Category Archives: season

[game 163] Tiebreaker

The Twins and the Tigers are so tied they need an extra game. And they tie that one as well, all the way to the twelfth inning. Throughout the game, one side or the other looked like it just about had things won, only to see the other team claw back. It was a closely fought and balanced a contest as baseball can deliver.

The Twins emptied their pockets and threw everything in. The game took all the players, from the bench and the starting lineup. Here’s what they did.

Alexi Casilla

After not starting in at least three weeks, he’s brought in as a pinch runner and ends up delivering the game-winning RBI in a sweet and simple single to right.

Nick Punto

With the bases loaded, snared a groundball from wily, troublesome Brandon Inge in the twelfth and threw home to force an out. Moments before, Inge ‘s uniform seemed to be grazed by a pitch that would have walked in a run, but the umpire didn’t make the call.

Justin Morneau

Having helped win at least 70 of the team’s 87 victories that made the tie possible, sat happily on the bench to cheer, and hugged Joe Mauer under a cascade of champagne in the clubhouse.

Scott Baker

Pitched six tense innings, with two strikeouts and two walks. Allowed an RBI single from Magglio Ordonez, followed by a world-deflating two-run homer in the third by Miguel Cabrera for the first runs of the game, but picked himself up and avoided a meltdown. Went back to allowing harmless fly ball outs for three more innings.

Denard Span

Singled in the third to advance Matt Tolbert, who would move on to third on a sac fly and then score the Twins’ first run on Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello’s throwing error.

Jason Kubel

Hit a solo homer in the sixth to bring the Twins to within one run, trailing 3-2.

Michael Cuddyer

Hit triple to open the tenth inning, right after the Tigers had gone ahead on an RBI double from wiry, pesky Brandon Inge. Cuddy’s hit was no rocket to leftfield, but he powered around the bases like a runaway train, launching the whole inning.

Brendan Harris

Drew a walk in the tenth following Cuddy’s triple. Merely avoiding an out counted at this stage of the game.

Matt Tolbert

In addition to scooting home on an error, hit an RBI single in the tenth to answer the Tiger run from the top half of the inning. It was only enough to knot things back into a tie, but it kept the game alive.

Joe Mauer

Hit a lonely double that left him stranded in the first inning and, admittedly, didn’t particularly rattle Porcello. Stood firm at the plate, eventually earning a walk, during Porcello’s errant pickoff throw that allowed Tolbert to zip home. Followed Cabrera’s homer in the seventh with a single, but didn’t ignite a further rally. In essence, drew attention away from the lightweight players; looked serene all game long.

Jon Rauch

Part of Ron Gardenhire’s quick-on-the-trigger relief approach to winning the game, got his two men out in relief of Baker in the seventh.

Jose Mijares

Kinda blew it. Brought in to face Curtis Granderson, who has nearly apocalyptic trouble hitting lefties this season, and permitted a single. Gardy switched over to Mijares after only two outs from Rauch, ready to empty his bullpen to keep the game in reach. At this time, Detroit led 3-2. Mijares had every stat working for him, but Granderson outfoxed him in a long at-bat.

Orlando Cabrera

With a two-run homer in the seventh, put the Twins ahead 4-3, their first lead of the game. His home run swing just about lifted him out of his shoes.

Matt Guerrier

Relieved Mijares and shut down the scoring threat in the seventh. Fresh from that triumph, started the eighth by allowing Ordonez to clobber a home run to tie the game all over again. Got one out, then walked two. The whipsaw from joy to sorrow in this inning was harrowing.

Joe Nathan

Summoned in the eighth, with one out and men on first and second, score tied. Ridiculously scary situation. Faced tattooed, deadly Brandon Inge, and got a pop out. Faced surprisingly productive Gerald Laird and struck him out. Went on to complete the ninth, with the tie intact.

Jesse Crain

Started the tenth, fully aware that he’s several notches below Nathan but that it was now very much his turn. Gave up an RBI double to surrender the lead to the Tigers. At rock bottom, saw Tolbert hit the single that scored Cuddyer and re-tied the game, then started the eleventh.

