Results tagged ‘ Mariners ’

Treading Water

The definition of “treading water” is: “a stroke that keeps the head above water by thrashing or rhythmic movements of the legs and arms”.  Basically, treading water is the act of staying in one place despite a flurry of motion.  The last two days, the Twins have provided a clinic in such a behavor.

Last night, Nick Blackburn pitches a complete game gem…

…and really gets the fans up and yelling at Target Field once again (I was one of them!).

Then today…

…the offense once again goes dormant and gets shutout by Erik Bedard and Co. to lose yet another series.

Thus, essentially, we haven’t gained back any ground that we had lost before Blackie’s inspiring performance.  Treading water.

Preview (16-32, 5th, 5.5 GB CWS): Harmon Killebrew Tribute at Target Field.

Good Riddance (!)

mike-sweeney.jpgJust heard the other night that Mike Sweeney retired. Whew! Talk about a Twin-killer!  He OWNED our pitching during his long stint with the Kansas City Royals, then continued his mastery of our hurlers in Oakland and Seattle.  I always cringed when he came up to bat against us.

Good guy, though, who just had a solid career with the bat.  A career .297 hitter with 215 home runs.  Not too shabby, especially considering all the years on dismal KC teams.

Oh yeah, this guy retired too…

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I’ll always remember Mike Hampton for those couple of dominating seasons he had early in his career with the Houston Astros.  Sadly, after being traded to the Braves (in a huge deal at the time) injury woes got the better of him and pretty much rendered him spotty for the rest of his career.

Have Gun, Will Travel…

http://www.youtube.com/e/tgvxu8QY01s
large_cliff-lee.jpgWell, well, the Yankees didn’t get their man after all…

Talk about a guy (Cliff Lee) who doesn’t mind being a hired gun and throwing home life stability (I don’t know what kind of family he has) to the wind.

First, he develops his talents in Cleveland.  When they can’t afford him, he jumps to Philadelphia to help them make the World Series in 2009.  In 2010, he starts out with the “promising” Mariners, but when they completely collapse he is dealt to Texas and helps THEM get the big show.

Now, after being courted by the Yankees and Rangers, he decides to go back to Philly to join a starting rotation that would also include Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton.

What a crazy guy (although, the kind of checks he’s cashing must be incredible)!  I guess if you don’t mind not setting down roots anywhere, more power to him.

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).

Junior’s Circuit, No More

The other day, upon hearing that Ken Griffey Jr. had announced his retirement from Major League Baseball, I wanted to take a moment here to reflect on one of my favorite baseball players of all-time:

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Though I grew up a Minnesota Twins fan in the mid 1990s, those Twins teams didn’t exactly have the type of superstars that can captivate the imagination of a youngster (sorry Ron Coomer, Terry Steinbach, and Butch Huskey).  Thus, I naturally gravitated towards the best (with respect to Barry Bonds, a phrase I never thought I would write) player in baseball at the time: Ken Griffey Jr.

Junior could do it all: Hit for decent average (career .284 hitter), tremendous power (630 career dingers, back-to-back seasons of 56 jacks), steal some bases (particularly early in his career; 184 career), and track down balls in center field like Torii Hunter would later do for my favorite club.

In fact, when the big power/steroid boom of the late 1990s occurred, it was the Griffey/McGwire show before Sosa juiced up and changed everything in ’98.  Fortunately, Griffey has never seen the smear of performance-enhancing drugs touch his name.  He also has none of the tell-tale signs (huge musculature, sudden growth, etc.).

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Sadly, the career of KGJ took a down-turn after he signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 2000.  Though he was the darling of Seattle with the Mariners, I couldn’t blame him for wanting to play for his hometown Reds.  However, the Reds never challenged for any sort of title during the “Griffey Years”, and Griffey himself endured so many injuries it would have made Mickey Mantle flinch.  At one point, he was projected to “easily” surpass Hank Aaron’s home run record, and may very well of done it had not the injury bug bitten hard.

After a brief stint with the Chicago White Sox (that, despite good performance, never quite seemed right)…

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…it was nice to see Junior in an M’s uniform once again in the end:

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Perhaps the fondest memory I will take away from Ken Griffey Jr. the baseball player, though, is how as a child I sent him a letter asking for an autograph.  Some time later, I received a glossy 8X10 of Junior that had me nearly bouncing off the walls in excitement.  A first-ballot Hall of Famer in every sense of the word:

 

King Felix Indeed

Twins_Mariners_Baseball_sff_174741_game.jpgWell, there is a reason why I take this guy every year in my fantasy baseball league.  When Felix Hernandez is on, his ball has such incredible movement that it is almost impossible to hit solidly (if at all).  That was the case tonight.

The other two reasons the Twins lost:

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The Mariners exposed a Carl Pavano weakness and turned the basepaths into a track meet.  This is becoming a serious problem when Carlos pitches against teams with speedsters.

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Then, Jose Lopez really got ahold of one and you could just feel the air come out of our sails, what with King Felix holding court.

Preview (31-23, 1st, 2.5 GA DET): Scott Baker (5-4, 4.48) vs. Dallas Braden (4-5, 3.60).  In the span of three days, the Twins will have stared down last year’s postseason hero (Cliff Lee), one of the top hurlers in the AL (Felix), and a guy (in Braden) who has pitched a perfect game this season.  Ouch.

