Thursday, September 25, 2008
Blackburn and Bullpen Beat Sox!
Alright, if you can’t just sit back and enjoy watching the Twins right now, something isn’t right! This is what it is all about. 158 games have the Twins just ˝ game behind the Chicago White Sox. I believe that is the definition of a pennant race. One of the teams will go to the playoffs. The other will go home for the winter. As fans, what more can we ask of a team? Give us an entertaining team that will compete throughout the entire season, and we should be happy.
The reality is that we could say that regardless of if the Twins won or lost last night. That they won makes it even better, and even more true.
The bullpen has not been good of late, really for the last two months. It has been (deservedly) bashed and scrutinized to no end. But when they were really needed last night, they got the job done. Nick Blackburn, who has really struggled the last month or two as well, gave the Twins five solid innings, allowing just two runs. He gave up eight hits and walked two, but he came up with a couple of big double play balls. He was at just 84 pitches when Gardy took him out after the fifth inning. But that was clearly the right move. He was living on the edge the whole night.
Of course, with the state of the bullpen, entrusting it to hold a one run lead for four innings is a lot to ask. It made me nervous the whole rest of the game. But you have to give credit where credit is due, and the bullpen deserves a big “High Five” for its performance. Craig Breslow got the 6th inning and got the hitters out 1-2-3. In somewhat of a surprise, Boof Bonser was given the seventh inning. He broke a couple of bats, and gave up only a soft single. Then came Jose Mijares. One run lead going into the 8th inning. To face Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Scary! But after going 3-0 to Thome, he got a fly out, and after that got the final two outs easily to hold the lead. And that brought in Joe Nathan. He did walk a batter but got the final three outs to get the save and secure a 3-2 win for the Twins.
The win cuts the White Sox lead to just ˝ game over the Twins. But again, they have now won the first two. They still need to win that third game to put themselves in a really good situation. Tonight, it will be Kevin Slowey taking the mound for the Twins against Gavin Floyd for the White Sox. Should be a very good matchup of a couple of really solid young pitchers.
Here are a couple other notes on the Twins 3-2 win:
· After going a combined 0-10 on Tuesday night, the combination of Denard Span and Alexi Casilla got off to a good start last night. Span led off with a good walk which Casilla followed with a single. In their next at bats, Span had an RBI single which Casilla followed with a walk. It is nice to have the top guys in the lineup get on for the middle of the lineup.
· The Twins 3-4-5 hitters (Mauer, Morneau, Kubel) combined to go 1-10 with two walks. Not the kind of performance that gives you a lot of confidence to win. However, Mauer did drive in two important runs, both on fielder’s choices.
· Mauer went 0-4 to drop to .327. Dustin Pedroia went 2-4 to jump to .325. That race is going to go right to the end.
· Delmon Young came up big again. He went 3-4 in this game giving him six hits in the two games.
· Brendan Harris got the start at 3B against Mark Buehrle and it paid off. He went 2-3 at the plate with a sacrifice bunt. He also made another diving play down the 3B line to get a big out at 1B.
· Speaking of defense, the Carlos Gomez catch in the top of the 9th on an AJ Peirzynski would-be double ranks right up there with the biggest defensive plays of the year. Had that been a double, who knows how the game would have proceeded with a runner in scoring position with just one out! He’s been hitting much better in September and his defense is as good as it gets.
With that, do you have any other thoughts on the game? Over 42,000 people attended the game. How many will be there tonight?! And what about this weekend! Again, this is going to be fun! Hopefully all turns out well for the Twins, but either way, let’s just enjoy the ride!
PODCAST – I assume everyone reading this was watching the Twins game last night. But I did host another SethSpeaks.net podcast at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SethSpeaks. Howard Sinker of the StarTribune.com’s A Fans View… from Section 220 was the first guest. After a short break, I was joined by John Bonnes, aka The Twins Geek, and Gameday magazine, and Nick Nelson of Nick & Nick’s Twins Blog. It was about 80 minutes of Twins talk, so if you didn’t listen live, be sure to listen to the podcast when you have a chance. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!