Sunday, August 30, 2009
Um, the series against Texas at the Metrodome, that is. It was certainly a wild afternoon at the Dome, with a pair of lead changes, capped off by one heck of a rally by the unlikeliest of Twinkies. The Rangers got off to an early lead, when Scott Baker surrendered a double and a single, while the Twins' offense struggled to score runs most of the afternoon. Kubel Khan put the Twins ahead with his 21st homer of the season, a two-run shot off of Kevin Millwood in the fourth. The lead held until the seventh, when Baker gave up a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz, (As much as I love Scotty, he does seem to pick the worst possible times to groove a fastball to a very dangerous hitter. Not that there's ever a good time to do that). The Twins failed to score off of Jason Grilli, and when C. J. Wilson came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth, it looked like the game was over. And then came death by a thousand paper cuts. Justin Morneau walked. Kubel Khan singled up the middle, then was lifted for pinch-runner Go-Go. Brendan Harris singled in Morneau to tie the game. Mike Redmond grounded into what should have been a fielder's choice, but the throw home wasn't in time and Go-Go scored the go-ahead run from third. And then Nick Punto, the man who cannot get a bunt down to save his life, somehow laid down a perfect suicide squeeze that wasn't quite a suicide. Joe Nathan picked up his 34th save of the season, though apparently he couldn't resist doing his horribly unfunny Everyday Eddie impression in the process. He loaded the bases with nobody out on a walk, a Texas-league single, and then his own dumbass throwing error before retiring the next three batters. The Twins have actually been playing like postseason contenders as of late, but I doubt it will be enough to close the 4.5-game gap with only 32 games left to play. Making the Tigers nervous should be a lot of fun, though.
The highlight of the game, nay, the highlight of the season, nay, the highlight of the decade has to be Mike Redmond's triple (here's video evidence of the slowest triple ever, before Seligula takes it down). It is by far the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life, and clearly the Twins' bench thought so, too. Red isn't exactly known for his speed, and hasn't tripled since August 29, 2003, a little over six years ago. The Rangers' outfield was playing him pretty shallow, and he hit a line drive off of Millwood that somehow found a hole between Marlon Byrd and Nelson Cruz. The ball trickled all the way to the wall, with Red chugging around second and then sort of half-diving, half belly-flopping into third. Unfortunately, Nick Punto failed to get Red in from third, so the play loses a little of its luster (indeed, that would have been an inside-the-parker for one of the speedsters), but not bad for a 39-year old who runs like my grandma.
Jon Rauch made his debut in a Twins' uniform, picking up the win after the Twins' dramatic rally. He struck out two and didn't walk anyone, though he did allow a two-out double to Marlon Byrd. I had been kind of lukewarm about the acquisition, and I'm still reserving judgement until we find out who the player-to-be-named-later will be, but maybe Rauch will end up being a good pick up after all. His fastball averaged about 93 mph according to pitch f/x and his curve was pretty nasty. Besides, he has to be the most frightening-looking man in baseball:
Go on, try to get a hit. I dare you.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The Tigers lost, the White Sox lost, it would have been a great chance for the Twins to gain ground on Detroit and increase their lead over Chicago. And, you know, finally climb above the .500 mark in what seems like ages. But, of course, they blew it. This time it was the Twins' turn to be shut down, mustering only four hits against Scott "Corey" Feldman and the Rangers' bullpen. It wasn't as though the Twins didn't put any runners on, they did in nearly every inning. They just couldn't get them home. Not a single one. Probably their best chance to score came in the sixth, with runners on first and second and nobody out. Feldman got Morneau to strike out (he's been awful in August, yikes) and Jason Kubel to pop out before being yanked in favor of the flame-throwing Neftali Feliz. Manager Ron Washington must've remembered from last week that the Twins like to do all of their rallying in the sixth and wisely opted not to screw around with the lead. Feliz naturally got Michael "Is that ball four? Oops, I swung at it anyway!" Cuddyer to flail away at pitches nowhere near the strike zone and end the inning. And that was that.
It's tough to be frustrated by this loss, though. Not so much because it was expected, or even because they didn't lose any ground in the standings. No, it's because this Rangers team is really good and, to be honest, I'm not sure this Twins team has any business beating them. A lot has been written about the Rangers and how much their pitching has improved this season. Feldman in particular is putting together a decent season, though not quite as good as his 3.86 ERA looks. He doesn't throw hard or strike out many hitters, but he's been getting a lot of ground balls and has seen a subsequent decline in his home run rate (no small feat, considering how the Rangers' ballpark is one of the most hitter-friendly in the league). Feldman surprisingly has the best cut fastball in the league this season, and it is contributing in no small way to his success as a starter. Whether or not he can keep it up will be interesting to see.
Carl Pavano pitched six strong innings and it's too bad the offense couldn't give him any run support. He ran into trouble in the first, when he gave up two runs on a pair of singles and a double, but he settled in after that, striking out seven and allowing only three more hits. Pavano will be a free agent after the season, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to try to re-sign him as long as his demands are reasonable (well, it's not like the Twins are going to be out-bid by the Yankees or something). He will provide at least average production and the Twins wouldn't have to worry about rushing any of their top prospects through the system. Speaking of prospects, the Twins sent Yohan Pino to the Indians to complete the Pavano trade. It is a little surprising that Pino ended up being the PTBNL, since the organization doesn't have much pitching depth in the upper levels, but Pino isn't exactly a top prospect, either. He's put up some very good minor-league numbers, posting a 2.86 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 4.00 K/BB ratio in Rochester this season, but doesn't project to be more than a back-of-the rotation starter in the major leagues. The 26 year-old Venezuelan doesn't throw very hard at all, his fastball is in the mid-to-upper 80s, and he relies heavily on pinpoint control. Despite this lack of velocity, he still racks up a lot of strikeouts, though his strikeout rate has declined as he's advanced through the organization. Pino is certainly intriguing, and obviously I'm not thrilled that he's going to a division rival, but at this point the trade hardly looks like a fleecing.
