Monday, July 31, 2006

Welcome back Hunter!

Okay, here's my plan. Take a struggling outfielder, put him on DL, and then when he comes back... BOOM! Hey, it's worked so far.

On another note, where was all that offense this past weekend? We coulda used some of that!

Punto is quickly becoming my new favorite Twin.

And yea! Tigers lost. Boo... Sox won. Both of 'em. (Gotta start watching everyone now).

And another 8 game winning streak begins.

The Week ahead (7/31-8/6)

So, this week we get a bit of deja vu with a couple series against Texas and Kansas City, the two teams that schooled us just before the All-Star break. I have mixed feelings.

The Detroit series really humbled the team. After doing so well to start the second half (not that 13-4 is anything bad), the Twins lost 2 of 3 to the Tigers. I really felt that we could do better considering our performance against Chicago. But alas, it was not to be.

Now we get a Texas team (with the added bonus of Carlos Lee) fighting in its own playoff chase, and a weak KC team with nothing to lose. Both teams should be easy prey for the Twins, but as we saw earlier this month, they can be just as dangerous as Detroit.

To make matters worse, Detroit gets Cleveland and Tampa Bay, and Chicago gets KC and Toronto (at least Tornoto is in a race). New York also gets Toronto and a series with Baltimore. (Great, now I have to start worrying about what the Yankees do). Pretty soon, I'm sure I'll be following Boston more closely!

The Twins need to go 5-2. That's the bar I'm setting. They usually out play my predictions. However, the chances of the other teams letting us catch up does not look good. So, we need to keep pace. I said before the Cleveland series that the Twins would be well to go 5-4. They went 6-3, so they did well in the grand scheme of things. Now let's see if they can catch up for what they lost on the Detroit series.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Going into this series, I figured it was going to be a tough one. I think of Detroit very differently than Chicago. The White Sox are defending champs, but right now they're a little out of their element. They're struggling, and I think it has to do with the fact that right now, they don't "get it". I can't think of a better way to describe it. I think they greatly underestimated the Twins this week, and it showed. The Twins came away with a sweep.

Detroit however, did not take this team so lightly. They came in, played hard, kept pace with the Twins for 9 innings (or rather, we kept pace with them), then beat our great bullpen. I can't complain. They played great, both teams. What's scary is that Detroit was able to beat our best. Our best starter (arguably). Our great bullpen, at home.

I have a lot of respect for Detroit. I don't I have as much for Chicago. I think that has to do with the managers.

I highly respect Leyland. Guillen has lost a little bit this year with his antics. Don't get me wrong, the White Sox are a good team, and I respect their talent, but I think they've lost some since last year.

If the Twins can't go all the way, I certainly hope Detroit does. They remind me a lot of the Twins the past 5 years. Besides, it would be great to see a team come from nowhere to win, especially over teams like the Red Sox, White Sox and Yankees.

I think the rest of this series is going to be very similar to the first game. Close games, possibly extra innings. I look forward to the challenge, and I hope the Twins can come back and take the next two.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

That's THREE!

Holy smelly footwear Batman! The Twins just won 3 straight on the road against the World Champs!

Before this 9 game stretch against CLE-CWS-DET, I was thinking to myself, "Just get over .500, and we're still in this thing." They've just clinched .500, and now they can go for gravy. They've been doing that since June.

With one more game against the Bo Sox, I thought "If the Twins can just get to .500, that would be nice. I calculated it, they had to go 13-9 at that point. They went 17-5. I hoped that they would have taken 3 of 4 against the Tribe and Rays. They 1-uped me again.

After they won Tuesday's thriller, I started thinking, "Wow, that was a great game. We won the series at least." I fully expected a loss with Silva vs. Buerhle.

But then I thought, "Why can't we win? Why can't we sweep?" Screw the pitching matchup, it's not like Mauer and Morneau pay attention to the trend that Lefties don't hit lefties well.

Now I'm to the point where I'm going back and forth thinking we can get 2 out of 3 against Detroit, vs winning the whole damn series.

Why can't we? We've got our top 3 pitchers going out there. Our offense is doing well. We're at home. We beat Detroit 2 of 3 last time we played them at home, when we were bad. And besides that, we won with Silva on the mound, on the road, against the World Champs, and their best pitcher.

So why can't we seep them kitties? Huh? Why can't we?!

P.S. Leave it to the freakin' Yankees to let us do all the work while they take over the Wildcard lead! They don't know what they're getting into!

That's two!

Last night I’m leaving Chuck E Cheese at about 9:40, so I flip on 830 to see if I can catch the Twins game (I live in St. Louis, MO). Sure enough, it’s on, clear as crystal. I hear cheering in the background. John Gordon mentions something about the Twins wishing White were not in LF because if a ball is hit out there, his arm is likely not good enough to throw out a runner at home. (Okay, that means it’s close anyway, but what’s the score?)