Men In Blue Are A Little Black

Indians_Tigers_Baseball_sff_174463_game.jpgTo set the scene: Earlier in the day, with Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers just one out away from pitching a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians, umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base that broke everything up (the runner was clearly out, as indicated by the instant replay).  As of this time, Commissioner Bud Selig is refusing to overturn the call and give Galarraga his perfecto, despite an admission of guilt from Joyce.

Then, the Twins-Mariners game last night transpires as follows:

Kevin Slowey and Cliff Lee lock up in a magnificent pitching duel, with the score tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the tenth inning.  With runners on first and second and two outs, Ichiro Suzuki hits a slow roller up the middle that Matt Tolbert adeptly smothers and flips to JJ Hardy for what looks to be the final out of the inning.  However, despite the fact that replays show the ball beat the runner to the bag, the runner was called safe and, by that time, the lead baserunner had already wheeled around third and scored easily:

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Two blown calls that cost their respective players/teams potentially dearly.  In Galarraga’s case, he will likely never approach a perfect game if he pitches for 20 more seasons.  The Twins, on the other hand, know first-hand the importance of a single game (we’ve played in two consecutive 163-game seasons) on the standings.  I can see the kind of tough position this puts Bud Selig in, and thus can understand why he is hesitant to overturn the Tigers call (as wouldn’t that be valuing individual achievement over team victories?).

Let’s just hope that this sort of fiasco leads to the introduction of instant replay into MLB as early as next season (or even this postseason in full-fledged form).  Football purists (if such a group exists) argued against instant replay for the same reasons that baseball purists (a much larger group) argue against it today (undermines umps, slows down the game, etc.).  However, replay has now become an established part of the NFL, and the league is (at least in my opinion) much better off for it, as getting the call on the field correct is the ultimate goal.  It should be the same in baseball as well.

Preview (31-22, 1st, 3.0 GA DET): Carl Pavano (5-5, 3.99) vs. Felix Hernandez (2-4, 3.50)

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?!

Rainy Days And, Well, Pretty Much Any Day These Days

Wednesday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPmbT5XC-q0 (pretty accurate?!)

Thursday:

YoungPickOff.jpg

Unfortunately, things didn’t go much better tonight.  Glen Perkins was on the hill against the Orioles and allowed four runs through the first three innings.  The Twins managed to claw back and tie the game, but Jose Mijares couldn’t hold the lead in the eighth inning and the Twins lost yet again.

I’ve been working a lot lately and thus not able to update this blog as frequently as I would like to, but suffice it to say that the Twins are in a pretty big rut right now.  The bats go silent all too often, the bullpen is in shambles, and it seems like at least once every five days a starting pitcher gets tattoed in the early innings like Perk did tonight.

Troubling stat: the Twins have allowed 35 homers this season…and hit 19.  And this is with Carlos Silva, Brad Radke, and Johan Santana NOT on the staff!

Notes:

-The Twins also recently sent Alexi Casilla down to the minor leagues.  Personally, I think that was an overreaction on the part of whoever made the decision, but hopefully it snaps Casilla out of the funk he is in.  I just don’t see it working out, as I don’t think that Tolbert is as good as Alexi.

Preview (13-16, 4th, 5.0 GB KCR): Chris Jakubauskas (1-3, 5.76) vs. Scott Baker (0-4, 9.15). With the way King Felix and Erik Bedard (Saturday and Sunday’s starters) are pitching for the M’s, we better beat Jaku tomorrow night or things could get even uglier.

Tragedy In L.A.

Adenhart.jpgThough the Twins and Mariners played the final tilt of their four-game series yesterday (Jarrod Washburn out-dueled Glen Perkins for a 2-0 win as the Twins’ bats went silent), I think that all games yesterday were played with a heavy heart due to the sudden passing of Nick Adenhart.

For the past few years, Adenhart had been a prized young prospect in the Los Angeles Angels’ farm system.  He came up for a “cup of coffee” during the 2008 season and earned what turned out to be his only major league victory.

This year, after making the Angels out of spring training, Adenhart pitched six innings of shutout ball against the Oakland Athletics on April 8th.  Just hours later, he was killed when a minivan (which we now know was manned by a drunk driver who fled on foot after the accident but was later apprehended) ran a red light and smashed into the vehicle he was riding in.  Two of the other passengers were pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, while Adenhart was taken to a local hospital but died due to his internal injuries.

A terrible tragedy like this just makes me think how fleeting this thing we call “life” can really be.  I mean, Adenhart was only 22 years of age…one year younger than myself.  From a Twins perspective, I can’t imagine how the team would react if, say, a guy like Slowey, Blackburn, or Perkins was taken from us in a similar fashion.

The Angels cancelled their regularly scheduled contest yesterday, but will resume play tonight, presumably with very heavy hearts and conflicting emotions.  Knowing Mike Scoscia, Torii Hunter, and that Angels crew, though, they will do their best to honor the memory of Nick Adenhart.

Preview (2-2, 2nd, 0.5 GB KCR): R.A. Dickey (0-0, 0.00 ERA) at Jose Contreras (0-0, 0.00 ERA). The Twins’ starter tonight will feature a knuckleball, something I haven’t seen from a Twin in, well, as long as I have been following the team.

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