Friday, September 29, 2006

What can you say about a day like that?

Brad Radke comes back from the terrible injuries to throw 5 very good innings, Joe Mauer ties up the game in the 9th with a solo HR, and the Twins come back to win in the 10th. Oh yeah, the Tigers lost, meaning the Twins are tied for the division lead.

I can get used to this.

For 7 innings, the Twins could muster only 4 singles against the indomitable Luke Hudson and his 5.12 ERA, but with 2 outs in the 9th, Joe Mauer hit his 13th HR of the year the opposite way to tie it up and send the game to extra innings.

In extra innings, the Twins loaded up the bases for Jason Bartlett, who hit one over CF David DeJesus for the walkoff hit. Pretty much a good script for how the season has gone.

But more important than pulling out a win... and more important than tying the Tigers for the division lead was the fact that Brad Radke was able to come back and pitch very well. He coasted through 5 innings giving up only 1 unearned run. This should mean he should be able to start Game 3 of the first round series against either the Yankees or the Athletics. I feel a whole lot better with Radke on the mound than Silva.

So now it comes down to 3 games... if the Twins win 1 more than the Tigers, they win the division and will be starting the playoffs at home. If they don't, they'll travel to Yankee Stadium.

Here are the starting pitchers for Friday's games:

Twins: Boof Bonser (7-5, 4.15) vs. Freddy Garcia (White Sox)
Tigers: Wil Ledezma (3-3, 3.58) vs. Runelvys Hernandez (Royals)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

19 wins for Johan Cy-tana

There shouldn't really be any doubts in anyone's mind that Johan Santana should be the AL Cy Young, but it was good to see Johan put an exclamation point for win #19. 8 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, and 0 BB. Not bad.

Since this was almost certainly his last start of the regular season, his season will probably finish at 19-6 with a 2.77 ERA. No complaints here.

As for the game, well, the Twins were in a little bit of a cruise control mode, but those are the things you can sometimes afford to do when facing the Royals. Joe Nathan struggled a bit (but got the outs when it mattered), and the Twins got just enough offense for the win. With the Tigers having won, this was necessary if the Twins are going to have any shot to win the division.

Torii Hunter also crept closer to 100 RBI, as he got #96 on the year.

So order your "You Can't Handle the Boof" shirt, check out Pulling a Blyleven, and go Twins!

Carlos Silva takes on the "All-Star" Mark Redman Wedneday. With 5 games left and the division still in sight, every game is a must-win!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


After starting the year at 25-33, who would have thought the playoffs would be in the cards for the Twins? Admittedly, probably not me. But I'll admit the hearing the words "The Twins are going to the playoffs," is music to my ears.

With the Twins 8-1 win over the Royals and the White Sox 14-1 loss to the Indians (way to go out with a bang!) the Twins are assured of at least the Wildcard. The magic number is 0.

Meanwhile, the race for the division is still on. With 6 games to play, the Twins stand 1 (one) game out from the Tigers. This is a little misleading, however, because the Tigers have the tiebreaker. So in other words, if the Twins want to avoid a first round matchup with the Bronx Bombers, they have to win 2 more games than the Tigers do in the last week. The odds are against them, but then, the odds have been against them all year.

In the clincher, the Twins followed the same formula they followed all year... young pitcher on the mound, "pirahnas" getting on base, and the mashers in the middle driving them in. Boof Bonser was once again excellent, and appears (at least in my eyes) to have a strangleholdon the #2 spot in the rotation. With 6.1 good innings, his record is now at 7-5 with an ERA of 4.15. Thank You Brian Sabean indeed!

Offensively, the Twins were patient, drawing 6 walks. But they also got the power. Justin Morneau cracked his 34th HR of the year, and is now at 129 RBI, 2nd most in the AL. Torii Hunter also hit his 30th HR, meaning that after so many years of not having a HR hitter, the Twins have 2 this year. Funny how that works. Another possible milestone for Hunter is that he is now close to reaching 100 RBI. He needs just 5 in the last 6 games to become the 3rd Twins player (Morneau, Cuddyer) to reach that mark this year. Should we resign Torii? I don't know. But it's been fun watching him play for the last month?

