Today, the Twins set a new team record for most hits in a shutout loss. And they were only one hit shy of the ML record!
I'm so proud.
...Frightwig, of Sundappled Wood!
TBL's Note: The excellence of the following is not in any way diminished by the fact that it was the only entry. What, are you all out of town already? Lucky sods...
Tacking on one more day, in hopes of getting a response from someone who will actually be in town this weekend. Otherwise, TBL will be keeping the tickets for herself. So there.
What's wrong with the Twins offense, by Tuesday noon. Start typing!
Your attention, please.
TBL has in her grubby little paws two lower reserved tickets to the Sunday, September 4th game versus Cleveland. These tickets will be sent to whoever writes the most thought-provoking answer (whether TBL agrees with it or not) to the following question:
What has pushed the Twins offense from its usual fair-to-middling level headlong into outright pathetic failure? Or, conversely, are things really not as bad as they seem on the hitting side?
Email me your answer. All entries will be posted for the edification of the public!* Bloggers and non-bloggers alike are eligible. Heck, everyone is eligible. Can your cat type? Anyway, get going--you have until Monday noon.
(If you can't make that game or don't want the tickets, enter anyway! Just mention you don't want/can't use the tickets in your email. If you win, the tickets will move on to the next honorable mention, but you'll still get your digital laurels to rest upon.)
A few stats to get you started:
|Year||Avg||OPS||Runs||HR||AL Rank: Avg||AL Rank: Runs|
I'm trying to find the words to describe last night's game.
It didn't start off like a pitcher's duel. The first batter squibbed a single against Santana and then stole second. Oh, dear.
But this was Santana, not Pre-All-Star-Break-Radke or Mays-Come-Lately. Johan said, "I spit upon your runners in scoring position", and he sat the next three batters down. And then the duel began in earnest.
Freddy Garcia gave up a walk in the bottom of the first, but nothing came of it. There was a double in the third by the same Whine Sock who got that single, and it elicited pretty much the same reaction from Santana. In the fourth, it was Santana who gave up the walk, and then came a long, long fly ball to left, and the only way to haul it in was for Shannon Stewart to make like a paintball against the outfield wall. Splat he did, and out of the game he went with a strained or dislocated shoulder, but the out was recorded and the duel continued.
One-two-three they went down in the bottom of the fourth, the top of the fifth, the bottom of the fifth, the top of the sixth. People were starting to whisper "no-hitter" in the seats. The Twins had two walks, it's true, but their line read 0-0-0. Two pitchers were pitching shutouts and one--the wrong one--had yet to surrender so much as a single.
Cuddyer led off the bottom of the sixth with a roller down the line that shot under the third baseman's glove. He cruised into second base, the crowd went wild, and the jumbotron flashed the official ruling on the play.
E5. An error. A #&%$ing error on the #&%$ing third baseman and are you blind, Mr. Official Scorer? Well, on second thought, it wasn't exactly a screamer, was it? I mean, his glove was right there, just not down far enough.
But oh, look, we've got a runner on second, and Abernathy's hit a grounder to the right side and he's out easy as you please but Cuddyer's at third with one out! But then Michael Ryan, who hasn't had a hit since the Clinton administration and is currently filling in for Our Hero Stewart, hits one right at the third baseman and Cuddy has to hold up and there are two outs. But Punto is up, and Punto has been hitting like nobody's business and he'll bring Cuddy home, won't he?
Actually, no, he won't. He'll launch a heart-stopper deep into right field and Jermaine Dye will run backward and leap and crash into the wall (a lot like Stewart but without the injury) and catch the damn ball, dammit all to hell.
And on we go to the seventh, which looks a whole lot like the middle innings with six guys up and down in about five minutes flat. Still the Twins line reads 0-0-0, and I'm starting to squirm a little in my hard blue plastic seat. Okay, I'm starting to squirm a lot, and I start praying to the Baseball Gods (for They are ineffable, but certainly wise and good). I tell Them, Yes, I do want to see a no-hitter in my lifetime, and I really want to see one live and in person, but not this no-hitter. Just let us get a hit! One measly hit! Please?
