GameChat – Royals @ Twins #2, 7:10

Let’s get the injury updates out of the way first.  Fuentes threw a bullpen today and his back is still a little tight so it will be a couple days for him yet.  Valencia told Mackey today that he feels great but according to the team, there is still about a 20% difference in flexibility between his two legs so Tolbert will have at least one more start at 3B.  Punto says he’s feeling good but he’s also taking the advice of trainers who want him to wait out a bit of stiffness a couple more days – in his words, he was feeling fine last time and look what happened.  They may activate him if there’s an emergency but they don’t want to push it too hard.  The final word on him is that it’s still just a matter of days.

We also have two more guys in the bullpen tonight!!  Neshek and Perkins are here and available to pitch.  I’m so excited to see Sideshow on the mound for us again and I’m just glad he’s back here with the big boys.  That being said, I also hope that he’s got that old magic back!

Tonight’s game is going to be pretty cool and windy so who knows what’s going to happen with the game.  There’s no rain in the schedule but I’m not sure that really helps so much.  Anyway, I know Frankie isn’t all that fond of the cold so I’m hoping that he’s got a good internal fire going and shuts them down tonight.

Kansas City @ Minnesota
Blanco, G, CF   Span, CF
Aviles, M, 2B   Hudson, O, 2B
Butler, 1B   Mauer, C
Betemit, DH   Kubel, RF
Fields, 3B   Cuddyer, 1B
Gordon, A, LF   Thome, DH
Pena, B, C   Young, D, LF
Miller, Ja, RF   Hardy, SS
Betancourt, Y, SS   Tolbert, 3B
Bannister, B, P   Liriano, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 3 9 0
Minnesota 0 1 6 2 0 1 0 0 x 10 13 0

 

I hate to admit it but my brain is only half here so trying to write a good postgame report might be a challenge that is beyond me.   But to sum up, that was a fun game to watch!  With this win against Kansas City, the Royals are officially eliminated and the Twins are now a full 4.5 games ahead of the White Sox who lost to the Tigers tonight.

Frankie did a fantastic job  and got what I think is his 7th straight win.  I could have that wrong but I’m too lazy to go look it up to verify.  But it was a really good outting.  And we had a big enough cushion of runs that we got a couple of our younger guys out there to get a little playing time – including Ben Revere who made his MLB debut tonight.  I’m sure that he didn’t really want to strike out in his first plate appearance but that boy was so darn excited, he was bouncing off every hard surface in sight.  I really don’t think he’ll even CARE about the strikeout.  He just got to be out there in the field running around playing baseball in the big leagues.  Perkins  came out for an inning back up from AAA.  We also got to see Pat Neshek back finally… talk about someone who was a bit too excited!  *laugh*  Sideshow was totally overamped and throwing a bit crazy.  Took him a couple batters, a couple walks, a couple fly outs and a run before he finally got himself all settled in and got out of the inning.  That being said, I think that he’ll be a valuable addition to the pen since his delivery is just so unusual and it seems different to me even than it was before.  This could be fun.

Of course, with a score of 10 – 3, you can’t have a postgame discussion without talking about the offense.  Tolbert is becoming famous for his triples I think.  I really love those.  And Thome is just … ridiculous.  There are really no words to describe how much of an impact he’s had on this team – and apparently on the RF Target Plaza pavement!  He hit HR #586 tying Frank Robinson on the all-time HR list.  For making it so much fun to watch Twins hitters, those guys have both earned themselves homemade cheesecake and a beverage of their own choosing  (there was significant debate in the chat on whether beer is a suitable companion – not in my book).

But the BIG winner on the offense tonight was Delmon Young.  He was a machine tonight – 3 Runs, 4 RBI and a LOT of smiles as he ran to the OF looking like a GIANT next to Ben Revere.  Chat folk immediately voted him today’s BOD!  Congrats Delmon.

Boyfriend of the Month for August: Dead Heat at the Wire

The folks who have gathered in our GameChats handed out 22 Boyfriend of the Day (BOD) awards in August (a few more than the actual number of Twins wins because we had some co-BOD games mixed in there). Heading in to the final game of the month, there were no fewer than eight players tied for the lead in the Boyfriend of the Month battle. That’s a far cry from the month of July when Delmon Young had his monster month and walked away with BOM honors.