Friday, August 28, 2009
The potent Texas Rangers' lineup just couldn't solve soft-tossing lefty Brian Duensing, who allowed one run on three hits while striking out eight in his seven innings of work. Of course, it helped that home plate umpire Mike Estabrook had um, a very generous strike zone (Seriously, wow. At least it was consistent!). Six of his strikeouts did come on swinging strikeouts though, so he was still missing plenty of bats. The Dunce was initially called up to serve as a long reliever, but slid into the rotation when 3/5 of the starting rotation went on the DL. He didn't have much success pitching out of the bullpen, but in a very small sample size of 3 starts (17 innings), he's pitched pretty well, posting an 2.65 ERA, 0.882 WHIP, and 4.33 K/BB ratio. Duensing has the makings of a solid, if unspectacular, major league starter: he doesn't strike out many batters but he doesn't walk many either, and since he induces a lot of ground balls, isn't likely to surrender a lot of home runs. While last night's performance looks to be somewhat of a fluke (Duensing himself admitted as much), it's not unreasonable to expect the Dunce to put up numbers similar to the much-coveted (by the Twins) Jarrod Washburn. If nothing else, his emergence as a starter gives the Twins some depth in the rotation and some options in deciding the fate of struggling lefties Glen Perkins and Francisco Liriano.
Rangers' rookie Tommy Hunter was also effective, allowing only three runs on three hits through seven innings. He also took a couple of line drives, one off his thigh from Michael Cuddyer and one off his chest from Justin Morneau, but he managed to stay in the game. Color me impressed, that kid is tough. Also impressive was rookie reliever Pedro Strop, whose fastball averaged 96.5 mph according to pitch f/x. He sent down the heart of the Twins' lineup in order, getting Mauer to strike out swinging, Morneau to pop out and Kubel to ground out weakly.
Things have suddenly gotten very interesting with the Twins and the state of their starting rotation. They have apparently put claims on both Brad Penny and Rich Harden, though I still think it's much more likely that they will end up with Penny. They have also (sort of) solidified their bullpen with the acquisitions of Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay. I'm not terribly excited about either one, but as LEN3 notes, Rauch does have an another year left on his contract. This means that the Twins won't have to rush Pat Neshek back from Tommy John surgery, so he won't be back in the bullpen (and more importantly, high-leverage situations) until he can pitch effectively. And hey, Joe Nathan likes these moves. That's um, something. I guess.
Not surprisingly, Joe Crede has been placed on the DL with back pain and will be out indefinitely. He had one epidural and is scheduled to have another on the other side of his back. Backup catcher Jose Morales has been called up to take his spot on the roster, which is odd because, unless the Twins are planning to DFA Mike Redmond, he probably won't see much playing time. Also not surprising, Armando Gabino and Philip Humber have been optioned back to Rochester, making room for Mahay and Rauch (UPDATE: From LEN3's twitter: The Twins have apparently DFA'd R. A. Dickey to make room for Mahay). This is the second time this season that Humber has passed through waivers, which speaks volumes about his value at this point.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I wasn't planning on writing anything today, since it's an off day. Besides, what is there to say? The Twins lost in underwhelming fashion to the Orioles last night, blowing a huge chance to both take sole possession of second place and gain ground on the Tigers. And that will probably cost them, since the Pale Hosers are whooping the Red Sox as I write this (UPDATE: Yep, they did). But what else is new? The Twins have been blowing chances like this all season long, much like they did all last season. There are only so many I-am-so-disappointed-in-you posts I can write before I start sounding like my mom. Much to my surprise and delight however, the front office has apparently been busy today, claiming Brad Penny off waivers and maybe Rich Harden as well. It will be interesting to see if Bill Smith can swing a deal for either one or (preferably) both.
Penny has obviously had a rough season in Boston, but he would be a good pickup for an organization desperately in need of pitching help. Both Parker Hageman and Dave Cameron did in-depth analyses of Penny, and his peripherals show he is pitching better than his 5.61 ERA indicates. While he probably won't lead the Twins to a deep postseason run, he is a much better option than the likes of Armando Gabino and Philip Humber to round out the rotation. Penny won't cost much, and at least I could stop covering my eyes whenever someone besides Scott Baker and Carl Pavano (yes, you read that right) take the mound.
Rich Harden, on the other hand, is more intriguing. He's pitched very well for the Cubs, posting a 3.99 ERA, 3.69 xFIP, and 2.75 K/BB ratio in innings. Harden is a flyball pitcher, and his home run rate is up a bit this year, which is something to be a little concerned about should he move back to the American League. However, his 10.38 K/9 rate is among the best in the National League, and he's been getting a lot of swinging strikes. He will be a Type A free agent at the end of the season, so the Cubs will likely want a decent prospect or two in return. I would be really surprised if the Twins actually landed Harden, though I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The Twins will probably deem his asking price too high, and it seems more likely that he would go to an NL team anyway (UPDATE: Apparently an NL club put in a claim on Harden, so there goes that dream. Oh well, it was a fun ride while it lasted. UPDATE: The Twins did claim Harden and have until noon on Monday to work out a trade. I'm not optimistic, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. At least it's good to know that the front office still thinks the team is in the pennant race).
From the Department of God, I Hope Not: The Twins are also rumored to be interested in Ron Mahay. Because that's exactly what they need: a soft-tossing, mediocre left-handed reliever. I guess Gardy can't stand not having a LOOGY in the 'pen now that Jose Mijares has proven he can be trusted against right-handed hitters. (UPDATE: GAAHH!! And if one mediocre reliever weren't enough, Bill Smith got us Jon Rauch too. Yay. Maybe the two can combine for a couple of innings to make one replacement-level starting pitcher).
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The Cardiac Kids, the Comeback Kids, whatever you want to call them, they're back. The Twins rallied to beat the Orioles 7-6 last night, marking only their fifth walk-off win of the season and their fourth come-from-behind victory the in the past ten games. Funny, I thought this team had become allergic to rallying. Delmon Young played the role of the unlikely hero, driving in the winning run on a single to right field. I like this new, productive young Mr. Young. The one who actually helps his team win games. I hope he keeps it up. The Twins are now back to .500, tied with the White Sox for second place, and trail the Tigers by 4.5 games. Oh yeah, they now have a five-game win streak going, something they haven't had since last year sometime. Nick Blackburn gets the start tonight, so dare we ask for six?
This was ordinarily the sort of game our Twinks would lose. They dug themselves in an early 3-0 hole, butchered some fairly routine defensive plays, and squandered what seems like a billion chances to score. The pitching staff issued not one but two (!) bases-loaded walks. The offense twice loaded the bases with less than two outs, and only scored a pair of runs on a walk and a double play. The M&M Boys went 2-for-10, although Justin Morneau hit his 29th home run of the season to bring the Twins within a run. But the suddenly resilient Twins got help from some unlikely sources, not only young Mr. Young (who went 4-for-5) but Alexi Casilla as well. Casilla went 2-for-3 with a walk and a pair of runs scored, and has actually been on quite a tear lately. He's batting .357/.391/.500 with an .891 OPS in his last 15 games, raising his batting average to a season-high .209.