Santana teased them with a two-out single in the top of the eighth, then snatched the third out from the jaws of his first pitch to Ozuna. Out comes Freddy Garcia for the 8th, still pitching a no-hit shutout. I'm starting to think maybe the Baseball Gods (for They are flaky, but fair) are with Garcia tonight.
But wait, what's this?
One hit. One long and lovely hit over the centerfield baggie. The Twins would go down 1-2-3 afterward, and it didn't matter.
The Dome erupted in a cacophony the likes of which it hadn't seen since the first home playoff game in 2002, after all those long years of draught. The teflon trembled, the seats shook, and the crowd crowed. It was wild and glorious and it was magic.
We surged to our feet as Crazy Joe Nathan took the mound in the ninth. Every pitch was greeted with a swell of sound, yelps of joy or groans of anguish, depending on the umpire's ruling. When the second batter walked, I thought the boos would blow the umpire right out of the building. When Nathan struck out the dangerous Paul Konerko for the second out, I feared for the structural integrity of the Dome. And when Aaron Rowand worked the count to 2-2 (I was jumping up and down like a demented bunny from barely-restrained tension) and then struck out with a mighty swing, I swear they must have heard it in Wisconsin. Or at least St. Paul.
Twins win on one hit, one run, and one unforgettable night.
Okay, so I'm probably the one who jinxed Guerrier before his last outing. Never put a pitcher on in the tenth immediately after a blogger urges the masses to stop being so down on the guy...
That aside, those six runs were the first he's given up since the break, ending a streak of 18 1/3 scoreless innings over 11 games. It's also by far the most runs he's given up in an outing. He gave up three runs twice, once in April and once in July. He's given up two runs twice, in June and in July. He's given up one run four times.
In other words, he's yielded 20 earned runs all season, in the course of nine appearances totalling 12 2/3 innings. On the flip side, he's dealt 38 1/3 scoreless innings in 24 appearances.
Thirty-three games, and he's given up three or more runs thrice, two or more only five times. When he trots to the mound, your chances are almost 3 to 1 against any runs scoring against him. And as for inherited runners, he's logged a Rincón-like 70% stranded (30% scored).
Not bad for a rookie, eh? I think we can forgive him for Saturday.
The Twins have a .239 team average since the All-Star break.
That's 14th (aka "dead last") in the AL. They're also 14th in home runs, slugging, and OBP. They're 12th in total runs scored. They're first in strikeouts, but unfortunately that's not in reference to the pitching staff.
They have a 16-19 (.457) record since the break and have lost six of their ten completed series. One of those series losses was a sweep.
The Twins have won 10 of their 17 games in August and 6 of their last 7. They are currently on a 5-game winning streak with wins against Oakland and Seattle bookending a 3-game sweep of the [censored] Whine Sox.
During the current streak, the Twins have posted 58 hits, 27 runs, 6 home runs (half by Matthew LeCroy), 5 other extra-base hits, and 8 stolen bases (half by Nick Punto). They have won three of their five completed series this month.
On weekdays, I get up at an hour of the morning that should probably be listed as cruel and inhumane under the terms of the Geneva Convention. So by the time the sixth extra inning commenced I was feeling pretty droopy. And when the Twins opened said extra inning with a double and then failed to so much as advance the runner to third, I yawned, swore a little, and went to bed.
So, naturally, they scored five runs in the next inning (the sixteenth) and won the game.
I'd like to feel happy about that, and part of me does, but mostly I'm just sleep-deprived and kind of annoyed. You couldn't go ahead and score five runs after that double, could you, boys? Ingrates.
Of course, now that I think about it, we've won the series. Against the Whine Sox. And we've got Santana pitching tonight. That just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
You know what would be fun? Winning tonight. In nine innings. And even (dare I dream?) by a bunch of runs. Like, ten. That would definitely make up for waiting until I passed out to score last night.
Yes it would.
I've been thinking about a few players lately.
So, let me get this straight. He comes into the season as our everyday shortstop, gets a grand total of 91 at-bats to adjust to major league pitching, and is bundled off to Rochester in disgrace. After making a lot of AAA pitchers run home sobbing for their mommies he comes back and is again named our starting shorstop. He is then allowed the extravagant sum of 29 further at-bats before being relegated to the bench.