Gordon comments that Nathan winds up for the pitch. (Okay, Nathan is in, it’s near the end of the game, and it’s close, but what’s the darn score?) Is it tied, are we in the lead, I don’t know! Someone help me!

A.J. is up. He hits a fly ball to left field… Cuddyer coming on… still coming on…he catches it! Gordon says there’s two outs. Tying run on second, winning run on first (YES we’re winning). We pull into Wal-Mart, my wife gets out and takes my son with her so that he can go potty (he’s 3). My daughter sees them leave and starts to cry (she’s 1). I’m focused solely on the game on the radio. “I’ll see you inside honey, I’ll only be a minute.”

Cintron is up. Gordon reminds us of Bartlett’s homer that put the Twins up 4-1. Crede hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the seventh to make it a one run game. Strike one. Daughter is still sad, but getting over it. Foul ball. 0-2. Wife is probably halfway through the store now. Ball one… way high. Mauer had to leap to get that one. I’m tapping the steering wheel in excitement and anticipation. Ball two in the dirt. Come on… just one more strike. Close it out Joe! Here’s the pitch. Ground ball to Bartlett, and this one is over!
YES! (maybe a little too loudly) My daughter and I head on in to meet mommy and brother, singing “We’re gonna win Twins” in the parking lot on the way in. Absolutely awesome. Twins win game, win series. One game out of wild card. 4-1 on road trip (so far). Again, absolutely awesome!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

That's one

Ah, what a relief it was to see the Twins up 3-2 after I had left the computer saying White Sox 2, Twins 0. Then, to see that Mauer hit a 3-run blast to dead center field... priceless. Granted, it doesn't feel quite the same watching on the ESPN gamecast as it would seeing it live, but I'll take what I can get.

Radke had another great outing. 6 IP 2 ER. The 3-4-5 hitters performed to their best. And Jason Tyner... boy did he pick a great time to get hot. That's how you start a series! I'm glad we got to play the Sox when they decided to go slumping.

So far 3-1 on the road trip. 32-8 in their last 40 games. That's an .800 winning percentage for 1/4 of the season. That's huge. Too bad the freakin Tigers are matching us. Now the Twins now how everyone else in the PGA feels going against Tiger. Something about the name... maybe that means the Bengals will have a good season?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Next 9

The next 9 games are going to be crucial for the Twins. 3 @ Cleveland, 3 @ Chicago, 3 against Detroit at home. The next 9 games are going to set the table for the rest of the season.

Cleveland by itself isn't a big deal, but rather it's the fact that it's on the road that worries me. In the Twins 3 big winning streaks lately, which combine for a total of 26 wins, realize that only 6 of them were on the road. Everything else was a win at home. Not to take anything away from their streaks, but one of the big places the Twins have struggled this year is on the road. In fact, save the Royals, the Twins have not defeated a division opponent on the road.

If the Twins want to prove their worth in this division, they need to go .500 or better on this road trip. In 1987 they were able to skip by with a winning record at home despite losing so much on the road. But this ain't 1987 (save the Tigers actually playing well). The Twins ain't gonna get by with this road record, and they certainly are not going to catch up to the Sox.

Speaking of which... 4 games. The Twins are only 4 games out of the Wild card. Despite going on a 20 game stretch making up no ground in June, the Twins have gained 5 games on the Sox in just over a week. If they keep struggling, the Twins might be able to make significant ground next week.

Now is the time. The Twins have not played a more important stretch than the next 9 games. They still have 68 games to play, but these first 9 are going to indicate which way the Twins are truly heading.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

On one hand...

That's how close we are to the White Sox. We can count on one hand how close we are. Thank you whoever makes the schedule for letting us play Tampa while Detroit and Chicago beat up on each other. The Twins win their 6th in a row and we get to finish the series with Santana. With luck, we could get even closer to the White Sox.

I have no illusions though. We are heading for a road stretch that could hurt us as much as the last week has helped us. Just before the All-Star break, the Twins showed their weakness on the road. Now, playing Cleveland I'm not as concerned, but that White Sox series could really be scary. Consider this: Liriano won't be starting in that series. Luckily, Radke and Santana will.

On the other hand...

Recent news about Shea Hillenbrand has produced some chatter about the Twins possibly seeking a trade for the 3B/1B/DH. The Twins could use a good solid power bat at 3B or DH, and he certainly isn't that far out of our price range. However, I think this would be a bad idea.