Ron Mahay

Brought in with the same assignment Mijares had—giving Granderson an intimidating lefty to face. Struck him out swinging.

Bobby Keppel

Obtained what would be the last four outs, earning credit for the win. Survived a stomach-churning top of the twelfth by dishing out a walk, single, and intentional walk, then facing gritty, dangerous Inge. Brushed Inge’s jersey with a pitch that the umpire did not register, then served up the infield single Punto would turn into a fielder’s choice out at the plate. Finished the inning with a strikeout of Laird. Would have mopped brow but for bald head.

Carlos Gomez

Stayed patient enough to single, leading off the twelfth inning; was careful enough not to try a steal against Gerald Laird, instead advancing to second on Cuddyer’s groundout; ran fast enough to score on Casilla’s single; slid crazily enough across home plate to make a highlight reel.

Jose Morales

Struck out twice. And you know what? We forgive him!

Delmon Young

Made outs. But received an intentional walk in the twelfth to bring up Casilla, who would hit the game-winning RBI. So you know what? We’re happy Young was in the game!

Mike Redmond

Circled the field with the rest of the team after the win, wearing one of the instantly provided Central Division Champions T-shirts and hats that Major League Baseball wants everyone to buy. (The Tigers’ versions will be sent to a relatively impoverished nation with low baseball savvy and limited opportunities for Americans to encounter the patently false sartorial claims.)

Brian Duensing

Looked adorable drenched in champagne, and without, for now, a care in the world about starting against the Yankees tomorrow in New York.

[games 154, 155] The Race

The Twins beat the Royals Friday and Saturday. The Tigers split with the White Sox, so the Twins were able to gain one game in the Central race. They’re two games back.

This is a race, and the Twins have been playing very good baseball to make it close. I certainly settle in to watch each game with high hopes, and it looks like the Twins love coming to the ballpark now.

For a while, it looked like the Tigers might have a little meltdown. The Twins, after all, won two of three last weekend to send them off sputtering. But Detroit regrouped and swept the Indians. The Twins kept pace, impressively, by doing the same to the White Sox.

The Tigers’ victory tonight could be both a practical and emotional boost for them. They came back from a 5-0 deficit to win 12-5. That means they not only scored a ton, but stopped the Sox cold. If you believe in momentum, they have a nice allotment right now.

Meanwhile, the Twins have done everything necessary to stay in the race. They’ve marched on without Justin Morneau, and made up for his great loss with hitting from the top to the bottom of the lineup. They’ve won the Tigers series last weekend, then swept the White Sox, with a couple come from behind stunts for good measure.

They’ve gotten good work from starters and bullpen, and played each game through every out and every inning. Michael Cuddyer is the most distinct hero—and what a beautiful time to play the best he ever has in the majors—but every player has contributed.

In the last two weeks, they’ve scored 80 runs, and lost only one game. This is hyperbolic baseball, the kind you need in a pennant race, but which is virtually impossible to sustain.

Impossible or not, the Twins need to keep it up one more week.

And then, we demanding fans would like to see another three weeks of it through the playoffs to the World Series. An insane request, but why would the fans stop craving now? Baseball very much includes such possibilities, though we recognize them as pure mutations, barely believable. Still, how miserable it would be to carry on this end-of-season campaign and actually win the division, only to become salty snacks for the Yankees?

Fans are never satisfied. Fans want sweeps, towering piles of runs, and playoff victories. The Twins have been starting to serve these things up, and our appetites increase. More!

Sweep the Royals (which will entail beating superb Cy Young candidate Zack Greinke tomorrow). Charge past the Tigers (which will require winning three games of four, on the road, against everything Detroit can throw at us). Close out the season, and the Metrodome’s life as a stadium, with enough wins against the Royals to seal the division (which means beating KC at least as much as the Tigers beat the White Sox in their finale, with another visit from Greinke along the way).

