You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here, and if you want to add the show to your non-iTunes podcast player, this is the RSS Feed.
No reason to bury the lead, Trevor May is BACK! Trevor talked about his approach to pitching, what he’s been doing in 2014 that has allowed him to be successful, and how much fun he’s having as a member of the outstanding pitching staff in Triple-A Rochester.
Just Cody and Eric this week, in addition to talking with Trevor May, they talk about what the Twins have been doing well (pitching) and what they have not been doing at all (hitting) in the past week. They also take a shot at predicting the Twins’ All-Star representative (and fail), and they whip around the world for beers and around the league to talk about great pitching from Clayton Kershaw and bad pitching from Justin Verlander.
Episode 31 of the Twins baseball podcast, Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.
In Episode 31, Paul, Eric, and Cody get together to discuss Twins news leading up to Opening Day, the Twins 25-man roster, and they make their MLB predictions for each division, for the World Series, and for MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year. Cody does a great job in his first full show on Talk to Contact, and while his segways are initially weak, he gets stronger as the episode goes along. Along the way we’re joined by Bryan Craves, the Displaced Tigers Fan, to talk about Opening Day, Justin Verlander, and what might happen in the Twins’ first series of the year. Brace yourself for more than 130 minutes of awesome.
If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes (ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which help Wilkin Ramirez get playing time).
There are six teams in the American League with losing records, and three of those teams are in the American League Central. In fact, the three teams with the worst records in the AL are all in the Central, the Indians 54-65, the Royals 52-66, and the Twins bringing up the rear at 50-68. While none of the other AL division races are particularly close (Yankees lead the Rays and Orioles by 6 and 7 games respectively, and the Rangers lead the Athletics and Angels by 5 and 7 games respectively), the top two teams in the Central are separated by just a game and a half. The White Sox are 65-53 while the Tigers 64-55 (and tied with the Orioles for the 2nd Wild Card spot).
Overall the standings in the AL Central look like this:
Chicago White Sox 65-53, 5-5 in their last 10, +72 run differential, 92% chance to make the postseason
The White Sox lead the Central on the strength of their pitchers. They lead the Central in runs against per game at 4.12 (more than a full run per game ahead of the Twins 5.19) and are the only team in the division with an ERA under 4, despite playing half of their games in the homer-friendly environment at US Cellular Field.
Detroit Tigers 64-55, 1.5 GB, 5-5 in their last 10, +27 run differential, 64.5% chance to make the postseason
Despite having Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer (who are 1-2 in the AL in Strikeouts (180 and 178), the rest of the Tigers pitching staff, combined with a terrible defensive lineup are making it too easy for their opponents to put runs on the board. Detroit is winning despite their pitching and defense thanks in large part to their offensive performances. The Tigers lead the AL Central in batting average (.270), On Base Percentage (.338) and Slugging (.428).
Cleveland Indians, 54-65, 11.5 GB, 4-6 in their last 10, -113 run differential, 0.1% chance to make the postseason
The Tribe again started off the 2012 season playing good baseball (44-41 in the first half) as they had a year ago, but just like in 2011, the wheels have fallen off for the Indians are the All-Star Break (10-24). Cleveland has given up as many runs per game as the Twins (5.19), and they’ve been pretty bad offensively as well, leading to a division and American League worst -113 run differential (in all of baseball, only the Rockies, -114, and the Astros, -154 are worse).
Kansas City Royals, 52-66, 13 GB, 7-3 in their last 10, -51 run differential, 0.1% chance to make the postseason
2012 was supposed to be the year the Royals starting putting everything together, right? Most of the talent from their loaded farm system was going to making the transition to Major League Baseball and the team was a popular preseason pick to surprise. Maybe the baby-Royals are still adjusting, they’re one of the worst fielding teams in the American League in terms of Fielding% and have committed to most errors in the Central. The Royals have struggled to produce front of the rotation starters and once again Royals fans must endure another year of failure and hope for the best in 2013.
Minnesota Twins, 50-68, 15 GB, 3-7 in their last 10, -86 run differential, 0.1% chance to make the postseason
And then there are the Twins. You know all about their struggles in 2012. Poor starting pitching, streaky offense, mediocre defense, and the Twins’ 7-8-9 hitters are batting a combined .235. September is coming, and with the turn of the calendar will come plenty of Minor League prospects hoping to impress down the stretch and captivate Twins fans while the season continues to spiral down the tubes.
The White Sox and the Tigers can realistically both make the playoffs and should still be playing meaningful baseball into the last week of the season. For the rest of the division, it is time to start looking to the future.
Yes, I know… I skipped the Twins History Lesson* post (again) last week. Did you miss it? You did? Really? Dang… now I feel bad. Tell you what, there wasn’t a LOT of cool stuff that happened during the week of July 19-25 but I’ll briefly mention a couple of items, just for you, then I’ll move on to all the noteworthy items (and a few not so noteworthy) for the upcoming week.
If I say “pine tar incident”, chances are you’re mind goes to George Brett’s famous “out” on July 24, 1983, that was later reversed. But how many of you remember July 19, 1975, when the Yankees’ Thurman Munson had his first inning RBI single nullified when his bat was found to have pine tar more than the legally allowed 18 inches up the handle? Nobody? OK, do you maybe remember Tom Brunansky’s inside-the-park Grand Slam Home Run seven years later, on July 19, 1982?
Let’s also catch up with a couple of pitching performances taking place on July 23 in 2005 and 2006. On 7/23/05, the Twins needed a starting pitcher to face off against Justin Verlander in the second game of a doubleheader with the Tigers so the call went to Rochester for an arm to pitch one game and head back to the Red Wings. Enter Scott Baker, who held the Kitties to 2 runs on 5 hits in 7 innings to earn his first W as a Twin… then headed straight back to Rochester. Gardy’s postgame quote: “I think you’re seeing what we hope to get out of this young man. It’s very exciting.”
Exactly a year later, another young starting pitcher, Francisco Liriano, combined with four Twins relievers (Pat Neshek, Dennys Reyes, Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan) to set a new Twins record for most strikeouts in a nine inning game, with 17 combined Ks, in a 3-1 win over the Indians. Liriano recorded an even 10 of those Ks in his 5 innings of work.
July 24 is also worth catching up on. On that date in 1961, The Twins signed Tony Oliva and 15 years later, in 1976, Twins OF Lyman Bostock hit for the cycle during a 17-2 win over the WhiteSox.
That’s enough for last week… let’s move on to this week in Twins History:
On July 26, 1967, Twins pitcher Jim Merritt set a Twins record when he pitched 13 innings in a 3-2 win over the Yankees. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for Merritt to earn the W as it took 18 innings for the Twins to earn that win. I’m guessing the Twins didn’t have Merritt on a pitch count limit.
There have been a couple of hitting performances of note on July 27. In 1978, Twins 3B Mike Cubbage hit for the cycle in a 6-3 win over the Blue Jays. He was the 5th Twin to accomplish the feat and the first after Bostock’s cycle two years and three days earlier.
Five years later, on July 27, 1983, the Brewers Ben Ogilvie hit the longest HR in Metrodome history when he took a Brad Havens pitch 481 feet in to the upper deck in RF.
Those in attendance at Fenway Park for the Twins/RedSox game on July 28, 1967, saw something very few people ever had an opportunity to see, but few of them probably really appreciated it. The Twins beat the Sox 9-2 as pitcher Dean Chance outdueled Boston ace Jim Lonborg (who was allowed to take leave from his National Guard duty to pitch the game). The rarity? That would be Chance’s bunt for a base hit in the Twins’ 7-run 4th inning. It was Chance’s first base hit following a stretch of 78 straight ABs without a hit (setting an AL record). Chance and Lonborg matched up twice more that season in eventful games. Nine days after this game, Chance retired all 15 hitters he faced in a rain shortened five inning “perfect game” win over Lonborg and the RedSox, making Lonborg 0-12 against the Twins in his career. Unfortunately, he broke that string on October 1, leading the Sox to the AL pennant over the Twins on the last day of the season. Chance was the Twins’ losing pitcher.