In the race for the batting title, Joe Mauer helped his cause with a 2/3 day, raising the average to .349. His main competitors both had good days as well - Derek Jeter went 2/4 to raise the average to .340, and Robinson Cano went 2/4, leaving his average at .342. With 6 games left, this looks like it will be a very tight race, although it is still Mauer's to lose, obviously.

But with the playoff spot clinched, there's no need to worry about the batting title, awards, or anything else. Just enjoy what a marvelous ride it's been so far, and hope that the good times continue.

One thing is for sure... it's a good time to be a Twins fan!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Magic Number: 2

First off, my apologies to my 1 or 2 readers for being away so long... I'd like to say I was unavailable to post, but if you read Complete Sports, you'll know that wasn't the case. But in all honesty, I was super busy with school and work, plus just weekend laziness. But I'm back, the Twins are playing well, and almost all is right with the world.

After taking 2 of 3 from Baltimore to go 7-3 on the roadtrip, the Twins finish out the road season at 42-39, which is certainly respectable. Overall, they stand at 93-63 with 7 games remaining, with the Tigers at 94-62 with 6 games remaining.

In other words, the Twins are 1.5 games back of Detroit for the division lead, and 5.5 games ahead of the Chicago White Sox for the Wildcard, and could clinch a playoff spot as early as today. Um, wow!

Boof Bonser will be sent to the hill to try to have the Twins do their part, and he's been very good lately. For the year, he is 6-5 with a 4.36 ERA, and if he has a couple of solid starts, that will secure his place in the playoff rotation, whether Brad Radke is able to come back or not. The White Sox will start John Garland.

Elsewhere, we all know how amazing Joe Nathan has been this year (Thank You Brian Sabean!), but now everyone else does as well, as Nathan is a finalist for the Delivery Man of the Year Award.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Don't look back now Detroit

And the lead is 1/2 game! To say the least, this is unbelievable considering the starts that these two clubs had.

But after the Tigers loss to Detroit, and the Twins victory over Boston, the Twins stand 1/2 game behind Detroit for the division and 4.5 games up on Chicago with 11 games left to play.

The story of the game was Justin Morneau, who got his average up to .326 after a 5/5 performance. As Aaron Gleeman writes, Morneau's simply been amazing no matter what date you look from.

Matt Garza was also a bright spot, as he was able to go 5 2/3 solid innings, giving up 3 runs, and picking up the 2nd win of his young career. That was a long enough outing for the rock solid bullpen, who shut the Sox down the rest of the way.

But the game was not all positive. Torii Hunter fouled a ball off his foot, leaving him in pain and forcing him to exit the pain. No one knows yet how long he'll be out, but suffice to say if he's out for any length of time, that's a huge blow. I'm not a huge Hunter guy (as far as a player, he seems like a great guy), but he's been supplying much needed and very solid power in the 6th spot, and it'd be a shame if we lose that now, with 2 weeks left. Let's hope things work out for the best here.

Anyway, in Game 2 of the series, Minnesota will send Boof Bonser to the mound, who's been pretty darn good lately if you haven't noticed. The Sox will send their ace Curt Schilling to the mound, but the way the Twins are playing, it wouldn't surprise me to see them in first place by this time tomorrow.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A well deserved day off

3 out of 4 ain't bad.

Combined with a Tigers loss and a White Sox loss, the Twins are 1 back of the division but have pushed the Wildcard lead all the way up to 4 games. Which begs the question, should we be rooting for the White Sox or the Tigers?

I'll let you decide. For today, I'll just enjoy a great weekend for the Twins (and Vikings), and get ready for the Twins to take on the Red Sox Thursday. Matt Garza will be on the mound for them.