Not surprisingly, Armando Gabino was roughed up in his debut. He lasted only 2.2 innings, surrendering four runs on five hits, while walking three and only striking out one. He'll probably make an effective middle reliever, which is what he was for most of his minor league career, but he's obviously not a starter. After Gabino loaded the bases with two outs in the third, Philip Humber came on in (comic?) relief, walking the first batter he faced to put the O's up 4-2. Right after the offense had just cut Baltimore's lead to one run. Humber hasn't been very impressive in his few stints with the big club, nor in Rochester really, and it's unlikely that he will have a future with the organization. Huh, I guess not everyone can successfully come back from Tommy John surgery.
Unfortunately, it looks like Joe Crede might be done for the season. He had an MRI on his back, which revealed post-operative changes. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds ominous. He will be re-examined by the doctor who performed the surgery, but I'd be surprised if he returns to the lineup this season. The Twins had been cautious with Crede, keeping him out of the lineup at the slightest hint of trouble, but evidently it still wasn't enough to avoid re-injuring his back. Even though he's played only 88 games and wasn't exactly the best hitter in the lineup, the $2.5 million deal for Crede looks like a good one,
Monday, August 24, 2009
Things have been a little rough for Twitchy lately. He blew his fourth save of the season against the Royals on Saturday, surrendering the game-tying home run to rookie catcher Brayan Pena, who isn't exactly known for his power. He did get the win when he managed to close out the Royals in the tenth, but it took him 53 pitches to complete two innings against some of the worst hitters in the league. He also had a wild one at the dome last night, striking out the first two Orioles he faced before walking the next two. Eventually he got Matt Wieters to strike out swinging, but not before working a 3-2 count and using a total of 29 pitches to pick up the save. Despite his recent struggles, however, Nathan is clearly in the midst of one of his best seasons as a Twin.
Because I just learned how to make html tables and dammit I'm going to use them, here is a look at Joe Nathan's awesomeness since coming over from the Giants:
Twitchy is putting up the best numbers since his 2006 season, and he's almost 35 years old! With his velocity up around 93.7 mph, he doesn't show any signs of slowing down, either. Of course, most Twins fans have probably noticed that it's taking him more pitches to put hitters away than usual, and that's true. He's averaging 4.25 pitches per batter, or the fifth-most for any reliever in the league. Part of the problem is that, although it's still pretty nasty, his slider doesn't have quite as much movement on it and has been more hittable (but not much). Nathan is also getting hitters to chase pitches outside the strike zone a lot more. This season, he's getting hitters to chase an average of 33.3% of pitches outside the strike zone, up from 30.3% in 2008 (his previous career high). While he remains as effective as ever, and has actually increased his strikeout rate without subsequently increasing his walk rate, it's also lead to a higher pitch count. The effect throwing all these extra pitches might have on his arm is something to be concerned about, especially since he complained of shoulder pain during spring training.
The Twins signed Nathan to a 4-year, $47 million contract extension before the start of the 2008 season, and so far he's been worth every penny. The deal drew a lot of criticism at the time, since the Twins weren't expected to contend and it generally isn't a good idea for smaller-payroll teams to spend a ton of money on a relief pitcher. Elite relievers are about as valuable as mediocre starting pitchers, so it makes little sense for a team with limited resources to invest a large chunk of payroll on a player whose value is relatively low. However, with the opening of Target Field in 2010, and with a solid core of young talent under their control for the next few years, the Twins are actually in a unique position to increase payroll. Obviously, they need to work on re-signing Joe Mauer, and the roster has a number of holes that need to be addressed, but Nathan's contract really shouldn't hinder the front office from doing any of those things.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
After losing seven of their past ten games, including four of six at home to the bottom-feeding Royals and Indians, the Twins were five games under .500 and it looked like they were done. Their starting pitching had been horrendous, surrendering a total of 34 runs to some of the weakest lineups in the American League. The Twins were looking at a tough road trip, with four games in Arlington against a red-hot Texas club, and three in Kansas City against a Royals team they struggled to beat all season long. Most Twins fans felt the trip would be the final nail in the coffin, and were already
Speaking of things that aren't quite dead, Michael Cuddyer homered twice in the same inning during yesterday's 10-3 victory over Kansas City, hitting both his 21st and 22nd tater tots of the season in the seventh. It was the first time in Twins' history that anyone hit two homers in the same frame, and the Twins now have four players with 20 or more homers in one season for the first time since 1987. Somewhat lost in the midst of the great seasons his teammates Mauer, Morneau, and Kubel are having is the fact that Cuddles is finally earning his keep: batting .276/.434/.518 with an .861 OPS, 22 home runs and 57 extra-base hits. The organization showed a lot of faith in Cuddyer, signing him to a 3-year, $24 million extension after he suffered an injury-plagued 2007 season, and he had yet to live up to expectations. He batted an anemic .252/.324/.376 in early 2008 before landing on the DL with a variety of finger injuries (and later a freak accident during a rehab assignment), missing all but 71 games. Cuddy will be 31 next year, and though he's still technically in the prime of his career, it's hard to know what to expect from him. He's put up decent numbers in only a couple of his nine major-league seasons, though he didn't reach his prime until 2006. That 2006 season, when he batted .284/.362/.504 as a 27-year old, has been his best thus far, and he's had a tough time staying healthy since. He's managed to avoid extended trips to the DL this season, and if Cuddles has indeed put all of his health issues behind him, then perhaps this level of production isn't out of the question.
Also coming back from the
Justin Morneau, who has missed the past six games with an inner ear infection, is feeling better and eyeing a return to the lineup sometime later this week. Man Muscles will be thrilled! It's hard to win batting titles with all those intentional (and semi-intentional) walks.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Last night, with Joe Nathan unavailable for what seems like the first time ever, Matt Guerrier recorded his first save since May 27, 2008, albeit a rather sloppy one. The Mayor (I'm not the only one who calls him that, but I think it suits him, given his repertoire and the fact that his last name sounds like Gruyere) is having one of the best seasons of his career, posting a 2.35 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 4.44 K/BB ratio. He seems to be bouncing back nicely from is awful 2008 campaign, when he finished the season with a 5.19 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, and poor 1.59 K/BB ratio in 76.1 innings. Guerrier signed a one-year deal at the end of the 2008 season, and since he will be arbitration-eligible once again (and due for a huge pay raise), it is worth examining whether this success is sustainable or not.