Then, when you’ve finished all these chores, try to beat the Yankees, who are not only currently orbiting a bit above everyone else playing plain old terrestrial baseball, but who beat the Twins so soundly earlier in the season that Minnesota went into a very definable swoon.

Of course, coaches always counsel that we play one game at a time. It’s wise—looking down those railroad tracks is just plain scary. Let’s hope Joe Mauer isn’t counting out all these challenges. Let’s hope all the players are just getting lots of rest, drinking plenty of high-caliber sports drinks, and calmly playing each day as if they were the most fortunate men on earth to be as lucky and skilled as they are.

Because this is a race. It won’t let up, and if we lose the explanations will be too easy. To win, the Twins have to play better than they have at any other point this season. They have to defy their own history.

They’ve been doing so recently, so you do have to pause and ask, which is the real team? The group that danced around .500, hopping like hot bacon grease to stay as close to the middle as possible, or the team that’s been playing loose and happy and just plain great for the last two weeks?

Eight games left. As a fan, I mix expectation and fear each day now. The thrill of pulling off this feat entices me to watch and to cheer and to hope. The sheer blunt likelihood of the two or three defeats in the next week that could end it all daunts me. Why do I risk so much love on my team? Why do I rush to witness each game, even while knowing that it will take so little to end the season in defeat?

Well, it’s simple. There’s risk, and there’s exhilaration, and sometimes—not always—there’s elation.

I will hope, eight more times.

[games 96, 97] Odi et Amo

The story so far: the Twins have never won more than three games in a row all season; they have never been more than three games above .500 and have spent considerable time below that equator; they just lost two of three games against Oakland and two against the Angels.

These are bad things. They’re not apocalyptic things, like what’s happening to the Washington Nationals. They’re not even lovably lousy things, like the 10-game losing streak the Royals may or may not extend tonight, or the experience of living in last place like the perpetually dormant Pirates.

But they are troubling things, things that make it hard to be a fan.

But fans have deep resources for coping with trouble. In fact, fans don’t really experience trouble as trouble, because they can decide how they want to feel about it.

There are two basic tactics, and the Twins support both of them right now. You can detest them, or you can delude yourself about them.

Loathing the Twins is, ultimately, just too cruel. But in short spurts, all of us can master it. Right now, it involves making brutal remarks about the uselessness of Alexi Casilla, the pathetic failings of the bullpen, the tragic limitations of Delmon Young, etc.

In addition to bad mouthing individual players, the furious fan can denigrate the Twins system, the low payroll, the difficulty of building a team around two superstars and a raft of grade C players, or the inability to retain top talent after free agency.

Despising the team essentially is knowing it too well—reciting the flaws proves your savvy. It’s hard to resist spouting such intimate knowledge, so a certain degree of dislike is always the badge of the serious fan.

But this form of hate is also a perfect defense. By distancing yourself from your team, you are spared certain sorrows. Or at least you hope to avoid them. I recall the documentary about the Red Sox made during their 2003 season. Still, We Believe followed several fans who revealed their “wicket hahd” devotion to the team. I thought I knew something about the hate and love of being a fan until I saw Bill in this movie.

Bill is angry. Infuriated, in fact. Bill is nearly out of control—his team keeps hurting him, and he doesn’t know how to relieve the pain. In one sequence, he fumes at the game on his television and then just walks out, stalking out of his apartment.

When he returns with his dry cleaning, the Sox have already mounted their comeback. He’s missed it. He’s missed the one little gift his team can give him. Now he’s furious with himself, but it’s just one more station on this karmic wheel of suffering—love the team, have that love betrayed, seek revenge on the team, miss the chance to love the team.

Bill’s effort to harden his heart against the Red Sox is poignant. We all want this armor, yet the defense is really so unsatisfying. Do I really want to be embittered about Carlos Gomez’s myriad hitting problems? Will this, ultimately, save me from wishing he could overcome these hitting problems and be the thrilling, energizing player I hoped he’d be?

