Blogger's note: TBL is mad busy lately, what with the baseball and the cubicle and the piracy and the very occasional need for sleep, not to mention the other writing projects which have been as sadly neglected as this blog. So, y'know, there will be posts when TBL has a few minutes to spare and enough caffeine to string together a sentence.
TBL says: Go, Cleveland!
Nathan's save made him the first Twins pitcher to record at least 35 saves in three consecutive seasons.
"We need a whole team effort," Nathan said. "We need runs scored, our starters to pitch well, the other hands in the 'pen getting us there, so I think this stat is definitely more of a team effort, and this milestone recognizes what our team has been able to do."
Nathan's comments are a reflection of the Twins' team mentality. And with Minnesota's magic number at just two, it leaves open the possibility to clinch a playoff berth as soon as Monday, if the Twins beat the Royals and the White Sox lose in Cleveland.
Also from twinsbaseball.com:
Players try many different things to get through the long season, but it's what shortstop Jason Bartlett hasn't done that's been the key to his success.
With his start on Sunday, Bartlett extended his streak of consecutive games played to 92. It's by far the longest stretch that he's ever played in his career.
"I think it's all mental," Bartlett said. "I talked to [former Twins infielder] Ron Coomer the other day about it and he agreed that to keep going, you tell your body that it's not tired and remember it's all in your head. That's what I'm trying to do."
But while this stretch has been tough, it's also given Bartlett the chance to show how consistent he can be at the position. His dominant presence at shortstop has made the Twins hesitant to give him even just one day off while the club pushes for a playoff spot.
"I think it's a character builder for Bart," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Knowing he can do it and still find a way to go out there and get it done. ... [He's] a little worn out, but it's something he's really learning from."
Gardenhire has been so impressed with Bartlett's play that he described the 26-year-old on Sunday as the most consistent shortstop the organization has had since Greg Gagne, who played for the Twins from 1983-92. Bartlett has made so many routine plays recently that an error in the second inning of Saturday's game was a bit of a surprise to Gardenhire.
"When you see him throwing the ball low yesterday, you were just like, 'Wow,' because he's been so consistent," Gardenhire said. "Bart's really has done everything that you can ask this year. His performance been great for this team."
Knowing that those types of errors, which came a little more frequently for him last year, are now looked at with surprise is something that has given Bartlett a lot of pride.
"I think my presence out there helps the team, and that's big for me," Bartlett said. "With me and Nick [Punto] on that left side, I think the pitchers have more confidence. They know that a lot of balls are going to be caught. It's good to be the guy out there that can give the team confidence."
TBL says: So, is that enough "leadership" for everyone? Good. Because if TBL sees any stupid moves with our shortstop next spring training, TBL's going to have to come down there and bang some noggins together. TBL's pacifist ideals do not extend to mismanagement of her baseball team.
Still twinsbaseball.com:TBL says: Well good for Mr. Underappreciated. Nice to see his teammates made a big deal of it for him.
Matt Guerrier had been waiting a long time for his first Major League win, and his teammates sure made it worth the wait.
Guerrier's eyes were a tad blurry after Saturday's win, as he was doused with champagne and a shaving cream pie. Considering that Guerrier had gone 88 appearances without a victory -- the longest active streak in the Majors -- it seemed to be an event worth celebrating.
But with falling just short of earning a win so many times, Guerrier said it wasn't until he got in the clubhouse that he really let himself appreciate the win.
"A couple times this year, I did think about getting a win out there on the mound, and it affected the way that I threw," Guerrier said. "This time I tried to put it out of mind ... it's just good to get it out of the way."
And one more from twinsbaseball.com:TBL says: That is a story TBL would very much like to write about. Get hopping, boys.
And while there is quite a bit of excitement around the club at the prospect of just making the playoffs by earning the Wild Card, it's not the only thing the team is looking to secure this week. There is a feeling that the division would mean so much more to the club that has dealt with plenty of obstacles this season.
"We want the division," Bartlett said. "It would be such an extreme to go from 12 ½ games out to win the division. That would really be an amazing story."
From TwinCities.com:TBL says: Shhhh! Don't jinx it!
If they win the division, they would have completed one of the greatest comebacks in major league history. Minnesota was 12½ games back on May 27. Only five teams have recovered from being 12½ or more games out to finish in first place, recently Seattle in 1995.
From StarTribune.com:TBL says: Is it just TBL, or is Joe Mauer too good to be true? He's young, he's cheap, he throws out basestealers, he calls a good game, and he's led the AL in batting practically since spring training. And he's also friendly, humble and selfless?
Twins catcher Joe Mauer put himself in terrific position to win the American League batting title heading into the season's final week, but he'll have to fend off two Yankees to do it.
Mauer went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer in Sunday's 6-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, pushing his average to .347.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is officially second in the AL, at .339. But Jeter's double-play partner, second baseman Robinson Cano, is batting .341.
Cano missed 35 games because of a hamstring injury, but he needs only four plate appearances tonight at Tampa Bay to get back on the leaderboard and 22 more before the season ends to qualify for the title.
Players need 502 plate appearances, or 3.1 per game, to qualify for the batting title. Mauer has 582. If he holds on, he'll become the first catcher to win the AL batting title, and the first catcher in either league since Ernie Lombardi in 1942.
"You guys keep reminding me about it, but I haven't really thought about it," Mauer told reporters after Sunday's game. "All I know is we've got to win two more games to get to the playoffs, so I'm pretty excited about that."
TBL is far too cynical to buy this. He must kick puppies in his spare time or something.