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9.30.2006


The Twins were hoping Matt Garza (L 3-6, 5.76 ERA) would match his last couple of outings Saturday against the White Sox, but he came up painfully short, lasting only 2.2 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out none in the Twins' 6-3 loss.

Matt held them scoreless until the third, when first baseman Ross Gload doubled with one out, third baseman Josh Fields drew a walk and designated hitter Rob Mackowiak did his job by doubling in the first run. Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi then hit a two-run single and stole second, moving to third on an Alex Cintron base hit. Ryan Sweeney then grounded out, scoring Iguchi.

After another walk for Garza, Matt Guerrier (3.36 ERA) came in for 4.1 innings of relief, allowing 2 more runs on 4 hits with 2 strikouts. One came in the fifth off a Sweeney single and another in the seventh from an Iguchi home run, his 18th of the year.

Jon Garland (W 18-7, 4.51 ERA) held the Twins hitless through four and allowed only Jason Tyner (1 for 3), Justin Morneau (2 for 4) and Luis Rodriguez (1 for 4) to reach up until the eighth.

The Twins tried to put together a comeback in the bottom of the ninth when Nick Punto reached on a fielding error by Cintron. After an L-Rod strikeout, Mike Redmond (1 for 4) singled and Michael Cuddyer (1 for 4) blasted his second homerun in as many games (24) to cut Chicago's lead in half.



Cuddyer's three-run shot


Matt Thornton (3.33 ERA) then replaced Garland, getting Morneau to ground out before giving up a liner to Torii Hunter (1 for 4). Rondell White then pinch-hit for designated hitter Jason Kubel (0 for 3) and grounded out to first, ending the game.

So, the Twins missed another opportunity to gain first place in the Division before the Tigers face the Royals later Saturday evening. Minnesota is now a half game back with one more to play.

Speculation: If Detroit wins today, the best the Twins can do is tie (which does them no good since the Tigers own the tie-breaker with a better head-to-head record) and face New York in the ALDS. If Detroit loses their last two games and the Twins pull Sunday's game off, they would win the Division and play the Oakland A's in the first round, gaining home field advantage with the better record.


VS. or


The Twins may look to another rookie, Scott Baker (5-8, 6.37 ERA) for their last possible win of the season on Sunday against Javier Vasquez (11-11, 4.77 ERA) and the Sox. Baker's last outing vs. Baltimore on Spetember 23rd was cut short after 3.2 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 7 hits. Carlos Silva will be used in the case of a Division Title still being up for grabs. He pitched 4 innings, allowing 5 runs on 6 hits in the Twins' 4-6 loss to Kansas City this past Wednesday. Vasquez has earned two straight losses, his last coming in Cleveland where he tossed seven innings, giving up 6 runs on 6 hits.

Batting Title Watch: Joe Mauer (.346 avg) rested during Saturday's tough loss to the White Sox. Derek Jeter (.341) and Robinson Cano (.342) will look to play catch up with Joe during the Yankees' 4pm game against the Blue Jays. Look for updates in the comments section.


MVP Action for Saturday, September 30, 2006...

Justin Morneau: 2 for 4 | .321 avg | 129 RBI | 34 HR
Johan Santana: 19-6 | 2.77 ERA | 245 K | 233.2 IP
Derek Jeter: 4pm vs. Toronto

9.29.2006

Boof Bonser (L 7-6, 4.22 ERA) went five innings and allowed 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out three batters in the Twins heart-breaking one-run loss to the White Sox.

A Jermaine Dye longball (his 44th of the year), put Chicago on the board in the first inning. Center fielder Jerry Owens then led off the fourth with a double and was brought in by Jim Thome's base hit. Alex Cintron homered the next inning, the last run given up by Bonser.

It's not like it was a bad outing for Boof, but it was most definitely eclipsed by the young Minnesota native Glen Perkins (0.00 ERA). Perkins pitched 3.1 perfect innings of relief, not allowing a hit until Paul Konerko doubled with no one out in the ninth. Glen was then replaced by Dennys Reyes (0.90 ERA), who gave up an A.J. Pierzynski RBI single.

Perkins was not the only one who pitched well Friday night. Freddy Garcia (W 17-9, 4.53 ERA) tossed 7.1 innings, giving up only 1 run on 5 hits, striking out three Twins. The Chicago righty managed to keep Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and a couple piranhas hitless. The one run allowed by Garcia came in the seventh when Luis Rodriguez doubled and was brought home by a Michael Cuddyer single.