And so we turn to the other strategy: apologize for the team. I can make excuses for Carlos Gomez, and the rest of them, for pretty much an entire season. I can look up, find it’s late September and we’re 10 games out and be, in essence, surprised. Honestly—we’re not going to make it?

We’re not going to make it. We’ve played almost 100 games and though there have been some happy wins and wonderful moments, thinking that Scott Baker is just about to rip off five consecutive wins, or that Delmon Young is going to find his power stroke, or that Joe Crede is going to stay off the DL for the rest of the season—thinking such things is delusional.

But it’s possible. It’s easy to imagine Mauer have a September like his May, and Kevin Slowey coming off the DL to finish with 18 wins, or the bullpen becoming impregnable. We aren’t so very far from these things that they can’t be visualized in stunning detail.

So we apologize, or find the silver lining, or just plain wait for the good, nice thing that’s due to occur. And here there’s a fine line between rational hope and delusion. If you have no hope whatsoever, you honestly cannot participate in baseball as fan or player. It’s the baseline requirement for this sport.

But excessive hope leaves you out there, swinging in the breeze, while your team forsakes you. And they will let you down sometimes and make you fall harder than they do. The players dust themselves off and continue to lead the charmed lives of major league baseball players. You go back to work without the one particular ray of light you count on.

Hope can be dangerous. But bitterness is not the perfect antidote, because it’s hope that carries you to the rare but delicious moments of elation that makes sports so satisfying. If you do not hope, you’re disqualified from fully savoring the comeback, the clutch hit, the miracle catch, and the no-hitter. You don’t have a ticket to these events, because only hope admits you.

The Twins have just lost two games to the Angels. One in which they had a narrow lead, allowed the Angels to tie, and then lost in the tenth. Another in which the Angels just chewed ‘em up and spat ‘em out.

Hard as it is to muster, I am going to go on hoping. We’re nearly through 100 games, and there are probably only about ten games in which the Twins have actually played as if they’re collectively ready and able to stride onward into the World Series. But I see little pieces, little fragments in any game, and I can still imagine them coming together into one glorious possibility.

Odi et amo, Catullus wrote: I love and I hate. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior—You ask how this can be? I don’t know, but I feel the agony of it.

At the Midpoint

It’s midseason and the Twins still have hopes for winning the division, so what kind of trades should they consider? If I were GM Bill Smith, what would I do?

There are some weaknesses among the position players, but few are glaring. The team not only has the most glorious of catchers, they have a neat backup package in young, slick-hitting Jose Morales and seasoned, gritty-hitting Mike Redmond.

First base is also solved, though I beg the Twins to go easy on letting Cuddyer sub for Morneau when he’s given a day off; Cuddyer tracks fly balls well but is prone to errors at first. But that’s not a large problem, because Morneau has proved to be particularly injury-resistant.

Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert trade off at second. Both are good, committed fielders. Both have put their hearts and souls into trying to hit the Twins way. And neither can build a batting average much above .220. They are not the table-setters, the piranhas, of last season. Alexi Casilla, who is still toiling in the minors after an exceptionally disappointing start to the season, could be the answer, so trading for another second baseman may not be crucial. And as a true Punto fan, I want to see him get every chance. But cold, hard calculation says we should look at what’s available.

Brendan Harris is not going to appear on a lot of fantasy teams, but his .274 average includes a few clutch hits, timely sacrifices, and that sweet triple only last night. He’s no juggernaut, but his baseball intelligence sometimes gives him an edge in dueling with pitchers. He’s got good range in the field and plays all out. Yes, he’s no Ian Kinsler, but he’s not going to be the sole reason we miss the postseason.

At third, Joe Crede solves a long-standing problem, provided his balky back doesn’t keep him out of the lineup. Buscher is his backup, and he is several notches down as both a fielder and a hitter. The best solution here would be a prospect ready to come up from the farm, because Crede doesn’t need replacing so much as he needs a chiropractic breakthrough.