But before we get to this month’s BOM award, let’s take a glance at where the race for Knuckleballs’ Boyfriend of the Year stands heading in to September. This race is all but over, folks. It will take someone getting awfully hot down the stretch to overtake DY’s lead in the BOY race, given that he holds a 12 to 7 lead over Francisco Liriano on the year. Frankie’s grip on “runner up” honors is much more tenuous, however. Fellow rotation members, Kevin Slowey and Carl Pavano have racked up 6 BODs each, while the group of Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, and Danny Valencia all are still within reach of Liriano with 5 BODs a piece.

Turning back to Boyfriend of the Month… as it turns out, it was very appropriate that Valencia and Michael Cuddyer wrapped up the month of August with co-BOD performances against the Tigers on Tuesday night. Heading in to that final game, those two guys joined Mauer, Liriano, Slowey, Jim Thome, Scott Baker and Brian Duensing with two BOD awards during the month, making August by far the month with the largest number of players earning multiple awards.

But with their efforts on Tuesday, Michael and Danny did just enough to separate themselves from the pack and earn co-Boyfriend of the Month awards for August! – JC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. A huge thank you to Joe Christensen at the Star Tribune for sending out via text message (and his blog) a link to this column by Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin. It’s a terrific read for anyone who saw games at the Met, the Dome and Target Field (and a pretty darn good read even for those who didn’t). If you only have time to read one more article online today, make it that one. – JC

GameChat – Twins @ Rangers #4, 7:05

So we’re up against the infamous Cliff Lee.  If many Twins fans had their way, Cliff would be pitching FOR us against the rangers instead of the other way around.  But I have to admit that I’m kind of looking forward to seeing him and Liriano face off.  My concerns? I hope the nasty, filthy Liriano shows up.  Oh yeah, and whereever the offense is on vacation, I hope they are back.  I was getting a little spoiled this season, I’m a big enough person to recognize that.  Three losing games in a row is pretty much my limit I think.  I would really like to salvage at least one win from this trip south before we have to face the Sox again.  You know how that is, I’m sure. 

Minnesota @ Texas
Span, CF   Andrus, SS
Hudson, O, 2B   Young, M, 3B
Mauer, C   Hamilton, LF
Kubel, RF   Guerrero, DH
Cuddyer, 1B   Molina, B, C
Thome, DH   Murphy, Dv, RF
Young, D, LF   Cantu, 1B
Valencia, 3B   Blanco, A, 2B
Hardy, SS   Borbon, CF
  Liriano, P     Lee, Cl, P

 

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

 

It’s really amazing how much better my mood is when the boys WIN a game – even if it was only one game of a 4 game series.  A win is a win and I’ll take it.  If it happens to be against Cliff Lee and Liriano was back to sizzling?  I’ll be pretty darn excited by it!  Tonight was a great way to come back and maintain a nice lead in the Central Division since the White Sox beat Baltimore tonight.

We really had some beautiful pitching tonight though – Liriano and Crain especially.  The Rangers have a pretty good lineup to face and out boys did it well.  So since I’m in an ice cream mood, Liriano and Crain get a Dairy Queen Blizzard of their choice.  Enjoy boys.

We have other treats to give out as well.  Thome was doing his Thomer-thing and Cuddy was downright Offensive!  hehehe  At least I think I’m funny.  Anyway, Michael and Jim get to split an ice cream cake for all their awesomeness.

And finally, our BOD goes to DELMON!  It’s been awhile since he got one of those and I’m very glad he seems to be returning to the BOD form!  That GORGEOUS homerun which equalled half the RBI we scored tonight was definitely a good move.  (He also can have whatever ice cream he wants). 

Retaliation: Manning Up or Sophomoric Silliness?

The discussion started during the series with the White Sox.

Sox pitcher Sergio Santos threw a pitch “high and tight”, causing Twins hitter JJ Hardy to have to react quickly to avoid taking the pitch in the helmet. Later, Delmon Young went after Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski with both forearms extended in the general vicinity of AJ’s face on a play at the plate. Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson suggested Young needed to experience a “Rawlings in the earhole” as a result of the play. The rest of the series, however, was relatively uneventful as no further extracurricular activity took place between the two teams (though I would say there were a couple of clearly “hard and late” slides in to second base by Sox runners).