Here's tomorrow's matchup between the Sox/Tigers:

Kenny Rogers (15-6, 3.86 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (12-12, 4.76 ERA)

Who should we be rooting for?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A heartbreaker

Gah! How great would that Double Play have been? (Answer: Pretty great)

But Bartlett rushed it, the throw was up the line, and the Twins actually lost in a game that Johan Cytana started.

But it was not all bad. Another 9th inning comeback to force extras has to have the Twins thinking that they are never out of any game (even if the comeback came against the Cleveland bullpen). Justin Morneau got a couple more RBI, to push his total to 123. Johan struggled early, but wound up throwing 8 innings, give up 4 runs (3 ER) and stiking out 7. He still have them a chance to win.

But anyway, in other bad Twins news, Joe Mauer is officially #2 in the AL batting race. After going 0/4, the average now sits at .344, behind Derek Jeter's .346.

Also, after being within an arm's reach of the Tigers, the Twins are again 2 back as the Tigers absolutely demolished the Orioles. But thankfully the As were able to defeat the Sox 4-2, keeping the Twins Wildcard lead at 2 games. The pitching matchups for the 3 clubs Saturday:

Twins: Carlos Silva (9-13, 6.08) vs. CC Sabathia (Indians)
White Sox: Javier Vazquez (11-9, 4.71) vs. Barry Zito (Athletics)
Tigers: Nate Robertson (12-12, 3.84) vs. Kris Benson (Orioles)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

One of the worst days of the year

For two innings everything appeared to be right with the world. After 2 innings, Francisco Liriano had throw 22 pitches, gotten all 6 batters out, and had struck out 2 batter (both on nasty, nasty sliders), and it looked like he was back to his dominating self.

Then he threw a pitch in the dirt, stood bent at the waist, looking like his left arm was about to fall off, with what we later learned was left elbow pain.

Basically, the worst case scenario. Everything looks great, the rehab goes well, he gets in to start, and can't make it through 30 pitches. And let's just say that the list of pitchers that have had long, productive careers with recurring elbow pain is not a very long one. So not only will Liriano not be back this year, (PURE SPECULATION AHEAD), but I'm worried about next year. And his career. Because an elbow injury is a scary thing.

At the very least, the Twins could have picked him up and gotten the win. Matt Garza certainly gave them that opportunity, throwing 5 2/3 innings of relief and giving up just 1 run, a run he wouldn't have given up if the ump had made the correct call on a stolen base the pitch before. Instead, Dan Haren shut the Twins out over 8 innings, and Huston Street was able to get the save after that.

Then Freddy Garcia goes out and throw 7.2 perfect innings before allowing a hit, and the Sox crushed the Angels. 1.5 games ahead in the Wildcard. 2 games back of the division pending the Tigers game. 10-game roadtrip coming up. Liriano is officially done, and no one is sure yet about Radke.

We still have 1.5 game lead, but things looked a lot better yesterday.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A great day for sports!

The Vikings win on MNF, and the Twins play great in defeating the 2nd hottest team in baseball (after the Twins) in the Oakland A's... most of my time was spent watching the Vikings I must admit, as I wrote all about here, so I'll just take a quick look at tomorrow's pitching matchups.

By the way, the Twins are now 1.5 GB of the Tigers, and 1.5 games ahead of the Sox with 19 games remaining for the Twins to play. Starters for the 3 teams for Tuesday:

Minnesota: Matt Guerrier (0-0, 3.04) vs. Kirk Saarloos (Oakland)
Chicago: Mark Buehrle (12-12, 4.80) vs. Ervin Santana (Anaheim)
Detroit: Kenny Rogers (15-6, 3.91) vs. Vicente Padilla (Texas)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Things are officially interesting

That sound you hear is Detroit Tigers fans getting nervous for the first time all year. After looking awful in game 1 of this series, the Twins came back with a vengenance to win the last 3 and pull within 2 game of the division leading Tigers.

