, that’s right) also contributed home runs in the contest, while Joe Mauer had a big RBI double that seemed to revitalize the team at the time.

Unfortunately, the Cleveland Indians left the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth (you would have scored them against us!) and fell 3-1 to the Tigers.  However, the Injuns actually out-hit the Little Kitties, so it isn’t as if Detroit has righted the ship.

One final thought: How in God’s name is Jesse Crain 7-4 on the season?!  Ponder THAT one for a while…

Preview (78-73, 2nd, 2.5 GB DET): Brian Duensing (4-1, 3.22) vs. Mark Buerhle (12-9, 3.84). In Duensing, we may have just found the antidote to Buerhle…another crafty lefty who does whatever it takes to get guys out.

Matchups, Matchups

a89afc92-b2c3-485b-9648-a895602e3764.jpgWith just twelve games remaining on the 2009 regular season schedule for the Minnesota Twins, we are right back in the thick of things in the AL Central division race. It seems like every pitcher in the starting rotation (while underachieving terribly at one point or another over the course of the season) now has their defined “role” in the remaining tilts:

-Blackie’s job was to beat the White Sox, which he did with ease tonight. The Pale Hose (well, sans Thome at least) cannot solve Blackburn to save their lives.

-Carl Pavano was brought in to beat the Tigers, and he has done so succesfully so far (I’m sure he’s lined up for another start against them next week).

-Then, it is just up to Scott Baker to dominate the Royals (a very important feat with the KC boys creaming everyone these days).

I guess you also have to include Brian Duensing, whose job it is to continue pitching well against whomever he is thrown against!

Notes: A scary moment for Denard Span tonight, as he got hit right in the back of the helmet…

SpanDown.jpg

The report on (aside from Joe Mauer) the guy I consider to be our team MVP this year came back good and he’s officially listed as “day-to-day” (of course, as Bert Blyleven would say, “aren’t we all”?).  I’m sure he’ll get the night off tomorrow (unless he’s 100%) and then hopefully be back for Wednesday’s contest.

Preview (77-73, 2nd, 2.5 GB DET): Jeff Manship (0-1, 5.31) vs. John Danks (12-9, 3.59).

Why Exactly Are We Moving Out Of Here Again?

b04c3acb-5040-499b-914d-21abe2ed58f7.jpgWell folks, here we go again!!  As common as .500 baseball has been for the Twins over the past two or three seasons, just as common has been incredibly inspired late-season play. 

After taking the first game in this playoff-like Dome series against the Tigers last night thanks to the brilliant pitching of Brian Duensing, the Twins needed to keep the momentum going this afternoon and did so in spectacular fashion.

For the first seven innings, this game was the tightest of pitchers duels, with Carl Pavano’s hex on the Tiger bats matching Justin Verlander’s 99 mph heater.  Both teams got a run early, and the Tigers scored again in the third to go up 2-1, a score that would hold until the bottom of the eighth inning.

Really, though, the momentum in this game began to shift in the top half of that inning.  With Pavano out of the game after having pitched incredibly well, the ball was given to the ever-shaky Jesse Crain…who proceeded to get three quick outs on just eleven pitches (I probably should heap the credit on Crain tonight, as somewhere along the line I will be quick to jump all over him a bit later).

Of course, things didn’t look all that bad for Verlander in that fateful eighth to begin with, as Punto struck out and Span hit one of his patented singles to land on first.  Orlando Cabrera then lifted a lazy fly ball to left field that Don Kelly, who had been put into the game as a defensive substition just an inning previous, easily had measured…until he didn’t, of course, and the ball dropped to put runners on second and third.  With opposing teams only having to deal with those kind of Dome Balls for five more contests, the baseball gods must be getting their money’s worth.

Joe Mauer was intentionally walked to load the bases, but Jason Kubel promptly doinked a single into left that scored both Span and Cabrera to give the Twins a lead.  That was the end of the night for Verlander, but the firemen didn’t do much better, as Brandon Lyon quickly served up a three-run jack to the suddenly red-hot Michael Cuddyer to give the Twins a 6-2 cushion, which would amount to the final score.

For the first time in quite awhile, I am seriously considering watching the Twins over the Vikings tomorrow afternoon.  I usually award that time-slot to the footballers due to their once-a-week status, but there is just too much excitement emanating from the Metrodome right now to turn away!  Since the Vikes start at noon and the Twins’ opening pitch is 1:10, I’ll at least have a bit of time to see how the Vikes game is going (maybe they’ll be beating the Lions so badly it won’t even be a decision!).

Preview (76-72, 2nd, 2.0 GB DET): Nate Robertson (1-2, 5.35) vs. Scott Baker (13-8, 4.35).  Basically, this game could decide the season.  A win pretty much evens things up, while a loss likely means that perfection will be needed down the stretch.

Little Big Man

c15b02bb-f861-4f41-b83a-459ec887f628.jpgAfter hearing (and digesting, if you will) the news that Justin Morneau will no longer be contributing for the remainder of the season due to some pretty serious back issues, it was clear that other players would have to step up in the big Canadian’s abscence.

Well, Nick Punto made that quick impact tonight, collecting three hits and knocking in two runs as the Twins defeated the Indians 5-4.  Despite jumping out to an early lead, the Twins found themselves down 3-1 to the Indians after Scott Baker’s mini-meltdown in the fourth inning.  However, in the bottom of that inning, Punto’s RBI single brought the Twins to within one and later, after a solo homer from Orlando Cabrera tied it and a big hit from Brian Buscher put the Twins in the leader, Punto again singled to score the Busch-Man and give the Twins a much-needed insurance run, as Nathan struggled (solo shot, left tying run on second) to close the door in the ninth.

A great win that, what with Detroit again having their backsides handed to them by the Royals, pulls us one game closer.

Preview (73-72, 2nd, 4.5 GB DET): Aaron Laffey (7-5, 3.79) vs. Nick Blackburn (9-11, 4.39)

Keep Holding On

Shame on me for turning over to Monday Night Football.  I’ll be there for the duration tomorrow night.  The Twins keep hanging in there.

Preview (72-72, 2nd, 5.5 GB DET): Fausto Carmona (3-10, 6.48) vs. Scott Baker (13-8, 4.33)

Where Were You?

Where was I?  I was in tenth grade at Fergus Falls High School in Minnesota, out on the football field with the marching band practicing for the upcoming Homecoming Field Show.  Upon entering my first hour class that day (American History, ironically enough), we watched some of the TV coverage of CNN.  Mostly, I just remember being really confused (as were most people) as to what had happened. Looking back, we now know that Islamic terrorists were responsible for the terrible tragedies that day, but at the time it was just a horrifying mystery.  At the next bell, I ended up in French class and saw the second tower fall into rubble, with that infamous radio antenna going straight down.

Please take a moment out of your busy schedule today to remember those who died on this day eight years ago, as well as those heroes who tried their best to clean up the mess.

This Is Why We’re Not

3fd6b08d-332a-4ebb-a653-02aede15a234.jpgAlright hip-hop fans, sing along (with a little bit of tweeking):

This is why we’re not, not

This is why we’re not, not

This is why

This is why

This is why we’re not…

A playoff team.

Getting stymied by Brett Cecil for six innings and then laying an egg against the bullpen. Kudos to Span for continuing to knock the ball around, and Baker for stepping up into his ace mantra, but other than that it was just a waste of a baseball game (especially with Detroit losing).

Preview (70-70, 2nd, 5.5 GB DET): Clay Mortensen (0-2, 9.00) vs. Nick Blackburn (9-10, 4.16). Blackie has a losing record? What a pitching staff…

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