GameChat – Angels @ Twins, 7:10

Quick injury update: Yes, Nick Punto is back on the DL – my heart just kind of breaks for him. He reaggravated the hamstring that was supposedly healed.  And the team proved me wrong yet again because, no, no matter how badly I think we need it, they did not bring up a pitcher.  Tolbert is up to give us that flexibility of infielders and such.

As far as the game tonight, I’m kind of excited to see Dan Haren pitch but maybe that’s just because I like LOOKING at Dan Haren.  I’m willing to admit that is a possibility.  I would definitely like to see the offense be a little busier tonight than they were last night and I’m NOT goign to be ok with more LOB.  I hope that Duensing holds his own and goes deep into the game with a lot less struggles than Frankie and Pavano had.  Let’s go boys!

LA Angels @ Minnesota
Abreu, B, DH   Span, CF
Kendrick, H, 2B   Hudson, O, 2B
Callaspo, 3B   Mauer, C
Hunter, RF   Kubel, RF
Rivera, J, LF   Cuddyer, 1B
Napoli, C   Thome, DH
Aybar, E, SS   Young, D, LF
Wood, B, 1B   Valencia, 3B
Bourjos, CF   Hardy, SS
  Haren, P     Duensing, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
LA Angels 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 8 0
Minnesota 1 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 x 7 11 0

 

THAT went MUCH better.  How nice of the boys to give me exactly what I asked for!  And how nice of them to do such a great job while Jim Crikket was there to witness it!  The offense remembered how to hit and Duensing went out there and nailed it down, inning after inning!  More than anyone, I think the bullpen appreciated that.  But yeah, going 8 innings is something I think every coach, fielder and fan loved too. 

For any normal game,  Kubel going 2/4 with a homerun, a double and 3 RBI would probably be enough to earn him the BOD.  But not tonight.  Tonight it was great but it was only enough to get him a great big frosty adult beverage (can you tell I just left the bar?).  Heck, we’ll even throw in an adult beverage of choice to Jim Thome because, seriously, I am shocked to see just one triple from him in a season but multiples??  are you kidding me? Dude, maybe he needs a shot of 5 Hour Energy instead.

For tonight’s game though, the boxscore really says it all.  Duensing went up against a pitcher MANY Twins fans would have liked to see as a possibility in our starting rotation (including me).  He kicked Dan’s ass.  Haren just didn’t look like the hot pitcher I’ve seen in the past – maybe it was that he just doesn’t do facial hair as well?  I don’t know but Duensing came out the winner in tonight’s comparison and given how BADLY we really needed a good outting from our starter and how fun it was to see him get 6 k’s, I’m not at all surprised that the chat chose Brian Duensing for today’s BOD!  Congrats!

And sorry, Jamar, apparently our library is a bit short on the Duensing shots – of the ones we have so far, this really is the best.  I”ll make it a personal goal to be sure to get an even better one for you sometime soon!  I’m sure I could go steal a pic off some other site somewhere but we like using our own!

GameChat – White Sox @ Twins #3, 7:10 pm

Punto’s BACK!  Ok, so that was just something I had to say because I like him, I don’t necessarily need to see him start a game or be out there every day but I also don’t dread when he shows up.  Our offense can support what he’s not able to rise to and our defense is ALWAYS solid when he’s in the field.  (of course, I don’t mind seeing JJ Hardy either so I miss him.)

That being said, this is the last game of this particular series.  It will be interesting to see how we fair up against Beuhrle but at least I feel like we are even or exceed that matchup with Pavano out there.  I’m looking forward to this game and I hope that the tensions stay minimal – I’m really not looking for any brawls.

And just for news of former Twins that hits especially close to the heart here on this blog, here’s a great write-up on RA Dickey!

Chi White Sox @ Minnesota
Pierre, LF   Span, CF
Vizquel, 3B   Hudson, O, 2B
Rios, CF   Mauer, DH
Konerko, 1B   Cuddyer, 1B
Teahen, RF   Young, D, LF
Ramirez, A, SS   Kubel, RF
Kotsay, DH   Valencia, 3B
Pierzynski, C   Punto, SS
Beckham, 2B   Butera, C
  Buehrle, P     Pavano, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi White Sox 2 0 2 0 1 0 2 4 0 11 21 1
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1

 

Well that game sucked.  Pavano did not have his usual stuff and Beuhrle most definitely did.  I always try to find something positive to say about even the worst of games but this one is a bit tough.

