Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I suppose splitting a double-header against the Tigers was about the best the Twins could hope for, especially with Justin Verlander on the mound in game two. Both games were pretty exciting, and heck, it's fun to have meaningful baseball in September. This series certainly didn't look like it would be this important a couple of weeks ago. The Twins were seven games back on September 6. They lost their second-best hitter. They lost their starting third baseman. They lost one of their best young starters for the season, while others dealt with injuries and plain ineffectiveness. Meanwhile, the Tigers were rolling, winning seven of their past ten games and looked to have the division pretty much locked up. It's funny how quickly things can change. Just ask the Mets.
Unfortunately, the Twins' odds of winning the division have dropped to 15% after losing the second game of the double-header. Still, there is at least some reason to be optimistic. The pitching matchups definitely favor the Twins in the final two games of the series, at least on paper. Rookie Eddie Bonine will get the start tonight against Carl Pavano. Bonine is a pretty average righty, posting a 4.60 ERA, 1.466 WHIP and 1.60 K/BB ratio in 29.1 innings this season. He no-hit the White Sox through five innings in his last start, but lost when he surrendered a two-run homer to Gordon Beckham. The Tigers haven't been able to solve Pavano, scoring a mere seven runs in 37 innings, and his K/BB ratio is a pretty-good 22/0. Then Nate Robertson faces off against Scott Baker. Robertson isn't really anything special, but the Twins struggled to do much of anything against him the last time. Baker has been one of the Twins' most consistent starters all season, but he has had trouble against the Tigers, especially at Comerica Park. Yeah, yeah, I know, small sample size and all that, but it does make me a little nervous.
And to those who say that, should they somehow end up winning the Central, the Twins are just going to get destroyed by the Yankees in the ALDS: I know that, shut up. Seriously, setting aside the notion that the postseason is a crapshoot and anything can happen (especially in a short series like the ALDS), the Twins don't really match up well against the Yanks. And they haven't beaten them all season, so there's little reason to think they would do it in the playoffs. But who cares? It's October baseball! It's fun dammit, and the Twins haven't made it to the postseason since 2006. It would be a miracle for this team, with its battered lineup and patchwork starting rotation, to actually beat the odds and win the division in the first place. And that is good enough for me.