Looking at the numbers, the Mayor has actually been pretty reliable over the past five seasons:
Clearly, 2008 was his worst season to date. Keeping in mind that Guerrier is a groundball pitcher and doesn't rack up a ton of strikeouts, his 1.59 K/BB ratio was still pretty bad. While his 6.96 K/9 rate was in line with his 6.11 career average, the Mayor struggled with his control and issued a lot of walks, to the tune of 4.36 per nine innings. Worse yet, he was also giving up more home runs than usual: 14.5% of his fly balls ended up leaving the ballpark at a 1.41 HR/9 rate. Walking a lot of hitters and giving up a lot of home runs aren't exactly the keys to pitching effectively, so it's really no wonder that the Mayor was getting roughed up. This season is a much different story, though his extremely low .225 batting average on balls in play also suggests that Guerrier has a bit of luck on his side. The Mayor is boasting the best K/BB ratio of his career, a 4.44 mark that is more on par with a strikeout pitcher like Joe Nathan. His strikeout rate is in line with his career average, but his 1.33 BB/9 rate is a career-best. He's also done a much better job keeping the ball in the ballpark, posting a 8.6 HR/FB% and 0.89 HR/9 rate. While he isn't pitching as well as his 2.28 ERA would indicate, the Mayor is still a solid reliever who is worth keeping around as long as the price is right.
- Anthony Swarzak sent down, Armando Gabino called up
Still, this is a good move for the Twins, if for no other reason than to get Swarzak out of the rotation. I'm not a big believer in intangibles, but I can't imagine that it does much for a guy's psyche to keep getting hammered every single night. Swarzak has surrendered 24 runs on 33 hits in his past four starts, including nine home runs, while only striking out six. He hasn't made it past the fourth inning since July 26, when he pitched 6.2 solid innings against the Angels in Anaheim. Swarzak isn't really as bad as that (though he also isn't quite as good as his early numbers suggest), and he will probably make a decent starter or middle reliever, but he obviously isn't ready to pitch in the bigs just yet. If it weren't for all of the injuries to the starting rotation, he would probably have been sent back down to Rochester with a laundry list of things to work on a long time ago.
- Twins beat RoyaLOLs in a comedy of errors
(image courtesy the Kansas City Star)
Thanks to a couple of errors by Kansas City outfielders, the Twins managed to beat the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a couple of solo shots and a throwing error by Michael Cuddyer but, being the Royals, they couldn't make it stick. Josh Anderson kicked things off by committing no less than four errors on a double to right field by Denard Span, allowing Span to circle the bases and tie the game. And because one error by a Royals' right-fielder just isn't enough, Willie Bloomquist later added a big boo-boo of his own, misplaying a fly ball by Orlando Cabrera into a triple and allowing the Twins to score the go-ahead run in the tenth.
Of course, the Royals didn't make it easy. They forced Joe Nathan to throw 56 pitches in two innings and he probably won't be available to pitch the rest of the series. That he even needed to pitch a couple of innings against the Royals is unusual, but a mistake to Brayan Pena forced the game into extras (poor Nick Blackburn, he finally pitches a decent game and can't even get the win because the closer blows it). And this is precisely why I hate the Royals: they're always doing crap like that.
- Get well soon, Morny
Because nobody wants to pitch to Man Muscles anymore. Seriously. Morneau has been diagnosed with an inner ear infection and will be out at least the next four days. He's suffering from dizziness and can't return to the lineup until he gets his symptoms under control. He's already missed six games, and an extended stint on the DL still isn't out of the question. The team has been treading water without him, getting some production from unlikely sources in the bottom of the lineup, but it's hard to bat .400 with all those intentional walks.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Evidently the Twins are in the midst of, well, I'm not even going to say it. I'm not superstitious, but since I've stopped talking about them, they've...no, I'm not going to jinx it. Instead, I'm going to talk about Joe Mauer. And how much I hate the local media sometimes. It's not really a secret that Man Muscles is putting together one hell of a season. Joe Posnanski, Rob Neyer, Dave Cameron, Aaron Gleeman, every Twins blogger in the universe, even ESPN has mentioned it once or twice. Heck, if (for some reason) your only Twins news comes from reading this blog, you probably know by now that Man Muscles is on the verge of making history. He may not win the AL MVP, but you know what, it doesn't really matter. Mauer has a good shot at surpassing Mike Piazza's 1997 season as the best in history for a catcher. He's also got a good shot at winning his third batting title, something no other catcher in baseball history has ever done. Ever. He might even finish the season with more home runs than his buddy Justin Morneau! Twenty years from now, nobody will remember who won the 2009 MVP, but they will remember that Joe Mauer made history. And that is good enough for me.
I think the thing that bothers me the most about Mauer, baseball history, and the MVP is how indifferent the local media has been to the whole thing. No, there is something that bothers me even more. I hate how much vitriol has been spewed about both Mauer and Mark Teixeira from the mouthbreathers on either side of the debate. Both are fine players in the midst of very good seasons, and there's no need to tear down either one in making a case for the AL MVP. Mauer is just having a more extraordinary season, especially given the position that he plays and, at least in my humble opinion, deserves to win the MVP. But I'm not going to get upset about it, or start trashing Tex, or whining about East-Coast bias if he doesn't (besides, the East-Coast bias argument kind of rings hollow after Morneau robbed Derek Jeter in 2006).
Getting back to the local media, though. Obviously, I don't agree with the New York writers and their assertion that Tex is the AL MVP, but I do have to give them a lot of credit for pushing his case. It isn't as though there isn't anything else, um, important happening in the New York sports scene, and yet the media continues to focus on Tex and his candidacy for the MVP. Unfortunately, things are very different in Minnesota. Other than the beat writers, whose job it is to cover the Twins whether they like it or not, there hasn't been so much as a peep out of the local news outlets regarding Mauer. Oh, there's tons of stuff about the Vikings, and they're really going nuts about that Favre guy, but not a word about our hometown hero making baseball history, let alone his case for the AL MVP. Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if half of the local sportswriters voted for Morneau instead. The Twins have always played second fiddle to the Vikings, despite winning two world series titles while the Vikings, you know, HAVEN'T WON CRAP. And it's sad, really, that the franchise more widely known for all of its failures gets all the glory in this town. I realize that the Twin Cities isn't one of the largest media markets in the country, and it might not make any difference if they did devote the same feverish media coverage to Mauer, but that they don't even seem to care just drives me absolutely nuts.