I will say this: Casilla had a phenomenal play up the middle tonight that is destined for web gem-ness.  Even if not, it will definitely be on the Twins site video clips tomorrow.

Sadly, in his first game back, Nick Punto strained the left hamstring again during a slide into second base and left the game.  I’m going to go WAY out on a limb and suggest that if Punto goes back on the DL, I think they will be bringing up another relief pitcher given the schedule they have for the next 2 weeks.  In my mind, that means either Slama or Neshek – Slama hasn’t been doing as well in AAA as he’d like.  So – this is a legitimate opportunity for Sideshow to rejoin the team this season. 

Of course, that all assumes that they don’t bring Plouffe back up and assumes that they don’t just decide to let Nicky wait it out a few days.  I’m just saying it’s POSSIBLE and this is a good chance to see what they do. (and I think we need a pitcher.)

Other than that, let’s just remember that we already had the series against the White Sox, we already have the SEASON series won and we only have 3 more games to play them.

Bring on the Angels!

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enema?

NOTE: Yes, this is another long JimCrikket rant but if you’ve been coming here halfway regularly this season, you should be used to it by now and I’m tired of apologizing for being long winded. – JC

Enema… that’s the plural form of the word “enemy”, right? (I may be off on the appropriate word, but I just don’t feel like looking it up and it still seems to fit since this post is about the Bitch Sox and Yankees.)

Almost nothing riles up the folks who populate Bitch Sox message boards and blogs quite like when Ozzie Guillen says something complimentary about the Twins to the media. (Yes, I peruse their sites occasionally. I suppose you could say that makes me a “troll”, but I never post any comments to stir up the locals, so I don’t really think of it as trolling. It’s more like feeding some sort of harmless, but deep-seated, voyeuristic fetish that conventional society may consider borderline perverted… and who among us doesn’t have one or two of those?)

To put it in terms Twins fans may be able to relate to, Bitch Sox fan responses to Ozzie’s man-love for Gardy and the Twins is comparable to comments you see on Twins boards and blogs when Gardy becomes effusive about how Nick Punto “gets after it”. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with expressing respect for how an opponent (or a player with limited natural ability) works hard to play the game “the right way”, it’s just that hearing it over and over and over (and over) again starts to wear on you, I guess. I’m sure this is especially true of  Bitch Sox fans who have had to endure watching their team lose something like 741 out of the last 742 games to the Twins (again, I could be off a bit on the number, I just don’t feel like looking that up either).

Has Ozzie overdone his man-love for the Twins a bit? Yeah, probably. It appears as though he was so impressed by the “piranyas” the Twins fielded a few years back that he convinced his GM, Kenny Williams, to clone that team and put them in Sox uniforms in 2010. Can’t you just imagine the conversation those two had in the offseason?

Williams: “Hey Ozzie, what do you think about bringing Jim Thome back as our DH?”

Ozzie: “No, no, no… he’ll never stay healthy and he can’t play defense. We need flexibility. Give me Mark Kotsay, Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones and Mark Teahan and I’ll have plenty of DH options.”

What’s the matter, Ozzie, weren’t Jason Tyner, Lew Ford, Rondell White or Jeff Cirillo available?

Anyway, as I was trolling… er… reading through the Bitch Sox fans’ post game comments Tuesday and Wednesday, it struck me just how similar they were to what I’ve read about Twins fans’ feelings toward the Yankees (or as I prefer to refer to them, the F’ing Yankees). The frustration level is off the charts in both cases.

But being a Bitch Sox fan having to endure this kind of one-sided relationship has to be even worse. Can you imagine how it would feel if the Twins not only were consistently getting slapped around by the Yankees, but were having it happen 18 times a season AND were having to spend October playing golf instead of playoff baseball because the Yankees consistently were winning the Division? You might as well be a Blue Jays fan.

There are signs lately, however, that perhaps the Ozzie/Twins love-fest may be wearing a bit thin, even with the Bitch Sox and their manager themselves. Ozzie’s been quoted as saying he, “hates the Twins”. He certainly was not appreciative of Carlos Quentin, being hit by a couple of pitches in a game with the Twins at The Cell (is that an appropriate nickname for that prison of a ballpark in Chicago, or what?) a couple weeks ago after Quentin hit a home run in the game. He was convinced that at least the last HBP by Glen Perkins was intentional. Frankly, I’m convinced of it, too. But how can you complain when you pretty much stand on top of the plate the way Quentin does?