First of all, the reason the Blue Jays designated him for assignment is a red flag. If the guy takes offense to the front office not congratulating him for his adoption, I gotta wonder about his attitude. Now, I can understand his ire for the manager calling him out in a team meeting, but the whole situation makes me feel uncomfortable about him possibly disrupting our clubhouse.

Second, Nick Punto is doing a great job filling in at 3B. His hustle and heart has helped boost this team up in the standings. He's part of this team's success, and I would not want to mess that up by giving Hillenbrand the position that has helped Punto fit in. Granted, Punto doesn't produce for power, but so what! He's still hitting and getting on base. Could he do it from Center Field? Left Field? Perhaps. But remember what happened when Cuddyer got messed around. He found a niche in RF. Punto has found a niche at 3B. Keep him there.

The only way I would possibly accept the trade is if Shea would agree to DH for most of the time. And that was a complaint he had in Toronto. The Twins are doing quite well right now. Hillenbrand might benefit from a change of scenery, and he might be able to bring even more punch to this lineup, but I can't get around the red flag of just how he got into his position with Toronto in the first place. I would hate to see this team lose because of a cancer in the clubhouse.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Knock Knock Knock

Hear that? That's opportunity knocking. Why do I bring that up now?

Because no matter what, there is a guarantee that the combined records of the Sox and Tigers this week will be 3-3. That's right, they are playing each other. So one of them is guaranteed to lose. This presents a nice opportunity for the Twins to sweep right in and make some ground.

It's the first time that any of the three teams have played each other since early June. And since then, things have gotten more interesting in the AL Central.

What punctuates this opportunity even more is the fact that the Twins are playing the joke of the AL East, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Granted, they're getting better, but they're still holding down the basement, with the Orioles close by. There is no reason the Twins shouldn't gain 2.5 games on the Tigers and White Sox in some combined fashion.

So who do we cheer for? Do we cheer for the White Sox to bring the division a little closer, or do we concede the division and cheer for the Tigers to punish the WC leaders. Personally, I'd like a little of both. How about the White Sox win 2-1. That way we make up a game on them and 2 on the Tigers.

Of course, this also means that we have to actually win against the Devil Rays, despite our outfield in total disarray. But if we can do it to the Indians, there's no reason why we can't do it to the DRays, especially when we have Liriano, Radke and Santana all going. But then again, this is the same team that lost 2 to the Royals and Rangers just before the break. Thank goodness we're home this time!


Okay, it's been a week, let's review.

The Twins dropped the finale @ Texas with Santana on the mound. Liriano loses to A.J. in the fan poll for the last All-Star spot. Then he's in the game when Contreras drops out. Then he goes but never gets in the game. The travel then makes him lose his first game in like a month. Then the Twins come back and take the last three from Cleveland. Oh, but at the expense of the outfield. Overall, we're still 11 back of the Tigers, but only 6.5 back of the Sox (Thanks Yanks!)

And if the Twins just happen to maybe, possibly make the playoffs, they'll have homefield in the WS. Thanks Rangers! Note to AL manager next year, pick lots and lots of Rangers. They have the clutch hitting in the All-Star game.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Thank God it's Liriano!

That was just what this team needed. Some good pitching. For the last three games, I was beginning to wonder which team we had. They certainly lost something on the mound there for a while. But Liriano did not follow suit with the decline of Radke, Bonser and Silva. He showed that he is as consistent as he seems. Wouldn't that be something if he kept this up all season. I'm still afraid he might peter out toward the end. But let's hope not.

Bad news, Detroit won again. Still 11 out. Good news, Chicago's gettin' schooled by Boston, so were only 8 out of the Wild Card. Hopefully with Santana on the mound, we can get one more before break. Go Twins, Go Seattle, and Go Boston.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What the...

Did the Royals and Twins switch uniforms? Are the Twins taking their All-Star break a week early? What was that display on Wednesday, it sure wasn't the same team that I've been keepint up with the last 3 weeks of June. They looked more like the Twins of April and May. Give me back my Twins!

Okay, let's take a step back. In the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad. Detroit also lost 2 of 3, so the Twins stayed even in that race through the series. The White Sox gained a game, but that can change with today's game against Baltimore. So when looking at a series aspect, the Twins are not in that bad of shape.

However, they missed a grand opportunity, which is something that has plagued them all year long. Detroit lost 2 of 3, but they did so against Oakland, which is a very respectable team. Meanwhile, the Twins were playing KANSAS CITY, a team they should have been able to sweep, or at least 2 of 3. Heck, they had trouble winning the game Santana started. In a situation where the top team is playing a good team, and you're playing a bad one, there should be no qualms that you should gain some ground in that time. The Twins failed to do that, and it's going to cost them.

