"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Note Dropped in Passing

*pant, pant*

Egads, but TBL has been busy lately. Too busy to watch the Mets series, even! And you all know what it takes to tear TBL away from the baseball. But they won, yes? The series? Justin hit at least one homer? And Johan was en fuego? Well. TBL knows all she needs to know.

Ironically, the only evening TBL has had free lately is the one with no baseball. To wit, right now. But soon (after just another day or two of the insane busy-ness), back to the semi-regular blogging.

TBL will most certainly not, under any circumstances which do not involve Colin Firth and a tub of chocolate sauce, be missing Sunday's battle between Santana and Willis.

Twins @ Marlins

06/22, 6:05:
Boof Bonser, RHP (5-3, 4.33)vs. Scott Olsen, LHP (5-6, 4.89)

Notes: In his last start, Boof showed signs of regaining the control that has eluded him lately. He really needs to build on that.

06/23, 6:05:
Carlos Silva, RHP (4-8, 4.20) vs. Josh Johnson, RHP (0-1, 9.82)

Notes: Silva needs run support. I mean, seriously, guys--give the poor man some run support!

06/24, 12:05:
Johan Santana, LHP (7-6, 2.91) vs. Dontrelle Willis, LHP (7-6, 4.90)

Notes: TBL will not be answering the phone during this one. No way.

Read More

Friday, June 15, 2007

Things You Might Not Know

Wow. What a comeback! You knew a game that pitted Johan Santana against Tim Hudson was going to get exciting, but going into the bottom of the ninth on the wrong side of a 2-0 shutout and winning with a smattering of seeing-eye hits and some timely help from the opposition's fielding isn't, perhaps, quite what we were expecting. But it was wonderful.

Last night's game is exactly why one should never leave before the last out. At least, not without a better reason than "they won't win this one". To all those folks who sighed, shook their heads, and trudged out in the eighth, TBL would just like to say: Ha! You missed it! Neener!

And now, a few things you might not know:

  • The Twins were 0-27 when trailing after 8 innings, before last night.

  • Before Luis Castillo hit the liner down the third base line that started the rally, he told Torii Hunter that he was going to make the Braves pay for playing him off the line.

  • The Twins have given Johan Santana run support to the tune of 3 runs or fewer in 10 of his 14 starts this season. He is reportedly getting frustrated with this state of affairs. (Gee, you think?)

  • Since April 21st, Pat Neshek has pitched 25 innings and given up one run.

Probables - Milwaukee @ Minnesota

6/15, 7:10:
Claudio Vargas, RHP (4-1, 3.94) vs. Scott Baker, RHP (1-1, 6.45)

Notes: Vargas was knocked out after four innings when he faced the Twins in May, while Baker is trying to cement his shaky position in the Twins rotation.

6/16, 6:10:
Dave Bush, RHP (3-6, 5.70) vs. Boof Bonser, RHP (5-2, 4.21)

Notes: Bush hasn't recorded a win since early May and has never in his career won against the Twins. Bonser will be looking to build on a decent start last week against the Nationals, as well as to extend his time on the mound. He has finished the sixth inning in only five of his thirteen starts.

6/17, 1:10:
Jeff Suppan, RHP (7-7, 4.04) vs. Kevin Slowey, RHP (2-0, 3.71)

Notes: Suppan can't seem to buy a win lately, whether he pitches well or not. Slowey was very good in his last start and will be facing the Brewers for the first time.

Read More

Thursday, June 14, 2007

That's One Proud Papa

Now that's what I call rebounding from a bad start:


Carlos Silva, for the birth of your first child, your complete-game shutout (the Twins' first since 2005, and also their first complete game of the season), inducing three double plays, and hustling everyone out of the ballpark in 2 hours and 10 minutes, we salute you.

If this is what sleep deprivation does for you, Carlos, TBL can only hope your new pride and joy will be extremely colicky. Until he's ten.

TBL would also like to give a shout out to Justin Morneau for his 18th homer of the season. (On pace for 46! Whoop!)

On deck: Hudson v. Santana. TBL is feeling distinctly weak at the knees...

Read More

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Open Letters To...

The Guy Sitting Immediately to TBL's Right Tuesday Evening

Dear Sir,

Yesterday evening, as we watched the Twins/Braves game in close proximity, TBL noticed that you appeared to be laboring under a few misapprehensions. In the spirit of comradeship among fans, allow TBL to clear those up for you.