Then there was the comment Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves made prior to this series. (Who the heck interviews a bullpen coach, anyway? What’s next, interviewing the batboy? From what I can tell, the bullpen coach’s primary, perhaps only, responsibility is to answer the phone when the call comes in from the dugout to get a relief pitcher warmed up. And this guy is talking trash?). If you listen to it, (starts about at the 27 minute mark) it’s pretty clear that (a) he’s not a Twins fan, and (b) he wasn’t kidding about wanting one of his pitchers to intentionally drill Joe Mauer for the purpose of starting a fight. So when one of  Nieves’ relief pitchers zipped a heater past the bill of JJ Hardy’s helmet Tuesday, I think it’s safe to assume the Twins dugout took notice.

The next inning, when Delmon Young broke for home from 3B on a ground ball to second, I believe he had two things in mind: 1-score the run and 2-if I can knock AJ Pierzynski in to the next galaxy in the process, that’s cool, too. When it became clear the throw was going to get to AJ well before DY could get to the plate, it’s quite possible the two priorities swapped places in Young’s mind.

Bitch Sox fans were enraged. In fact, perhaps their biggest fan (or at least the loudest), “Hawk” Harrelson proclaimed from the broadcast booth that Young should find out what it feels like to have a Rawlings “in his earhole”. (That Hawk… classy as ever, isn’t he?)

Not that Bert Blyleven (or I, for that matter) would say anything too different if a Yankee like Mark Teixeira took similar aim at Joe Mauer, of course. That’s the nature of a bitter rivalry. The team (and its fans) that feels like it’s getting bullied and beaten around by another team becomes blind to anything but exacting revenge. It can cause a team and its fans to lose focus on what’s important… winning the game and competing for a championship.

I know that keeping things in perspective is easier said than done. I know that because when I consider what I think the Twins should do about this escalating level of tension between the teams, I’m torn myself. My head says, “Don’t be stupid, win the games and don’t risk losing anyone important to injury or suspension and, along with him, your grip on the Division.” But my instincts say, “Get the first two outs of the game and then drill Alex Rios in the ass! Get the first punch in, take the resulting inevitable umpire warning to both benches, and prevent the  Bitch Sox from being able to retaliate with impunity.” It’s a tough call.

Here’s another thing that I find very interesting: The near-universal and absolute hatred among Bitch Sox fans for all things and people Twins-related. I could not believe the number of “F*** Jim Thome” comments I read on their boards. Virtually to a person, they feel that the Twins have been, are, and always shall be, dirty players and cheap-shot artists. Reading their comments, you would think they’re talking about a team full of Ty Cobbs over here. I mean… seriously? This obviously runs 180 degrees counter to the widely held (though arguably inaccurate) perception among Twins fans that this roster is too soft… that there’s nobody with any sort of competitive edge… too “Minnesota nice”.

But here’s the thing… my sense is that most of us have always considered the  Bitch Sox to be a rival, certainly, but more of an annoyance than anything else. They had a nice season in 2005 and Thome beat us in game 163 a couple of years ago. But I’ve just never considered them a serious threat to the Twins continued success. The Indians (during eras when they ride their rollercoaster to the top) and the Tigers (more consistently a thorn in the Twins side) tend to concern me more than the Bitch Sox do. The A’s, Angels and F’ing Yankees? Absolutely, as they’ve presented the hurdles the Twins have been unable to clear in recent efforts to get to the World Series. But the Bitch Sox? Eh, not so much.

I realize that those of us who are former Batlings were pretty much obligated to join Batgirl in her hatred of the Bitch Sox “with a white hot fire.” But I always felt that the “hatred” was like something you felt toward an annoying little brother that you know you can just slap out of the way when you get bored with him.

But when I read garbage like what’s spewed in this lovely thread entitled “Drill Baby Drill” from one of the Bitch Sox message boards, I realize that Batgirl may have had it right. Throughout the thread, Bitch Sox fans not only whine about how badly abused their poor players have been by the Twins, but advocate that season and career ending injuries be inflicted upon Delmon Young and Joe Mauer.

