Results tagged ‘ Blue Jays ’

Blue Jay Beatdown

Twins_Blue_Jays_Baseball_sff_171543_game.jpgWell, I can say this about the Toronto Blue Jays: They sure do swing the bats with authority.  If the opposing pitcher (like Pavano today) isn’t on his game and leaves too many meatballs out over the plate, this team will make them pay for those transgressions.

It was just one of those days to forget for the Twins, as they were hammered by the Jays from start to finish.  Pavano (4 IP, 10 H, 6 ER) got rocked early, and the pen couldn’t stem the tide late.

Plus, the bats never got going against Shaun Marcum as he continued his dominance over AL batsmen.

Two victories would have been nice, but splitting a series (even a short one) on the road is at least not a disaster.  A split against Boston the next two days would also salvage a road trip that looked like disaster after those first two Yankee games.

Preview (24-15, 2.0 GA DET): Scott Baker (4-3, 4.93) vs. Clay Buchholz (4-3, 3.46)

Which One Is The Hot Corner Again?

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Usually, the “hot corner” of the infield is the third base position. Tonight, it was the other corner.

On one hand, it doesn’t go much “hotter” than Justin Morneau right now, after ripping two more homers tonight and upping his league-leading average to .374.  He is about as locked in as a hitter can be at this point, and Twins fans can only hope that he sustains even a fraction of this performance through September and (hopefully!) October, which has been a problem for him the last few years due to slumps and injuries.

Also, first base was the site of Toronto 1B Lyle Overbay’s meltdown in the fourth inning.  After already failing to snag a few hot shots in the earlier innings, Overbay committed another faux pas by dropping an easy third out of the inning, then proceeded to fire wildly to third (and missing the mark) and allow another run to scamper home.  It was a sequence straight out of Little League desperation, complete with the frazzled infielder, carousel-like baserunning, and frustrated fans chanting the name of Overbay’s potential replacement, Brett Wallace.

After the emotional win over the Yankees yesterday afternoon, it was nice to see the Twins coming out focused once again today and not have a dip in energy that seemed to happen so much last season.

Preview (24-14, 1st, 2 GA DET): Carl Pavano (4-3, 3.30) vs. Shaun Marcum (2-1, 2.78)

2010 MLB Picks

crystal-ball.jpgMy “official” predictions for the 2010 MLB season (before the season gets too far along and starts to affect my judgement!):

AL East

New York

Boston (Wild Card)

Tampa Bay

Baltimore

Toronto

AL Central

Minnesota

Chicago

Kansas City

Detroit

Cleveland

AL West

Los Angeles

Oakland

Texas

Seattle

NL East

Philadelphia

Atlanta (Wild Card)

New York

Florida

Washington

NL Central

St. Louis

Chicago

Milwaukee

Cincinnati

Houston

Pittsburgh

NL West

San Francisco

Los Angeles

Arizona

Colorado

San Diego

AL Champ: New York

NL Champ: Atlanta

World Series Champ: Atlanta Braves

Questions, comments, rants, profanity-laced tirades?!

A Decade Of Twins Memories

I know I’m a little late on this, as the New Years parties are all but forgotten already, but I wanted to take a few moments to recount some of my favorite Minnesota Twins memories of the decade past:

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2000: When a team features such players as Jay Canizaro, Butch Huskey, Jason Maxwell, Sean Bergman, and Mike Lincoln, it was a bit difficult to really get excited about the teams’ chances.  However, having just been introduced to the sport and completely enthralled by it, I can remember going to the basically-empty Metrodome (been to a T-Wolves game lately?) with my Dad, buying an outfield seat, and then moving right up close to home plate because not even the ushers cared what you did back then!

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2001: The team finally comes together and starts winning thanks to players like Doug Mientkiewicz, Corey Koskie, Jacque Jones, Torii Hunter, Brad Radke, and Eric Milton.  The Twins didn’t win the division, but after nearly a decade of losing baseball, they finally brought some excitement back to the Dome.

contractbud.jpg2002: The year I learned to hate Bud Selig.  In an effort to make MLB more profitable, Selig hatches a scheme to contract two franchise to bolster the others.  The obvious choice were the Montreal Expos (later to become the Washington Nationals), but the Twins?  Obviously some back-room buyout deals between Buddy-Boy and Twins owner Carl Pohlad were occuring.  Luckily, MLB realized that contraction was ill-advised and allowed the Twins to easily capture their first division title since 1991.

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2003: After a dominating 2002 campaign, the Twins were nearly out of the division race at midseason of ’03. However, after acquiring outfielder Shannon Stewart from the Blue Jays to bat lead-off, the Twins took off and won the division nearly going-away.

