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It’s going to be a quick update this morning. I was out of town for the weekend, and I have an early morning flight to catch on Monday, so what you get is a bunch of quick bullet points. I will fly back to the cities even earlier on Tuesday morning for what could shape up to be a very busy day! So, here are some thoughts:
· The Twins were rained out on Friday night, so they played twice on Saturday. Scott Baker got the win in the first game and after a horrible start by Glen Perkins, Bobby Korecky came in and pitched through the fifth inning to get a win in Game 2. Both scores were lopsided. The White Sox had their double header postponed on Saturday, so with the two Twins win, the teams were tied atop the AL Central.
· Then Sunday, Nick Blackburn got destroyed by the home run ball. In four innings, he gave up two two run homers and two solo homers. The Twins were unable to do much of anything against Radhames Liz and took the loss. Even worse, the White Sox swept their double header with the Tigers, so as we enter the season’s final two weeks, they have a 1.5 game lead in the division.
· In general though, I think that the Twins could be happy. Any time you win two of three on the road, it is a positive thing. The Tigers still have a game to make up against the White Sox.
· Justin Morneau continues to push toward the AL MVP. He is now leading Josh Hamilton in the RBI title, something many voters look at. He’s still hitting well over .300, has shown power and driven in some very important runs. He’s also stepped up, in my mind, by continuing to play in the field even though Gardy wants to let him sit and DH in one game. I think that says a lot.
· One of the many Twins topics we covered in Marty Andrade’s Weekly Twins podcast last night was Joe Mauer. Can he win another batting title? The general consensus is that it would be very difficult. The fact that he did so in 2006 was incredible and historic. In 2008, only the A’s Kurt Suzuki has caught more innings that Mauer. He’s been tremendously durable. But let’s be real, catcher is the game’s most challenging defensive position, and any catcher will struggle down the stretch. I believe that Mauer is too valuable to take out of the lineup, even for another game this year, but reality says that if he doesn’t, his numbers will likely go down making it very difficult to win another batting title. But unlike any other catchers in the modern big leagues, Joe Mauer is one that can say he has.
· By the way, if you get a chance to listen to Marty Andrade’s Weekly Twins podcast, I would encourage you to do so. There were a lot of Twins topics discussed. A gentleman named Lenny called in and asked a few questions but also shared a tremendously interesting bit of history with us. That was fun!
· The author of Sully Baseball attempts to make a case to save the Metrodome. It’s actually a great read with seven very legitimate reasons to stay in the Dome. I particularly like #6. It’s definitely worth taking a couple of minutes to read this take! Of course, the stadium has already been started and a lot of time and money has been spent.
· I won’t normally push or even promote memorabilia sources, but I did get an e-mail from someone at JL Authentics who has a lot of Game-Used memorabilia from several players from this year’s Beloit Snappers team.
· The Vikings… How obvious was it throughout the game, even when the Vikings defense was absolutely dominating the Colts offense, even when it was 15-0, that without a touchdown, the Vikings would not win the game? I mean, that was so easy to see. And no, I’m not going to pile on Tarvaris Jackson. I’ll ask where the WRs have been. I’ll ask why they keep designing plays to throw the ball to Visanthe Schaincoe (or however you spell that). That team should be great just because of its defense and Adrian Peterson/Chester Taylor, but .500 is looking pretty likely at this point. Carolina won’t make things any easier this coming weekend!
· By the way, how happy was I on Saturday night when Jose Mijares came in to pitch the Bottom of the 9th!? I was even more happy when he struck out the first batter he faced and got the next two out as well. He came in on Sunday again and gave up a hit, but got four more outs. He looks incredibly legit. Throws hard. Lots of movement. Two of three quality pitches. I honestly think I’d rather see him than any other Twins reliever not named Nathan right now!
· Good also to see Philip Humber get an inning on Saturday and then be able to provide 2.2 more relief innings on Sunday afternoon!
· Speaking of good to see, how about Michael Cuddyer getting back?! Even though he grounded out weakly to the pitcher on Saturday in game one, having him back has to be a boost for the Twins. On Sunday, he got a pinch hit and Jason Pridie came in to run for him. I definitely think that, even in such a limited role, Cuddyer can certainly help out this Twins team down the stretch.
· Many likely complained when they saw the Game 2 lineup on Saturday night. The “B-Team” infield played with Brendan Harris at 3B, Adam Everett at SS, and Matt Tolbert at 2B. Well, Harris had two hits, including a home run. Tolbert hit two triples. Everett made a tremendous defensive play deep in the hole.
· How about Denard Span? In game one on Saturday, he went 2-4 with two home runs and four RBI. On the second homer, a late inning three run shot, he almost literally swung out of his shoes. When I saw it live on TV, I almost thought he was going to fall over! He now has six home runs with the Twins. Again, I will be eating a lot of crow sometime this offseason, served up by The Span Man! Here is a diary at John Sickels’ Minor League Ball on Span.
· The Twins will now be in Cleveland for games four, five and six of this ten game road trip. Cleveland has been playing spoiler pretty well. All three games will start at 6:05 central time.
· The Twins will send Kevin Slowey to the mound tonight to face Scott Lewis. Slowey, as has been documented here frequently, has been terrific! This will be Lewis’s second career start. In his first start, the 25 year old lefty from Ohio State went eight shutout innings and allowed just three hits and no walks against the Orioles.
· On Tuesday, the Twins will send The Franchise (Francisco Liriano) to the mound against 25 year old lefty Zach Jackson. Jackson, you recall, came to Cleveland as part of the CC Sabathia trade. In his six starts with the team, he has given up at least three runs each game.
· And on Wednesday, Scott Baker will be starting on three days rest for the Twins after throwing just 94 pitches in Game 1 on Saturday. He will be opposed by another lefty, one Cliff Lee, who is 22-2 with a 2.36 ERA this year. He is the obvious choice for AL Cy Young Award. However, one of his losses did come against the Twins. He’s 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA in three starts against the Twins this year. He has walked three and struck out 24 in 23 innings against the Twins this year.
· Former Twins prospect could be in a bit of trouble. Never like to see that.
With that, I’m going to call it a day. Be sure to check back for any updates. Also notice that we are fast approaching the 1,000,000th site hit! That’s kind of exciting!!