Apparently, you're only allowed to suck a little your first season (or three) if your initials are MC or LR. Cover your ears, I'm going to swear the paint off the walls now.
You know what I wonder about this kid? I wonder why we aren't using him more. He's good. (Okay, when he's bad, he's pretty bad, but he's very rarely bad.) He's got the lowest ERA on the staff, he's got a nice strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.60), doesn't give up a ton of walks, gets his share of strikeouts and then some, holds opponents to a .238 average, handles inherited runners pretty well and generally goes out there and gets the job done, whether we ask him for one inning or four. He's pitched nearly ten innings this month and has yet to give up a run.
I've noticed the fans seem to be kind of down on him. Whenever I'm at the Dome and he trots to the mound, I hear a chorus of groans. Now, he's had a couple of spectacularly bad outings, it's true, but name me a pitcher who hasn't. I think this guy's going to help this team out for years to come, and he's exactly the card we need to have up our sleeve with Balfour injured, Mulholland aging rapidly, Rincón verging on being overused, Crain increasingly succumbing to a late-season slump and Romero playing (in the words of Batgirl) "Crazy Pepe's Chug and Toss" out there.
[wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments]
Ah, Juan. My dear, darling Juan. He of the striking people out and the empty bases. He of the .219 opponent batting average and the Knee-Buckling Slider of Doom. Juan is fabulous, and Juan really needs to be the one who steps in when there are runners on, thank you very much.
Oh, Canada! Have you seen what he's been doing to the ball lately? He's not so much with the high batting average (in this he resembles the rest of the team), but when he does hit the ball (and we hope that will soon occur more often), the poor ball doesn't stand a chance, does it? I'm normally a small-ball kind of girl myself, but I do love those upper-deckers of his.
|Chi White Sox||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||2||9||1|
And the Player of the Game must surely go to Nick Punto, with three hits and three stolen bases, with honorable mentions to Lew Ford (2 RBI and some fancy glovework, as well as the most entertaining slide into home yet this season) and Juan Rincón (struck out the side in his inning of relief).
Hello, everyone! With the advent of the Renaissance Festival--and therefore the ending of pre-Fest preparations--the pace of my life has slowed from frenetic to merely frantic and there is blogging time once again.
(Yes, there will be pirate pictures, once they've been culled and organized.)
Speaking of pirates, did you know there's a baseball team called the Pirates? It's true. They're from Pittsburgh, they're in the National League Central Division, and they aren't very good. Actually, they're pretty bad. They're not as bad as the Royals, though, who are in the American League Central Division. There's another team in the American League Central Division which is much better than either the Royals or the Pirates, and they're called the Twins.
(Don't the Twins sound better when you lead into the subject like that?)
This weekend, the Twins won a series. They only scored five runs, but they won the series. That's impressive, in an aenemic, fans-breaking-out-in-hives sort of way. They've actually won two of their four series in August so far, though you wouldn't know it from the mounting Prilosec bills among the team's loyal followers.
(Fun [?] fact: Lew Ford is the team's best hitter so far this month, with a .310 average, but he's only got two RBI because you need guys on base for that.)
On Friday, Johan "Dios, This Team is Heavy" Santana overcame lousy run support--one, count it, one run--by pitching a complete game shutout. On Saturday, Justin "This is My Boom-Stick" Morneau treated Joe "A Little Help, Here" Mays to the munificent total of two runs, only to see ol' Joe hack up twice that many in the bottom of the inning--apparently Joe only pitches mutual shutouts. On Sunday, Carlos "Please, No More Lone Ranger Jokes" Silva took the lone run his teammates managed to give him and nursed it until the sixth inning when, alas, some jerk ran in from third on a patented Silva double play grounder. But the Twins did eke out another run in the ninth to win it for fellow Venezuelan righty Juan "Señor Reliable" Rincón, so all's well that ends with a series win.
(All's well unless you're Juan Castro, that is--he went on the disabled list with a strained knee on Saturday.)
