Results tagged ‘ Rays ’

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?!

Blame It (On The T-T-T-T-T-T-T-Twins)


abd12ee9-c0c5-4ce0-9a3a-3447ff6bc19e.jpgLast night, as the Chicago White Sox opened their last three-game series at their personal house of horrors, the Metrodome, the team was essentially playing for the rest of the season in one night. With the post-season roster deadline kicking in at midnight, it represented teams’ last chance to improve their club for the stretch run.  The Pale Hose were the epitomy of a bubble team, quickly fading from the AL Central race and needing to win this series to have any realistic hopes of remaining in the conversation.

Good thing that the Twins showed up to play then, huh?!  Nick Blackburn (7 IP, 1 ER, 7K) continued his mastery of the Sox, while both Jo-Mo and Kubel went deep for most of the home boys’ offense.  Can you believe that Mauer (now at 26 dingers) has a shot at 30?!  If Albert Pujols is the undisputed king of NL hitters, than Joe Mauer obviously holds that position in the junior circuit.

After the loss, then, the Pale Hosers decided to cut bait, trading Jim Thome and Jon Garland to the LA Dodgers and sending Jose Contreras to the Colorado Rockies.  So even if the Twins don’t game another game on the Tigers all season, at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that he did our part to knock our fiercest rivals out of it (sounds crass, yes, but I cannot and will not sympathize with a team coached by a nutjob like Ozzie Guillen).

Notes:

-Wild prediction of the day: The Tampa Bay Rays will win the Wild Card in the AL.

-Speaking of the Rays, their big slugger Carlos Pena, quite remarkably, has more home runs than singles this season.  Baseball Tonight continues to chart his progress, and it would be funny to see him finish that way.  I believe Mark McGwire did that in his 70-homer season, if I’m not mistaken (or at least was close).

Preview (66-65, 2nd, 3.5 GB DET): John Danks (12-8, 3.82) vs. Jeff Manship (0-0, 5.14). Manship starting a game scares me a bit, but at least he won’t have Big Thome to deal with anymore!

 

One Profane Man

8c233db9-3069-483d-b0e3-e687284266f2.jpg

Yesterday afternoon, the Twins and Red Sox hooked up for a pretty intense duel, with the Sox coming out on top 3-1.  Things really got interesting in the seventh inning, for both clubs:

Top: With the Sox batting, a close play at the plate from Kubel (a great throw) to Redmond was called “safe” for the Sox when replays seemed to show that he was actually out.  Redmond popped up and did his best “Yogi Berra after Jackie Robinson steals home” impersonation.  He was immediately run from the game (which hurt the Twins by losing the DH and thus not pinch hitting for Matt Tolbert in the game’s key moment an inning later) and closely followed by manager Ron Gardenhire.

Bottom: Up until the seventh inning, Josh Beckett had been absolutely mowing down the Twins’ batters (besides the one Joe Crede bomb).  Yet, throughout the game I noticed that he was incredibly angry and often (even after a 1-2-3 inning) would stomp off the mound uttering terrible profanities.  I never really got the feeling that he was being squeezed at the plate, but obviously he thought differently.  Thus, in the seventh, a very close pitch was called a ball and Beckett immediately told the umpire that he could “go have carnal relations with himself” (to put it nicely).  Boy, was Beckett ever hot, almost throwing a temper tantrum right on the mound!  Within minutes, both Jason Varitek and Terry Francona were joining Gardy and Red Dog in the bowels of the Dome.  Why Beckett didn’t get the old heave-ho as well is completely beyond me.  Personally, I lost some respect for him for that little tirade.  I have rarely seen a pitcher get so angry out on the mound (especially when dominating the opposing team) and it makes Beckett seem like just a hot-headed jerk who happens to have some nasty stuff.

All in all, though, a sweep with the Sox isn’t the end of the world by any means.  The real test now will be going into Tampa Bay and trying to play just as tough.  Much like last year, the Twins won’t become a legit contender unless they can even just play below-average (not God-awful) ball on the road.

Notes:

-Joe Crede is coming around.  His defense alone is darn near enough to keep him in the lineup every game, especially considering the struggles of Brian Buscher, while his bat is showing good pop.

-Glen Perkins may not have a job when he gets healthy.  Anthony Swarzak has been VERY impressive in both his starts in the majors so far.

Preview (24-25, 2nd, 3.5 GB DET): Scott Baker (2-5, 6.32) vs. James Shields (3-4, 3.63).

