Results tagged ‘ Tigers ’

No Need To Panic

Twins_Tigers_Baseball_sff_195997_game.jpgAfter securing the AL Central division crown with a sweep of the Cleveland Indians, the Detroit Tigers returned the favor by taking three straight from us at Comerica. Here’s two reasons why I’m not concerned:

1. The Tigers are us good in their home park as we are at ours.  If they could win at all on the road, we’d still be battling them in meaningful games.

2. In 1987, after clinching the AL West, the Twins proceeded to lose the final 5 games of the regular season before doing their damage again in the playoffs.

Of course, having home field advantage in a potential second-round playoff series would be nice, but not at the expense of tired arms or worn-down bodies.

Preview (92-63, 1st, 9.5 GA CWS): Kevin Slowey (13-6, 4.18) vs. Kyle Davies (8-11, 5.05)

Oh, Danny Boy (aka Where Did This Guy Come From?!)


Tigers_Twins_Baseball_sff_191572_game.jpgI think the Twins have a new “Mr. Clutch”.  After years of struggling with experimental third basemen since Corey Koskie decided to move on to his native land, names like Cuddyer, Tiffee, Batista, Buscher, Lamb, and Harris come to mind, from out of nowhere this year comes Danny Valencia to provide the tandem of great defense and superb hitting, especially in the clutch, as he proved tonight with his walk-off hit against the Tigers.

The Twins have needed a guy like him for a long, long time.

Preview (77-56, 1st, 4.0 GA CWS): Justin Verlander (14-8, 3.58) vs. Scott Baker (12-9, 4.55).

Whew…That Was Close

Twins_Tigers_Baseball_sff_181553_game.jpgWhew…the Twins managed to avoid a sweep today at the hands of the Tigers thanks to another solid outing from Carl Pavano and some much-needed clutch hitting (that didn’t produce too many double plays).

With pretty much the entire rotation struggling at this point, Pavano took the rotation on his back and turned in 7.2 IP while allowing just three earned runs.  Heck, he even managed to keep Miguel Cabrera from completely destroying us!

Multi-hit games from Young, Cuddyer (who is finally starting to hit the ball again), and Kubel allowed the M&M-less offense to come out on top.

This was a big win for the Twins, as heading into the break three games back is much better (if only psychologically) than five.

Notes:

-Justin Morneau, due to his lingering concussion symptoms, will not start in the All-Star game (or play whatsoever) on Tuesday night.  Cabrera will start the game, while Paul Konerko of the White Sox has been added to the roster.

-Sad news today in hearing that longtime Yankees PA announcer Bob Sheppard passed away today.  I know that he hadn’t been doing the PA for a few years now, but his recorded broadcast still introduces Derek Jeter to this day.  Younger fans may not remember the name, but the voice will likely be familiar.

Preview: Home-Run Derby!  Here are this year’s participants:

 

National League: Chris Young (Diamondbacks), Corey Hart (Brewers), Matt Holliday (Cardinals), Hanley Ramirez (Marlins)

American League: David Ortiz (Red Sox), Nick Swisher (Yankees), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Vernon Wells (Blue Jays)

Wedding

Will be at a family wedding today, and thus unable to watch the Twins battle the Tigers today.

But hey, maybe I’ll see something like this:

 

The great thing is, you just never know!

Preview (45-41, 3rd, 2.5 GB CWS): Nick Blackburn (7-6, 6.00) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (4-6, 4.81)

A Solid Nine

1662593145_d329719b43.jpgThis afternoon, the Twins rapped out 9 hits (two apiece from Morneau, Kubel, & Cuddyer) against the Tigers, while Kevin Slowey followed Blackie’s example and turned in his first quality start in ages, beating the Tigres 5-1 and pushing them just a bit further back in the AL Central standings.

The thing I wanted to comment on today, though, is the kind of lineup the Twins will be able to put on the field everyday once JJ Hardy gets back from his injury (likely this weekend):

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Orlando Hudson, 2B

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Michael Cuddyer, 3B

6. Jason Kubel, RF

7. Delmon Young, LF

8. Jim Thome, DH

9. JJ Hardy, SS

Wow…Thome batting eigth?!  Of course, the two concerns are Cuddy’s defense at third and Thome’s status as everyday player (even at DH), but if those things pan out, that lineup could be as deadly as any order this side of the Yankees in the American League.  Plus, Gardy could (and would) bring Nick Punto off the bench as a defensive sub at practically any infield position late in the game.

I know that the Twins have always been a streaky bunch of hitters the last few years, with Young, Cuddyer, and Morneau (although perhaps not his ’10 form) prone to terrible dry spells, but that is where the depth comes in.  When guys 1-9 can provide big hits, it would take every single one of them in a slump to slow production.

Notes:

-It was nice to see Slowey strike a few guys out today.  Whereas Blackburn needs the ball to dive to get outs, Slowey needs to have his perfect control, which will lead to some K’s in big spots.

