Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Looking ahead

After witnessing (through Yahoo's fine play-by-play) the Twins beat Toronto in extras, I decided to look ahead and see what the Twins get to face until the All-Star Break. I didn't realize it, but the Twins have probably the toughest road of anyone. Here's what the schedule looks like.

2 vs. Tor
3 @ Det
4 @ NYY
4 @ CWS (in 3 days)

Making up a game from back in April, the Twins have 13 games in the next 12 days. And these aren't just piddly teams. We're talking about the American League Champs, the New York Yankees (always a menace no matter what the standing say), and our friendly rivals in Chicago.
Just for fun, let's see what the Indians and Tigers get to face

2 vs. Oak
4 vs. TB
3 @ Det
3 @ Tor

2 vs Tex
3 vs TWINS
Day off (lucky b******s)
3 vs Cle
3 vs Bos

The Indians get the Devil Rays, who after showing some spunk against the Twins, are now fighting Baltimore for the basement. Then they get to go on the road for some fun against Detroit and Toronto.

The Tigers, aside from staying home until the break, get a day off besides. However, they get to face their biggest competition this season with the Indians and the Twins, and they get to finish it off against Boston. Tough teams, but at least they're at home.

Right now the Twins are only 5.5 games back of both the Indians and Tigers. Not bad considering they were double digits back this time last year. The Twins were right in the middle of an 11 game winning streak this time last year, and as a result of their close to .500 play, they aren't making up much ground on that. But anyway, to the season at hand.

I think the Twins will split the remaining games against Toronto. The Blue Jays are a good team, and the two games so far have been closely fought.

Detroit is freakin' on fire right now. But the Twins will have Santana. But they'll also have Slowey and Baker. I want to give them 2 out of 3, but I'm calling only 1.

New York's a toughie too. The Twins seem to fold against them, especially in the house that Ruth built. But New York is struggling this season, and especially right now. If it were a 3 game series, I'd pick the Twins to win 2, but being a 4 game series, I can't say I'd give them 3. 2-2.

Finally, for Chicago. One hitch is that if everything goes as Scheduled, Santana will not be able to pitch during the series. Unless it's on short rest. However, I'm still giving the Twins 3, because the White Sox are only 2 games in front of the Royals. For them, that's bad. Very bad. This team is looking more like the 2003 Tigers than the 2005 Sox or 2006 Tigers. I think the Twins will take advantage and make them pay.

Overall 7-6. That would put them at 4 games over .500 at the All-Star Break. If this were last year, this would be a tougher schedule. This year, it's a little easier due to the down seasons of the Yankees and Sox. (Two teams I couldn't wish any better luck on). If the Twins can go over .500 for the remaining 13 games, they'll be in good shape. If they revert back to .500 (5-8), they'll be okay, but hurting. Any worse than that, and we might be seeing Torii go bye-bye sooner than we hoped. Any better, and we could have a real shot at a 5th playoff in 6 years.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Just one year ago

I remember it not so fondly. A horrible west coast road trip. 2-7 before salvaging a finale in Seattle. Spirits low. The Twins were 11.5 games back of the surprising Detroit Tigers. If you would have told me at that time, that the Twins would overcome that deficit and end up AL Central champs, just one game behind the best record in baseball, I would've doubted, and doubted hard.

On one hand, everything the Twins accomplished last year was amazing, and it gives me hope for this season. After all, they're in a better position this year, at .500 instead of 7 games under, and only 6.5 games out instead of 11.5.

On the other hand, that was last year. In no way can I expect the same to happen, nor should I. I fall in danger of being very disappointed. However, something that should be expected (at least) is that the Twins won't fall out of this race yet. The Twins have more than just last year working for them, they have a history of coming through in the later parts of the season to take over. After faltering late in 2001 and dominating in 2002, the Twins have remained patient, and have tended to get better as the season went on. So while winning 20 out of the next 22 seems unlikely this year, keeping up with the Indians will be no problem.

Monday, June 04, 2007

An ugly pattern

I've noticed a strange pattern among the recent series that the Twins have played. The reason I call it ugly, is because as it stands now, the Twins stand to get worse unless they can get swept.

Let me explain

The month of May was unfortunate for the Twins. After coming off a series victory against Detroit to end April, the Twins started May by dropping 2 of 3 to Tampa Bay. They went on to lose series' (but not swept) against Boston, Chicago and Detroit. Finally, they came upon the surging Indians, who swept the Twins.

But then a tide turned. After that sweep, the Twins took 2 out of three in Milwaukee. Then it was 2 out of 3 in Texas. After that we took 2 out of 3 when Toronto came to town. To top it off, the White Sox came to town, and with four straight balls Torii Hunter completed a sweep.

And again the tide turned.


Sure enough, after taking the first game against Oakland, we dropped the next two. Now the Twins are set to lose the first game of the Anaheim series (8-1 at last I looked). It seems the pattern is facilitated by sweeps. Granted, this means a sweep by Anaheim would put us in fine position to start having fun with the NL. But mainly, I'd like this pattern to stop because I don't like Twins sweeps meaning we're heading for a losing streak.

Still, the Twins are doing much better to start this year than their start last year. Unfortunately, we don't have Liriano coming up in June to help us out!