This week in Texas, the discussion continues. Immediately after a coaching visit to the mound Tuesday night, Twins  hitter Jim Thome took a Neftali Feliz fast ball to the leg, with light-hitting Matt Tolbert in the on-deck circle.

Comments from the Sox and Twins clubhouses after each of these events avoided direct accusations. But is that because the teams are giving their opponents the benefit of the doubt… or are players and managers just wising up to the reality that the quickest way to draw a fine from MLB is to speak openly about possible retaliation?

Few topics draw opinions as polarizing as the issue of what a team (and specifically, its pitchers) should do when they feel opponents have intentionally hit (or even thrown at) one of their batters.

There are generally two schools of thought on the issue. The “old school” philosophy is pretty simple, really. You need to protect your team mates. If you think someone is targeting your guys, someone needs to step up and make it clear there will be consequences for that kind of thing. The folks at BleacherReport.com did a pretty good job of expressing this point of view in this article last season.

On the other side of the spectrum are the pacifists who argue that intentionally trying to hit or injure another player, even if it’s in retaliation for similar attempts by an opponent, is at best childish, silly and counter-productive, and at worst extremely dangerous. Fanhouse columnist Jay Mariotti wrote this piece last season, strongly arguing this side of the debate. (I should add, however, that given Mr. Mariotti most recently made the news by being arrested and jailed on a felony domestic violence charge, perhaps he’s not the most credible source to cite in making the case for controlling tempers and concern over inflicting serious injuries on others.)

A lot of hitters wear enough body armor to feel right at home at King Arthur’s Roundtable and that allows them to crowd the plate and get much better coverage of the outside corner. Pitchers are entitled to throw inside and, in fact, those who can’t/won’t/don’t do so regularly have little chance of prolonged success in baseball. And since throwing a baseball 90+ MPH is not an exact science, throwing inside means sometimes you’re going to hit a batter. That’s an acknowledged part of the game, which is why there’s a rule awarding 1B to a hitter struck by a pitch.

I think there may be a couple of things we can all agree on. First, not every HBP calls for retaliation. Most HBPs come in situations and circumstances where there clearly is no intent on the part of the pitcher to hit the batter. Maybe it’s a close game or maybe it’s a lousy hitter with a good hitter on deck or maybe it’s just a hitter who has a reputation for intentionally “taking one for the team”. In these situations, any form of retaliation is simply not called for and a hitter who gets all bent out of shape in those situations needs to just chill and take his base.

Likewise, I think we can also all agree that it is never OK to throw a pitch with the intent to hit a batter in the head. This goes beyond anything that could even arguably be considered appropriate retaliation as it truly has not only the potential to cause life/career ending injury, but a high likelihood of doing so if the pitch makes the intended contact. There’s no place for that sort of thing in any sport at any level.

But what about those situations where you and your team mates are pretty damn sure your opponents are using your hitters for target practice? What about those hitters who crowd the plate and as a result, they are rattling the opposite field wall with one extra-base hit after another? What about the players who are, shall we say, “overly aggressive” on the base paths and are barreling hard in to your fielders?

I readily admit that I fall in to the “old school” camp. (I was a pitcher in my playing days and I distinctly remember the first time I hit a batter intentionally. I was 14… and he was far from the last guy I intentionally plunked in the butt.) I suspect most men who played organized baseball growing up 30-40 years ago probably join me there. Is it a “guy thing”? Is it generational?

Are there other, better, more civilized ways of policing this kind of thing? Should players just trust Bud Selig and MLB to police the sport and hand out appropriate punishment?

I expect the Twins to retaliate for the pitch that struck Jim Thome on Tuesday. It may or may not be tonight. It may or may not be through the expected method of a Ranger hitter getting hit or knocked down by a Twins pitcher. The Twins are in a pennant race and teams in that situation are smart enough to realize they can’t risk an important player getting suspended. But there will be a message delivered at some point. Ballplayers have long memories (and on this subject, Delmon Young probably should stay loose in the batters box during the upcoming trip to The Cell in Chicago, too.)

But let’s hear what you think. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. – JC

Pitching and Defense (and Reincarnation)

Nick Blackburn

I read a few articles and posts on Tuesday about Nick Blackburn (“is he back?”, etc.). You can’t draw conclusions based on one start, but given how anemic the offense was and how the defense failed time after time to come up with a big play (or even a few routine plays) Monday night, there’s no doubt Blackburn deserved better results than he got. When you get 7 good innings out of him, you need to capitalize on that opportunity. The Twins failed to do so Monday night.