So let me conclude with a couple of appropriate, and apparently timeless, Batgirl quotes from 2004:

“…you could fire every player on the Bitch Sox, plus their coaching staff and management and still have a character problem.”

“Put your playing where your bitching is, boys.”

I wish I had Batgirl’s way with words. – JC

GameChat – White Sox @ Twins #2, 7:10 pm

So I spent the day wearing my Thome is my Homey t-shirt.  *laugh*  Boy, was that fun after last night – sooooo many people stopping me to ask where they can get one.  If you want one, here’s the info: Thome is my Homey t-shirt.

But as for the rest of the fall-out from last night’s game, you would think it was the last time we played them this year!  Talk about “playoff atmosphere” – I kept thinking, “wow, we have five more games, what’s going to happen next??”  But for all the stuff that was shared after the game last night, almost all of it was amusing – from the video of the player melee, the replays of Hawk’s non-existant “homerun call”, the Spanish language homerun call from Tony O., and even Nick Punto’s joyous declaration of man-love at the plate.  There was a lot to love about last night’s game even after the game was over.

I think I was most entertained by the comments from Ozzie afterwards – because that is ALWAYS fun.  Here’s a couple great ones from Phil Mackey about the Twins/White Sox rivalry and his reaction to kicking Thome to the curb.

Like I said, we still have 5 games left.  Tonight, I think it would be better for everyone if Frankie threw better than Baker did last night.  I love the late – or extra – inning heroics but…  I wouldn’t mind getting a lead and keeping it either.  And it will be interesting to see if Delmon gets plunked today…

Chi White Sox @ Minnesota
Pierre, LF   Span, CF
Ramirez, A, SS   Hudson, O, 2B
Rios, CF   Mauer, C
Konerko, 1B   Kubel, RF
Quentin, DH   Cuddyer, 1B
Pierzynski, C   Thome, DH
Jones, An, RF   Young, D, LF
Vizquel, 3B   Valencia, 3B
Beckham, 2B   Hardy, SS
  Floyd, G, P     Liriano, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi White Sox 0 3 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 6 10 0
Minnesota 2 0 1 0 1 3 0 0 x 7 13 0

 

Two down, one to go! (yeah and then the other series) But that was definitely a fun game.  It was a frustration to everyone, Frankie included, that Liriano didn’t have his best stuff.  He pushed through anyway and it wasn’t a HORRIBLE outting.  You could just tell that the focus wasn’t where he wanted it tonight.  That being said, it was still a team outting and they all worked hard to pick each other up when it was necessary.  Offense showed up to play and the bullpen pitching was MARVELOUS!  Manship, Crain, and Capps all did their jobs in spectacular fashion.  For that, they have earned as many Krispy Kremes as they can put away without making themselves sick.

As for that offense I mentioned?  SWEET!!  Span was 2/4 with 2 runs.  Cuddy was 3/4 with a run and an RBI.  JJ Hardy NEARLY hit a HR into the bullpen but instead got a sweet Sac Fly that scored what became our winning run.  They also are hereby awarded access to the Krispy Kreme buffet.

However, we had another Target Field first tonight.  Joe Mauer FINALLY got a homerun at HOME!  It was a wall-skimmer but it still counts! Good to have that off his back now.  And besides that piddly homerun, the man was 4/5 with 2 runs and 2 RBI.  The pace he’s been on since he returned from the shoulder issue is just RIDICULOUS! But I’m definitely not complaining.  It sure served us well tonight and THAT is why he is today’s BOD! Congrats Joe Mauer!

Minnesota Baseball Icon – TC BEAR!!

Ok, not everyone has the same kind of feelings about TC that I do but as KL can tell you, I’ve taken every opportunity I could over the years going WAAAAAY back to collect fun shots of TC and followed his career.  But I know there are a few of you like me out there – yes, you, Jamar, and you, Betsy, and I’m sure there are others.  So, this post is for you!

Most Knuckleballers figure out in about 5 minutes that I kind of have a thing for kids.  I also take my responsibilities for passing on the love of baseball to the next generations seriously!  That includes the love of TC BEAR!  So when he informed me, via Twitter (@TC_00 if you’re interested), that he would be a library near my house doing a reading for kids, I knew what to do!

