GameChat – Indians @ Twins #4, 12:10pm

So… final game of the Indians series.. we break even if we win this today. Which would be VERY good.. at least we’d still be where we started on Monday and last night’s comeback win should be pretty good for morale.

Of course, the story for the day is still the hellish weather. I’m contributing this little bit of something a friend (several actually) shared on Facebook:

 

Yeah, you have to wonder if Cleveland keeps double checking their plane tickets to make sure they are in Minnesota.  This is the land of the frozen north right?? Welcome to summer in a state covered with water folks – we get humidity and heat.. and today the combo is still working against us.  At least it’s a bit better than both Monday and yesterday out there.  Humidity is actually dropping a tad already and yes, it’s over 90 but the heat index isn’t over 100.. yet.  They are saying there is supposed to be a BIG break in the weather tonight before the heat returns on the weekend.  It will be a gorgeous day tomorrow.. looking forward to one beautiful day at least!  Anyway, lets see what the boys have to work with after this tropical marathon. 

Interestingly, even though it’s a getaway day and the final game of the series, it seems that both teams are putting out their regular starting rotation of players – no one gets a day off – which I think is an indication how seriously both teams are taking this division battle.

Cleveland

@

Minnesota
Carrera, CF   Revere, CF
Cabrera, A, SS   Casilla, A, 2B
Hafner, DH   Mauer, 1B
Santana, C, C   Cuddyer, RF
LaPorta, 1B   Thome, DH
Cabrera, O, 2B   Valencia, 3B
Chisenhall, 3B   Young, D, LF
Kearns, RF   Nishioka, SS
Valbuena, LF   Butera, C
  Tomlin, P     Blackburn, P

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Cleveland

0

0

0

3

0

1

0

0

1

5

8

0

Minnesota

2

0

0

2

0

0

0

3

x

7

13

1

 

WOOHOOOO!!!!  That was exciting, frustrating, dramatic baseball! There was passion, tragedy, aggravation, relief, miracles & errors – everything you want in a division race actually. It seemed as though each player had a moment you wanted to pat him on the back and then immediately followed by something that made you want to strangle him.. Butera was BRILLIANT throwing out base-stealers but a passed ball (which Blackburn totally misplayed at the base) let a run in. Speaking of Blackburn, it was a GREAT outing from Nick on a day that eats pitchers and spits them out but the 4th inning was PAINFUL and the aforementioned fielding goof cost an out that could have saved Butera’s error by getting an out. Yeah, it was Butera’s error but in my book, there is no excuse for a pitcher not getting an out because he’s on the wrong side of the base. But even after that, he came back out and pitched great again. So I’m granting both Butera and Blackburn rootbeer floats as a cooler/reward.

We also had some CRAZY miscues on the defense – like Revere getting to one of those ridiculous OF flies he catches up to and then missing the catch in the sun.  On the other hand, Joe played 1B today by his request and managed to use every inch of his 6’5+” frame to rescue errant throws on several occasions. One of my favorite moments of the game included a misthrow from Casilla to Mauer at 1B that Mauer seemed to miraculously dig up and get the out. Even Lexi knew he owed Mauer in a HUGE way because as the players entered the dugout, Casilla tackled Joe in an impromptu hug shocking Mauer and delighting the fans who witnessed the event via tv broadcast.  I’m hoping to find a pic of the event to share with you because the WTF posture from Mauer and the sheer ridiculousness of the activity will entertain us all. However, Lexi also had some really good AB’s and overall had a good game so both he and Mauer also get rootbeer floats for their efforts. Until I find a pic of the actual hug – here’s a pretty entertaining interview with Mauer where he & Casilla joke about the hug – there’s a clip of it right at the end.

Video: Mauer, Casilla talk 7-5 win

Thanks to Thrylos, we have a screen shot from the video!! Thanks Thry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 But as was necessary last night, the game was tied and required late inning offensive heroics to get us back in the lead and eventually get us the win. You’ll never guess who got another terribly important bases-loaded hit to give us the lead… yeah, Danny Valencia. His team was also pretty excited about his efforts today because several of his teammates decided to gang-pie him in the postgame interview… yeah, he can have a rootbeer float too if he can ever get all the shaving cream out of his mouth but until then, he was voted todays unanimous BOD!

 

 

The REAL joy comes in the fact that for now, the Twins are once again 5.5 Games back in the division race and set to take on the newly division-leading Detroit Tigers. The boys should have great morale and motivation to bring every ounce of their ability and luck to continuing the upward climb for the season. *crosses fingers, toes, hair & whatever while holding breath*

ABC’s of Righthanded Relief Options

There seems to be consensus across Twinsville that a bit of help in the righthanded relief pitching category may be called for. Since the Twins online community rarely reaches anything resembling “consensus” on any subject, this much agreement must mean there’s a real need, right?

I know we keep reading about how Twins GM Bill Smith and his staff are discussing options for addressing the team’s bullpen issues.

So what’s the hold up? I guess I could understand if Bill decided to wait until this stretch of games against the Indians and Tigers is finished before giving up even a bit of minor league talent in trade, you know… just in case the Twins were going to lose eight straight. Then again, perhaps that bullpen help might make that kind of losing streak less likely.

Maybe it’s just too difficult to identify pitchers who could help the Twins?

In any event, here at Knuckleballs, we’re always trying to help out. So, with a little research (in fact VERY little research), I’ve come up with a list of righthanded relievers for Bill and his buddies to peruse.

The word on the street is that it should be a “buyer’s market” for shoppers in the market for righthanded relievers. With that in mind, I went “shopping”… and to keep it simple, I tried to come up with one option for each letter of the alphabet, looking pretty much only at guys who are currently toiling for teams that are likely “sellers”.

Let me say up front that I was not successful. There are simply no legitimate (or even somewhat less than legitimate) options for righthanded bullpen arms beginning with the letters O, T, V, X or Y. (Hey, I came up with a U and a Z, whaddya want?!) To make up for that, I threw in a few extras for some of the other letters.

No, not all of these pitchers are likely to be available. Some of them are young enough and cheap enough that their current teams will want to hang on to them. Some of them would come with high price tags (either in talent to be exchanged or salary… or both) that the Twins aren’t likely to want to meet. And no, I’m certainly not advocating for all of them.

But with a very few exceptions, you could make a case that these guys would be an improvement over the long line of ugliness that has traipsed to the mound from the Twins bullpen lately. Don’t believe me? Look up the stat lines on these guys and compare them to Alex Burnett and the other righties that Gardy’s tried to get some middle innings out of this season.

(By the way… if it turns out a couple of these guys are lefties, are on the DL, or retired 12 years ago … well… sorry. There were a lot of names to come up with here!)

Let’s begin.

A – Mike Adams SD

B – Grant Balfour OAK or perhaps Matt Belisle COL

C – Tyler Clippard WAS would be nice, but he won’t come cheap. Fortunately, the Nats have another “C”… Todd Coffey

D – Octavio Dotel TOR

E – Marco Estrada WAS

F – Jason Frasor TOR

G – Matt Guerrier LAD (hey, if people seem to want Jon Rauch back, why not Shaggy?)

H – Blake Hawksworth LAD or perhaps Greg Holland KC

I – Jason Isringhausen NYM

J – Jim Johnson BAL

K – Hong-Chih Kuo LAD (yeah I had to REALLY stretch for a K)

L – Matt Lindstrom COL or maybe Wilton Lopez HOU

M – Ryan Mattheus WAS or Mark Melancon HOU or even Edward Mujica FLA

N – Leo Nunez FLA yeah… I know, it’s not gonna happen. Guess we could always get back Pat Neshek SD

Jon Rauch

O -Nada

P – Bobby Parnell NYM

Q – Chad Qualls SD

R – Jon Rauch TOR or, if you just can’t get your head right with that, Fernando Rodriguez HOU

S – Drew Storen WAS or Jeff Samardzija ChC (but we know we’d rather have Joakim Soria KC)

T -Nope

U – Koji Uehara BAL

V -Uhuh

W – Michael Wuertz OAK (a Minnesota boy, I believe) or maybe Blake Wood KC

X -YeahRight

Y – Surprisingly, nobody… seems Cy Young is no longer pitching

Z – Brad Ziegler OAK

So, there ya go Bill… Happy shopping!

- JC