Then, apparently just to prove that failure wasn’t a fluke, the Twins turned around and wasted a nice complete game by iron man Carl Pavano on Tuesday night, too. True, the offense at least got on the board last night and yes, you can argue that an umpire call here or there might have erroneously gone against the Twins. Still, the fact remains that the Twins blew several scoring opportunities and, once again, allowed the Rangers to score runs they didn’t earn due to not making defensive plays that should have been made, particularly in the fourth inning. (In fairness, there were also a couple of pretty nice defensive plays made last night, as well.)

The Twins, as an organization, have clearly made a decision that they are willing to live with more limited defensive abilities in the corner outfield positions (Young, Kubel and Cuddyer will never impress anyone with their range or glovework in the OF). That’s fine, I suppose, but it means they really need a CF with exceptional range and ability. The organization may have expected Denard Span to provide that exceptional range and ability, but he simply has not done so on a consistent basis this season.

Having weak OF defense in the corners AND a mediocre CF will result in a lot of batted balls falling for hits that should be finding gloves. A good Major League CF makes the catch at the low wall Monday night and Denard simply misjudged where the ball was coming down. Would it have been a good play to make that catch? Yes. Is it reasonable for a Major League team to expect its CF to make that play? I believe so. I won’t even waste words on the ball that fell between Kubel and Span last night.

Of course, it wasn’t just outfield play that let Blackburn down Monday night.

Whether it was Hudson’s decision to play shallow RF against Hamilton or a failure by the coaching staff to position him correctly is a fair question to ask, but Hamilton had no business reaching first base on his “infield hit”. Likewise, sure the runner was going on the pitch and bearing down on JJ Hardy as he tried to turn the double play in the fifth inning and you’d like to think the guy you’ve got over at 1B will scoop up most throws that land 5 feet in front of him and bounce up, but it’s hard not to think that Hardy’s sore wrist affected that throw and ended up costing a run.

JJ Hardy is a very good shortstop and he may potentially be the best #9 hitter in baseball, but if his wrist is that sore, Alexi Casilla should be playing SS until Hardy is healthy. The difference between the two of them simply is not so great as to warrant having a Hardy who’s playing at less than 100% in the line up every day. (Oh, and by the way, if Hardy’s wrist is so bad that Gardy had to send Matt Tolbert up to hit trailing by one run with two out in the ninth inning last night, then Hardy should be DL’d to make room for someone who can provide a better bat than Tolbert off the bench.)

All of this, together, has me wondering a bit about how fair it is for so many people to be criticizing the Twins pitching to the degree that’s been going on this summer. I’m sure there are sabremetricians who would be happy to debate various player’s talents with me, but I’ve watched almost every game the Twins have played this season and based purely upon those observations, here’s what I’ve seen in this team’s defense:

Catcher: Several weeks of Joe Mauer with shoulder/toe/whatever problems that clearly affected his ability to throw out runners and even get down and block relatively routine pitches in the dirt.

1B: Nearly two months now of missing Justin Morneau. Cuddyer has filled in admirably, but he’s just passable defensively.

2B: This position may have been the best, most consistently manned, position as Hudson and Casilla have, together, played a pretty good 2B.

SS: Hardy gets to a lot of balls other shortstops don’t but he’s missed a ton of playing time and when he has tried to play with his wrist injury, his throws have been less than perfect. Combine that with having a backup at 1B and you get a few more baserunners than you should.

3B: Once we got past the early-season games that had Matt Tolbert, Brendan Harris and Michael Cuddyer at the corner, this has been a pretty well-fielded position. I’m not yet convinced Danny Valencia’s defense is as good as his metrics so far have said he is (I don’t think he charges bunts particularly well and while he has a very strong arm, he seems to have trouble getting the ball out of his glove and getting a throw off at times), but he’s certainly been better than advertised at this point and Nick Punto has fielded the position well, also.

LF: Delmon Young is lighter and he moves better than he did last year, but nobody is going to mistake him for a “good” outfielder.

CF: Denard Span has been average, at best.

