GameChat – Twins @ Royals #3, 7:10

Ok, focusing on the positives!  Morneau has had 4 straight symptom free days!!!  He’s doing much better and is going to get to work out WITH the team again when they are in town.  It’s not likely that even when he can start playing that he’ll be manning his spot for the first round of the playoffs but… assuming the Twins start playing better, *knock on noggin* he may be able to join them yet for this post season.  Mauer also was looking and feeling good during BP so who knows, we may yet see him as a pinch hitter tonight…  and the swelling in JJ Hardy’s knee is gone so that is good news too. 

Now for the Twins do their part to improve the general mood in Twins Territory.

Minnesota @ Kansas City
Span, CF   Dyson, CF
Hudson, O, 2B   Aviles, M, 2B
Young, D, DH   Butler, DH
Kubel, RF   Ka’aihue, 1B
Cuddyer, 1B   Betemit, 3B
Valencia, 3B   Gordon, A, LF
Repko, LF   Betancourt, Y, SS
Butera, C   May, C
Casilla, A, SS   Miller, Ja, RF
  Baker, S, P     Hochevar, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 4 11 1
Kansas City 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 8 1


Holy CRAP!  The Twins remembered how to win a game!  But before we get all caught up in patting them on the back, I just have one thing to say as far as a criticism of tonight’s game goes: 10 LOB, 2-9 with RISP.  Ugly.

Thanks again to Kbrobaseball for making this for me - must order this someday.

But enough grousing since the goal is to win the game and we actually got more runs than we gave up!  woohooo!!  It’s really that simple!  It doesn’t take much but even that has been alarmingly difficult lately.  Scott Baker actually tried a new fad – he was striking out hitters!  Yes, he let some get on which just made him always pitch under tension.  Joe Nathan will tell you that it sure works for him so as long as the job gets done, I don’t care.  Finally, we had a starter go 100 pitches and not have runs in the double digits.  Beautiful.  Nine K’s didn’t hurt either.  For remembering how to be a starting pitcher, we proudly award Scooter his very own bowl of spicy gumbo for kicking it up a notch tonight.  Hope it reminds him of home!

And speaking of pitching, our bullpen ROCKED!  Matty G., Tito, Cappy!  y’all were fantastic and there was actually FLAILING tonight!  How pretty.  In honor of our southern theme, the whole bullpen can feast on Chicory coffee and beignets.  Eat up quick boys because they’re best when they’re hot – just like bullpen pitchers!

But there really was a unanimous star of tonight’s game.  Delmon Young has joined a fairly elite group of Twins players.  He’s apparently only the 5th Twin all time to hit 20+ Hr, 40+ 2B, & 100+ RBI in a single season.  Tonight, he sneaked his 20th HR just barely inside the foul pole to give us the lead.  And then we didn’t let them have it back.  Delmon even managed to get another RBI later in the game!  So yeah, that officially gets him tonight’s BOD.  Congrats for yet another one on his significantly large season total.

Climbing In Off The Ledge

If Gardy really blew his top in a closed-clubhouse, “come to Jesus meeting” after the Monday night loss to the Royals, I can’t imagine his blood pressure was much lower after his team demonstrated their reaction to his expression of frustration on Tuesday.

Things aren't really that bad

I admit I was pretty frustrated Monday night, too. When you’ve spent over five months programming yourself to expect… even need… to see consistent high level Major League quality play out of your favorite team, it’s hard to dial those expectations back down a bit when the circumstances change.

And let’s be clear, the circumstances have changed.

As I mentioned in the GameChat during Tuesday night’s game, I’m coming around to the perspective of looking at these games as I do the final week or two of Spring Training. The games have no real meaning in that they have no effect on the team’s position in the standings. Ideally, you want to give your regular players enough playing time to have them sharp at the plate and in the field and you want to get your pitching rotation set up appropriately.

You certainly would not feel good about the pitchers you have chosen to make up your rotation having poor outings leading up to the start of “real” games, but if they’ve been pitching well leading up to that last week, you certainly would not panic. You also would want to give anyone who’s banged up or bruised whatever time they need to get healthy.

By the way, the Twins lost a couple of Spring Training games that last week of March where they gave up double digit runs, as well. It happens. Especially when you’re making liberal use of players that, let’s be honest, are only considered “Major League ballplayers” because the normal 25-man roster limit has been removed.

I don’t mean to minimize how great it would be to finish with the best record in the American League. But the Twins are assured of having home field advantage for the ALDS and would have the same advantage over the Rangers in the ALCS if Texas can survive their first round challenge.  So, as many others have pointed out, getting healthy is far more critical to the Twins’ post season success chances than anything else.

So as frustrating as things are right now, keep in mind that things could be worse.

We could be Royals fans. You think they wouldn’t trade places with us right now… or last year… or pretty much any year in the past decade?

We could be White Sox fans. How would you like to be relegated to having nothing more interesting to discuss than whether or not the person responsible for your team sucking is your manager or your General Manger and about whether not firing one or both of them means you’re going to suck next year, too?

We could be Rays fans. Sure… it would be nice to be able to get a good seat simply by walking up to the ticket window at game time, but you’d still have to be watching baseball indoors and you would be heading to the post season fully aware that your favorite team’s payroll is going to be slashed next season, to the point of losing some of your best players.

We could be Mets fans. Yes, we’d be able to cheer for Johan Santana (if/when he is healthy), but your ownership and front office would be the laughingstock of all of baseball.

We could be Dodger fans. Say what you wish about the Pohlad family, but at least they aren’t likely to be forced to cut payroll or even sell their team simply because of a nasty divorce proceeding.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not satisfied with “just” another AL Central Division title. I want it all.

But there are several million fans of 20+ other teams who would jump at the chance to trade places with us right now, even if it meant they had to endure seeing their team suffer through a 5-game losing streak. They would be very quick to tell us all to stop bitching and moaning about a few meaningless lopsided losses after our team has already had their playoff ticket punched.

And they’d be right.

We don’t have to pretend we enjoy watching bad baseball, just to “stay positive”. It’s fair to express some concern over poor performances and nagging injuries to important players. But the situation does call for us to keep things a little bit in perspective.

The Major League Baseball playoffs start in one week. 22 teams will not be participating. Only eight teams will still have a chance to play for the opportunity to go to the World Series. The Twins are one of those teams. Again.

Things could be a lot worse. – JC