In the outfield, we have both surfeit and shortage. Carlos Gomez and Denard Span are both fantastic centerfielders. Gomez has something Sports Center-worthy almost every night, but then again, he may be a bit too self-conscious about pulling off the Web Gem tumble/wall smash/Spiderman leap. He’s prone to showing off his arm by missing the cutoff man or hurling way off line just to launch a rocket. In short, no discipline, limited experience, fantastic potential. At the plate, Gomez veers toward liability. An ultralight hitter, he can also misjudge the game situation. Lately, he’s been making better contact, but Gomez is a better defensive sub than starting player.

Span is turning into a formidable leadoff man. He can get on base, and look at a lot of pitchers to do so. He can steal bases and motor out triples, and consistently shows baseball wisdom as a situational hitter. He’s an above-average fielder, though he can’t match Gomez’s exciting plays.

The Twins have lately been dealing with the Gomez/Span overflow in centerfield by planting Span in left. This dislodges Delmon Young for DH duty or bench time. It’s already July, and the main thing I can say about Young is that perhaps he’s about to put together a little run to boost his power stats or average. It still hasn’t happened. Might soon, but hasn’t yet.

Michael Cuddyer holds down right field. His .280 average is solid, and his .513 SLG is behind only Mauer, Morneau, and Kubel. Cuddy’s significance extends past his stats, for he’s the prime right-handed power threat in the lineup. He and Crede are needed to keep pitchers honest and managers guessing about the relief sequence.

There are two basic outfield lineups, one that drops Young and one that shuffles out Gomez. Young can DH, but Gomez is at best a pinch bunter. All the outfielders have something to contribute, but a bold commitment toward the postseason might take the form of letting go of Young and bringing in a big and consistent bat. Span moves to center and Gomez appears as a defensive replacement. Cuddy stays in right.

That’s one way to look at it, player by player. But the real problem isn’t that Punto, Harris, Tolbert, Buscher, Gomez, and Young are especially woeful. It’s that, collectively, we have a lineup with a lot of soft spots. Harris would be a fine shortstop if his batting average were surrounded with some power; Punto wouldn’t be a problem at second if his were offset, et cetera. The trouble is, we have six players who need excuses, and that’s too many.

I can justify each one individually, and I can note that building a team out of offensive stats alone ignores both defense and team chemistry. The Twins are at or near the league top in avoiding errors, and all the players in question (except Young) are a major part of the reason why. One only guesses at clubhouse intangibles, but all these players hustle and commit hard enough to earn respect.

So, what should the GM do? I haven’t seen a World Series won yet with a team that’s merely a dream roster. The Tigers, by the way, tried that last year, and the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Angels, Cubs, and Dodgers play a version each season. (For a little though experiment, imagine Brendan Harris on the Yankees. Even as Derek Jeter’s backup, it’s just not fathomable.)

That’s not to say any of those free-spending teams aren’t well-poised to win the Word Series, but to observe that none of them are a lock merely because of their offensive stats. We have so many tools for evaluating individual players, but little helps us understand a team. Even the stats that project runs created or potential wins still analyze individual players. What makes the team win?

So I stopped myself from making excuses on an individual basis to try to see the team. We really do have one or two too many slap hitters. But I’m far from feeling sure I know which one to jettison. And after watching just about as many losses as wins, the problems cannot be heaped at second, short, or left. The team can win with the roster already in place. The tangible problem has been rickety relief pitching, but that’s one of the hardest things to trade for successfully.

As a fantasy GM, I have nothing more than a firm command of the obvious. But as a fan, I have a lot of hope that we won’t make any desperate trades that mortgage the future, and that the changes will bring back last year’s scrappiness, not try to forego it with a simple dose of power.

[game 82] Day Game after Long Night

After last night’s marathon, a day game against your prime divisional foe probably requires a lot of Red Bull. The Twins and the Tigers seem to have maintained the determination they showed last night, but my window into the game is the radio broadcast. I get a fair flavor of things from John Gordon and Danny Gladden, but I don’t feel like an eyewitness.