RF: Whether it’s Cuddyer or Kubel, you aren’t getting good range in RF and while it was possible for a guy to cover up other deficiencies by figuring out how to play the baggie at the Dome, I’m not sure it’s even possible for anyone to do that at Target Field with all of the various types of building materials that make up the RF wall.

I guess my point is that all things considered, it’s probably not all that surprising that opponents are getting on base and scoring at a higher rate against the Twins this season than we’d like to see and I don’t think you can lay all of that at the feet of the pitching staff. The powers-that-be decided the Twins were going to build a stronger offense in 2010 and that came with a price on the defensive side. Unless you suddenly build a pitching staff full of power pitching strikeout artists, you shouldn’t expect your pitchers to put up numbers comparable to years when you focused on putting a strong defense behind them.

Justin Morneau

Of course, perhaps this is all just a very long-winded way of saying that while this patchwork defense is good enough to beat the Orioles, Royals and White Sox, if the Twins are serious about competing with the Rangers (and the Yankees and the Rays), they are going to need #33.

Finally, one more thought this morning…

My beliefs concerning the afterlife do not include putting any stock in reincarnation. As much fun as I might think it would be to perpetually come back around as one of any number of noble species, I just can’t buy in to the belief that we get to keep coming back to the world again and again. That said… on the off chance that I’m wrong about all this, I just want to submit a request that at some point I get to return to this earth as a pigeon. I’ve already got this 7 foot tall hunk of bronze in Milwaukee picked out to rest upon after meals.

Kirby Kestrel

On the other hand, coming back as a kestrel wouldn’t be such a bad deal either. At least you wouldn’t be concerned about rising season ticket prices. - JC

Boyfriend of the Month for July is No Surprise. DY!

Yeah, big shock huh? Delmon Young kicked some major butt in July (no doubt motivated by having to share the Knuckleballs Boyfriend of the Month award with Carl Pavano in June) and ran away with the BOM race last month. DY racked up six Boyfriend of the Day awards in July alone.

We Knuckleballers weren’t the only ones impressed with Delmon’s performance in July, however. According to The Sports Network, Delmon and Toronto’s Jose Bautista are sharing the July American League Player of the Month award.

Pavano, meanwhile, apparently believed duplicating the three BOD awards that earned him a share of the BOM prize for June would be enough to do the same in July. Silly starting pitcher.

Young is now in double figures for BOD awards on the year, tallying 11 awards with two months of games still to play. Pavano’s six BODs are good for second place, thus far, in the Boyfriend of the Year race. His grip on the runner-up spot is tenuous however, as Francisco Liriano finished July just one BOD award behind Pavano and has already made up the distance with an early August BOD.

Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Kevin Slowey and Denard Span round out the top 5 (and ties) with four BODs each through the end of July. (Slowey got the jump on that group with his 5th BOD Thursday.)

Will DY continue running away with the BOY race? Will The ‘Stache fend off the challengers for runner-up? Let’s just hope August brings a lot of wins and a lot of BODs! – JC

GameChat – Twins @ Royals #3, 1:10

Considering how absolutely GORGEOUS it is in Minnesota today, it’s kind of too bad the Twins can’t play at home but they’ll be up here on Friday and the nice weather is supposed to continue for a bit.  And half of Minnesota seems to have trekked down to KC to fill the stands down there anyway.

There are some questions about how the pitch limit will apply to Duensing’s start today given that it’s his second start and the extreme heat in KC.  He’s targeted for 80-85 pitches but I don’t think they’ll let him go past 5-6 innings no matter how efficient he is.  They just don’t want to overdo yet but I’ll be intrigued to see how it goes. 

Ok, boys, lets see about giving young Brian the same kind of run support you have been giving the rest of the starters lately, huh?

Minnesota @ Kansas City
Span, CF   Podsednik, LF
Casilla, A, 2B   Bloomquist, RF
Mauer, C   Butler, 1B
Young, D, LF   Guillen, J, DH
Kubel, DH   Betemit, 3B
Cuddyer, 1B   Aviles, M, 2B
Valencia, 3B   Ankiel, CF
Repko, RF   Pena, B, C
Punto, SS   Betancourt, Y, SS
  Duensing, P     Bannister, B, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 6 14 1
Kansas City 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 4 11 0

 

 

SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!