The charge on Sunday was, of course, led by All-World SP and MVP candidate Johan Santana. He picked up his 18th victory, and 11 of the 19 outs he recorded came via the strikeout, which he also happens to lead the Majors in. Meanwhile, the 6.1 scoreless innings dropped the ERA to 2.75, which also happens to be the best in the Majors. I'm not real good with image stuff, but go to the Stats page on for something that looks cool (Johan's picture 3 times because he leads the Majors in the Triple Crown categories)

Offensively, the offense just jumped all over Bonderman and the rest of the pitching staff, scoring 12 runs on 15 hits. Joe Mauer went 2/3 and is now batting .350, just ahead of Jeter at .345. Elsewhere, Nick Punto had 4 hits, Justin Morneau had 2, and Torii Hunter had 3.

Things also went well as far as the Wildcard is concerned, as the Indians beat the White Sox, increasing the Twins Wildcard lead to 1.5 games.

The Twins now stay home and host the Oakland As, who always seem to give the Twins trouble. They play three against Oakland before heading to Cleveland. Detroit has the day off, and Chicago will take on Anaheim. Pitching matchups for Monday:

Minnesota: Carlos Silva (8-13, 6.30) vs. Joe Blanton (Athletics)
Chicago: Jose Conteras 12-7 (4.09) vs. John Lackey (Angels)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

It's been so long I almost forgot what it was called...

Oh yeah, offense. That was nice.

9 runs? Where has this offense been lately? Castillo didn't do anything at the top, but Nick Punto (welcome back!) had a couple of hits, Joe Mauer went 3/4 to increase his lead in the chase for the batting title, and Justin Morneau had a couple of big 2-out hits to get him 3 RBI, and move him into 2nd in the AL with 118 RBI on the year,

On the other side of the coin, things weren't as great as Matt Garza struggled once again. At times, he looks dominant, and shows why he was able to dominate in all levels of the Minors this year (hence, 6 strikeouts in 4.1 IP)... other times, well, it's easy to see he's a young guy. He struggled with the control - tight strike zone or otherwise - and walked 4 batters, which led to his undoing. He finished with 4 ER in the 4.1 IP.

In the pen, Pat Neshek responded nicely with 1.1 scoreless innings to get the win. Meanwhile, Jesse Crain and Juan Rincon seem to be going in the opposite directions... Crain has been excellent for a couple of months now, while Rincon has seen his ERA increase almost a run in about a month to 3.05).

With a comeback win by the Sox, the Twins are basically in the exact same position as they were when this series started a couple of days ago... 4 back of the Tigers and 1/2 game ahead of the White Sox. They need to split these final 2 games at the bare minimum, and if they can win both, well, the division race will officially become a big thing, as the Twins would be only 2 back.

But for now, the Twins just need to focus on Saturday. Boof Bonser vs. Nate Robertson. Be there or be square.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

C'est la vie

ER by Pat Neshek coming into Wednesday's game in 26 IP: 4
ER given up by Pat Neshek in Wednesday's game: 3

When the Twins lead after 6 innings, it's almost seemed automatic this year. Maybe this was just a way to keep the fans on their toes.

Scott Baker (4-7, 6.55) vs Justin Verlander (15-7, 3.27) tonight. Sox will pitch Mark Buehrle (12-11, 4.71) against Cliff Lee (11-10, 4.63) and the Indians.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Santana does it again

8 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 12 K, W. 17-5 with a 2.84 ERA.

Yep, it's fun to watch this guy pitch.

And even better news, both the White Sox and Tigers lost, meaning the Twins hold a 1.5 game lead on the White Sox for the Wildcard and are just 4 back of the Tigers for the division. Pretty busy tonight, but here's the starters for Wednesday's games:

Twins: Carlos Silva (8-13, 6.56) vs. Jason Hammel (Devil Rays)
White Sox: Jose Conteras (11-7, 4.23) vs. Kris Snyder (Red Sox)
Tigers: Kenny Rogers (15-6, 3.86) vs. Gil Meche (Mariners)

Also, much thanks to Twinkie Town for the mention of this blog in his blog. It's always great to get compliments like he gave me, especially when they're coming from the writer of one of the best Twins blog, at least as far as I'm concerned. Compliments like that are a part of what makes writing this blog so enjoyable... well that and the fact that the Twins seem to be playing great ever since I started it! ;)

Go Twins!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Twins back in the Wildcard lead (with The Sabean Special)

Well I'm back from vacation, and just in time to see the Twins re-take the Wildcard lead with a comeback victory combined with a comeback victory from the Red Sox.