Monday, August 17, 2009
So, this is what the season has come to, trying to hold off the Indians and hang onto third place. The starting pitching, other than Scott Baker and the recently acquired Carl Pavano, has fallen off a cliff. Francisco Liriano is on the DL after getting hammered by Texas, though it's probably just to give him a mental break more than anything (at least I hope so). Justin Morneau is day-to-day with some sort of inner ear infection. *Sigh*. PECOTA currently has the Twins' odds of reaching the post-season at about 4.8%, and I think that's optimistic. Considering that this is primarily a football town and, given the recent news, probably nobody is going to give a shit about the Twins from here on out. Nonetheless, for those of us who care more about baseball than football, there still are a few reasons to keep watching:
Joe Mauer and his historic season: Man Muscles went 3-for-5 with a double and a home run, coming a triple shy of the cycle, in a futile attempt to help his team win a game. Joe Posnanski has started the Mauer Pauer watch, keeping an eye on our All-Star catcher and his MVP-caliber season. He's now batting .380, and is leading the AL batting race by a comfortable 20-point margin. He's also leading the American League in on-base percentage (.446), and slugging percentage (.637), something no other catcher in either league has ever done. It's a shame that the Twins couldn't cap off such a remarkable season by winning a world series or something. Or, you know, posting a winning record.
There's been a lot of heated debate over who the AL MVP should be, and I think my choice is pretty obvious. Unfortunately, the Twins are not in contention, and Mauer is probably going to be punished by voters because of it. Like it or not, there are a number of voters who believe that a player isn't that valuable if he doesn't play for a contending team, even though one great player is rarely enough to lead a mediocre team into the post-season (I doubt that, had he signed with Baltimore instead, Mark Teixeira would be leading the Orioles to an AL East title). Of all the reasons to deny a candidate the MVP award, not playing for a contender is the worst. It isn't Mauer's fault that the front office put together a supporting cast of scrubs, and that they failed to address obvious weaknesses both during the off-season and at the trade deadline. It's too bad, since Man Muscles is having the sort of season that people will be talking about twenty years from now, and there really isn't anyone else in the AL who can say that. Only Albert Pujols is having a better year, and he's virtually a lock for the NL MVP.
Of course, some would argue that Mauer doesn't deserve the MVP because he missed the first month of the season, and that's a valid point. But he'll likely end up with enough plate appearances to qualify for his third batting title, making his stint on the DL a moot point. If Mauer were putting up the same numbers he did last year, having a very good but not great season, I would be inclined to agree that he doesn't deserve the MVP. Except he's putting up otherworldly numbers, especially for a catcher, and it would be nice if the voters recognized that.
The September call-ups: I always look forward to these, even when the Twins are in the midst of a pennant race. I don't write much about what's going on in the minors, mostly because all these guys do a much better job, but I do like to see what we have in our top prospects. And since the Twins won't be battling for a division title, all of the call-ups should see significant playing time. Danny Valencia, the third baseman of the future, is batting .297/.318/.473 with a .790 OPS and will almost certainly get the call. With the bullpen being so overworked recently, it's a distinct possibility that relievers Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama will get called up, too. Delaney and Slama both got hit pretty hard last night, surrendering a combined nine runs on eleven hits to Syracuse in the ninth, but they've been pretty lights out in the low minors and, let's face it, can't be any worse than the replacement-level relievers the Twins have been sending to the mound all season long. I'd also really like to see Armando Gabino, who's posting a 2.93 ERA, 1.012 WHIP, and 2.70 K/BB ratio in 83 innings for the Red Wings, though I have no idea if the Twins have any intention of calling him up or not.
And though it has no bearing on the current season, it is good to hear that the Twins signed first-round pick Kyle Gibson. He does have some injury issues that might be rooted in his delivery, but with the lack of top-level pitching talent in the system, the Twins really couldn't afford to let him go. That they managed to sign him without going significantly over-slot (he was asking for upwards of $2.5 million), is even better. The draft is always a crapshoot, and there's the risk that Gibson will be a bust, but right now $1.85 million for a top-five talent looks like a steal.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
This year's Twins team is projected to finish the season 79-83, tying the 2007 record as the worst of the Ron Gardenhire era. They've lost seven of their past ten games, including four of six at home to the Indians and Royals (who are currently battling the Nationals for the worst record in baseball). The starting rotation has been beset by injuries and general ineffectiveness, and the 7-8-9 hitters are among the worst in the league, so 79 wins is probably optimistic given the circumstances. It's somehow appropriate that the Twins would close out the Metrodome with a losing season. They opened it with the worst record in franchise history (well, since moving to Minnesota anyway).
The Twins finished the 1982 season with a 60-102 record, the worst record in all of baseball. Like the 2009 Twins, they had a few stars who were surrounded with a mediocre supporting cast. Actually, the few stars of that season were somewhat underwhelming:
Kent Hrbek: .303/.363/.485 23 HR 128 OPS+
Gary Ward: .289/.330/.519 28 HR 127 OPS+
Tom Brunansky: .272/.377/.471 20 HR 129 OPS+
At least compared to the stars of the 2009 team:
Joe Mauer: . 378/.446/.630 22 HR 188 OPS+
Justin Morneau: .301/.388/.562 28 HR 154 OPS+
Jason Kubel: .312/.382/.552 20 HR 149 OPS+
Like the 2009 squad, the 1982 Twins suffered from some mediocre pitching, both in the rotation:
Jack O'Connor: 4.29 ERA 1.421 WHIP 0.98 K/BB 99 ERA+
Brad Havens: 4.31 ERA 1.347 WHIP 1.61 K/BB 98 ERA+
Frank Viola: 5.21 ERA 1.508 WHIP 2.21 K/BB 81 ERA+
And the bullpen:
Ron Davis: 4.42 ERA 1.443 WHIP 1.89 K/BB 96 ERA+ (and he was the closer!)