Oh yeah, I took a few kids along too!  My youngest brother, Ben, my nephew Camden, and his mommy and Aunt Lexi and her friend ALL went to the library to see TC Bear.  It was a really wonderful event.  They read a great baseball story while TC and a couple volunteers acted it out.  I’ve always been amazed by the hitting and catching that TC accomplishes given his limitations but he goes ALL OUT when he’s acting out a story.  He really knows how to commit to an action and not only that, the kids loved every minute of it!  So did the adults quite frankly.  Thanks TC!  And of course, I had to take lots of pictures!

I have no idea what kind of schedule TC has to keep in addition to his game schedule but a) it’s heavy and b) he is a wonderful reflection on baseball and the Minnesota Twins.  I don’t care what your job is, when you do it THAT well?  You are an honorable person.. err.. Bear.  :D

GameChat – White Sox @ Twins, 7:10

WOOOHOOOOO!!!  Can’t believe there were people stalking the airports to see if they could see the White Sox arriving in town..  what?  someone else came in?  Who cares?!  The Twins are playing the WS in Target Field!!!!  Sorry if I’m a little focused on baseball right now – haven’t gotten into the football mode, much less care about prima donna players.

ANYWAY…  given my baseball addiction, the off-day was spent doing what? with BASEBALL PLAYERS!  :D  I went over to Park Tavern yesterday afternoon to see Baseball Unplugged (and chat with) Nick Punto, Drew Butera and Danny Valencia.  I didn’t take TOOOO many pics, mostly because it’s a bar and it’s dark but it was a fantastic night with some guys who were obviously having a good time and enjoy their fans!

Special thanks to Nick Punto for making sure that Betsy, I, and the young boy sitting near us all got to ask a question since the guy who does the hosting was on the other side of the bar…  You are a true gentleman, Nick and it was great to spend a little time with you!  AND it means I have an answer to the question that has plagued me for awhile from the horse’s mouth! 

My question was “who is our backup 1B guy if something happens to Cuddyer before Morneau is back in the lineup?!” *knock on wood*  Danny spoke up and said that, if necessary, it is supposed to be his job and they have had him practicing over there just in case.  Drew said that he’d be backing up Danny just in case but that since soooo many people would have to be injured for him to be responsible, he doesn’t like to think about it.  I don’t blame him.

But let’s focus on tonight – Nicky is eligible to start tonight but he’s not out there.  That’s not terribly surprising given how hot Valencia has been but at least it answers the question many fans had been asking.  We have a good lineup out there to face the Sox and I think they are coming off a great series against the A’s which has lifted morale.  I’m not going to honor comments about starting bench brawls during this series because I think that kind of deliberate nastiness is below the Sox.  If it turns out that it’s not, I’ll be incredibly disappointed.  Win TWINS!

Chi White Sox @ Minnesota
Pierre, LF   Span, CF
Vizquel, 3B   Hudson, O, 2B
Rios, CF   Mauer, C
Konerko, 1B   Cuddyer, 1B
Quentin, RF   Kubel, RF
Kotsay, DH   Young, D, LF
Pierzynski, C   Thome, DH
Ramirez, A, SS   Valencia, 3B
Beckham, 2B   Hardy, SS
  Danks, P     Baker, S, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H
Chi White Sox 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 14
Minnesota 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 7 16

 

The temptation for this game is to completely ignore the majority of the game – just pretend the first 9 innings didn’t happen because the 10th inning was just THAT AMAZING!!!!  THAT was exciting baseball.  *shiver*

But before we get to the 10th, there really was some decent ball we should talk about.  Baker did not have his best stuff tonight so even though he got a 4 run lead to work with early in the game, he ended up giving most of it up and leaving the game in the 5th.  But offense wasn’t REALLY a problem tonight.  Every time we lost the lead, we came back out and hit some more… and so did the White Sox.  yeesh.  Our bullpen did ok but not great tonight.  Felt like we had to use everybody and we nearly did.  Perk covered well though tonight to fill in for Baker and that’s what we have him up here for.  After that, it was a lot of same ol’ same ol’ – and then Capps blew the save.  It’s going to happen but it’s hard to be boost the confidence of your new team’s fans when that happens a couple times in the short time after you’ve arrived.

However, the highlights include two EXTREMELY awesome catches from people I consider unlikely to do the webgem thing – Delmon Young and Jason Kubel.  WOW.  Seriously, they’ll be played on ESPN.  I’ve heard that Kubel’s catch is #1 on the list for today.  For that excellence, both boys are awarded a pan of warm brownies to share – the gooey, dark, awesome kind.