The Ace Was Wild

KazmirWild.jpgFrom the very first inning last night, it was clear that Scott Kazmir wasn’t going to have a good evening.  The Twins scored four runs in the opening frame without the benefit of a hard-hit ball, although Kazmir did uncork a wild pitch to allow the fourth run to cross the plate.

The rest of the evening wasn’t much better for Kazmir, as he allowed eight runs (six earned) in just four innings of work.

On the flip side, Nick Blackburn breezed through seven innings allowing just two earned runs while taming the Tampa Bay bats with his nasty sinker that produced grounder after grounder.

Offensively, the top-three-in-the-batting-order trio of Denard Span, Brendan Harris, and Justin Morneau all had three hits apiece.

Though the Rays are struggling, taking two of three from the defending AL champs is no small feat, as they still are a fundamentally sound ballclub.  Let’s hope that the momentum (and past history of beat-downs) continues with the Twins against Kansas City this weekend.

Preview (11-11, 4th, 0.5 GB CHI, DET, & KC): Sidney Ponson (0-3, 5.79) vs. Kevin Slowey (3-0, 4.44). Well, it’s nice to see that Ponson is enjoying a typical season.  Losing to him was, is, and always will be a complete organizational embarassment.

(Yes) Way, Jose!

8acf1f82-902d-4688-b1df-dd27ea66c3b0.jpgAlright, I was wrong…I’ve got to stop carrying my negativity towards the Minnesota Vikings (the NFL’s perennial messed-up franchise) to the Twins.  When Jose Morales first broke camp with the team (filling in for Mauer), I was on his case right from the very beginning.  He couldn’t throw out baserunners, couldn’t track down pop-ups, and couldn’t hit worth a darn.  However, Morales has now reminded me that baseball, unlike football, is a grind, where a couple of weeks is relatively nothing in comparison to the whole schedule.  Now, Morales (currently a .375 hitter) is hitting line drives all over the place, threw out his first baserunner the other day, and has caught all the sky-scrapers.  He even scored the winning run in last night’s contest against the Rays when Justin Morneau legged it down the line to prevent being doubled up on a sharply hit grounder (that was probably only fielded in the first place because TB skipper Joe Maddon had five infielders in).

Francisco Liriano turned in a great start as well last night, pitching nearly seven frames and only allowing two earned runs.  He isn’t striking out quite the number of batters he once did pre-Tommy John, but (in spurts) he has shown that he can be a very effective starting pitcher on this staff.

Even more impressive, though, was the relief outing from “the other Jose”, that being Jose Mijares, once exiled to the minor leagues (and presumably Weight Watchers) for looking and pitching sluggish during Spring Training.  He definitely didn’t look “sluggish” last night, as all his pitches had bite to them and the batters couldn’t touch them.

Oh yeah, and Joe Nathan is human.

Preview (10-11, 4th, 1.5 GB DET): Scott Kazmir (3-1, 3,97) vs. Nick Blackburn (1-1, 4.44). The bats better get to Kazmir early, as he can be nasty if allowed to find his groove (or get a big lead). 

Hit ‘Em Where They…Are

morneaulinedrive.jpgThe Twins’ 7-1 loss last night to the Tampa Bay Rays was epitomized in the bottom of the seventh inning.  With two runners on and two out and the Twins trying to claw their way back into the game, Justin Morneau hit a scalding liner to center field…right into the glove of B.J. Upton.  The Twins were hitting liners all over the Dome, but they were all right towards a Tampa Bay defender.

Of course, Scott Baker (6 IP, 4 ER) didn’t help matters, as he once again forced our batters to have to come from behind if a win would have been in the cards.  Then, as usual, the bullpen gave up a few moonshots to put the game completely out of reach.  When R.A. Dickey knuckleball doesn’t “knuckle”, it gets hit a Looooooooong way (Carlos Pena showed us that in the late innings).

Preview (9-11, 4th, 2.5 GB DET): James Shields (2-2, 3.67) vs. Francisco Liriano (0-4, 7.06). Cisco really needs to get in the win column before it starts to get too depressing.  Shields is generally tough, but he has struggled mightily against the Twins in the past few years.

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.