It’s Francisco Liriano versus Edwin Jackson. Liriano has lately been fulfilling the promise of three seasons ago, and today he’s good for seven innings and eight strikeouts. He was sailing along with a scoreless game until the seventh, when he doled out two singles and then met up with Magglio Ordonez.

Ordonez, a hitter of some magnificence for the White Sox and lately the Tigers, has had a sharp drop in production this season. Heads have been scratched, and even with the microscopic reach of this blog I pause before I raise the obvious question: could there, perhaps, be a drug he’s no longer taking? I merely ask; I know nothing about it. I only know I’m a fan who has seen everything associated with power hitting tainted by steroid stories.

In any case, last night Ordonez was seen saying “What?” when the bunt sign was put on for him. A hitter of his prowess may not know the bunt sign, but last night it appeared to be under consideration. Today, I was prepared for Ordonez to pose no threat to Liriano’s sharp game plan.

Wrong assumption: Ordonez hits a three-run homer to put the Tigers ahead 3-2. A lead built on solo homers from Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau is now lost, and the Twins run the risk of repeating last night’s epic loss.

Jackson is pitching a solid game for the Tigers, but the seventh is his downfall as well. The Twins tie the game on an RBI single from Morneau.

The actual game-winning RBI is from little Nicky Punto, the scrappiest player on a scrappy team. Punto had a little bench time after some sore ribs and other aches got to him, and he’s come back from it hitting pretty neatly in the last week. His single in the eighth sends Matt Tolbert across the plate, and the 4-3 lead stands up as Joe Nathan sets the Tigers down 1,2,3 in the ninth.

Let me also note that Tolbert was running for Brian Buscher, who led off with a single. The game-winning combination, then, came from the generally quiet bats of Buscher and Punto. Buscher gets only occasional playing time, and Punto is buried at the bottom of the lineup. Today, they’re the heroes.

[game 78] Flat Bats

The Twins started their series against Kansas City today as if Monday really was an off day. The bats were flat, and it wasn’t so much KC starter Luke Hochevar’s prowess as the Twins’ early retirement plan.

To wrap your mind around this game, consider that the Twins had one hit through six innings against a pitcher who spent the first third of the game vaguely hunting the strike zone.

For the Twins, Nick Blackburn pitched respectably until the sixth. He had an unearned run score in the second on a throwing error from Michael Cuddyer, but kept the Royals from pecking any harder until the sixth. Then two solo homers, from low-power threats Alberto Callaspo and Miguel Olivo, put the Royals up 3-0.

What Blackburn did do was dole out hits. He allowed 10 and walked one, while the Twins committed two errors, so the bases were busy. Blackburn didn’t look especially wobbly up there, but pitching to contact is a risky business and the Royals took advantage. Olivo, for example, had a beautiful night, an ended up a double short of the cycle. His triple in the seventh, off RA Dickey, scored Callaspo and for the Royals’ fourth run.

Blackburn’s high water mark occurred in the fifth. Tony Pena Jr, who really is barely beyond hitting off a T, led off with a single. Bear in mind, what Blackburn does is allow controlled contact, but hitters like Pena shouldn’t be succeeding under this game plan. David DeJesus follows with a companion single, scooting Pena on to the third. Willie Bloomquist offers up a sac fly to get both runners in scoring position.

This is turning into a full-fledged pitching jam. Blackburn has allowed the weakest part of the lineup to climb all over the bases, and now he faces Billy Butler. Butler is still developing, but he has power and potential. But Blackburn defeats him: he flies out to center, and the presence of two outs brings us down from red alert to orange.

Mike Jacobs, his jaw slung wide with a tobacco chew the size of a jam jar, steps up. He chews and spits his way into a walk. With first base open and raw power from the left side, this evolves into a sensible plan, but now Blackburn has a tidy ring of Royals around him and Mark Teahen at the plate.