And now the Twins head back to the Central Division, and the Central time zone, to face the Whine Socks in the Windy City. These two teams haven't played each other since April, which coincidentally was about the last time the Twins were in the race for the division.
(Did I say that? That sounded a little bitter. What I meant was...well, pretty much what I said, actually.)
So what's at stake now? Pride, I suppose, or at least our tattered, patched and oft-darned dignity. We have enough games left with them to play the spoiler to their homefield advantage hopes, too, though that would require a whole lot of winning. And maybe a little ass-kicking.
(The fun starts at 7:00. In the event of a bad outing, multilingual swearing classes begin in my living room around the fourth inning.)
The media, they are abuzz today!
Hernandez is supposed to be the top pitching prospect in baseball, and he threw 97-mph strikes with a hard-snapping curveball. He's no Daffy Duck, but he is a teenager, and the Twins have lived this one-play-short scene far too often this season for at least Gardenhire's patience.
And a sixth-inning move that went unexplained publicly might be a sign that the manager's tolerance has run out.
Center fielder Lew Ford's failure to execute a routine sacrifice bunt with runners at first and second in a scoreless game cost the Twins their best scoring chance.
Ford bunted the first pitch foul and then bunted a fastball just to the left of the mound that Hernandez fielded quickly enough to get the lead runner at third on a good play. The inning fizzled after that for the Twins when Justin Morneau followed with a strikeout.
When asked about pulling Ford from the game defensively in the sixth -- and putting infielder Nick Punto in center -- Gardenhire made a reference to the hip flexor Ford has played with and then said, 'Internal stuff... . That's in this clubhouse.''
Ford was not immediately available in the clubhouse after the game. Other players suggested that more went on between the failed bunt and the bottom of the sixth inning to prompt the change.
Whatever the specifics, it seems that with less than eight weeks left in the season and the end to a postbreak free fall nowhere in sight, the manager is ready to respond swiftly to continued failures of this underperforming lineup.
Lohse lost his fifth decision in seven starts since posting his last victory June 2. But he pitched a strong game, too, allowing one run on four hits and two walks, with a season-high seven strikeouts.Poor Kyle. He really has been doing a lot better lately, but he's got serious run support issues.
Francisco Liriano extended his scoreless streak to 26 2/3 innings as Triple-A Rochester cruised to a 7-3 victory over Ottawa in Tuesday's doubleheader opener.Le pant. Le drool. Le swoon.
Liriano (7-1) yielded four hits and three walks while fanning four over seven innings at Frontier Field. He owns a 1.46 ERA and has allowed only one run in his last 43 2/3 frames.
The 21-year-old left-hander was named the International League Pitcher of the Week for the week of Aug. 1-7, receiving the title for the second time this season since being promoted from the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats on June 16.
Editor's Note: TBL has been desperately busy getting ready for the Renaissance Festival. What made her decide that she really needs a sixth pair of bloomers and a new cloak embellished with embroidery (and not machine embroidery, thank you very much), she doesn't know. But suffice it to say, she's been spending more time with a needle than a keyboard these days. At any rate, let's look back on the weekend in Twinsland, or at least what bits of it TBL managed to catch:
Boston @ Minnesota
Game 1: Best. Game. Ever.
Now, I like a good pitcher's duel as much as anyone. But after a month of taking sucking lessons from Kansas City, what I really want is a blowout. An honest-to-gosh, take-that, I-spit-in-your-general-direction blowout. I want to see the other team grow tails for the express purpose of having something to tuck between their legs as they slink out afterward. I want to see the visitor's fans (who were out in great numbers that evening) wailing, gnashing their teeth and rending their logo-emblazoned garments.
It didn't look good in the beginning. When you're playing the powerhouse Red Sox and the first batter of the game gets a triple against Brad "First Inning Blues" Radke, you've mentally tallied three or four runs against before the dust has settled from the slide.
Have you met Brad's brother, Johan K. Radke?
With a runner on third and no outs, the rest of the first inning went like so: K, BB, K, K. One hit, no run, one left. I couldn't believe my eyes. Radke would go on to record eight strikeouts on the evening, ably assisted by the sparkling defensive play of Lew "Just Call Me Torii" Ford. Radke would not give up a walk or an extra-base hit after the first.
