The Final Countdown: 80 Games

We knew it was too good to last, of course. You simply don’t continue to gain several games on your competition every week the way the Twins had been closing in on the teams above them in the standings. It’s actually a bit surprising that they didn’t lose any more ground than they did, considering the competition they faced over the past 10 games.

We here at Knuckleballs started this little “Countdown” exercise a few weeks ago when the Twins had played 62 games, leaving 100 remaining, and we’re continuing to check in every 10 games to see what sort of progress the team is making. With 100 games remaining, the Twins trailed the Tigers by exactly 10 games. A little quick math revealed that they needed to gain one game in the standigns on the Tigers for every 10 games played to catch up to them by the end of the season.

We’re also keeping track of where our guys stand in comparison to the BitchSox, since we’ve pretty much assumed from the start of the season that Ozzie’s Southsiders will be in the race until the end.

While I’m still not willing to add them to the REAL AL Central Standings, for our purposes, I do have to give Cleveland credit for not folding as quickly as I thought they would. I still don’t think they’ll be contending by the end of the season, but they sure seem to continue to think otherwise.

Anyway, here are the REAL AL Central Standings at this particular checkpoint, with the Twins having exactly 80 more ballgames left to play:

TWINS GAMES REMAINING: 80

TEAM RECORD GB
Tigers 45-40 -
BitchSox 42-43 3
TWINS 36-46 7.5

With the All-Star break this week, it will be two more weeks before the Twins get another 10 games under their belts. Four of those games will be on the road at Chicago, but the other six will be at home against the Rays and Royals. During the same period of time, the Tigers will play seven of nine games on the road, while the BitchSox play seven of their next ten games against either the Twins or Tigers.

In other words, the Twins have an excellent opportunity to make up more ground before we check in again at the 70-game mark!

– JC

 

Game Chat – Brewers @ Twins #3, 1:10

Michael Cuddyer

Congratulations to Michael Cuddyer on being named to the AL All-Star Team for the first time. Cuddyer has toiled in the shadows of guys like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Johan Santana and others over the years, so he hasn’t gotten the broad recognition that others have, but more than once he’s had to step in to a leadership role with the Twins and for all the shit some people seem to enjoy dumping on him at times, he’s never demonstrated anything but class and a solid work ethic. Congratulations Cuddy!

One of the toughest things to do in sports is put a tough defeat, like last night’s loss to the Brewers, behind you and not let it have an effect on another game less than 24 hours later. That’s exactly what the Twins have to do today, however.

Let’s hope they find the intestinal fortitude to do the job.

[I’m planning on enjoying a Cedar Rapids Kernels vs Burlington Bees ballgame this afternoon, so I won’t be around for much, if any, of the chat. I’m not sure if Babs will be either, but for those who do join in, enjoy the game! – JC]

BREWERS @ TWINS
Weeks, 2B Revere, CF
Morgan, CF Casilla, A, 2B
Hart, C, RF Mauer, C
Fielder, 1B Cuddyer, RF
Gamel, 3B Thome, DH
Betancourt, Y, SS Valencia, 3B
Kotsay, LF Tosoni, LF
Lucroy, C Hughes, L, 1B
Counsell, 2B Nishioka, SS
_Greinke, P _Blackburn, P

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

This game is exhibit A for why you just don’t want to overreact to one bad game. The season is 162 games long and you’re going to give up some late leads and lose some games you should have won… you’re also going to have some games… like today… where you’re offense has to just keep hitting baseballs until you come back on a team and steal a win.

Since I was at the local minor league game today, the best I could do is follow along on my phone, but from what I could tell, there was no shortage of heroes today. Big Jim Thome cracked home run number 595 (and his second of this series). Rene Tosoni got the Twins back in to contention with a 3-run HR of his own. Danny Valencia had a couple of hits including a double and an RBI. Joe Nathan threw a perfect 8th inning and Glen Perkins entered in the 9th with two men on and Prince Fielder coming to the plate, but struck out the two batters he faced to nail down the win. That’s a group worthy of a dessert buffet if I’ve ever seen one.

But on a unanimous vote of those in the GameChat, the Boyfriend of the Day award goes to Michael Cuddyer, who came up with a key RBI single not once, but twice, on the day he was announced as the Twins’ representative in the 2011 All-Star Game!

Michael Cuddyer

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