Despite the heat and the getaway day game circumstance, the boys still pulled out the offense in a big way to give Brian Duensing his first Win.  But no one did more offensively than Delmon Young.. again.  Yes, the same Delmon that has been on FIRE for the month of July.  So, he got the BOD without hardly any debate.  But for coming out there and hitting his target pitches and completing 6 strong innings, Mr. Duensing is awarded the adult beverage of his choice and Spanky and Ripcord get pastries for their work.

 

Keep an eye out for word about Nick Punto who pulled up after running through 1B in the 8th inning.  It could be a cramp or a hamstring pull but we’ll see what the team says and I think everyone is glad for the off-day tomorrow!

GameChat – Twins @ Orioles #3, 6:05

The Twins and Orioles seemed determined to do their best to do the season series even up.  So far we’ve each won half the games (if I am remembering correctly) and we have two left.  Twins, let’s make the effort to WIN the series shall we? 

Baker makes another start tonight and lets hope that the elbow is continuing to improve after that cortizone shot.  I would like to see if a bit of that Kid K I remember.

Minnesota @ Baltimore
Span, CF   Roberts, B, 2B
Casilla, A, 2B   Tejada, 3B
Mauer, C   Markakis, RF
Cuddyer, 1B   Scott, DH
Young, D, LF   Wigginton, 1B
Kubel, DH   Jones, A, CF
Valencia, 3B   Pie, LF
Hardy, SS   Tatum, C
Repko, RF   Izturis, C, SS
  Baker, S, P     Matusz, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 1 0 0 0 2 1 3 0 0 7 14 0
Baltimore 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 1

 

DELMON YOUNG IS ON FIRE!!!

Wins feel great, don’t they?  So many people stepped up tonight too that it was a really fun game to watch.  AND there was a lot of things that were just lucky bounces, so glad to see those finally going our way once in awhile.

No official word from “Lando other than they are going to wait and see if he’s better tomorrow before they decide about the DL.  Other good news announded during the game was that Morneau worked out at TF today and felt a lot better.  Keep improving, big guy, get better.

As for tonight’s game, Baker was FANTASTIC.  It’s really good to see him actually put together a road game even under these weather conditions that was really sparkling.  Yes, he has great numbers against Baltimore so I’m glad to see him keep it up.  Span also really shined tonight – great hitting and spectacular fielding with that stolen HR.  Pastries go to both guys AND Casilla and Danny Valencia stepping up and having good nights.

Above and beyond all that, the BOD goes to Delmon.  4/4 with a HR, a Sac Fly and 3 RBI was some GREAT hitting.  He even had a great fielding move as his instincts and read of the ball from the OF improves.

GameChat – Indians @ Twins #3, 12:10, FSN & am1500

These are the days of our lives…. 

It’s no wonder that I really find no need or interest in daytime dramas – I get my fill with Twins baseball!  The emotional ups and downs are darn near reaching levels where medication should be considered.  Sheesh. 

There are some bright spots – FSN has picked up the telecast of several days games in the season that weren’t on their original broadcast schedule, including today.  So, for those of us that are able to be near a TV, we get to SEE the game.  Let’s hope they give us something worth watching.

More news:  Kevin Slowey’s outting last night was enough to keep his bacon out of the fire.  It helped make the decision of WHICH struggling starting pitcher was going to need to be replaced.  Nick Blackburn will trade over to the bullpen and do the long relief job for now that will be vacated by Brian Duensing as he moves into a starting role.  Obviously, we’ve anticipated this move coming for awhile.  It’s all presented as temporary to give Blackburn a chance to get his balls down.  #isthataeuphamism? 

Both Mauer and Gardenhire are not in the game today – Gardenhire is attending to a personal matter and Mauer is riding the pine.  Butera will be catching Frankie and Thome is DH’ing.  After Mauer’s mental break last night, a day off is probably a good thing.  He did respond to questions last night about WTF?!?! from the media.  His response really didn’t make me feel any better.  Basically he said that it seemed like a good idea at the time and he just didn’t do it well – if he had, well then everyone would have thought it was a good idea…  uh… really?  Tom Pelissero at 1500 ESPN had a nearly perfect response to that, IMHO.  Didn’t Execute??

