GameChat – Red Sox @ Twins #2, 7:10pm

Wow, those BoSox boys are lucky as blazes to be in Minnesota today.. what a fantastically gorgeous day to play baseball!! I’m really jealous of my friends who are enjoying that beautiful view in Target Field tonight.

That being said, there is some interesting news for the pregame tonight.

A) Ben Revere is on the way to Minnesota to fill in for Willy who will leave for paternity leave tomorrow for the birth of his 3rd son. Our sincerest congratulations to Josh & his family! The maximum paternity leave is 3 days so Willy will be back sooner rather than later.

B) This will be Blackburn’s return after a long rest.. Whether he’s ready or not seems to be somewhat under debate since he’s on a limited pitch count. I was called “negative” for pointing out that given his history when in long rest situations, he’ll likely overthrow the first 30 pitches or so which means his sinker won’t sink – which also means to me that he’ll only start getting comfortable right about the time they are going to start looking to pull him out. Oh well, let’s just hope that it’s a good outing because our bullpen could sure use it.

I’m hoping for a better game than last night – or at least a better ending.

Boston

@

Minnesota
Aviles, SS Span, CF
Sweeney, RF Carroll, SS
Pedroia, 2B Mauer, 1B
Gonzalez, Ad, 1B Willingham, LF
Ortiz, DH Morneau, DH
Youkilis, 3B Doumit, C
Ross, C, LF Valencia, 3B
Byrd, CF Parmelee, RF
Shoppach, C Plouffe, 2B
  Beckett, P   Blackburn, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston 3 0 2 2 3 0 0 1 0 11 18 0
Minnesota 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 6 0

I didn’t see or listen to any of the game… and I’m really glad.

It seems this team has some pitching issues… who knew? (OK… we ALL knew.)

By the way, have I mentioned what a GREAT idea it wasn’t to make sure we got this start out of Blackburn, even though it cost the Twins Luke Hughes to get those 3 innings? Oh yeah… I have. – JC

Coming Up On The Big 100,000!

We’ve been trying to come up with a way to celebrate the landmark visitor and tried to find out if we could determine who that lucky person was going to be… yeah we aren’t that technologically savvy. But we still wanted to celebrate hitting the mark so…

It’s time for another Knuckleballs contest! 

We have a gorgeous prize available – a framed Kirby Puckett memorial that was donated by my brother (HUGE Puckett fan).

Hopefully, that whets your appetite to play along! So here’s what we’re going to do.

You can see the current visitor count at the top right-hand column of the main page. You can even get a good summary of the visit history if you click on it.

Next, I’m looking for three pieces of information for you to offer:

A) The DAY you think we’ll hit 100,000.

B) The HOUR you think is the likely time to hit.

and lastly, the tie-breaker

C) Where in the world you think that visitor is going to log in from.

I can guarantee you that we never thought this was a mark we would hit when we started.. just wasn’t something that even occurred to us. But here we are and we hope you guys get to celebrate with us!

GameChat – Red Sox @ Twins, 7:10 pm

I always look forward to when the Red Sox come to town.. mostly because I can’t help giggling at Youk’s batting stance. I find myself wondering each and every time what a lifetime series of batting coaches said to him and if any of them have any hair left…

At any rate, let’s hope the Twins can pull together the defense and hitting and give Marquis as good an opportunity for a win as they did last time.

Boston

@

Minnesota
Aviles, SS Span, CF
Sweeney, RF Carroll, SS
Pedroia, 2B Mauer, C
Gonzalez, Ad, 1B Willingham, DH
Ortiz, DH Morneau, 1B
Youkilis, 3B Doumit, RF
Saltalamacchia, C Valencia, 3B
Ross, C, LF Parmelee, LF
Byrd, CF Plouffe, 2B
  Lester, P   Marquis, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston 1 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 6 12 2
Minnesota 0 0 0 4 1 0 0 0 0 5 8 0

That’s the kind of loss that just leaves you frustrated. You get a leadoff runner on 3B in the 8th with 3-4-5 coming up and you don’t get him across the plate. Then you give up a HR in the top of 9. I guess if there’s a silver lining, it was seeing Danny Valencia with a HR of his own, along with some good glove work at 3B. Denard Span and Jamey Carroll turned in some web gems of their own, so I guess there is that.