1. Your seat stops at the armrest. Placing your large, sweaty arm up and over the armrest put it in TBL's seat. Which was occupied by TBL. Who did not, in fact, enjoy having your large, sweaty arm pressed against her ribs.

2. Alfonso Soriano does not wear #42. Additionally, he has not been a Yankee for a number of years.

3. Being unable to gracefully handle the consumption of vast quantities of weak beer is not, as you seem to think, an admirable character trait.

4. In your attempts to impress all within earshot of your distressingly loud voice with your erudition, you ably demonstrated that your knowledge of baseball is slightly inferior to that of the average 8-year-old TBL encounters in the stands. (Additionally, the majority of said eight-year-olds are considerably better-behaved.)

5. There are cities in which it is considered acceptable for hometown fans to fling profanity and insults at hometown players. This is not one of them. TBL respectfully suggests you might be happier if you relocated. (TBL did find it highly amusing that the primary targets of your invective, Messrs. Bartlett and Punto, were both 2-for-4 on the night.)

6. "Johnson" is not an inherently funny surname.

TBL hopes you will use her well-meaning advice to improve your baseball experience, and that of dozens of hapless fans around you, in future.



Her Beloved Readers (Yes, YOU)

Dear Readers,

Someday TBL is going to snap. If you should ever happen to glance over near first base and see a small redhaired person beating some guy (it's always a guy, usually between 30 and 50, often poorly-groomed) about the head with a scorebook, please come to the Hennepin County Jail with bail money.



Young Brad Radke Kevin Slowey

Dear Kevin,

That was lovely. Thank you.



Michael Cuddyer

Dear Michael,

All is forgiven*. You're doing a wonderful job out there.



* Offer valid only while playing the outfield. All forgiveness immediately void upon a return to third base in a defensive capacity.

Lew Ford and Jason Bartlett

Dear Darling Boys,

It did TBL's heart good to see you both out there wearing your socks the right way. Unfortunately, TBL did not have her camera last night. Tall socks again Thursday, please? For me?



Read More

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

There Went That Theory...

Who forgot to tell the Twins that the Nationals suck?

Twins 5, Nationals 8
Twins 1, Nationals 3
Twins 6, Nationals 3

The Baby Jesus has returned! And in his first series, he went 1-for-9!

So, yeah...not so much with the saving of the team there, Joe. Not that TBL blames you--there is rust to be shaken off, naturally--but she got pretty tired of hearing about how the winning would commence the instant you returned. Glad to put that theory to bed.

Hunter continued to hit like he's in a contract year (which, funnily enough, he is) and Bartlett and Punto, both of whom have struggled mightily to start the season, did quite well. In more limited action, Ford and Redmond smacked the ball around nicely, and of course Morneau hit a homer. Is it even an official series if Morneau doesn't hit a homer? TBL believes it is not.

The rest of the hitters, however, kind of stunk.

The pitching staff, on the other hand, was brilliant. Except for Carlos Silva, who had a really bad day. Seven earned runs in three innings. TBL recommends Tullamore Dew after an outing like that.

Bonser tossed five innings for three runs (neither great nor terrible) for a win, while Santana lost with two earned runs in seven innings. Alas, poor Johan...

The only relief pitcher to give up a run over the weekend was Ramon Ortiz, and since that run scored as he pitched six innings in relief of Silva, TBL is inclined to call that a superb effort.

What is it with this team and the hitting this year? They've got seven guys who hit over .290 last year, four of them over .300. You want OPS? Six guys who were over the league average of .768 last season are still with the team this year. Two thirty-plus home run hitters. The AL MVP and batting champ, fercryinoutloud.

And right at this very moment we've got four regular players hitting over .300, and four with an OPS over .768. That's almost half the starting lineup! Why, praytell, are runs not being scored? Digging in...

Bases empty.263.700.260.736
Runners on.278.763.275.779

Well, now, that doesn't look too bad. Except...check out the OPS. The Twins are way behind in every category, especially runners in scoring position. All those infield singles are fun to watch, but they don't score the runner from second, now do they?

Probables - Atlanta @ Minnesota

6/12, 7:10:
Kyle Davies, RHP (3-4, 5.31) vs. Kevin Slowey, RHP (1-0, 4.09)

Notes: Davies is wildly inconsistent and Slowey is making his third major league appearance. This could get interesting.