And that was just the defense – the OFFENSE had their night going too!  Young and Hudson both had homeruns, Kubel had a great triple and Valencia had an unfortunate ground rule double – unfortunate because it would have scored Delmon if it hadn’t left the field.  They all were swinging the lumber pretty well and they all get a great big ice cream sundae for it.  Thanks boys.

And it was hardly an issue but you know there had to be some sort of drama after the comments that came out of the coaching staff of the WS today.  So when a pitch appeared to head hunt JJ Hardy and just BARELY missed him, blood pressures definitely went up.  As an almost immediate response, Delmon came in from 3B and decided to take an unusual approach to homeplate since he didn’t have a chance at being safe if AJ didn’t drop the ball – he totally went for the two-handed bar brawl shove instead of the normal home plate tackle.  It didn’t make AJ drop the ball and he was still out but I think the message was clear enough.  Granted, all that is purely my opinion.

And then we have the 10th inning.  Neither Capps nor Rauch who came in to mop up his mess really had the stuff that we needed tonight – which resulted in the White Sox taking the lead in the top of the 10th.  Ouch.  But we got to the bottom of the 10th with it being a 1 run game…  Delmon did his job and got himself on base.  Then, in a perfectly scripted ‘Casey at the Bat’ scenario, Jim Thome walked up to the plate.  I’m sure that every White Sox fan knew what was going to happen.  Every Twins fan knew what was going to happen.  It has happened so many times before – he just wore the other uniform before.  And then homerun #581 went DEEP into the Target Field plaza.  Turns out it was the first walk-off HIT in the new park.  Took awhile to get it.  But ESPN reported that for Thome, it was yet another cool milestone:  Thome is tied for the most walk off home runs of all time, with 12. He’s tied with Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Jimmie Foxx, and Stan Musial.  For that, Jim Thome, you are the Boyfriend of the Day!

and just for the fun of it – you should click on Kbro’s pic of the postgame interview PIE!!

Target Field fieldtrip!

So I got to see the game from a new vantage point on Sunday thanks to my friend Deb!  Honestly, I’ll take any excuse and suffer pretty much any indignity to get to a game when circumstances and/or finances allow.  That includes getting rear-ended by a knucklehead while parking at a meter (long story, no damage, no biggie).  That being said, it was a GREAT game!!

Of course, I had the same problem I always have.  I took too many pictures!  It took me forever to get them narrowed down and as it is, there are still too many to post individual pics.  Mostly I was trying to get as many shots of the new guys as I could for our media library purposes (at least that is the excuse I use).  But I hope you guys enjoy the record of the game in snapshots!

Here’s my favorite shot of the game though – Repko making that amazing catch in LF:

And for the record since I was at the game and it seems to be the thing everyone is talking about, Gardy absolutely did the right thing not sending Kev back out there in the 8th.  It’s not about pitch count – it’s about the fact that there was no way he was going to FINISH that game anyway.  He’d been erratic (fairly effectively so) but we all know that inning-ending double play for the 7th was a thing of beauty because Kevin NEEDED it there.  He was done.  I don’t know what game you were watching if you couldn’t see that but I’ll argue with you if you want – doesn’t make you right.  *GRIN*  I don’t ever want Kevin to WANT to come out of a game but the fans who were standing and cheering when he left the field at the end of 7 knew he wasn’t coming back.

I hope you all enjoy the slideshow and I can’t wait to get back! You just can’t get too much baseball at Target Field!

Twins History Lesson: August 16-22

Before we dig in to the events that transpired during the upcoming week in Twins history, I want to take a few moments to mention a bit more about one of the reference sources we use for this feature. We footnote three sources that we routinely check every week at the bottom of each Twins History Lesson post*.

One of those resources, however, warrants a little extra mention. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Twins Trivia site just provides a few obscure facts about our favorite team. There is so much more of interest to be found there. Want to know exactly which players have worn your favorite jersey number over the years? It’s there. Too young to remember what Metropolitan Stadium looked like, there are a bunch of pictures (including a link so some pictures of an abandoned “Met” that almost brought tears to my eyes). There are interviews with a boatload of former Twins, as well. And of course, there are all of the facts and figures you would expect from a “trivia” site. I highly recommend the site and you can always find the link in our Twins Blogroll list at the right.