Terry Felton: 4.99 ERA 1.491 WHIP 1.21 K/BB 85 ERA+
Pete Redfern: 6.58 ERA 1.834 WHIP 0.78 K/BB 64 ERA+
The worst pitchers on the staff were actually pretty average. The 2009 Twins are a different story:
Francisco Liriano: 5.39 ERA 1.484 WHIP 2.04 K/BB 77 ERA+
Glen Perkins: 5.89 ERA 1.484 WHIP 1.96 K/BB 70 ERA+
Anthony Swarzak: 5.87 ERA 1.602 WHIP 1.67 K/BB 70 ERA+
Brian Duensing: 5.24 ERA 1.485 WHIP 1.38 K/BB 79 ERA+
Jesse Crain: 6.83 ERA 1.759 WHIP 1.56 K/BB 61 ERA+
The 1982 Twins surrendered 829 runs, and the 2009 Twins are on pace to at least match that total. Really, the offense is the only thing keeping the current Twins team from losing more than 90 games (And, um, battling the Indians for fourth place. Eep). The 1982 Twins scored a league-worst 657 runs, while the 2009 squad is on pace to score more than 800. The 2009 Twins boast the best hitter in the AL in Joe Mauer, while Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel rank in the top ten of nearly every offensive category. Four players will likely finish the season with 20+ home runs, and seven players on the roster are posting an OPS+ of more than 100 (the 1982 team had five). This is probably the most potent offense of any Twins team in at least a decade, and yet it won't be enough to ensure a winning record, let alone win a wide open division race.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Jeffrey "Jefferson" Manship made his major-league debut against Cleveland yesterday, pitching very well in an otherwise lifeless outing. He retired all three batters he faced, and struck out the pesky Shin-Soo Choo. He did a nice job changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance and whatnot. One 9-pitch inning is an awfully small sample size, but it's tough to not want to slot him in the rotation right now (oh, I'll get to that in a minute). As Nick Nelson pointed out, Manship has seen a decline in his K/BB ratio as he's advanced through the farm system, but he gets a lot of ground balls and doesn't give up a lot of home runs (he's only surrendered in 20 444.2 innings ). He probably won't be much more effective than Brian Duensing, given his relatively low K/BB ratio and high contact rate, but perhaps his newness will be enough to keep hitters off balance for a bit.
Anthony Swarzak, on the other hand, was not good. It seemed like everyone in an Indians uniform homered off of Swizzlestick, but in reality it was just Choo and the supposedly ailing Grady Sizemore. He surrendered five runs on eight hits in four innings to a battered Cleveland lineup, the same lineup that Scott Baker shut out the night before. Swarzak has struggled mightily of late, failing to make it past the fifth inning in three of his past five starts. Since the All-Star break, his ERA has risen to 7.89, and his K/BB ratio is a pitiful 12/7. Swarzak does have a nasty curve, but he struggles with his command and ends up throwing a lot of (very hittable) fastballs. Swizzlestick will probably make a decent starter someday, but it's clear that he isn't ready to pitch in the major leagues just yet. It's unlikely that he would even be in the rotation right now if it weren't for all of the injuries.
Bobby "Small Sample Size" Keppel also pitched effectively, striking out four Indians in two innings without giving up any hits. Keppel has had his own problems recently, starting with the game-tying grand slam he surrendered to Matt Holliday during that abomination in Oakland (it's probably a coincidence, but nothing has gone right this season since then). After posting a 2.25 ERA in his first ten appearances, Keppel has been getting hit pretty hard since, surrendering 13 runs on 24 hits, including seven extra-base hits. The average velocity on his fastball has dropped about 2.7 mph, so it's possible that he's suffering a bout of arm fatigue (he has been asked to pitch an awful lot of innings in mop-up duty). According to PitchFX, his velocity was back up to 93.08 mph against the Indians, and has been back up in the 93 mph range over his past four appearances, which is obviously a very good sign.
(image pilfered from Yahoo! Sports, internet ethics: I don't haz 'em.)
9 IP, 2 hits, 5 Ks, no walks, no runs allowed, I'd call that a pretty good night. ESPN agrees. Scott "Almost Perfect (But Not Quite)" Baker dominated the Indians the entire night, though things didn't exactly get off to a good start. Scotty hit the very first batter he faced, something he rarely ever does (it was only his third hit batsman of the year), and it looked like things might get ugly fast. But Baker settled down and sent down the next nine batters in order. He gave up a double to Asdrubal Cabrera and a single to Jhonny Peralta, and that was it. It's always nice to see a starter pitch an absolute gem, even if it comes against a Cleveland lineup that has been decimated by injuries and trades.
Speaking of which, is there any real reason why Grady Sizemore is still in the lineup? He's obviously hurt and is going to need off-season surgery, and I was wondering why the Indians don't shut him down. He hasn't been very effective at the plate, or in the outfield for that matter, and isn't as though Cleveland has a division title on the line. I don't follow the Indians that closely, so the decision to postpone surgery seems curious to me.
His counterpart, Justin "Bat" Masterson didn't fare nearly as well, giving up seven runs on six hits in less than four innings. He fell behind nearly every batter he faced, walking five while striking out three. Masterson was primarily used as a reliever and spot starter in Boston, but the Indians hope to make him into a full-time starter and are in the process of stretching him out (his previous outing against the White Sox was a little more successful, but also very short). His performance wasn't all bad, though. Masterson was really tough on the Twins' right-handed hitters, striking out two and holding them hitless through his brief stint. It was the lefty bats that gave him fits, but they kind of do that to everybody.
Joe Mauer also had a pretty good night, going 3-for-3 with a pair of walks, raising his batting average to a ridiculous .375 and giving him a comfortable lead over Ichiro in the AL batting race. Actually, Man Muscles is leading the league in on-base percentage (.444) and slugging percentage (.622) by a healthy margin as well. The 2006 MVP has really been on fire lately, batting .520/.571/.920 with a double and three home runs in his last six games. The most recent projections have him finishing the season batting .358/.432/.582, with a career-high 26 home runs. And to think I was worried that he might not be healthy this season!
Jason Kubel was also very awesome, going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer to bury the Indians for good. The home run came shortly after Cleveland manager Eric Wedge was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Bob Davidson over a reversed call. Justin "Technically the 2006 MVP" Morneau apparently struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt, but Gardy successfully argued that Morny made contact and the call was reversed (replays weren't clear, but it looked like this may have been the case). Obviously, Wedge didn't like that one bit, and his subsequent rebuttal got him sent to the showers. Morneau eventually grounded into a fielder's choice, then Kubel Khan blasted his 20th homer of the season into the upper decks. Not that I don't appreciate a little help from the umpiring crew (especially after the way things have been going this year), but it would be nice if, for once, these calls would go for the Twins in close games.
I still don't really think this team is going anywhere, hell with Swarzak and Blackburn on the mound, I'm not even confident the Twins will take the series. A performance like this one sure does make waiting out the rest of the season a lot easier, though.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
"People jump off the bandwagon all the time and I'm sure we knocked a few people off the wagons tonight. But you [fans] can jump back on with us because we are going to keep playing ... I told the guys out there you keep rooting for each other. You circle yourselves in a bubble. Don't let anybody break our bubble and we just have to keep playing and we'll be okay." -Ron Gardenhire. To be fair, it was still early in the season.
"I think we definitely have better baseball ahead of us. We haven't played very well, and yet, we don't sit that far back in the division. I don't think anybody in here thinks we've hit our potential yet, and that's good, because we are not where we need to be. We've still got work to do. But the good news is there is plenty of time and we have plenty of games against opponents that are ahead of us." -Joe Nathan
"Other teams made moves to make themselves better. They added experience. ... All we can do is worry about us playing well and making sure our pitchers are healthy. If we figure out a way to take care of ourselves, we should be in it right to the end." -Justin Morneau
"I know this team can win. They know how to win, which is more important. ... It's just one game and we'll move on to the next one." -Orlando Cabrera
"This team's got a lot of fight in it, and we know what's at stake here. We know what's within reach here, and that's our goal — to get to October." -Joe Crede
"You have to suck it up. In this game, no one's going to feel sorry for you. No one. We have to find a way. We have to figure out a way to get people out and get the ball where we need to get it, and our starters, it has to start with them. They have to suck it up and get on a roll for us." -Gardy
"A lot of calls [were] no good. He had a bad night. He didn't probably think so because he's god, as umpires go. ... I was really disappointed. There was no reason for me to get thrown out of that game." -Gardy on his dispute with Hunter Wendelstedt
"We always play the line. He said no one told him to play the line, but we always play the line. We always play 'a step and dive' in a tie game in the 8th. ... How long do you have to be here to know we play the line? It's just disappointing.
"The ball shouldn't go down the line. That's the way we play. We've always played that way, but it did. I'm accountable. I should have walked up there and said get the line like we always do. Jerry [White, the first base coach] was there too, but it's on me. Always on the manager, I'll take it." -Gardy, banishing Brendan Harris to his doghouse.
"We didn't quit. We battled right back into it, and we tied the ballgame up. We're battling our (tails) off, and it's really hard. It's tough when you keep making mistakes like that." -Gardy
"There's no reason for that. (Span) knows he got the sign; you've got to get him over. To go after the first pitch there and tap to first base, that's not playing the game or understanding the game. Span's a better player than that, and I'll talk to him about that." -Gardy, throwing Denard Span under a bus
"I think, for the most part, we feel like we've had teams that could win. We've fallen short a couple times, and most of us feel like maybe that one little piece of the puzzle to help us out might have been the difference.
"A lot of times it's not that anyone feels we need something to help this club out, more-so to show that everyone is on the same page and everyone is trying to get better and get over the hump and that everyone is on board with one goal: to get where we need to be.'' -Joe Nathan, on making moves at the trade deadline.
"It makes a difference to have someone like that.'' -Justin Morneau agrees.
"I think he can help us." -Joe Mauer, on Orlando Cabrera.
"All of our reports say that (Pavano) is a leader on that club and that he's a stand-up and accountable guy. He's had a good year. He's pitched innings. I know his injury history in the last four years is significant, but he has been healthy all of this year, and he's the type of player we're looking for to help us down the final stretch." -Bill Smith, on Carl Pavano.
"For me, this guy was a gamer. This guy was probably our most consistent pitcher we had down in Florida. He took the ball every start and gave us a chance to win.
"He's hungry. He's got to pitch. He's got to go out there and pitch if he wants to keep playing this game, and I know he does. Hopefully he can go out and get some big wins for us." -Mike Redmond, on Pavano.
"It's basically begging. I'm just begging for our starters to go deeper into ballgames and give our offense a chance to pick them up." - Gardy, on the pitiful state of the starting rotation.
"I don't think we are together right now, so we have to come together as a team and pull for each other and play the game fundamentally right. I don't know the way we are playing right now, but it isn't Twins baseball and it is frustrating." -Denard Span
"Right now whatever they want me to do, I'll just do it. I don't mind throwing in the bullpen, just whatever. It's been like that the whole year, just making the same mistake every start. It's kind of hard for me, waiting five days for my next start and having the same result." -Francisco Liriano (obviously this was before his brilliant performance last night).
“That wasn’t much fun. It’s getting kind of old, going out there and not feeling myself." -Nick Blackburn, on his recent suckitude.
"If we had all the answers it would be easy. We could stop it. We could fix it right away. But no one's got all the answers for this...I don't think anybody has all the answers right now." -Gardy
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Of course, according to this article, the pitching staff is just trying too hard and that's why they suck so much. Right. They don't keep the ball down, either. And they look at the bullpen way too much. Gardy also said that it might just be a case of dead arm, since this is only the second full season in the major leagues for most of the starters, and the increased workload might be catching up with them. I think that's a much more plausible explanation.
On the bright side, Man Muscles went 3-for-4, raising his batting average to .369. Watching him earn yet another batting title is pretty much the only thing to look forward to the rest of the season. Of course, that will probably just make it more difficult for the Twins to re-sign him. *Sigh*
I don't really know what to say about this team anymore, so it's a good thing we have Joe Posnanski. He had recently written a blog post on what it means to quit in professional sports, and I think it applies to the Twins. Oh, and there's this video of an exploding whale carcass:
I think that also sums up the season nicely.
Monday, August 10, 2009
After yet another tough road trip, and dropping an important series against the Tigers, the Twins sit at 54-57 and 5.5 games out of first. However, unlike almost every season since I can remember, the offense hasn't really been the issue. The Twins have about the sixth-best run production in the league, are sixth in on-base percentage, and eighth in home runs and slugging percentage. Perhaps it isn't the most potent offense in the AL, but it should be good enough to win more than 54 ballgames. Of course, it doesn't help that the worst hitters on the team are, well, among the worst hitters in baseball, but it's clear that scoring runs hasn't really been much of a problem for the Twinkies. Preventing runs, on the other hand, has been a much bigger issue. The young and talented starting rotation was supposed to be one of the team's greatest strengths coming into the season, unfortunately it seems most of them have instead taken a huge step backward.