The Twins comeback came in the 7th inning of their game, when Rondell White hit a 2-out, 2-run HR to give the Twins a 2-1 lead, which was all they needed. The Red Sox comeback was complete after Carlos Pena hit a solo HR in the 10th to beat the ChiSox.

But none of this would have been possible without a great pitching performance by starter Boof Bonser. 6.1 solid innings from him, giving up just 1 ER while striking out 6. If we can get performances similar this from the back of the rotation, things will be looking very good.

At the backend of the game, as always, is Joe Nathan. And with Bonser getting the win and Nathan getting the save, we have yet another edition of The Sabean Special. And that's always exciting. Joe pitched a perfect 9th, striking out 2, to get his 29th save of the year while lowering the ERA to 1.74. Meanwhile, Dennys Reyes appears to be firmly back on track, as he got the only man he faced out to lower his ERA to 0.85.

All of this brings up Johan Santana starting against Tampa Bay on Tuesday going against Jae Seo. The Twins really need Santana to bring his best stuff every night, and that's basically what he's been doing all year. Hopefully that trend can continue. With the Twins 0.5 games up on the Sox and still 5 GB on the Tigers, here's the pitching matchups for Tuesday:

Twins: Johan Santana (16-5, 2.95) vs. Jae Seo (D'Rays)
White Sox: Javier Vazquez (11-8, 4.98) vs. Kason Gabbard (Red Sox)
Tigers: Jeremy Bonderman (11-7, 4.01) vs. Jake Woods (Mariners)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Johan Santana = Cy Young

With the Twins coming off back-to-back losses against the Royals, a win was a must on Thursday. Lucky for them, Johan Santana was on the mound.

Santana, who is definitely in the running to win his 2nd Cy Young this year, gave a Cy-worthy performance, striking out 11 and allowing only 1 run in 7 innings of work today. This was just good enough to get the win, and the Twins eeked out 3 against the Royals, winning the series finale 3-1.

With the win Santana improves to 16-5 on the year, and his ERA dropped down to 2.95. So in the AL, his stats look like this:

Wins - 16 (T-1)
ERA - 2.95 (1)
Strikouts - 207 (1)

In the other big Twins news of the day, they dealt for Phil Nevin. Aarom Gleeman, as usual has this covered very well. I agree with his sentiment, provided it's just a low-level prospect the Twins are giving up, this looks like a very good move. Phil Nevin isn't a great threat at the plate anymore, but he's a solid right-handed bat, and he can't be any worse than what the Twins have thrown out there at DH this year. He's a semi-legit power threat that can hit lefties, which, at this point of the year, is a very nice pickup, especially for a Twins lineup that needs a boost. Great work Terry Ryan!

It was an all-around good day for the Twins, as both the Tigers and White Sox lost. This puts the Twins 0.5 GB of the Sox for the Wildcard, and 5.0 GB of the Tigers for the division lead. Here's the 3 teams pitching matchups for Friday:

Twins: Carlos Silva (8-12, 6.50 ERA) vs. the Yankees (Cory Lidle)
White Sox: Jose Contreras (11-6, 4.25 ERA) vs. the Royals (Runelvys Hernandez)
Tigers: Kenny Rogers (14-6, 4.06 ERA) vs. the Angels (Ervin Santana)

By the way, I'll be out of town for the Labor Day Weekend, so this will be it as far as posts go on here for a few days... take care, have a nice holiday, and GO TWINS!