Friday, June 30, 2006

Short term outlook

Going into this weekend, the Twins are 11 back of Detroit, and 2.5 back of Chicago. Only a week and a half before the all star game, and each will face 3 opponents before their vacation. 9 games for the Twins and Tigers, 10 for the Sox.

Series 1: 6/30-7/2

Brewers @ Twins, White Sox @ Cubs, Detroit @ Pittsburgh.

This is a cruel joke. Minus Houston, the central teams are facing off against each other... in the exact opposite order of each other. This has allowed the Cardinals to play the Royals and Detroit to play Pittsburgh. For the Twins to catch up, they're at a major disadvantage, because the Sox and Tigers are playing weak teams, both of whom were swept mightily by the Twins.

Tough battle for sure, but at least the Twins will have Liriano for the finally. And Pittsburgh is coming off that big victory against the Sox. Let's hope some momentum will carry over!

Series 2: 7/3-7/6

Twins @ Royals, Orioles @ White Sox, Tigers @ Oakland

That's more like it. Granted, Baltimore's not great, but the Tigers on the road against Oakland ought to be a good challenge. And the Twins get the Royals. The worst team in the majors. Not a bad way to bring up that road record.

Series 3: 7/7-7/9

Twins @ Rangers, Red Sox @ White Sox, Tigers @ Mariners

Another weekend of opportunity. The Red Sox are hot, let's hope they take a bite out of the White Sox (I'll call this series "laundry weekend"). And the Tigers will be on the road against a team that has won their last 5. Rangers have lost their last 5. Let's hope they keep it up.

Overall, it would be nice for the Twins to pick up some games. The first weekend might be a challenge, since they're unlikely to pick up any games, but as long as they keep steady, they'll have a golden opportunity to capture some in the last week. I predict that the Twins will need to go 7-2 to really keep up the pace. That's asking a lot, I realize, but considering their last 20 games, it's actually quite pessimistic. Ideally, the Twins will be in single digits for games behind by the All-Star Break.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

This is an imaginary conversation between Joe Nathan and Juan Rincon.
Juan:*hangs up bullpen phone* Well, Gardy told me to start warming up.
Joe: Hey, Boo, can I talk to you for a minute?
Juan: Sure, man, what's up?
Joe: Listen, I know this is a tough thing to ask, but I was wondering if you could do me a favor.
Juan: Sure, anything.
Joe: Now, it might hurt a little...
Juan: Joe, what ever it is, tell me.
Joe: Well, I haven't pitched since Saturday, because we've been winning by so many gosh-darn runs. I'm starting to feel rusty, and with tomorrow's off day and all....
Juan: Joe, don't worry, I got ya covered.

*Juan goes in and gives up a 3RBI double to Saenz*

Joe (from bullpen): Thanks Juan!

Nothin' like gettin' a little help from your friends. :-)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Turning Point

Many have noticed that the Twins have turned their season around 180 degrees. But many aren't mentioning the biggest turning point in the season. Perhaps the biggest brick wall the Twins have faced all year. The weekend of May 12-15

Let me set the table, the Twins were 15-19, the White Sox 23-10 (Detroit 21-13). Twins were 8 1/2 back at this point, and had an opportunity to do some catching up against their rivals. The Twins opened up with Santana, and boy did they open up, winning the game 10-1. Next came Bradke, and an 8-4 win. At this point, we were 6 1/2 back, and closing in. We had the momentum, we had the drive. If we could take just one more, we could stay at 6 1/2. Even more daring, if we sweep, we're 4 1/2 out.

But then came Silva.

After spotting the Sox 3 in the 1st, the Twins answer with 7 against Buerhle. But poor ol' Silva can't use that to his advantage, giving up a run in the 3rd and 5 in the fourth to give the Sox a 9-7 lead. Worse, the offense, which was apparently potent in the first, had petered out, and couldn't bail Silva out.

After that, forget it. The Twins drop the finale. Not only that, but their next series against Detroit, swept. Santana even goes 8, gives up 2 runs, and the Twins give him no support.

Now, fast forward to today. We are 11 back of the kitties, and 9 back of the Sox. We carry that momentum, maybe we sweep the Sox, maybe we take one or two from Detroit. Maybe our road trip to the west isn't so bad.

Then again, if all that came true, maybe Silva doesn't get pulled from the rotation (allowing a shot for Liriano). Maybe Batista sticks around a little longer. Same with Castro. Hard to say, but it's nice to dream.

Still, the streak the Twins are on right now is amazing. I'm enjoying every minute of it. I just can't wait for the second half, when we get another shot at the top two, and we can make our own destiny. Those are the games that are going to mean something.

Pun, stltwinsfan

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Can we keep playing the Dodgers?

Joe Mauer is in heaven. He must really love the Dodgers. Four hits on Monday. FIVE on Tuesday. What does he do for an encore? I would absolutely love it if the Twins had the next .400 batting champ. But I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself.

Another brilliant outing by Liriano. 7 IP, 2 ER. I believe after his next appearance, he will be eligible for the ERA lead. How awesome will that be, seeing two Twins at the top of that category.

On a sour note, the Tigers and BSox won again. They're stealing our thunder dagnabit! And my hometown Cardinals couldn't help out the Twins. Now I get to lay the blame on Houston and Pittsburgh (although Pitt has had enough problems.)

And okay, explain this, how is a Pirate outfielder leading the All-Star voting?

And Joe Mauer isn't.