GameChat – Twins @ Rangers, 7:05

According to all the advance media, it’s a bit warm down in Texas – like over 100 degrees warm – and it doesn’t look like it’s going to cool all that much over the course of the game so I hope the guys are well-hydrated!

And given the warmth of the air, I REALLY hope that Nick Blackburn really has that sinker working well in his return debut – otherwise we may be seeing a lot of long fly balls.  You know the kind that are caught by fans instead of fielders?  Yeah, I don’t like those so much when it’s not my team.

Quick bit of recommended reading for you:  Surprise Hero by Twins Geek.  I was very entertained to find out that the gut instincts that the majority of Knuckleballers seem to employ during GameChats seems to have an actual stat!  You guys might like checking it out.

Minnesota @ Texas
Span, CF   Andrus, SS
Hudson, O, 2B   Young, M, 3B
Mauer, C   Hamilton, LF
Kubel, RF   Guerrero, DH
Cuddyer, 1B   Murphy, Dv, RF
Thome, DH   Treanor, C
Young, D, LF   Moreland, 1B
Valencia, 3B   Blanco, A, 2B
Hardy, SS   Borbon, CF
  Blackburn, P     Harden, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Texas 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 x 4 10 0


Well, thank you Joe Mauer.  A single hit in the 9th inning didn’t do anything to stop the shutout but at least it did put a fork in the “N0-No” discussion.  I have to admit that I look askance as such discussions when a) it was a “combined” scenario betwee 4 pitchers and b) a total of 6 walks were issued.  Yes, I know that is the difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game but still, there is a point at which nearly 1 walk per inning seems to fail the level of stellar pitching that I think I want to see under the category of “no hitter”. 

Before you say “oh, but if it was your pitchers, you would say it differently,”  let me assure you, that’s not accurate.  A) I’m more likely congratulate Texas on a shutout (combined or no) and that is what I would congratulate my own pitchers for.  B) Harden just didn’t have the stuff good enough to get a complete game no hitter and certainly gave up too many walks to be “stellar” and I said EXACTLY the same thing about Kevin Slowey when he was pulled last week.  I just think sloppy-ish pitching isn’t stellar when your fielders are carrying that big a part of the load – or LUCK carrying the load as was true for Harden tonight.

The good news is that Blackburn actually looked good.  Yes, there were runs that were given up – after a couple weird-ass, lucky bounce, grounder base-hits.  Yes, I said grounders – remember this is the guy that want to see grounders from?  We saw them.  Unfornately, they also had eyes and got through.  Blackburn also had 5 strikeouts and a quality start so that is a pretty darn good outting for his first time back.  I think he can get better and I hope to see it – I also hope that the offense gives him a bit more run support next time.

Twins History Lesson: August 23-29

With about 6 weeks left in the season and the Twins grasping on to a five game lead in the AL Central standings, it’s tempting to start to feel like things are well within hand. But before we dig in to the upcoming week in Twins history, let’s keep one little piece of history in mind… one year ago, the Twins were not only 4.5 games behind the division leading Tigers, but 2.5 behind the White Sox. We all know those leads weren’t safe last year and it’s too early to assume the Twins’ current lead is any safer.

Let’s see what August 23 has brought the Twins direction:

1966: Jim Kaat got the W as the Twins notched win number 500 since the franchise relocated to Minnesota with a victory, appropriately enough, over the Senators.

1977: Dave Goltz threw a one-hitter at the Red Sox and got support from everyone in the line up (each of them recording at least one hit), including a home run from Rod Carew. Goltz struck out 10 in the 7-0 win over Boston.

Jacque Jones

2005: For the second time in Twins history, Minnesota won a game 1-0 with the only run coming on the team’s only hit, a 423 foot home run by Jacque Jones to lead off the 8th inning. Freddy Garcia of the White Sox gave up the dinger and lost to Johan Santana, who only gave up 3 hits, himself.

Kent Hrbek made his MLB debut with the Twins on August 24, 1981, and what a debut it was. In what was a sneak preview of things to come, Hrbie delivered a game-winning home run in the top of the 12th inning off of  George Frazier at Yankee Stadium.

A lot was made about the rain out of their Friday game this weekend resulting in the White Sox and Royals having to play three games inside of 24 hours and, without a doubt, that was a challenge for both teams. But on August 25, 1967, the Twins faced the prospect of playing their third double header in four days. That’s 7 games in four days in the middle of a four-team pennant race. Desperate for a complete game to give their bullpen a break, the Twins turned to Dean Chance, who would be pitching on just two days’ rest, to face the Indians in the second game of the twin bill. The result? Only the second no-hitter in Twins history. Chance actually gave up a run to the tribe in the first inning on two walks, an error and a wild pitch, before going on to strike out 8 to earn the 2-1 win.

Jack Kralick

Speaking of no-hitters, the first Twins no-no was recorded on August 26, 1962, by Jack Kralick, who came within a couple of outs in the ninth inning from being perfect. After Kralick helped his own cause against the A’s with a successful sacrifice bunt in the top of the 9th, followed by a Lenny Green sac fly scoring Bernie Allen, the Twins held a 1-0 lead heading in to the bottom of the ninth. Kralick lost his perfect game with a 1-out full count walk, but got two straight pop outs to put the Twins first no-hitter in the record books.

It’s hard telling which factoid was the most unusual to come out of the Twins’ 1-0 extra inning win over the Brewers on August 27, 1975… was it Craig Kusick tying the MLB record of getting hit by three pitches or iron man Bert Blyleven pitching the 11 inning complete game shutout?

August 28 has seen a couple of items of interest:

1981: Just four days after Kent Hrbek’s debut at Yankee Stadium, fellow rookie Tim Laudner also homered in his first MLB game against the Tigers at Metropolitan Stadium.

2009: The Twins acquired relief pitcher Jon Rauch from the D’Backs.

Lets wrap up this week’s trip down memory lane with a couple of items from August 29:

1963: In what has to be one of the more impressive demonstrations of power hitting in the franchise’s history, the Twins swept a double header from the Senators, 14-2 and 10-1. The Twins hit 12 home runs combined in the two games. Rich Rollins, Bob Allison and Zoilo Versalles each hit one HR, while Bernie Allen, Jimmie Hall and Vic Power each hit two balls out of DC Stadium. Harmon Killebrew won the club’s Home Run Derby with 3 round-trippers.

2009: The Twins signed lefty reliever Ron Mahay, who had been released by the Royals three days earlier.

That’s it! Tonight, the Twins start a critical four-game series against the Rangers at the Oven in Arlington (where high temperatures are forecast to be 106, 103, 93 and 94 degrees over the next four days). Meanwhile, the White Sox have the day off as they wait for the Orioles to show up in Chicago for a three-game series starting Tuesday. Should be an interesting week! – JC


*We pull this information from a few different sources, including (but not necessarily limited to) Dave Wright’s excellent book, “162-0, The Greatest Wins!”, as well as some  internet sites like “Twins Trivia” and “National Pastime”.