Momentum is everything. It might have been different if the wins and losses were better aligned, but the fact is that the Twins, before yesterday, had a 9 game deficit, now it's back to 10. That's backward progress. It kills the momentum. Look what happened back in May against the Sox and Tigers. The Twins had their momentum killed by the Sox and lost 4 more games as a result. I just hope they don't get cold with their trip to Texas.

I wanted the Twins to go 7-2 for the last 9 games before the break. Now I'm just hoping they stay above .500. I don't have a good feeling about the next series against Texas. Sure we have Santana and Liriano going, but they can they be as effective, while the offense gets back into their groove? Or are they all going to take vactation early like they did in 2003?

In 2003 they stumbled into the break losing their last 8 games. They were 5 games under .500 and 7.5 back of first. The difference this year is that they are no longer trailing a weak Kansas City team, but very strong Tigers and White Sox teams. They cannot afford to just stay even on a series with KC. Because guess what, in August and September, the Tigers and Sox are going to take their series with KC while we're facing the Yanks and Red Sox.

It's a long road, and June made me a believe again. But the way July is starting off, I'm starting to wonder if everything was just an illusion. Or a flash.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

All good things...

Wow. Just wow. Eleven games, which was preceded by a loss, and then eight more games. 19 of 20. Just wow.

All good things must come to an end. But of course, I refer to the streak, not the season. Yes, it was unfortunate, but we all knew that it had to be eventually. At least it was on a day the Tigers lost too.

Now they don't have the expectation anymore. Who knows, maybe they'll go on another 8 game streak, or better yet, a 14 game streak! (3 more each time?). They still have one more with KC, then they go to Texas. After the break, they start with Cleveland and Tampa Bay.

The important thing to remember is that the Twins are 9 games out, which is better than just a few days ago. If you take things series by series, the Twins are still in good shape. While the Twins play Tampa, Detroit and Chicago can beat up on each other all day long. Then we'll get the leftovers at the end of the month!

My goal for them was to go 7-2 in the last week and a half. So far they are 4-1. Win tonight, then 2 out of 3 in Texas, and they're in good shape. And they can do it, too. They'll finish the series with Liriano and Santana.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

They're just teasing us now

Wow, after the Twins went down 5-3 last night, I thought that was it. Ironically, that was the same score as their last loss. I knew it was Kansas City, but I also knew that they were due. (But still... Kansas City?)

Then lo and behold, they pull out another one from their *censored*. I think the players asked Santana to blow one so that they could have a challenge. This team surprises me every single day. They can win blowouts, they can win close ones. They're never out of it. It's quite amazing right now. This is the best I have EVER seen this team play. This beats the 02-04 era. This even beats the 91 streak of 15 games. They are just that amazing right now.

On another fantastic note. The Tigers and White Sox BOTH lost last night, which means for the first time in probably a month, the Twins gained ground on both reaces. They are now 6.5 out of the wild card and 9 out of the division. It ain't over til it's over!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Welcome back Stewart!

In a couple other blogs I commented on how the Twins should shop around Shannon Stewart for a possible trade this July, especially for a good third baseman. After his return on Saturday, I completely retract that thought.

Stewart went 4-4 with a walk in the 8th to take the lead. He even got an RBI double on Sunday in the Twins 8-0 victory to sweep the Brewers.

I originally thought that we really didn't need Stewart since we did so well without him in the lineup. Now I'm taking the attitude that Stewarts return is essentially picking up a bat from another team before the trading deadline, only we haven't had to give up anything for him (except maybe Rondell White).

If the Twins won 16 of 17 without Stewart, imagine what they can do now that he's back! Especially if he hits like he did on Saturday! He's the perfect answer for the Twins DH! Regarding 3B, I think we're doing just fine with Punto and Tiffee.

Also of note: The Tigers and White Sox were kind enough to lose one game this weekend, giving the Twins a slight bump in the standings, more than they had received the last 2.5 weeks! It should only get better. Chicago has Boston and Baltimore next, and the Tigers have Oakland and Seattle. I'm still hoping for another couple games before the All-Star Break.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A little help here please!

So, while I was playing a little MVP Baseball 2005 on my PS2, I was checking in with the Cubs White Sox game. I started really watching when the Cubs were just one out from winning it. They walked Dye and brought up A.J. I liked A.J. when he was with the Twins, but I'm slowly starting to loathe him with the same fervor as the rest of the league.

A.J. does his impression of Jim Thome by blasting a 1-1 pitch over the right field fence, giving the Sox an 8-6 win. Another Sox win. Can SOMEBODY in the NL help us out?

The Cubs kept choking throughout the game. It started with Thome, and I think Konerko tied it on a HR. No wonder they kept chucking cubs on the field. If I were a Cubs fan, I'd be just as mad.

Anyway, looking forward to following the Twins on GameCast or some other Internet site. Let's get number NINE!