6/13, 7:10:
Chuck James, LHP (5-5, 3.66) vs. Carlos Silva, RHP (3-7, 4.58)

Notes: Both pitchers have been very good this year overall. Silva is coming off his worst outing of the season and would like to whitewash over it with an excellent performance in front of the home crowd.

6/14, 7:10:
Tim Hudson, RHP (6-4, 3.51) vs. Johan Santana, LHP (6-6, 3.24)

Notes: Hudson versus Santana. It's enough to give an honest fan heart palpitations. You don't get to see a matchup like this every day.

Read More

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Half and Half

After dropping behind 4-0, the Twins surged back to claim the final game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of USA of North America of Western Hemisphere of Earth of Milky Way Galaxy 8-5.

Incidentally, exciting as come-from-behind wins are, TBL would like to see the occasional get-a-lead-early-and-keep-it win. Tomorrow would be a good time to start.

Kevin Slowey got his first major league win, Nick Punto and Jason Bartlett got their first homers of 2007, Luis Castillo made his first error in 143 games, and the Twins got back to .500.

There have been seasons when a .500 record seemed like an impossible dream (TBL directs your attention to 1993-2000), and seasons when it seemed like a failure. This season, it just seems normal. The Twins keep tap-dancing around .500, forever hinting at an extended burst of fabulousness just over the horizon. The far, far horizon.

.500 is an unsatisfying place to be. Neither good nor bad, without reason for either rapture or despair. It is baseball's equivalent of Limbo. It is boring. It is unrewarding. Finish the season at .500, and you get neither postseason play, nor a high draft slot.

Is it better than sucking? TBL is unsure. Great lessons may be learned from spectacular failure. Mediocrity makes less of an impression on the psyche. Perhaps that's why it's been so hard to break free of .500, particularly in an upward direction. Inertia meets gravity. What the Twins need now is some escape velocity. For that, they need some fuel (a few good games?) and a spark (the return of Baby Jesus?). And somebody get those boys some Dramamine next time, so they don't keep puking all over the place at the first sign of upward movement.

Speaking of halfway points, happy birthday to BatGirl (yesterday) and to TBL (tomorrow). For the curious, BG is the elder. By two days.

Probables - Washington @ Minnesota

6/8, 7:10:
Jason Simontacchi, RHP (2-4, 5.61) vs. Carlos Silva, RHP (3-6, 3.86)

Notes: Both pitchers pitched well in their last start. After a very rocky spring (not to mention 2006), Silva has been solid for the Twins.

6/9, 6:10:
Levale Speigner, RHP (1-2, 9.10) vs. Johan Santana, LHP (6-5, 3.30)

Notes: The Twins drafted Speigner, brought him all the way up to AAA, and lost him in the Rule 5 draft this offseason. Speigner has struggled (as do most Rule 5 draftees) but the Nats seem committed to him. Meanwhile, Santana has been merely great (as opposed to godlike) of late, and it's getting a bit old.

6/10, 1:10:
Mike Bacsik, LHP (1-2, 4.13) vs. Boof Bonser, RHP (4-2, 4.12)

Notes: These are two pretty good pitchers who struggled in their last starts. Both will be looking to get back on track in the Dome on Sunday.

Read More

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This Headlong, Screaming Slide of Doom

And just like that: back to the sucking.


TBL is not amused. And while TBL recognizes that good pitching will sink good hitting nearly every time, and also that the Angels have good pitching, this is ridiculous. It's one thing to get beaten by good pitching 3-4, or 1-3. 3-16 and 1-5, on the other hand, is what we like to call "getting one's ass kicked". To lose a good game of baseball is one of those things which happens. The educated fan takes solace in the skill and effort displayed and says, next time the hits will fall our way. To give away a game, as opposed to losing it honestly, is just infuriating.

The Twins won their last four series in May. So far in June, they've lost two. They are sporting a 5.79 June ERA and a batting average of .199. (If you guessed that the hitting is last in the ML by a long way, you guessed correctly.) Nine runs scored in five games, friends and neighbors, while the pitching has coughed up 28. For the math-impaired, that's a run differential of 3.8 per game. Also, an OPS of .541! If that doesn't mean anything to you, don't look it up. Ignorance really is bliss, in this case.

That stinks. If the gravity of the situation has not penetrated yet, let me add that lately we're worse than the Royals.