This is the fire in which pitchers are annealed. This is the test pitchers must pass. And Blackburn does. He remains in control of his full pitching arsenal and gets Teahen to strike out swinging. Blackburn may have lost this game, but he won the fifth inning, when the winning was tough.

After a rickety first and second inning, Hochevar truly settled down for the Royals. His seven scoreless innings included six at-bats with runners in scoring position. When John Bale took on the eighth inning in relief, the Twins finally punched their way onto the scoreboard. With Denard Span on third and two out, Justin Morneau lifted a long ball to right to cut the Royals’ lead to 4-2.

But this wasn’t a glorious scoring outburst. The inning had already had its moment of deflation, for it began with consecutive singles from Span and Brendan Harris. Joe Mauer had his most un-Mauerlike at-bat of the year, swinging at the first pitch to ground into a double play. Morneau’s homer felt more like scraping up crumbs than a three-course meal.

The loss puts the Twins back at .500. This will be the seventh time this year they’ve failed to pull themselves above the median. We’re just about at the halfway point, and the Twins persist in balancing every win with a loss.

I’ve assembled some little statistics, and though they aren’t entirely dispiriting, they don’t lead to resounding cheers. The April W-L record was 11-11, May’s was 14-16, and June will be finished off tomorrow at either 15-12 or 14-13. The Twins will either be one game over or one under .500 with 49% of the season complete.

We’ve had two 3-game winning streaks and one real corker of a 4-game spree, but otherwise we stack the wins right next to the losses. There is little sense of momentum.

Still, what inspired my tabulations was the hope that I would find some hope in the results of interleague play, now complete. The Twins are a sparkling .666 (12-6) against the National League. They quite laid waste to the Brewers, going 5-1, and won every series except the battle with the Astros.

And they won on the road. After starting the season with a massive home/road skew, they are completing their travels in this KC series by taking two of three against both Milwaukee and St Louis.

The most melancholy little interleague stat is that Twins pitchers are precisely 0 for 19—not even a bunt single in the 9 games played in NL parks. On the plus side, no pitchers were injured in the making of this film.

By tally of games played, we’re three away from the midpoint of the season, but the crucial division battle is only one-third complete. If the Twins would care to get hot, July is the time to do it. We’ll have six games against the White Sox and three against mighty Detroit, plus a 10-game visit to the AL West. Hotness, please. And anything to make me forget tonight’s sluggish sortie.

[game 55] Away Awhile

I miss the Twins and I miss this blog. But I also missed today’s day game against the Indians. The Twins won, 11-3, that much I know. The box score shows me that almost everyone was hot today, especially Jason Kubel, who hit two homers. Scott Baker got his third win, and is apparently in a good groove now.

Yes, box score facts will have to do for now.

Tomorrow the Twins are off on a 10-game road trip to Seattle, Oakland, and then Chicago. If the first two months of the season are any indication, they will need the happy lift of today’s win, as they have a miserable record on the road. The Metrodome, in its last year, seems to be the only place in which they want to play.

They have their woes, and I have mine. I got off the rails last Saturday when Fox boxed me out of seeing the game, and this Saturday I’ll have the same problem. When Fox considers the Twins’ opponent worthy, they get the game scheduled during the day. Then, via my Fox network, they proceed to show me either the Red Sox or the Yankees. Thanks for blockading my team.

If the Twins elude the evil Fox searchlight, the game is on at night and I can watch it; if not, not. It was bad enough last week, but this will be two weeks in a row of baseball-less Saturdays.

More trouble lies ahead. I will also face the west coast schedule until Thursday, with games starting at 10:00 pm and ending at 1:00 am. Even if I watch them, I can’t stay up to write about them.

So, this is just excuses, then? That’s all you’ve got?

Right now, yes. I will get something written about Friday’s game, but I’ve tossed the notes I made about Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay, Tuesday’s victory over Cleveland, and last night’s depressing loss—10-1, I believe it was. I just don’t have good stories about those three games.

This is placeholder blogging. Classic placeholder stuff. It doesn’t get any better!