Nick Blackburn has predictably come back down to earth after getting off to a hot start. He isn't striking out very many batters (he's struck out only six since the All-Star break), while giving up a lot of hits (38 in 21.2 innings pitched). Subsequently, he's also sporting a 7.89 ERA in the second half.
Glen Perkins is little more than an average lefty, but he's been pretty disappointing even by that standard. He's posting an awful 5.89 ERA, 5.08 xFIP, 1.484 WHIP and poor 1.96 K/BB ratio in 96.1 innings. He's failed to make it past the fourth inning in three of his past five starts, surrendering a combined 21 runs in 9.1 innings. Perkins has been having some shoulder problems this season, and while the timing is a little suspect, he does have a history of shoulder issues. Given his spotty performance over the past couple of months, and the increased workload from last year (last season was the first time he'd pitched more than 150 innings), it certainly seems plausible that Perk really is hurt.
Francisco Liriano's rough season has been covered in great detail, and most of his struggles stem from a lack of command of his fastball. Indeed, according to Fangraphs, his fastball is a league-worst -24.1 runs below average. His velocity is up about 1.6 mph compared to last year, but his command has been all over the place. It's tough to get by in the major leagues without a decent fastball, so it's not surprising that F-bomb is getting hit hard despite his very good 8.06 K/9 rate. The Twins have already announced that Glen Perkins is moving to the bullpen, so Frankie will get another chance to prove himself as a starter. The Twins have been patient with F-bomb, as have I, though it's been increasingly difficult to defend that position lately. It's just that someone with as good of stuff as Frankie should be given every opportunity to succeed as a starter, and I doubt that he'll suddenly find his command while pitching an inning or two out of the bullpen. However, he draws the Royals next, and if he has another bad outing against the worst offense in baseball, management will be left with little choice.
On a somewhat related note, what's with all the recent Scott Baker hate? Not just from Bert Blyleven (that goes without saying), but now the local media is getting into the (tired) act. Maybe, as Howard Sinker notes, it's just that so much was expected of Baker coming into the season that anything less than a Santana-esque performance seems disappointing. There's no denying that Scotty got off to a rough start, posting a 9.82 ERA through April, but since then he's been one of the most reliable starters in the rotation. Obviously his last start against the Tigers wasn't good, since he gave up six runs in less than five innings in a game the Twins really couldn't afford to lose, but he also hasn't been hit this hard in over a month. He had given up a total of four runs in his last four starts, and his 4.04 K/BB ratio is about as good as it gets. Scotty isn't exactly a strikeout pitcher, but his 7.45 K/9 rate is better than league average, and helps ensure the bases are empty when one of his flyballs inevitably leaves the ballpark. SO LEAVE SCOTTY ALONE, HE'S DOING JUST FINE!!! One does have to wonder why isn't there more vitriol directed at the strikeout-averse (and also struggling) Glen Perkins or Nick Blackburn.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
There has already been a lot of analysis of the Pavano deal on the internets, with probably the best coming from Fangraphs, Nick Nelson, the Tenth Inning Stretch, and Josh Johnson. In some ways, this is a good move for the Twins. Pavano is a solid, if unspectacular starter (indeed, looking at his numbers, he's the second-best pitcher in the rotation, behind Scott Baker) who can provide some much-needed stability in the rotation and isn't going to cost an upper-level prospect in return. And if he does end up replacing Glen Perkins in the rotation, I suppose I could learn to like him. However, as the Twins Geek pointed out, the Twins are now less likely to try and further improve their starting rotation, and that rotation is still desperately in need of improvement. Pavano has been getting hit pretty hard this season and probably won't provide much of anything other than depth. For a team that is one torn rotator cuff away from putting Kevin Mulvey in the starting rotation, depth is certainly a good thing, but Pavano isn't likely to help the team make a deep run in the playoffs (or even make the playoffs, really).
I'm a little sad that R[uns] A[llowed] Dickey got sent back to AAA to clear space on the roster for ol' glass arm. Not because he was such a great reliever (he wasn't, hence his nickname), but all the "Gardy's whipping out his Dickey" and "It's Dickey time" comments whenever the knuckleballer started warming up always made me giggle. Yes, I am a grownup. I swear.
By the way, two Twins are currently leading all three AL triple crown categories: Mauer with this .366 BA and Morneau in, well, everything else. It doesn't count as part of the triple crown (though it probably should), but our M&MVP boys are also leading the league in slugging percentage, slugging .615 and .572 respectively. Kubel Khan, with his .548 slugging percentage, isn't far behind. And yet this team is
Saturday, August 8, 2009
It seems futile to complain about the umpiring when the Twins beat themselves with such poor play, but I think Gardy has a legitimate beef. It's not so bad that home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt missed a couple of calls that, if they didn't actually cost the Twins the game, certainly didn't help matters much. Umpires are human, after all, and the Twins could have helped themselves by playing better baseball. It's that he refuses to admit it. Quoth the god of balls and strikes:
"Best-case scenario, the only questionable call of whole night that he might have is whether the fan might have touched the foul ball down the line, which we couldn't see on the tape," Wendelstedt said. "Everything else, we were 100 percent. And then when I get my ball-and-strike disk, I'll bet I'm 97-99 percent, and we'll look at that tomorrow."
No, the foul call was probably correct, but there are a couple of other calls the umpiring crew clearly missed that may have had a direct impact on the game. In the first inning, Curtis Granderson was caught in a rundown, but was ruled safe even though the replay clearly showed that Brendan Harris tagged him out (Granderson later admitted as much). Later, Carlos Guillen was ruled safe at home even though the replays clearly showed that Mauer tagged him out. Detroit scored on both plays, and the blown call against Granderson opened up a huge 6-run first that the Twins never recovered from. This loss isn't entirely the umpiring crew's fault, since Swarzak obviously had nothing and couldn't even make it out of the second inning. Still, the pitching staff doesn't need any help from the umpiring crew when it comes to blowing leads, they can do that just fine on their own.
You know, on top of simply not being a very good team, the Twins seem to be getting burned by a lot of bad luck this season. It just seems as though every blown call or bad bounce or misplay in the field eventually comes back to haunt them. Maybe it's just because they are such a crappy team. I mean, good teams can overcome all of that stuff and win anyway, right? At any rate, this entire season has been one long comedy of errors, leaving Twins fans to wonder what could possibly go wrong next.