While Radke was pitching a gem, the Twins were doing things to Bronson Arroyo that would be illegal outside of a baseball diamond. Every player contributed at the plate, quite possibly for the first time this season.
Ford - 5 AB, 3 hits, 2 runs
Punto - 4 AB, 1 hit, 1 RBI
Mauer - 5 AB, 3 hits, 3 runs, 3 RBI
LeCroy - 4 AB, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 RBI
Jones - 4 AB, 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBI, 1 walk
Morneau - 5 AB, 1 RBI
Cuddyer - 4 AB, 1 hit, 1 walk
Ryan - 4 AB, 1 run, 1 walk
Bartlett - 3 AB, 1 walk
Rodriguez - 1 AB, 1 hit, 1 run
Tiffee - 1 AB, 1 hit, 1 run
I said everyone, I meant everyone!
The Twins win, 12-0.
Game 2: Opportunity Knocks Late
I was catching what may well be my last Saints game of the season Saturday night, so with the exception of checking the score on my mobile, I missed this one. However, the final at-bats of the game were replayed many times on the TV, and they were worth watching.
The score was tied at three in the bottom of the ninth, when Cuddyer hit a chopper to his counterpart at third, Bill Mueller, who air-mailed it to the first baseman's invisible, levitating twin. Cuddy scampered into second, and up comes the only Twin who successfully bunts with any regularity, Nick Punto. And Punto, naturally, bunts. The pitcher fields, juggles the ball a little, and throws exactly where Mueller just threw--which is to say, more toward the stands than his own fielder. Cuddy sprinted home, and there's your game.
Sometimes you win 'em, and sometimes they lose 'em. Boston loses, 4-3.
Game 3: There Aren't Enough O's in Oops
I missed the first half of this game, too. I know, I know--I'm a bad fan. But I really can't regret missing Shannon Stewart flipping the fly ball which consituted the second out of the inning into the stands for a fan, thereby allowing a run to Boston. I'm so glad I missed that, I refused to watch the news last night, just so I wouldn't see a replay. I don't watch Bush, and I don't watch plays like that. It keeps me from going prematurely grey.
There was a ray of hope, however. Our boys went into the ninth trailing 11-4, and quickly made two outs. Then they strung together a walk, a single, a throwing error, a double, a single, a walk, and a bases-loaded walk to score three runs and load the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate.
And then, of course, the tying run struck out, but hey--what a rally, right?
Twins lose, 11-7.
Wrapup: Two Out of Three Ain't Bad
The Twins scored 23 runs over the three games and recorded their first series win since the All-Star break (pardon me while I cringe). They had scored 22 runs over the eight games prior to the series, so we're looking at a real surge here.
Meanwhile, per twinsbaseball.com:
A seventh-inning strikeout of Roberto Petagine ended struggling reliever J.C. Romero's streak of nine batters faced without recording an out over his last three games. In that span, the lefty allowed five earned runs, six hits and three walks.
Romero owns a 14.75 ERA over his last seven appearances while also allowing six of his last eight inherited runners to score.
What can I tell you that you don't already know?
I could tell you that the Twins have given up on winning and are instead concentrating on finding innovative ways to suck. But you knew that. I could tell you the hitters aren't hitting and the pitchers are too often merely throwing, but I suspect you reached that conclusion long ago on your own.
I could tell you that my company recently went through a major re-organization to maximize its soul-sucking capabilities, and that for the first time in the history of corporate re-orgs the goal behind the chaos has actually been achieved. Would that be news?
I could tell you that the project I am currently working on (for the aforementioned soul-suckers) will eventually end up in the Journal of American Science as scientific proof of Murphy's Law. You probably didn't know that, but it's equally probable that you don't care.
I could tell you that
President Emperor Bush recently gave the media the finger. And now his mouthpieces say it was his thumb. I wonder what he calls the short, squat finger that's a bit separate from all the rest, then?
But, back to baseball. Here are a few obscure things, in no particular order, that you may not know about the Twins: