Blackburn and Bullpen Beat Sox!

24 Sep

Alright, if you can’t just sit back and enjoy watching the Twins right now, something isn’t right! This is what it is all about. 158 games have the Twins just ½ game behind the Chicago White Sox. I believe that is the definition of a pennant race. One of the teams will go to the playoffs. The other will go home for the winter. As fans, what more can we ask of a team? Give us an entertaining team that will compete throughout the entire season, and we should be happy.

The reality is that we could say that regardless of if the Twins won or lost last night. That they won makes it even better, and even more true.

The bullpen has not been good of late, really for the last two months. It has been (deservedly) bashed and scrutinized to no end. But when they were really needed last night, they got the job done. Nick Blackburn, who has really struggled the last month or two as well, gave the Twins five solid innings, allowing just two runs. He gave up eight hits and walked two, but he came up with a couple of big double play balls. He was at just 84 pitches when Gardy took him out after the fifth inning. But that was clearly the right move. He was living on the edge the whole night.

Of course, with the state of the bullpen, entrusting it to hold a one run lead for four innings is a lot to ask. It made me nervous the whole rest of the game. But you have to give credit where credit is due, and the bullpen deserves a big “High Five” for its performance. Craig Breslow got the 6th inning and got the hitters out 1-2-3. In somewhat of a surprise, Boof Bonser was given the seventh inning. He broke a couple of bats, and gave up only a soft single. Then came Jose Mijares. One run lead going into the 8th inning. To face Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Scary! But after going 3-0 to Thome, he got a fly out, and after that got the final two outs easily to hold the lead. And that brought in Joe Nathan. He did walk a batter but got the final three outs to get the save and secure a 3-2 win for the Twins.

The win cuts the White Sox lead to just ½ game over the Twins. But again, they have now won the first two. They still need to win that third game to put themselves in a really good situation. Tonight, it will be Kevin Slowey taking the mound for the Twins against Gavin Floyd for the White Sox. Should be a very good matchup of a couple of really solid young pitchers.

Here are a couple other notes on the Twins 3-2 win:

·         After going a combined 0-10 on Tuesday night, the combination of Denard Span and Alexi Casilla got off to a good start last night. Span led off with a good walk which Casilla followed with a single. In their next at bats, Span had an RBI single which Casilla followed with a walk. It is nice to have the top guys in the lineup get on for the middle of the lineup.

·         The Twins 3-4-5 hitters (Mauer, Morneau, Kubel) combined to go 1-10 with two walks. Not the kind of performance that gives you a lot of confidence to win. However, Mauer did drive in two important runs, both on fielder’s choices.

·         Mauer went 0-4 to drop to .327. Dustin Pedroia went 2-4 to jump to .325. That race is going to go right to the end.

·         Delmon Young came up big again. He went 3-4 in this game giving him six hits in the two games.

·         Brendan Harris got the start at 3B against Mark Buehrle and it paid off. He went 2-3 at the plate with a sacrifice bunt. He also made another diving play down the 3B line to get a big out at 1B.

·         Speaking of defense, the Carlos Gomez catch in the top of the 9th on an AJ Peirzynski would-be double ranks right up there with the biggest defensive plays of the year. Had that been a double, who knows how the game would have proceeded with a runner in scoring position with just one out! He’s been hitting much better in September and his defense is as good as it gets.

With that, do you have any other thoughts on the game? Over 42,000 people attended the game. How many will be there tonight?! And what about this weekend! Again, this is going to be fun! Hopefully all turns out well for the Twins, but either way, let’s just enjoy the ride!

PODCAST – I assume everyone reading this was watching the Twins game last night. But I did host another SethSpeaks.net podcast at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SethSpeaks. Howard Sinker of the StarTribune.com’s A Fans View… from Section 220 was the first guest. After a short break, I was joined by John Bonnes, aka The Twins Geek, and Gameday magazine, and Nick Nelson of Nick & Nick’s Twins Blog. It was about 80 minutes of Twins talk, so if you didn’t listen live, be sure to listen to the podcast when you have a chance. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

 

With that, please feel free to e-mail me at sethspeaksnet@hotmail.com.

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11 Responses to “Blackburn and Bullpen Beat Sox!”

  1. Han Joelo September 24, 2008 at 11:17 pm #

    Is Mijiares available for the postseason? For some reason, watching on gameday, I was so confident that Mijiares would retire the side (after watching him go 3-0 on Thome) that I left for a quick errand. I came back and Nathan was pitching the ninth.

    Whatever happens, its just fun to see the guys pull together as a team and perform when it counts. I mean really, would you really expect waiver wire Breslow, failed starter Bonser, and broken arm/never pitched above AA Mijiares to set up the most crucial save of the year for Nathan.

    Saves may be overrated, but if the Twins had traded Nathan for prospects in the offseason…

  2. Josh Johnson September 25, 2008 at 5:57 am #

    Great game for the bullpen last night, Mijares is definitely paving the way to be the Twins go-to left-handed reliever going forward and should give them a reason to not re-sign either Dennys Reyes or Eddie Guardado.

    I’m still in awe over how much ground Gomez covered on that ball. Just unreal.

  3. roger September 25, 2008 at 6:32 am #

    WOW! Not much else one can say. Don’t really want to talk or think about tonight!

  4. Mike September 25, 2008 at 7:42 am #

    Talk about fun baseball to watch. I agree with you Seth the Gomez catch in the 9th was spectacular. I actually got out of my chair when I saw him streaking across the outfield. Only a handful, if that, centerfielders can make that play.
    One question for you… When Delmon Young got on in the 8th with nobody out then Harris bunted him over, why did Gardy send Punto up to the plate? I know he’s been hitting better lately, but I think there were some better options to get a sac fly at least. Then Evertt could have played the ninth at SS. I guess it must be Gardy’s love of Punto

  5. TJ Walsh September 25, 2008 at 7:48 am #

    I think because Neshek is on the 60 day DL that we can replace one of the pitchers on the 40 Man roster. I think but am not sure that we can replace him with Mijares. I sure hope so.

  6. Dome Dog September 25, 2008 at 7:54 am #

    I actually questioned letting Punto bat in that situation as well, but as I thought about it, I don’t know that there were any surefire better options available. Buscher could have pinch hit, but I’m pretty sure he’s been struggling to hit this past month or so. Cuddyer & Ruiz are options, but neither one of them has swung a bat much this month either. After thinking more about it, I think I was okay with letting Punto take a crack at it there.

  7. Corky September 25, 2008 at 8:30 am #

    Like Kubel, I’m sure Gardenhire thought Punto deserved to stay in there, as he was crucial to the win the night before also. Can’t really blame him. In the number 8 spot, Punto seems to do pretty good. It’s when he’s at the top of the lineup his at-bats get frustrating.

  8. Corky September 25, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    Oh, and what a series this has been so far!!
    I’m going to the game tonight and I expect nothing less than a sellout crowd and a blowout with the Twins ending the night in first place.

  9. mike wants wins September 25, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    Great fun so far! Even after hearing that harris threw out the runner on that play, I couldn’t believe he did while watching the highlight on the net.

  10. James M. September 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    “The bullpen has not been good of late, really for the last two months.”

    Not true. Bullpen ERA for Aug. & Sept. combined is 4.04. That’s exactly average for the AL for the entire season and only slightly worse than the Twins season record (3.93). Factoring in the two Road Trips From Hell I think the bullpen has actually performed better than expected over the period.

    That said, I can’t ignore the fact that Guerrier has been absolutely awful for 2 months. His ERA is an even 10.00 in 18 IP. To put that in perspective, if we could remove him from the team numbers, our 2 month ERA would be an outstanding 3.22. Throw out Everyday Eddie as well and we’d be down under 3!

  11. h2oface September 25, 2008 at 8:29 pm #

    third game with the white sox
    top of the 4th inning just ended
    is the official scorer retarded?
    a double given to thome that was an error…..
    a routine catch for span…..
    until gomez didnt’ hear him call for it and f’ed that up

    come on!
    are you an idiot?
    and then bushers error?
    if you give a team 5 outs it is very tough to win
    come on twins….
    this is the time
    don’t play like little leaguers

    hey
    we got 18 outs to get it back……..
    time to step up!
    this is the time for heroes and star making!
    is justin the mvp?
    not yet
    here is your chance…………

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