Now, on to this week in Twins history…

Kicking off the week on August 16:

1975: You think having a multi-hit game is a big deal? On August 16, 1975, you needed at least two hits just to feel like you played a role at all in the Twins’ 9-1 win over Cleveland. The Twins set a MLB record with nine different hitters collecting at least two hits. Those hitters were Lyman Bostock, Dan Ford, Rod Carew, John Briggs, Tony Oliva, Eric Soderholm, Steve Braun, Jerry Terrell and Phil Roof.

Tom Kelly

1990: A lot has been made of Michael Cuddyer being moved around the field this season by manager Ron Gardenhire, but on this date in 1990, Tom Kelly took the title of “manager” to a whole new level during a game with the Indians. Kelly shifted Kirby Puckett from RF to SS.. to 3B… and finally to 2B while moving Al Newman from 3B to SS and back to 3B, all in the 8th inning alone.

R.A. Dickey is having a very nice season for the Mets this season after never quite having the sort of success with the Twins that the organization hoped he might in 2009. Reportedly, Ron Gardenhire had wanted a knuckleballer on the staff because he felt such a pitcher could be successful in the climate controlled Metrodome. Given Dickey’s performance for the Mariners against the Twins at the ‘Dome on August 17, 2008, it’s not real  clear what may have made Gardy draw that conclusion. On that date, Dickey tied a MLB record with four wild pitches in one inning. He could have broken the record if not for one additional pitch that found the backstop being ruled a passed ball charged to catcher Kenji Johjima.

August 18 has seen a “first” and a “last” of note over the years:

1966: It may not roll off the tongue as smoothly poetic as “Tinker to Evers to Chance”, but Rollins to Tovar to Killebrew made history on 8/18/66 when Rich, Cesar and Harmon turned the first triple play in Twins history during a game against the Angels at Met Stadium.

1986: Twenty years later, Hall-of-Famer-to-be Tom Seaver struck out 7 Twins in 8.2 innings in a Red Sox win over the Twins to earn his 311th, and final, career win.

Johan Santana

Tell me if this sounds at all familiar, Twins fans… a Twins pitcher walks off the mound during what could be a historic night with his team nursing a 1-0 lead. But having already thrown over 100 pitches, manager Ron Gardenhire puts team and the health of the pitcher ahead of “history” and lets the pitcher know he’ll be turning to the bullpen. Kevin Slowey on Sunday? Nope… on August 19, 2007, it was Johan Santana who had struck out 17 Rangers in 8 innings and was within 3 Ks of matching the MLB record of 20 in a game. There was no Jim Thome to give the Twins a cushion on that day, but Joe Nathan struck out 2 in the 9th to help set the Twins single game team record of 19 strikeouts and seal the 1-0 win. Santana gave up only two hits to the Rangers… both by Sammy Sosa.

Ken Landreaux was having a good season for the Twins in 1979 but when you’re the player a team gets back in a trade for a certain Hall of Famer like Rod Carew, living up to expectations is pretty much a lost cause. Nonetheless, On August 20, 1979, Landreaux came through with a very Carew-like performance as he ripped three extra base hits (double, triple, HR) and drove in six runs in a 10-5 win over the Red Sox.

The Beatles at Met Stadium (Photo by Sully)

Where were you on August 21, 1965? If you were at Metropolitan Stadium, you were among a packed house of screaming fans… but the Twins were nowhere to be seen. The Beatles were playing at the Met that night!

Our look back at August 22 goes back only two years to 2008. Rookie Carlos Gomez set a Twins rookie stolen base record by swiping his 27th base of the season, breaking a club record held at the time by Luis Rivas.

That’s enough for this week, I think. We’ll skip over a few August trades involving guys most of us have never heard of (sorry, Jackie Collum) or prefer to forget (that would be you, Joe Mays) as we anxiously await the inevitable demolishing of the White Sox remaining playoff hopes this week. Go Twins! – JC

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*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”.

GameChat – A’s @ Twins #3, 1:10 pm

CapitalBabs is at Target Field today, which means two things… we hope to have a first-person report of the game, complete with photos, by tomorrow AND you have to put up with me posting the lineups and setting up the GameChat today. I haven’t had this much responsibility in a while, so I hope I don’t blow it.

First, let’s cover a few team notes being reported this morning.