MLB Predictions: 2009

1908Cubs.jpgEach year, usually after receiving the Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview issue, I make a complete set of MLB picks.  It’s always fun to look back at them and see how right/wrong (wrong far outnumbering the right!) I was at the end of the season.  Here they are for ’09:

AL East:

Boston

Tampa Bay (Wild Card)

New York

Toronto

Baltimore

AL Central:

Minnesota

Chicago

Kansas City

Cleveland

Detroit

AL West:

Los Angeles

Texas

Seattle

Oakland

NL East:

Philadelphia

New York (Wild Card)

Florida

Atlanta

Washington

NL Central:

Chicago

Milwaukee

St. Louis

Cincinnati

Houston

Pittsburgh

NL West:

Los Angeles

Arizona

San Francisco

Colorado

San Diego

AL Champion: Boston

NL Champion: Chicago

World Series Champion: Chicago

So, after 100 long seasons of waiting, I think this is the year that the Cubbies will finally win the big one.  I just think that their pitching is too good not to make a deep playoff run.

Glad For Phillies Players, Disappointed At Philly Fans

Howard.jpgTo be honest, I really can’t say this year that I am glad one team won the World Series over the other.  Being a Twins fan I don’t follow the NL much, so the Phillies (besides their star players) were pretty much a mystery to me, while the Rays only came unto my “baseball radar” screen when they made the playoffs.  Thus, I didn’t know enough about either team to have a rooting interest in either direction.  However, after watching Phils closer Brad Lidge whiff Rays batter Eric Hinske to give Philadelphia its first baseball champion since 1980, there were two things I noticed about the Phils that will always shape how I remember their 2008 championship season:

First, I was very impressed by the genuine excitement and gratitude shown by Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel.  While on the outside “Charmin Chuck” (as he was known when he played for the Minnesota Twins from 1969-1972) seems like a grumpy old codger (I likened him to Tom Kelly in his mannerisms), one could easily tell from his “acceptance speech” while being given the World Series trophy that he is one of the genuine “good guys” of the game of baseball and am I happy for him.  I’m sure Rays manager Joe Maddon is just as genuine of a guy, but he (being young) will likely get another crack at a championship.  Manuel may not be on this Earth much longer so I’m glad he got to experience what it’s like to hoist up a championship trophy.

On the other hand, I was very disappointed with the fans of Philadelphia, as they booed MLB Commissioner Bud Selig when he stepped up to make the trophy presentation.  To be honest, I understand exactly WHY they are booing (I think Selig is a no-backbone goon as well), but is that really the time or place to express your feelings?!  No!!   In what should have been a moment of jubilation, many Philly fans were just looking for something to ridicule, and to me that says a lot about the character of the people who walk into Citizen’s Bank Park on a nightly basis.  I know I’m generalizing here, as many fans didn’t boo Selig, but by and large the lack of sportsmanship was permeating.  Over the last few years I have heard all the stories (e.g. booing Santa Claus at an Eagles game) about the rude behavior of Philadelphia fans, but last night I experienced it first hand and was appalled.

With the baseball season now “closed for the winter” (much like my local DairyLand ice cream shop), I don’t know how much I will be contributing to this blog in the coming months.  I will keep you updated on the happenings involved with the Twins, as well as every once in awhile write on a topic that may intrigue me as it comes across the media.

I started this blog in June of 2008, so I am looking forward to 2009, when I can blog about my favorite team (the Twins!) from beginning to end!

World Series Game Three Preview: The Old Man

Moyer.jpgBarring a rain-out tonight, the pitching matchups for Game Three of the World Series are as follows: Jamie Moyer (PHI, LHP, 2-0, 5.1 IP, 13.50 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (TB, RHP, 2-1, 19 IP, 3.32 ERA).

This entire World Series has been billed of one featuring young, athletic players who will be the future of the game in years to come.  Whereas old stalwarts such as the Yankees and Braves always seemed to make the playoffs in years past, this year has been quite the opposite.  However, Jamie Moyer couldn’t be more different from that promotion.  Moyer is 45 years old and has been pitching in MLB since 1986, right around the birth date of many of his teammates on the Phillies.  Much like Terry Mulholland (I only recollect that name because he played a little while for my Twins), Moyer is blessed with a rubber arm, and managed to win 16 games this season when most people wrote him off as washed up after a disappointing 2007 campaign.

As much as I would like to see Moyer tame the youngsters, I think he will be defeated tonight (or whenever the game is actually played).  Moyer has given the game his all for many years, but I think the youthful exuberance of TB’s kids will be too much for him this time.

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