August 2010

A-Rod 600: Make Your Own Kind Of Judgement

Last week, Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th home run:

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Was there a big hoopla over an event that, 20 years ago, would have captivated the entire sport?  No, as long as you don’t count the number of at-bats it took him to finally blast-off again.

More interesting, though, is the lack of steroid-related snipings and gripings.  Where’s the outrage at “A-Roid” joining the same club as the Say Hey kid:

willie-mays-d2.jpg To me, this indicates what the future of the Steroid Era might hold.  Instead of the outrage that accompanied the feats of McGwire, Sosa, and Clemens, now baseball fans are taking a “make your own judgement” approach to the issue.  It used to be that we wanted to re-write the record books, but now we realize that the steroid issue is so pervasive that it cannot be successfully excised.  So, we make up our own minds as to who the record holders are.

I know who mine are:

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babe_crown.jpgNot a perfect system, by far, but perhaps it will have to suffice, like a scar reminding you of an old wound that will never quite heal.

Right Said, Fred (aka I Do My Little Turn…)

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So let’s see…what happened today:

Twins jump out to early lead on Rays…Twins bullpen completely implodes and allows a grand-slam to Jason Bartlett late to tie the game…Jason Kubel hits a towering pop-up that hits the catwalk high above Tropicana Field and allows the eventually winning run for Minnesota to score and at least salvage a split on enemy territory.

Perhaps this is what happens when you build a domed stadium in Florida:

TROPICANA-FIELD-INTERIOR.jpg And then name it after an orange juice maker:

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Do I miss the Metrodome? Nahh…

Preview (61-48, 2nd, 1.5 GB CWS): Francisco Liriano (10-7, 3.18) vs. Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 1.50).

Two Model Franchises (And Managers)

Twins_Rays_Baseball_sff_186220_game.jpgTonight’s marathon Twins-Rays game featured two of the most solid franchises in the American League duking it out deep into extra innings.

For “starters”, David Price (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7 K) and Scott Baker (8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7 K) matched each other hurl for hurl, with only an early Jason Repko double (driving in Danny Valencia) lighting up the scoreboard whatsoever.

Unsettlingly, though, Matt Capps came in for the save situation and promptly blew it, allowing the tying run to score on a Dan Johnson single.

From that point on, it was a battle of the bullpens, with the Twins holding the slight edge and thus the 2-1 victory:

Tampa: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER (all from Lance Cormier)

Minnesota: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER (Crain, Mijares, Guerrier)

In a game featuring such quality managers as Joe Maddon and Ron Gardenhire, what can you expect?!

Notes:

-It was nice to see Guerrier redeem himself after last night.  This is a guy who doesn’t have the most talent in the world, but relies instead on location and pitch movement.  Really strong performance tonight.

-Capps had better buy Baker a nice dinner sometime this week.

-Delmon Young finally got the big hit against his former club!  Hopefully that will break him out of his little mini-funk.

Preview (60-48, 2nd, 1.5 GB CWS): Kevin Slowey (10-5, 4.44) vs. Wade Davis (9-9, 4.21).

When Delmon Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy

Twins_Rays_Baseball_sff_185986_game.jpgOne of the startling (but in a good way) characteristics of the 2009 Minnesota Twins has been their ability to overcome injury adversity and play on despite extended DL trips for three starters (Orlando Hudson, Nick Punto, and Justin Morneau) and a beat-up Joe Mauer.  Guys like Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer, Alexi Casilla, Drew Butera, and Danny Valencia have found their niches over the past few months.

However, if the first two games dropped in Tropicana tell us anything (besides the fact that the Rays are fast and shouldn’t be walked, respectively), it is that Delmon Young is the key to everything right now (at least with Morneau still on the sidelines).  So far against Rays pitching, Delmon is 1-9.  Without him spraying the ball everywhere, the Twins just don’t have enough lineup depth to keep mounting rallies when needed.

Thus, against good teams that we can’t just clobber, we all too often send a bullpen full of late-inning collapsers (Guerrier, Crain, Mijares) into the game at the most pressure-filled situations.  Unless the splits/matchups go exactly our way, bad things are almost bound to happen.

I’m not saying that the pen is altogether rotten, but put it this way…right now I have as much confidence in Jesse Crain as in anyone else that comes out of those swinging doors, and anybody who has read my blog in the past knows how difficult it is for me to even CONSIDER that statement.

Notes:

-Another good start for Duensing (just one mistake that happened to be hammered by Sean Rodriguez), but still too many walks, which only serve to raise the pitch count and tack on runs that shouldn’t ever materialize.

-Woke up this morning, heard Brett Favre had texted his retirement to the Vikings, and thought “Well, the Twins had better be the bread-winners this sports season”.  Of course, that would mean I actually BELIEVE #4…

Preview (59-48, 2nd, 1.5 GB CWS): Scott Baker (9-9, 5.00) vs. David Price (14-5, 2.90).

Today’s Lesson: Don’t Pitch To Kubel With The Bases Loaded On Sunday

Mariners_Twins_Baseball_sff_185682_game.jpgLast year, Jason Kubel finally become the big lefty bat the organization saw all along by putting up these stats: .300 AVG, 28 HR, 103 RBI, .907 OPS.  This year (at least so far), the numbers have dwindled: .256, 12 HR, 58 RBI, .756 OPS.  Unfortunately, Kubes has been just as likely to ground into a killer double play or whiff on 3-4 pitches this season than provide the big hit.

However, there is one obvious exception: When the bases are juiced (particularly on Sunday!) and the Twins need runs:

In early May against the Yankees, Big K did this off Mariano Rivera to prevent a sweep:

 

Less than two weeks ago, Jason did likewise to the Orioles.

Today, the damage was done in the form of a three-run double, once again with the bases loaded on a sticky Sunday afternoon, that put the Twins up for good.

Of course, it also helps when Francisco Liriano (7 IP, 11 K) is pitching lights-out, at home, against one of the worst offensive teams (Seattle) in the majors.

8 in a row for the hometown crew!  The road gets a lot tougher from here, though, as a big four-gamer is nigh against the Rays.  Whaddya say we show a potential (hopefully…anybody but the Yanks) playoff opponent what Twins baseball is all about!

Preview (59-46, 2nd, 0.5 GB CWS): Carl Pavano (13-6, 3.21) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 0.00).

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