I couldn’t find a darn thing of note that has ever occurred on July 29 in the history of the Twins. That probably won’t change this season as the team has the 29th off this year.
Not much going on for the Twins on July 30, either, for that matter, unless you consider the Twins trading Matt Lawton to the Mets for Rick Reed in 2001 or the trade of Luis Castillo to the same Mets for Drew Butera and Dustin Martin in 2007 to be big deals. Hmmmm… I do sense a pattern here. Should we look forward to Bill Smith completing another trade with the Mets on Friday?
We’ll make up for the lack of activity over July29-30 with a pretty long list of stuff for July 31, much of it trade related as it’s the last day for non-waiver trades:
1965: No trades of note on this date, but Tony Oliva’s heads up baserunning brought home a 2-1 win in 11 innings over the Orioles. (See if this sounds familiar, you fans of the movie Major League.) With one out in the 11th and Oliva on 2B and Harmon Killebrew having been intentionally walked to set up the double play, Joe Nossek hit a roller to Brooks Robinson at 3B. Robinson threw to second to force Killer but the relay to first was too late to complete the double play. That’s when O’s firstbaseman Boog Powell was surprised to realize Oliva never stopped at 3B but had rounded it and headed for home. Powell’s throw was late and Oliva slid home for the Twins win. His quote after the game, “… if I’m out at home, it’s a bad play. Today it was a good play because I made it.”
1972: No trade involved here either, but if you ever get a chance to talk to Bert Blyleven ask him about the day he gave up two inside-the-park HRs to the WhiteSox’ Dick Allen (then duck).
Now let’s get to some of those trades, shall we?
1987: The Twins picked up future HoF pitcher Steve Carleton from the Indians for a player to be named (who turned out to be pitcher Jeff Perry).
1989: The Twins became the first team in MLB history to trade a reigning Cy Young Award winner by trading Frank Viola to the Mets for Rick Aguilera, David West, Kevin Tapani, Jack Savage and Tim Drummond.
1995: Tapani was traded to the Dodgers along with Mark Guthrie in return for Jose Parra, Greg Hansell, Chris Latham and future FSN field reporter Ron Coomer.
2004: The Twins sent 1B Doug Mientkiewicz to the Cubs for pitcher Justin Jones.
2006: The Twins sent P Kyle Lohse (and his evil twin, Lyle) to the Reds for P Zach Ward.
2009: The Twins acquired SS Orlando Cabrera and cash from the A’s for minor leaguer Tyler Ladendorf.
Finally, let’s check in on what the first day of August has meant to the Twins:
1985: Pitcher Bert Blyleven returned to the Twins in a trade with Cleveland. The Twins sent outfielder Jim Weaver, pitchers Curt Wardle and Rich Yett, and shortstop Jay Bell to the Indians.
1986: Exactly a year after returning to the Twins, Blyleven threw a 2 hitter against the A’s and struck out 15 hitters (then a club record). In the process, he became the 10th pitcher with 3,000 career Ks. In the same 10-1 win, Kirby Puckett became the first Twin to hit for the cycle in a game at the Metrodome.
1994: Oriole Cal Ripken played in his 2,000th consecutive game in a 1-0 win over the Twins at the ‘Dome.
2007: Perhaps a memory many of us would prefer not be reminded about as the Twins decided to go forward with their game against the Royals in order to keep from sending almost 25,000 fans on to already congested roads following the collapse of the I-35W bridge about an hour before game time. A moment of silence to remember the victims of the bridge collapse was held prior to the game.
With that, let’s all look forward to cheering on the Twins in their series this week at Kansas City and at home, next weekend, against the Mariners! – JC