Tuesday brings the return of Nick Blackburn. From what I could tell, the Red Sox really ARE as bad as their results have been lately, so there’s still some hope for a win or two this week. – JC

Twins Still Mismanaging Injuries

When the Twins demoted former General Manager Bill Smith and put Terry Ryan back in charge last fall, one of the first issues the fans and media raised with Ryan was with regard to the medical staff and, in particular, how mismanagement had resulted in some really poor use of the Disabled List. Ryan indicated there would be changes to how things were done, but, in the end, made no staffing changes in that area.

Early on this season, it’s hard to see evidence of improvement. In fact, this past week, we have seen evidence that the Twins are just as capable of screwing up DL decisions as they were a year ago and this time it cost them a ballplayer.

Starting pitcher Nick Blackburn left the game on Saturday, April 14, when he experienced “cramping” in his pitching shoulder during the 6th inning. The next day, Ryan reported that Blackburn had undergone an MRI that was “normal,” and that Blackburn felt, “OK… stiff.”

Jason Marquis was being reactivated so the Twins had the luxury of giving Blackburn an extra day or two of rest. But, of course, that’s not what they did. They wanted to have him throw a bit to make sure the shoulder was “OK.” Then, they wanted him to throw a full bullpen session on Sunday to REALLY make sure he was “OK.”

After all of that, they announced Blackburn would take the mound for a start this Thursday, April 26… twelve days after he left the game during his last start. [CORRECTION: Blackburn will start TUESDAY, 10 days after his last start. The point remains, the Twins will get one more start out of him than they would have had he been put on the DL – JC]

It will be nice to get Nick back, of course. But that’s only part of the story.

When Marquis rejoined the team in New York, the Twins had to make room for him on their roster. They chose not to put Blackburn on the 15-day Disabled List, but instead designated infielder Luke Hughes for assignment, knowing full well it was likely that Hughes had demonstrated enough ability to swing a baseball bat that he’d be claimed by another MLB team.

Ultimately, that’s exactly what happened. Hughes was claimed by the Oakland Athletics over the weekend.

What did the Twins benefit from losing Hughes? Blackburn gets a start on Thursday Tuesday instead of having to wait THREE FIVE more days to make his next start.

Look, Luke Hughes is not likely to become an All Star infielder in Oakland. With Brian Dozier knocking on the door in Rochester, maybe Hughes’ days with the Twins were numbered anyway. But by mismanaging yet another medical issue, the team essentially gave away a Major League level infielder so that Nick Blackburn could pitch after resting his shoulder 12 10 days instead of 15 days.

Oh, and by the way, the Twins medics still have no friggin’ clue what caused Blackburn’s shoulder to “cramp” in the first place.

In the mean time, the team has two starting infielders, Danny Valencia and Alexi Casilla, who have been completely and utterly lost at the plate (both have an OPS under .520). No, Hughes hadn’t done anything yet to indicate he might do better, but then he’d only gotten to the plate 11 times in the four games in which he’d seen action.

My point isn’t to suggest that Luke Hughes was too good to lose… but he was too good to lose simply because the Twins still haven’t figured out how to manage their medical situation and use the Disabled List appropriately.

Terry Ryan, you still have some work to do on that score.

– JC

GameChat – Twins @ Rays #3, 12:40 pm

As bad as the Twins looked last night, they still have a chance to win this series over the Rays. All they need is to play good baseball and have Francisco Liriano pitch well.

Yeah… I know… but hey, it COULD happen!

Liriano is one of the guys definitely on the hot seat with the Twins (as I discussed in a post earlier this morning), but he’s far from the only one.

The line up looks pretty familiar. Justin Morneau’s still DHing. The sore foot apparently is well enough to hit, but not yet to the point where they want him on the field manning 1B. Clete Thomas seems to be establishing himself as the regular right fielder… though it’s hard to see exactly why that’s the case. I suppose maybe his defensive abilities out there are better than Ryan Doumit’s, but we need to keep expectations in check offensively. I can’t help but wish Joe Benson was hitting better than .180 in Rochester. Ah well.

TWINS

@

RAYS
Span, CF Jennings, LF
Carroll, SS Zobrist, RF
Mauer, C Pena, C, 1B
Willingham, LF Longoria, 3B
Morneau, DH Keppinger, DH
Parmelee, 1B Upton, B, CF
Valencia, 3B Rodriguez, S, SS
Thomas, C, RF Gimenez, C, C
Casilla, A, 2B Johnson, E, 2B
  _Liriano, P   _Niemann, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 5 0
Tampa Bay 0 0 2 1 2 0 0 1 x 6 5 1

I’m not sure what it says when an outing where Liriano gives up 5 funs over 5 innings is considered an improvement, but whatever it says, it can’t be good. I don’t see a solution where Liriano would be salvageable to the point where he starts actually helping the Twins again. The best they might hope for is to find some way for him to stop hurting the team so damn badly. I give him one more start and if we see nothing different, it’s time to make a pretty drastic decision.

Offensively, the only highlight to speak of was Ryan Doumit’s pinch hit bases-loaded base hit to drive in the Twins’ only two runs of the game. WTG, Ryan. – JC

Twins On The Hot Seat

As the Twins near the end of the first month of the season, things aren’t going very well. True, few fans really expected that things WOULD be going well, given the combination of last season’s record and the brutal April schedule that MLB saddled them with. Nonetheless, we can’t really be blamed for being disappointed with some of the performances we’re seeing on the field, thus far.

Given the way their most recent season or two have gone, we all had legitimate questions about what we could expect out of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and even Denard Span. We theorized that, if those three guys could somehow prove to be healthy, this team would have plenty of offense and that alone could allow them to threaten to play .500 ball. Guess what? All three players have been healthy and productive… but the team has still managed to lose twice as many of their first 15 games as they’ve won.

So, who’s to blame? More specifically, who’s roster spots… and perhaps even who’s future in Major League Baseball… are on the line already in this young season? Honestly, the list of underachievers on this Twins team so far is so long that it will be a challenge to list all the players with their heads on the chopping block in one post. But let’s try. We can certainly cover the names at the top of the list.

Alexi Casilla

Alexi Casilla – I’ve always loved Lexi. I admit to that bias, going all the way back to his time here in Cedar Rapids with the Kernels. He’s traditionally a slow starter, so it’s hardly a surprise to see him hitting below .250. But he’s not getting on base at a much higher rate and his fielding has been frustratingly inconsistent. With Brian Dozier hitting over .300 and sporting an .841 OPS through Saturday, you have to wonder how long Lexi’s leash is, at this point.

Of course, Dozier can only play one position and Casilla isn’t the only Twins infielder performing at a disappointing level. Which brings us to…

Danny Valencia - Unlike Casilla, I’ve never had a warm and fuzzy feeling toward Valencia. There’s something about his personality that just rubs me the wrong way. Then again, I don’t need to “like” a player to appreciate their talents if they’re contributing a little something to my favorite team’s success. So if Danny would… say… hit the friggin baseball once in a while, I’d overlook the whole personality thing. But he hasn’t done that. Not this year and, really, not last year. So exactly why should we assume he’s entitled to a regular position in the Twins line up?

Brian Dozier

Dozier could take his spot just as easily as Casilla’s. Either Casilla or Jamey Carroll would likely be an upgrade at 3B over Valencia defensively, making room for Dozier in the middle infield somewhere.

In fact, if the Twins really wanted to send a message (or if they could find another team foolish enough to take one or both of Casilla and Valencia off their hands), there’s another infielder in Rochester more than holding his own. Mike Hollimon was somewhat impressive during a short stint with the Big League club in Spring Training and he’s carried that production in to the season. He’s only hitting .256, but he’s getting on base and hitting with a little pop. In other words, he’s doing the things Valencia is supposed to be doing… and isn’t.

But let’s be honest, there’s one guy who’s Big League future is in even graver danger of coming to an end. We’re speaking, of course, about…

Francisco Liriano - Remember when he was known as “The Franchise”? If he’s been saving his money, maybe he’ll be able to buy a Popeye’s Chicken franchise, but his days as a starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins are running short.

Francisco Liriano

We all know that Spring Training numbers are not necessarily predictive of regular season performance (if they were, Luke Hughes would be in his second year as a starting infielder for the Twins instead of awaiting word of his fate after being Designated for Assignment last week), but how in the world does a pitcher go from giving up just four runs on 10 hits in 18 Spring Training innings to the level of suckage we’re seeing out of Frankie now? An 11.91 ERA? 22 hits and 9 walks in 11.1 innings? Really?

Liriano’s facing the Tampa Bay Rays today… a Rays team that isn’t shy about swinging at pretty much anything that’s thrown near the plate. If he can’t put something together resembling a decent start against these guys, it might be time to think about moving on. Maybe Frankie can be effective out of the bullpen. Pitching one inning at a time gives a pitcher less to think about and, in his case, that has to be a good thing, right?

But who would replace him in the Twins rotation? It’s not like the organization is brimming with high level pitching prospects. Scott Diamond, however, is sporting a nifty little 3-0 record in Rochester, with a 1.47 ERA. If you don’t like Wins and ERA as measuring sticks (and, really, who does?), that’s fine. He’s also struck out 14 hitters and walked only 5 in his 18.1 innings of work and fashioned a nice 1.200 WHIP. He’s given up only one home run.

With Dozier and Diamond looking very good in Rochester, the Twins have some options… and while it’s only the end of April, we’ve seen enough of Casilla, Valencia and Liriano over the past several seasons to pretty much know that they are who they are… and who they are is not terribly good.

– JC

GameChat – Twins @ Rays #2, 6:10 pm

Congratulations to former Twin Phil Humber

First things first… a huge CONGRATULATIONS to former Twins pitcher Phil Humber. It’s not easy for us to congratulate a White Sox player for anything, but Humber tossed a perfect game at the Seattle Mariners this afternoon and that deserves some respect. Humber always seemed like a good guy during his days with the Twins and I like seeing good things happen for good people who work hard. It’s a sad bit of irony that Humber probably turns out to be the best player the Mets gave up in the Johan Santana trade… and the Twins didn’t even get the benefit of his talents.

On to game two of the Twins/Rays series and Justin Morneau is back in the line up, albeit as the DH. Carl Pavano is on the hill. Let’s wrap up the series tonight!

TWINS

@

RAYS
Span, CF Jennings, LF
Carroll, SS Zobrist, 2B
Mauer, 1B Pena, C, 1B
Willingham, LF Longoria, 3B
Morneau, DH Scott, DH
Doumit, C Joyce, RF
Valencia, 3B Upton, B, CF
Thomas, C, RF Molina, J, C
Casilla, A, 2B Rodriguez, S, SS
  _Pavano, P   _Shields, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 5 3
Tampa Bay 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 x 4 8 0

That didn’t go well.

Carl Pavano deserved better. Alex Burnett certainly deserved better. ‘Stache should have been out of the 6th inning long before all the damage was done and Burnett did exactly what a relief pitcher is supposed to do… induce ground balls. But that presumes the guys behind him will turn those ground balls in to outs occasionally. Presumptions like that are risky with this crew.

I don’t like to over-react to a single game, but I’ve seen just about enough of a couple of the Twins infielders. I also had a bit of Scotch at the local bar where I watched the game and my patience lessens when said bar runs out of the good stuff by the 6th inning and I have to resort to drinking the house brand. If I hadn’t found a new fellow-Twins fan to commiserate with at the bar, the scene could have gotten ugly.

Ah well… Sunday we’ll see a new and improved Francisco Liriano (who should be VERY well rested, since he pitched fewer than 3 innings in NY this week) and our guys will come away with a series win… right? right? (Just nod your head and agree, please.) – JC

GameChat – Twins @ Rays, 6:10pm

I always enjoy our series against the Rays simply because … well.. I like the Rays for the most part. I think they play in a ridiculous division and they do a lot of stuff with that anyway and let’s just say they do it efficiently. Of course by that I mean that they don’t have anywhere near the payroll as their divisional competitors. It’s just something that goes to the core of being a Twins fan that likes an underdog. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way, right?

At any rate, that doesn’t mean I don’t want the Twins to win.. it just means I would enjoy watching the Rays beat the Yankees almost as much as I would our boys. What I do hope is that the Twins are able to give better support to Liam tonight than they did the last time around for him. And I really want to see Hendriks pitch his little patooter off. I want to see one of our starters do well… please?

 

Minnesota

@

Tampa Bay
Span, CF Jennings, LF
Carroll, SS Zobrist, 2B
Mauer, DH Pena, C, 1B
Willingham, LF Longoria, 3B
Valencia, 3B Scott, DH
Doumit, C Joyce, RF
Plouffe, RF Upton, B, CF
Parmelee, 1B Gimenez, C, C
Casilla, A, 2B Rodriguez, S, SS
  Hendriks, P   Moore, P

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Minnesota

1

0

0

0

1

0

3

0

0

5

11

1

Tampa Bay

0

0

0

0

1

3

0

0

0

4

5

0

Woohoo!! Starting a series with a win always feels good. And I’m grateful that the boys gave Liam enough run support to get it done.

Tonight was an easy BOD though – Josh Willingham all the way. Seriously that boy is hitting. Not only did his solid blast give the Twins the lead, but it continued his streak to 14 games. I don’t really get too excited about streaks but it is kind of fun to see from a guy who STARTED the season with starting his streak… yeah, like I said, fun.

Mauer & Carroll get treats too as well as the bullpen for coming in and nailing it down again. But the big honor goes to Willy – hope it continues.

(photo courtesy of Rob Carr/ Getty Images)

GameChat – Twins @ Yankees #4, 6:05 pm

Let’s take this series. Phil Hughes has been far from “good” this season, so the Twins should be able to get some hits again. The question is whether Anthony Swarzak can hold the Yankees hitters in check.

[edit: Babs] It’s been said a lot by various media sources today but that’s because it’s a freaky number: the Twins haven’t won a series in NY since 2001. A) that does effect my expectations (lowers them) and my anticipation (raises it). B) God, it would be good to get past that kind of mark for this team. C) No one would have expected that of this roster so it kind of goes back to JC’s post earlier today. Who IS this team??

TWINS

@

YANKEES
Span, CF Jeter, SS
Carroll, SS Granderson, CF
Mauer, C Rodriguez, Al, 3B
Willingham, LF Cano, DH
Morneau, DH Teixeira, 1B
Doumit, RF Swisher, RF
Valencia, 3B Ibanez, LF
Parmelee, 1B Martin, C
Casilla, A, 2B Nunez, E, 2B
  _Swarzak, P   _Hughes, P, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Minnesota

4

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

6

10

0

NY Yankees

3

3

0

1

0

0

0

0

x

7

13

1

… ok, yeah, if you had asked me before this series started if I’d be happy splitting with NY? I’d have said “HELL YEAH!” is that really the truth? it would have been at the time for sure.  But coming this close to doing what hasn’t been done in over a decade? That would have been so cool to WIN!!!! *Sigh*

Pitching kind of sucked tonight from the starters.. Swarzak just didn’t have good location tonight and whenever he made a mistake, that Yankee lineup never missed.

Curtis Granderson certainly took advantage of anything left even remotely in hittable range tonight.

All that being said, it was a very close game. Jamey Carroll and Ryan Doumit had pretty good nights, Hammer didn’t screw up in the field, and Alex Burnett had another good outing. There were definitely positives to be had.

I wonder what is going to happen in Florida…

Two Weeks In: Who Is This Team?

I swear if there’s one thing I’ve grown more tired of than people using small sample sizes to “prove” how good or bad a player is, at this still-early point in the season, it’s people who do so while even admitting that they’re using small sample sizes. Let’s be brutally honest here, statheads, stats over a single two week period, even if it’s the first two weeks of the season, are almost completely worthless.

That’s one reason that, despite the disadvantage I have of living in blacked out Iowa, I’ve made considerable efforts to hang out in the local Cedar Rapids sports bars as often as possible this month. This allows me to actually watch the Twins, rather than just look at the box scores, to judge who’s doing well and who isn’t. Naturally, it also gives me the opportunity to purchase overpriced beer and fried food, but that’s just a sacrifice I’m willing to make for my team and our readers.

One thing about having a blog like this is that you eventually feel compelled to write something, even if almost everything you have to say has most likely been expressed elsewhere. With that said, here’s what I think about what I’ve seen of the 2012 Minnesota Twins:

I don’t know what to think.

Are they the team that might just as well have been using toothpicks for bats in their opening series sweep at the hands of the mighty Baltimore Orioles? (That’s the American League East Division LEADING Baltimore Orioles to you, Mack!) Or are they the team that took two of three games from Albert Pujols’ Angels? Or the one that got swept by Joe Nathan’s new buddies from Texas? Or the guys that have taken two out of the first three games from the Evil Empire in Yankee Stadium, no less?

It’s probably just stating the obvious, but since that’s one of the things I do best, here’s a rundown of a few things we probably have found out about this season’s edition of the Twins:

Spring Training numbers mean zip, zilch, nada, not a friggin’ thing.

  • Remember all those good vibrations we were getting in March from Francisco Liriano? Three starts in to the season and he’s the same head case he was last year. Maybe he’ll turn things around yet, but man has he looked bad after being pretty much unhittable in Ft. Myers.

    Luke Hughes, we hardly knew ye

  • For the second season in a row, Luke Hughes put up very impressive numbers in Spring Training. The same Luke Hughes who’s now been Designated for Assignment because the team needed his roster spot for Jason Marquis on Wednesday and Hughes is out of options. I suppose he COULD pass through waivers, but expectations are that some team will claim him and he’ll get a chance to join another organization’s Big League roster. Best of luck to Luke (unless he ends up with the F’ing Yankees or White Sox, of course).
  • There was a lot of hand-wringing in Spring Training over Justin Morneau with many people pretty much writing off his career. He’s attacking the ball at the plate with an intensity we haven’t seen since before his head came in to contact with a Blue Jay knee at second base almost two years ago. Three home runs in the two games he’s played at Yankee Stadium so far this week isn’t too shabby.

Josh Willingham can hit baseballs really, really well. Yes, defensively, balls hit in his direction can turn in to an adventure, but this is a fan base that’s been watching Delmon Young in LF for a couple of years… we can deal with Willingham. Especially if he keeps hitting the ball consistently. You can’t get much more consistent than starting the season with a 12 game hitting streak.

Reports of the demise of Joe Mauer and Denard Span were a tad premature. Both are still really good at baseball. Mauer still hits in to too many 4-6-3 double plays, but as is the case with Morneau, we’re seeing a version of Mauer we haven’t seen on the field in far too long. Span looks poised to reclaim his spot atop the rankings of AL lead-off center fielders.

Jamey Carroll is pretty much exactly what we thought he was… a solid shortstop that will field the balls hit near him and make good throws to first base. If the position hadn’t been such a disaster last year, that might not be big news, but I enjoy not having to hold my breath every time a ground ball gets hit that direction.

Alexi Casilla is really bad… or really good… face it, none of us have figured that out for sure ever since the Twins got him in return for JC Romero. We still don’t know, but I like the Lexi that’s been playing in Yankee Stadium this week.

The bullpen hasn’t sucked. Again, faint praise, perhaps. But given the angst most of us felt about the situation and the fact that a couple of guys that were counted on to fortify the pen have either been injured or pushed to the rotation, things could be much worse out there. I’m a bit nervous about Glen Perkins, though.

So with all of this stuff going well, why the hell have the Twins lost twice as many games as they’ve won?

The answer, of course, is a familiar one. This team has a rotation that simply is not very good and the pitchers are being backed up by a defense that’s not much better. I don’t need two weeks worth of statistics to tell me that’s a dangerous combination.

Liam Hendriks and Anthony Swarzak have looked marginally promising. Carl Pavano looks to be what we all know he is… a marginal, but gutsy, innings-eater. Maybe Jason Marquis will be something similar. Nick Blackburn hasn’t been awful, but his ceiling isn’t terribly high, not to mention this “mystery shoulder tightness” thing he came down with this week.

The bottom line is that we still really don’t know what to expect from this team after two weeks. The rest of April will continue to be a challenge, due to the brutal scheduling this month and the iffy pitching situation, but there’s nothing like a couple of wins against the F’ing Yankees at their place to raise spirits a bit. Win another game to claim the series tonight and I may not be able to contain my giddiness!

– JC