Posted on: August 7, 2010 10:48 am

The Dog Days of August

The All-Star break has come and gone. Twins starters have righted the ship, sporting a record of 13-2 since the break. Instead of Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano carrying the load, pitchers Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, and newcomer Brian Duensing have started to get involved. The Twins have gone from 4 games out to 1 1/2 as the White Sox just keep winning, too.

But the Tigers appear to be ready to call it quits. The loss of Magglio Ordonez seems to have shut this team down completely. The rookie Brennan Boesch slumped and the team went cold. Detroit never really had the starting pitching necessary to stay in the race. Justin Verlander ahs been the only semi-reliable starter. Armando Galarraga and Rick Porcello just are not ready for prime-time.

Chicago presents a problem for Minnesota. They have better pitching and a coach in Ozzie Guillen that has them firing on all cylinders. Juan Pierre has added speed, swiping 40 bases already this season. Throw in Alex Rios' resurrection, an All-Star type year from Paul Konerko, and then contributions from role players like Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, and others and you have a good team.

The Twins are in the middle of a 10 game road trip, with two more games in Cleveland and then three in Chicago. They are 2-3 so far, having split with the Rays and losing last night to the Indians in a wild 7-6 loss.  Meanwhile the White Sox are facing the Orioles in Baltimore before their return trip tp Chicago for the battle with Minnesota. Chicago lost 2-1 to the birds, thanks to an Adam Jones game winning hit in the 10th inning.

The series in Chicago will be important. Given how close the two teams are, and this being the beginnings of August. last year the Twins rallied from five games back late in the year. This year they have a much more powerful batting order, thanks to the emergence of Delmon Young. He seems to have found his 'mojo', moving up to 5th in the league in hitting, and closing in on the RBI leaders as well, despite hitting 7th in the order most of the year.

But the Twins have received help from everyone at times, maybe most notable is the play of AAA call-ups during an injury filled season. No less than the entire infield has been out at times, and guys like Alexi Casilla, Wilson Ramos, Jason Repko, Drew Butera, Trevor Plouffe, and Danny Valencia have been major role players at different times. Valencia seems to have won the 3rd base position with his defense and hitting, though Nick Punto has been out and might platoon in the near future. Butera, besides becoming Pavano's permanent catcher, has taken over for an ailing Mauer and delivered in all facets of the game.

A lot of season left. But this is August, where you cannot win the division, but you certainly can lose it. Just ask Detroit.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 20, 2010 10:13 pm

Twins take back their manhood.

The Braves hurt us, squeezing out a series at Target Field. The Rockies were next, and while we won two games to one, Ubaldo Jimenez closed the door to the point of futility. The Detroit Tigers were laughing it up against the bottom feeders of MLB, and suddenly a 4 1/2 game lead was whittled to 1 1/2 heading to a series against the Phillies, whom had just taken a series from the Yankees in New York. The Tigers were to play the Diamondbacks for yet another home series. Like Mutual of Omaha, we went to Citizen's Park to tackle the alligator while Marlon (Detroit) investigated the humming bird.

After Friday night, and the debacle of a start by Nick Blackburn, the lead was down to a 1/2 game. The baseball was flying out of Philly, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were warming up, and Kevin Slowey and Carl Pavano were to face Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay, respectively. Nothing looked good. After giving up eight runs in two innings, Slowey was gone, a 3-0 Twins lead was turned into an 8-3 deficit. The AL Central lead appeared to be slipping away for the first time in months.

And then, Minnesota decided it wanted to keep its' manhood. An incredible comeback on Saturday resutled in an extra-inning 13-10 win. Drew Butera hit a pinch homer, Manship was called up from AAA and delivered. Delmon Young was on fire. Jim Thome homered in front of his old friends, and Joe Mauer capped a five run 9th ining comeback with a rare 2010 homer. Jon Rauch got the win, after blowing a save in the 10th. The Tigers lost and suddenly the AL Central lead was safe for the weekend.

Well then, Sunday turned out even better. Halladay entered the game 8-1 lifetime vs. the Twins, but Minnesota banged out 11 hits and the win. Carl Pavano pitched a complete game, surrendering only a solo homerun to the light-hitting Valdez. What looked like a bleak run of games on the road has turned into a wake up call to arms, or a return to manhood.

And the Twins have earned their manhood back.

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