Preview (43-35, 1st, 1.5 GA DET): Jeff Niemann (6-2, 2.72) vs. Carl Pavano (9-6, 3.33). Man, if Pavano was any shorter, he’d be the spitting image of this guy:

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Three Times…A Charm

Tigers_Twins_Baseball_sff_179444_game.jpgAfter the Twins jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning against the Tigers tonight, then just as quickly fell behind 3-2, it looked like perhaps another one of “those” nights would transpire.

However, Blackburn settled down nicely (not spectacular, but enough to give him another turn in the rotation for sure), and let the batters take over.

The obvious player of the game was Denard Span, who tripled three times (tying a club record held by Ken Landreaux in 1980), drive in five runs, and scored twice to kick-start an offense that, by all means, needed a little jolt to the backside.

Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer also picked up clutch hits to break out of some batting doldrums, while Jim Thome hit career home run #572, putting him within one of Harmon Killebrew (I wonder if the Killer will be at the park tomorrow afternoon?!), en route to an eventual 11-4 victory that moved the Twins back into first place.

Notes:

-That outfield wall may not have too many balls fly over it at Target Field, but it sure gives fielders (especially towards that right-center area) fits with all those angles jutting out.  First Thome hits a three-bagger, than Span does him two better in a single game!

Preview (42-35, 1st, 0.5 GA DET): Andrew Oliver (0-1, 3.00) vs. Kevin Slowey (7-5, 4.79). Hopefully Slowey can make like his rotation buddy Blackburn and give us another quality start to retain first place.

Top Dog No More

Tigers_Twins_Baseball_sff_179244_game.jpgWith the way the Twins had been playing of late, this day seemed inevitable. I was hoping that a little hometown magic would boost the spirits and lead to a victory, but even that proved not enough tonight as the Twins were beaten (and vaulted in the standings) by the Detroit Tigers.

Though we finally got some clutch hits tonight, our pitching could not silence the Tigers’ bats long enough for us to stay in the game.  Liriano got roughed up early (4 runs in the first inning), then settled down nicely, but once the ‘pen was called in the Tigers kept scoring just enough runs to stay ahead of us.

It’s not the end of the world, I know, but after reigning at the top of the division for nearly two whole months, it actually starts to feel as if you belong there.

Notes:

-I really feel bad for Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya…

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy on a baseball field in such pain.  With his history of arm problems, it could very well be that he never throws another pitch again (if the pain matches the severity of the injury).  You never like to see a top talent get hurt, even if he plays for your rival.

-Jim Thome hitting a triple?  Yep.  Took a million-to-one bounce of the edge of the scoreboard…and Thome came up spades.  Only guys funnier legging one out were Mike Redmond and Matthew LeCroy.

Preview (41-35, 2nd, 0.5 GB DET): Armando Galaragga (3-1, 3.68) vs. Nick Blackburn (6-5, 6.10).  Just typing “GB” instead of “GA” gives me flashbacks to 2009.  Ugh.  Tomorrow it’s Mr (Almost) Perfect vs. Mr. (Almost) Pathetic.

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)

The Missing Piece

the_missing_piece_book.jpgIn today’s baseball economy, simple numbers (if not a relatively shallow talent pool because of expansion) dictate that teams build a pitching staff one of two wins: Either rely on one or two horses and patchwork, or collect five “average joes” that give you a chance to win every night and pray that one develops into an ace.

For playoff-bound teams, the former solution seems to be the way to go, as evidenced by the Yankees being able to essentially rely on the shoulders of CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett all the way through to the World Series championship.  The Twins, however, may have just gotten lucky…

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Earlier tonight, Francisco Liriano and Justin Verlander hooked up in a duel that could have easily been the first game of a postseason series, with Frankie matching Verlander pitch for pitch and eventually out-dueling him with eight scoreless innings of 4-hit ball and 10 strikeouts.

There was one sequence in the bottom of the fifth inning that I especially enjoyed: With young Scott Sizemore at the plate, Liriano broke off two nasty sliders down and in for swinging strikes.  After one high heater to change Sizemore’s eye level, Cisco came back with the slider and made the young man look silly.  Just complete domination the likes of which we haven’t seen since, well, Liriano (at least in ’06-form)!

Right now, there is just a certain electricity whenever Liriano takes the hill, and that’s what being an ace is all about…just knowing that you have that advantage right from the get-go.  Of course, it’s too early to give Frankie the Cy-Young plaque already, but the signs sure are encouraging.  I can’t wait for Sunday to see him again!

Notes:

-A funny thought: In last year’s game 163 against Detroit, Michael Cuddyer was at first base because of Morneau’s back injury, Alexi Casilla was in the infield, and Ryan Raburn was misplaying balls out in left.  Huh (!).  In all seriousness, though, I hope Justin is okay and just tweaked a muscle trying to catch up with Verlander’s heat.

Preview (14-6, 1st, 3.5 GA DET): Scott Baker (2-2, 4.81) vs. Max Scherzer (1-1, 2.63).

A Rivalry Renewed

When we last saw our rivals from the Motor City, the greatest game of baseball I have ever seen was the result…

 

Tonight, the rivalry continues.

Preview (13-6, 1st, 2.5 GA DET): Francisco Liriano (2-0, 1.29) vs. Justin Verlander (1-1, 6.95)

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