TBL is aware that a number of people are blaming this slide on Joe Mauer's trip to the DL. Our missing catcher is certainly a good hitter, and the hitting has been sorely lacking at times. However, TBL feels obliged to point out that the whole wonderful four-series period of not sucking which occurred immediately prior to this west coast fiasco also took place entirely in the absence of the Baby Jesus. Ergo, the Twins are capable of winning without him. They just haven't been lately.

So now we find ourselves in the untenable position of asking a guy who is about to make his second major-league appearance to pitch us out of this headlong, screaming slide of doom, and to do so without any real hope of run support. (Hey, whaddaya know--he really IS the second coming of Radke!) The cherry on Slowey's sundae is an injury-decimated bullpen responsible for any innings he can't cover.

The fun starts at 2:35 Central. TBL is DVRing the game to watch after work. The entrepreneurs among you might wish to place cash bets as to whether or not TBL will be able to refrain from checking the score.

Read More

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

You Have 1 New Message(s)

Confession time: I'm a bit of a text messaging addict. So, since I have the plan that allows for approximately one bajillion messages a month, I signed up for this service a few seasons ago that sends the score and winning and losing pitchers to my phone right after every game.

Last night's game being a late one, and life in the little grey box o' gloom being rather more bearable when one is not mostly asleep, I retired for the night after the fifth, with the Twins trailing 3-1. When morning came, I leapt (read: staggered, bitching and moaning) out of bed and immediately pounced upon (groped blearily for) the phone, which informed me that I had one new text message. I read this message and made a sound which I suspect was rather like "eep!". Or possibly "erk!".

Would someone care to explain to me how Twins 3, Angels 16 happened? Because from reading the box score and game notes, all I can really tell is that one Jason Miller, heretofore having pitched 3 2/3 hitless and scoreless innings in the majors, had a very bad night. Nay, a very bad 1/3 of an inning. There seems to have been a grand slam involved.

Were the Angels getting lucky hits (aside, obviously, from the longballs)? Did our pitching just collapse? Things were obviously not looking good when Bonser left the game, with the Twins trailing 6-1, but holy shamoley--eleven hits, ten runs and three walks in the next 3 2/3?

As much as I want an explanation, I'm really rather glad I didn't stay up to see it happen.

For some must watch, while some must sleep:
So runs the world away.
(Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2)

Read More

Monday, June 04, 2007

Stuff On My Cat

TBL has no explanation for this, except that she was bored and both the cat and the knitting were close to hand.

Caption, anyone?

Read More

West Coast Blues

These late-night games are all well and good on the weekends, but TBL could do without the prospect of a 9:05 first pitch on a Monday. After dropping their first series since the debacle in Cleveland last month, our boys are headed up the California coastline to face the Los Angeles Angels of Absurdly Long Names.

The numbers suggest the Angels and Twins are comparable teams in almost every respect, with the Angels having an edge in starting pitching, the Twins in relief. Their hitting stats are nearly identical. The Angels are coming off a sweep of Baltimore and have been on a nice winning streak overall the last couple of weeks, while the Twins are looking to get back on their nice winning streak after what one hopes was merely a brief stumble.

Probables - Minnesota @ Pick A City, Already

6/4, 9:05:
Boof Bonser, RHP (4-1, 3.61) vs Jered Weaver, RHP (4-3, 4.25)

Notes: Bonser has been improving, Weaver has been struggling. One hopes both trends continue.

6/5, 9:05:
Scott Baker, RHP (1-0, 5.94) vs. Kelvim Escobar, RHP (6-3, 3.00)

Notes: Baker and Escobar are both looking to rebound from less-than-ideal starts last week.

6/6, 2:35:
Kevin Slowey, RHP (0-0, 1.50) vs. John Lackey, RHP (9-3, 2.37)

Notes: This will be a challenge for young Master Slowey. Not only does he need to find his breaking pitches at the major-league level, but he'll be up against a guy who is, quite frankly, phenomenal. Lackey has had the Twins' number for years.

Read More

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Slow(ey) Starts

Did you see that? Tell me you saw that.

Good gravy, it was like going back in time and watching Brad Radke as a young pup, except for the Twins not being the suckingest team in the universe. The mixing up of pitches, the poise in the most dire of situations (such as having the bases loaded with one out in one's first major league inning), and yes...the longball.