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2004: Of the back-to-back-to-back division title winning teams, this squad was the best.  In the ALDS, the Twins took the first game at Yankee Stadium and were on the brink of going up 2-0 heading home.  However, Joe Nathan (who had taken over for the departed Eddie Guardado and been completely dominant the entire season) led an extra-inning lead slip away and give the Yankees momentum to win that game and then sweep both at the Dome.  Of course, maybe it was just fate, as those Yanks proceeded to go up 3-0 on the Red Sox and well, Dave Roberts can tell you the rest…

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2005: Not a fun year for Twins Territory.  We didn’t outright suck, but we never really competed for the crown, either.  Even the usually stoic Brad Radke was overheard griping about the lack of run support from a horrendous offensive unit.  Also, this was the year that tensions erupted between Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau and a few blows were thrown, one that somehow connected with little Lew Ford!

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2006: The Twins spent one day in first place, but since it was the final day they made it count!  They played well pretty much the entire season, but so did the Tigers.  A late-season hot streak pushed the Twins over the top on the season’s final day.

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2007: How quickly a team can go from “contending” to “rebuilding”. In the first losing season under Ron Gardenhire, a lack of fundamentals and downright sloppy baseball made the final month of the season almost unwatchable.

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 2008: After underachieving all season, the Twins basically needed to win out the final week of the season, starting with a sweep of the White Sox, whom they were chasing for the division title. I was at all three of those games at the Dome, and they are (easily) the most exciting games I have ever been to. The Twins would later lose to the Tighty Whities in a one-game playoff, but not before some of the most exciting baseball I have ever witnessed.

http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?mid=200910067016143&c_id=min

http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?mid=200910067016879&c_id=min

 2009: (Read: 2008).  This time the Twins make the one-game playoff count in the most exciting single baseball game I have ever watched!

It was a great decade of Twins baseball memories…why not try for another one?!

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…

The Doc Is OUT

3305f3be-e2b9-411d-9bbe-9461d17e41dd.jpgI really don’t like to say anything bad about Roy Halladay, as he is one of my favorite pitchers to watch in the American League, but the Twins finally (for the first time in 12 years) got to him today and came away with a victory.

There have been a handful of pitchers over the years who have had the Twins’ number, including Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Mark Buerhle (for a time) and Chuck Finley. The latest in that string had been Halladay, 8-0 in his career against the Twins.

Of course, we really didn’t GET to him tonight (a couple of solo homers from Cabrera and Morneau) and a big hit from Cuddyer, and he still managed to pitch all nine innings of the contest (what a gamer!). It’s just that Carl Pavano was just as good through seven and one third, allowing just one run on six hits and striking out five.

A few things that were nice to see:

-Morneau and Cuddyer driving balls again. Morneau really crushed that one in the eighth inning (hitting it that deep in Rogers Centre is quite a feat), and Cuddyer had been in the pattern of giving away at-bats again until breaking out in the ninth.

-Pavano pitching deep (and well) into the late innings of a game.  If his price tag isn’t too high, I think that the Twins would do well to sign him up again for 2010.  He’s never going to be the next Johan Santana or even Brad Radke, but he can (on a pretty regular occasion) post a quality start, something the young guys in the rotation haven’t yet been able to accomplish.

-In other baseball news…

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With three hits in the Yankees game today, Derek Jeter tied Lou Gehrig for the most hits all-time by a Yankee at 2,721.  I have never been shy about letting people know that, while not hating the Yankees outright (like I do the White Sox!), I pretty much despise everything they stand for (big market greed, selfish owner, etc.).  However, Derek Jeter is the exception to that rule.  I have always admired his day-to-day ability, and (in a way) he sort of reminds me of Cal Ripken (just with a great skill-set).  A first-ballot Hall of Famer if he never plays another game.

Preview (70-69, 2nd, 5.5 GB DET): Scott Baker (13-7, 4.34) vs. Brett Cecil (6-4, 5.46). We gained a game on Detroit last week…now we have to do it again.  With the season running out of dates, the way I see the Twins having a chance is if, going into both series’ with the Tigers, we need to be close enough so that a sweep will pull us even with them.  Even then it is a long shot, but look at what happened with the Twins and Sox last year. 

A Farm Is No Place For Rauch-es

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Though Mr. McDonald may have all the animals listed above, I don’t believe that “Rauch-es” were one of those inhabitants. Basically, with the Twins cruising to what looked like a momentum-building victory against the Blue Jays earlier tonight, the Jays came back with a six-run sixth inning en route to defeating the Twins 6-3. The back-breaking blow came when John McDonald (Toronto’s #9 batter) connected for a three-run frozen rope off of Twins reliever Jon Rauch that just barely cleared the high wall out in left field

Well, there goes another chance at Big Mo (especially with KC knocking off the Tigers). The season is quickly growing short, and if the Twins don’t start winning they will be eliminated by pure arithmetic before we know it (a depressing thought).

Preview (69-69, 2nd, 6.5 GB DET): Carl Pavano (11-11, 5.09) vs. Roy Halladay (14-8, 2.98).

Big Mo (And The Loss Of)

momentum.jpgYou know, the more I watch sports, the more I begin to realize that the concept of “momentum” is almost as important as concepts like “talent” or “good coaching”.  I mean, just think about this for a second.  Heading into Wednesday of last week, the Twins were riding high having won 14 out of 17 or something, and looking to finish off a sweep of the White Sox at the Dome.  Then, Joe Nathan heartbreakingly blows a save, and everything comes crashing down, as Detroit goes on a terror (they never seem to lose anymore) and the Twins drop two of three to the Indians.

Now call me crazy, but I truly believe that had Nathan thrown one more key strike and finished off the Sox in that fateful ninth inning, the Twins would NOT have collapsed against the Indians and might still be in the thick of things in the AL Central race, not just scoreboard watching and needing to sweep the Tigers twice in the next few weeks to have any hope of the postseason.  I know that major leaguers are professionals and should be able to play every game on an even keel, but for what it’s worth, I doubt that ever actually happens (unless said players are in a rare mindset personified by guys like Derek Jeter or Tiger Woods).

Just look at it from a fan’s perspective…one day, we’re riding high and excited about the Twins after nearly giving up on the season two weeks previous.  Now, after the events of just a few more days, we’re starting to give up again.  You can’t tell me that the players don’t feel some of those same feelings, pondering the “what-ifs” and getting down just like “us”.

Just a theory, but would explain the rollercoaster play of the Twins for the past three seasons, as young guys are very excitable and prone to those ups and downs.

At least the Twins were able to get a Labor Day victory today, thanks to a big first inning and a strong bullpen picking up Jeff Manship.  Oh, and Nathan dominated the ninth…

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Preview (69-68, 2nd, 6.5 GB DET): Brian Duensing (2-1, 3.81) vs. Ricky Romero (11-7, 4.15). Maybe we can get Big Mo back with a good series in Toronto (after collapsing there last fall).

Good Deal

Well, for the first time since Shannon Stewart was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2003, the Minnesota Twins finally pulled the trigger on a mid-season addition, this time in the form of A’s shortstop Orlando Cabrera:

130984_Athletics_Rangers_Baseball.jpgPersonally, I think this is a GREAT move for the Twins to have made, as Cabrera plays great defense and hits, at .280, rougly 70-80 points better than Nick Punto on any given day. Plus, he is on a terror with the bat (.377 this month) right now, so maybe we’re getting him just when he is starting to peak this year.

Back in ’03, when Stewart came on board, the Twins miraculously went from a team almost out of contention, to one that won the division almost going away. It’s amazing what a little excitement (from a big trade) can do for the players on a team. Shannon brought the leadoff presence that year, while now Cabrera brings offense out of the #2 hole in the lineup (exactly what we need).

What will be interesting is how Harris, Casilla, and Punto will be used now that Orlando is in town. Harris was terrible at the second sack last year, but can (and will) play third when (not if, unfortunately) Crede needs to be out of the lineup. That leaves Punto and Casilla at second, and assuming Gardy doesn’t stroke out in the near future, we all know what that means (although batting ninth, one is probably just as good as the other).

By the way, I attended the first two Twins/Sox games at the Dome earlier this week, and really, is there any better feeling than sweeping the Sox?! Hey, maybe we can give the Angels a little payback this time around now that Cabrera is on our side!

Other deadline deals:

-Victor Martinez is on the verge of going to the Red Sox.

-Halladay is still a Jay (two minutes to go!)

-Tigers acquired starter Jarrod Washburn

Preview (52-50, 2nd, 2.0 GB DET): Ervin Santana (3-6, 7.29) vs. Nick Blackburn (8-5, 3.75). No Cabrera yet tonight, but Blackie might not need him.

The Champ Is Here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipHv9Xdj-Oc

Tonight, the Minnesota Twins open a 3-game series with the defending AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays (still not quite used to saying that, even this long after they won!).  Both teams have been a bit off-and-on for these first few weeks of the season, with the Rays actually in the cellar of the AL East due to the hot start of the Toronto Blue Jays and the current red-hot success of the Boston Red Sox.

Preview (9-10, 4th, 1.5 GB DET): Jeff Niemann (1-2, 5.40) vs. Scott Baker (0-2, 12.46). Baker needs to keep the ball down…period.

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