As was indicated last night, the Twins plan to activate Nick Punto off of the Disabled List in time for him to be eligible to play in the first game of the WhiteSox series on Tuesday. Today, Gardy indicated “a catcher” would be sent to Rochester to make room for Punto. Hmmmm… wonder who that will be. I suggest someone call Rochester to make sure Jose Morales’ RedWings uniform has been cleaned.

Matt Tolbert has been doing his “rehab assignment” with the RedWings and the Twins now have officially reactivated him and optioned him to Rochester. No surprise there. His rehab stint has gone well but there’s simply no spot on the Twins for him at this point.

Over the past week or so, there has been some discussion about what roster move the Twins would/should make when Justin Morneau is reactivated. With Morales sent down, there really isn’t any obvious position player deserving of a demotion. In any event, it turns out this discussion can wait for a while… and perhaps a long while. Doc has apparently still not had a single symptom-free day since going down with a concussion over a month ago. As much as we all want to see #33 back in the line up, you simply can not rush this thing. Take care of things the right way and be ready to provide that huge offensive and defensive lift down the stretch.

ATHLETICS @ TWINS
Crisp, CF   Span, CF
Barton, D, 1B   Hudson, O, 2B
Suzuki, K, C   Mauer, C
Cust, DH   Kubel, RF
Kouzmanoff, 3B   Cuddyer, 1B
Ellis, M, 2B   Thome, DH
Davis, R, RF   Valencia, 3B
Carter, LF   Repko, LF
Pennington, SS   Casilla, A, SS
Mazzaro, P   Slowey, P

.

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

.

Soooooo many things to say about this game, but let’s start with the most important thing first. The SWEEEEEEEEEEEP of the Oakland A’s!

There was no shortage of drama today, either. How about Jason Repko’s amazing leaping catch in left field? Danny Valencia’s three hits! and of course, the Chairman, Joe Mauer, continuing his terrific hitting. All are deserving of assorted pastries.

The big stick today was Jim Thome, who’s 3-run homer (career number 580, for those of you counting) ended up providing the difference-making runs. Jim gets all the ice cream he can eat!

(I suppose it would just be mean to suggest we also send some “thank you baked goods” over to JJ Putz in Chicago for coughing up leads the last two games and allowing the Twins to build a 3 game lead in the AL Central race over the BitchSox headed in to their series at Target Field this week… so I won’t suggest that.)

In an ordinary day, Thome may also have been worthy of the Boyfriend of the Day award. But when your starting pitcher comes back from missing a start with a sore elbow and throws seven no-hit innings, there can be no doubt as to who wins the BOD award. (By the way, those fans who booed the decision to lift Slowey after 7 innings need to buy a clue… you simply do NOT risk hurting a pitcher who’s coming back from a sore elbow.)

Yes, you, Kevin Slowey, are our Boyfriend of the Day!

GameChat – A’s @ Twin #2, 6:10 pm

I love good exciting baseball games but I’m hoping for a little less of the extremes tonight – last night wore me out.  Is it too much to ask for a nice start from Duensing, good fielding from the defense and some fantastic offense all to work together for a win without the head-banging dramatics?  Maybe…

Oakland @ Minnesota
Crisp, CF   Span, CF
Barton, D, 1B   Hudson, O, 2B
Suzuki, K, C   Mauer, C
Kouzmanoff, 3B   Kubel, RF
Ellis, M, 2B   Cuddyer, 1B
Davis, R, RF   Thome, DH
Cust, DH   Young, D, LF
Carter, LF   Valencia, 3B
Tolleson, SS   Casilla, A, SS
  Cahill, P     Duensing, P

 

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

 

Now that I’m recovered from fits of tremors and drooling, I’ll see what I can do to describe how awesome that was!  A TRUE pitchers duel and BRIAN DUENSING WON!!!  It was just fantstic.  A complete game shutout for the young rookie and done with style too.  His teammates annointed him with the traditional shaving cream pie in the face which made for an entertaining postgame interview – his general opinion was that shaving cream doesn’t taste very good.  Of course, from the smile on his face after the last out – facing just 29 batters – my guess is that the taste of shaving cream will be soon forgotten.  It also made choosing a BOD a very easy task today.  Congratulations, Brian!

Given the closeness of the game (especially until the bottom of the 8th), the chat also awards assorted pastries to Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer for their part in tonight’s win.  Thanks guys!