TBL misses Brad Radke with a deep and abiding ache, though perhaps slightly less these days, now that there's no Sidney Ponson around to remind her of Radke by perverse example. And TBL is not saying that Slowey is the next Brad Radke, oh no. Just that he sure as heck looked like the next Brad Radke last night, and that it made TBL ever so happy.

He worked the fastball quite a bit; perhaps nerves make him less comfortable with the breaking stuff. The results were fantastic, regardless. TBL believes any pitcher will take six innings, five hits, three strikeouts, two walks and one run for a major league debut and consider it wildly successful. (Heck, TBL will take that from the veterans, thankyouverymuch.)

Slowey starts again Wednesday at 2:30 CDT. Please do NOT tell TBL the score, she intends to record the game and watch it after work. If you missed him the first time around, TBL suggests you make a date with your own VCR/TiVo/DVR.

Twins fans, you gotta see this guy.

Read More

Friday, June 01, 2007

Series Wrapup and Looking Ahead

Twins 10, Whine Sox 4
Twins 9, Whine Sox 2
Twins 7, Whine Sox 6

Since being swept by Cleveland (TBL still winces at the memory) the Twins have won four straight series and 5 of 6 games in the homestand. As fun as it was to beat the Brewers, the Blue Jays and the Rangers, this last series, the sweep, takes the cake.

In the first game, the Twins banged out sixteen hits and took six walks on their way to giving that towering inferno of lefthanded might, Johan "En Fuego" Santana, ten runs of support. They fell behind briefly in the top of the sixth, 3-4; fired up by the umpires' failure to act after Chicago's Contreras beaned two Twins batters and Pierzynski stepped on our MVP's foot while crossing the bag on a groundout, they stormed back in the bottom of the inning for five runs and shut the Sox down the rest of the way.

The second game featured Twins Territory waiting with bated breath for Boof "BOOF!" Bonser to get in a beanball or two of his own. Alas, Boof was feeling rather less bloodthirsty than his fans (or perhaps he simply can't afford the fines), and chose to extract his revenge by pitching 6 2/3 innings and striking out six (Jim Thome, twice!) while allowing only two runs. Justin "Boom-Boom Stick" Morneau thumbed his nose at the Whiny City crew by blasting a two-run homer and two doubles on the night, for a total of four RBI.

But the third game...what can TBL say? It was perfection. The glory of strolling down to the Dome on a lovely sunny afternoon with a good friend when the rest of the world was at work. The comforting security of knowing the series was already won when the Twins fell behind 6-1. The delight of the three-run third, pulling our boys to within two. The scoreless excellence of Jason "Rookie" Miller, Matt "Ol' Reliable" Guerrier, Pat "Lunatic Bunny" Neshek and Joe "Twitchy" Nathan (all in relief of Scott "Sorry, My Bad" Baker) immobilizing the Sox for six straight innings. The hilarity of seeing the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth via a walk, an error, an infield single, and two pitching changes. The unholy glee of the two-out, bases-loaded walk to Torii "Free-Swinging" Hunter. The unparalleled joy of the first Twins' sweep of the Sox since 2004.

And let's not forget the gratification of passing the Sox in the standings. Whoop!

(Topping off the perfect afternoon, TBL and her friend had themselves a nice cocktail and then went and saw Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End, which was huge amounts of fun. Stay for the scene after the credits!)

One wonders why this isn't getting more national press, but during the homestand Luis Castillo added five games to his ML-record errorless streak at 2nd base, now up to 138 games (the previous record, held by Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, was 123), and celebrated the one-year anniversary of his last error on May 29th.

And the good times, they keep on comin'. Dust off the Mr. Coffee, friends and neighbors, and put out the chips and salsa, because Kevin Slowey is making his major-league debut as the Twins' starting pitcher tonight at 9 pm CDT in Oakland. TBL is all fired up for this one!

Slowey's line in Rochester (AAA):



Probables - Minnesota @ Oakland

6/1, 9:05:
Kevin Slowey, RHP (0-0, -.--) vs. Joe Kennedy, LHP (1-4, 3.62)

6/2, 8:05:
Carlos Silva, RHP (3-5, 4.22) vs. Joe Blanton, RHP (4-3, 4.28)

6/3, 3:05:
Johan Santana, LHP (6-4, 3.21) vs. Chad Gaudin, RHP (5-1, 2.32)

Read More