Let’s hope that Liriano can shine today and the boys can put their hits together to get runs.  I like runs.  Runs are good.  *sending positive vibes*

Cleveland @ Minnesota
Cabrera, A, SS   Span, CF
Nix, J, LF   Hudson, O, 2B
Santana, C, DH   Young, D, LF
Peralta, J, 3B   Kubel, RF
LaPorta, 1B   Cuddyer, 1B
Duncan, S, RF   Thome, DH
Crowe, CF   Hardy, SS
Donald, 2B   Punto, 3B
Gimenez, C   Butera, C
  Westbrook, P     Liriano, P

 

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

 

A WIN!! A WIN!! A WIN!! 

It sure is nice to head off for the road trip on a good note – and it was a shutout on a getaway day game too!  Lots of good things today.  Slama got to make his MLB debut in front of his parents who were at the game today.  All his buddies down on the Fort Meyers Miracle team were gathered in the clubhouse to watch the mustachio’d man in stirrups throw k’s.  He was definitely nervous so it was good that the Twins offense had done such a good job to give him a nice good cushion which he didn’t need but must have felt good.  So many guys deserve pastries today that I think we should buy stock in a bakery.  Thome had FOUR untinentional walks today; Hardy, Cuddy & Butera had great timely hits.  And the Twins remembered that leaving men on base doesn’t really help your game much. 

But the big standouts today were Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano.  Frankie gave us exactly what we needed – a fiery, dominant 7 inning performance that kept the hitters off-balance.  It was really a thing of beauty.  Delmon also kept up his new Delmon pace - hitting and running and doing things to keep things hopping and earning more RBI.  It’s a beautiful day!  The gamechat has determined that the game deserves both a Defensive and Offensive BOD:  Delmon on Offense and Frankie on Defense.

 

** final note of the day – Twins have sent Manship back down to AAA and re-instated Alexi Casilla off the DL.  We knew that was coming for all the debate that some thought it would be Blackburn going down. **

GameChat – White Sox @ Twins #4, 1:10 pm

I love that the Twins took advantage of that very limited window for game time between the two rounds of storms last night – I even had time to get the post-game wrap up done and uploaded before I lost power!  Sadly, I still don’t have power at my house (along with a good quantity of my neighbors) so I’m over at the local coffee house (also with a good quantity of my neighbors) with my laptop and my handy pocket radio getting ready for the game today.  Today’s weather shouldn’t be the problem that yesterday was.  It’s supposed to be nice if a tad humid but no rain. Something commented on frequently in the gamechats is the return of JJ Hardy and Jesse Crain to better form. Here’s a good read talking about both.

I will admit that I still don’t really know what to expect from my Twins during game days.  This season’s track record with how they play doesn’t really boost my confidence much.  And as much as I love Nick Blackburn – his recent struggles also don’t lend well to optimism.  But I know that he wants to turn this around and that if anyone can keep their head in the game and make the necessary adjustments it’s Blackie.  

“I can’t keep doing this,” he said. “I’m tired of it and I know they are, too.”

Yeah, we are Nick, but I have faith that you can pull this together eventually.  Not sure how long that the starting ro’ can wait for you or if you’ll have to get yourself fixed up during a break but good luck!

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

 

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

 

I can’t even tell you how disappointed I am that I had to miss the end of this game!!!!!  When I had to leave, the score was 6-3 and Duensing wasn’t really contributing to much confidence – but he held on (4 innings is a good stretch). But oh!!!!  Delmon!!  *sigh*  WALK OFF WIN!! 

Folks, these are the Twins we all love.  They are the crazy, never-give-up kids.  These are the kinds of wins (not to mention the series win) that makes you worry just a little less about the starting rotation.  They make you feel like, we’ll sort it out – and oh yeah, the offense can pick up our struggling starter.  To be honest, that might just be the support the starters need too.  And you have to admit, nothing feels better than the White Sox coming in to our beautiful new park and having the same result as their hated Dome venue!  You have to know that the White Sox left Minnesota with the thought in the back of their minds, “why does this keep happening to us?”  They may have come with all the tools to be Twins-lite but our boys stepped up and did their Twins best!

Once my power was back on, it was so much fun to come back to the chat and to see so much excitement from the fans in there.  Thank you to our Twins for making it enjoyable to watch baseball again!

Oh yeah, and Delmon was voted a HUGE BOD today and pastries for Duensing for doing such a great job at hanging in there for 4 innings and getting the job done.