Closer Bobby Jenks (4.00 ERA) took the hill as the scoreboard changed with Kansas City taking their 7-5 lead over Detroit. With homer hankies waving, the Twins attempted to put together a comeback. Nick Punto led off with a single to left and stole second with Rodriguez at the plate. L-Rod drew a walk, Mauer struck out swinging and Cuddyer delivered a two-run double to bring the Twins within one. Morneau struck out swinging among loud M-V-P chants before Torii Hunter infield-singled to keep the inning alive. Lew Ford walked and it was up to Phil Nevin with the bases loaded to get the Twins a victory that would move them into first place in the ALC. Jenks got him swinging and hushed the Dome.

The Twins have found themselves lucky in the sense that they haven't lost much ground with Detroit losing key games, allowing them to stay in contention for the Division Title. Our boys have two more chances to take the lead this weekend, assuming Kansas City continues to play good baseball.


VS.


Minnesota will look to Matt Garza (3-5, 5.32 ERA) to even up the series Saturday afternoon against Jon Garland (17-7, 4.61 ERA) and the White Sox. Garza has won his last two starts, giving up 3 runs (in each) and pitching 5.2 innings a piece. Garland has lost his last three starts, giving up 16 total runs.

Batting Title Watch: Joe Mauer went 0 for 4 Friday night during the Twins' 4-3 loss to the White Sox, lowering his batting average to .346 on the season. Derek Jeter hit 2 for 4 (.341) and Robinson Cano went 1 for 4 (.342) in New York's 7-2 win over Toronto.


MVP Action for Friday, September 29, 2006...

Justin Morneau: 0 for 4 | .320 avg | 129 RBI | 34 HR
Johan Santana: 19-6 | 2.77 ERA | 245 K | 233.2 IP
Derek Jeter: 2 for 4 | .341 avg | 96 RBI | 14 HR

Here is last night's heroics by Joe Mauer to cheer you up...

9.28.2006


In what was most likely veteran Brad Radke's (4.32 ERA) last regular season Major League start, he pitched five outstanding innings for the Twins, allowing only one run on three hits, walking two and striking out one with a broken shoulder, making a great case for a spot in the postseason starting pitcher's rotation.

Kansas City got their lone (unearned) run after Mitch Maier singled to center and advanced to second on a rare Torii Hunter fielding error before Paul Phillips blasted a line drive double to left, scoring the first run of the game.

Radke held the Royals scoreless over the next three innings and was replaced by Pat Neshek (2.19 ERA) pitching the sixth and seventh, striking out three batters and allowing only one hit.

Luke Hudson (5.12 ERA) kept Minnesota's bats silent for seven long and scoreless innings, giving up only four hits. In fact, Jason Tyner was the only base runner to even make it to second during his outing.

Jesse Crain (3.58 ERA) came in to pitch the top of the eighth and gave up a one-out single to Jeff Keppinger and a fielder's choice to Angel Sanchez before being replaced by Dennys Reyes (0.90), who got David DeJesus to strike out swinging. Joel Peralta (4.46 ERA) pitched a perfect bottom half for the Royals. Juan Rincon (2.95) then came in to toss the ninth and loaded the bags with two walks and a single before forcing an infield pop out and a ground-out doubleplay. Way to keep things interesting, Juan.

Joe Nelson (4.32 ERA) replaced Peralta in the ninth to close the game, getting Nick Punto and Jason Kubel out quickly.

It was all up to our hometown hero Joe Mauer, now. This is who you want at the plate in this situation, right? It was the last chance for the Twins when their possible history-making, future batting champion took a pitch the opposite direction and carried it over the left field wall to tie the game and send it into extras.

Bonus baseball courtesy of Joe Mauer: Automatic Joe Nate (W 7-0, 1.60 ERA) held the Royals to one hit in the tenth and left it up to the big dogs to take it down. Justin Morneau led off the bottom of the frame with a base hit before Torii Hunter (trying to redeem himself for the run-causing error in the second) was robbed of a single with a snowcone catch by DeJesus.

Rondell White then moved Justin over on a single after a bunch of defensive nonsense up the middle that should have been a double play to end the inning. After Scott Dohmann (L 2-4, 6.99 ERA) intentionally walked Jason Tyner to get to Jason Bartlett, (why?) JB smashed the ball to center and it dropped for a hit behind DeJesus, scoring the winning run. Nathan gets the win, and the Twins finally tie the Tigers for the Division Lead.


VS.


The Minnesota Twins will welcome the Former World Series Champion Chicago White Sox to the Metrodome on Friday for the last regular season series of 2006. Boof Bonser (7-5, 4.15 ERA) will take the hill for the Twins against Freddy Garcia (16-9, 4.65 ERA), a rematch of the August 18th game in which the Twins won 7-3, but Boof did not get the decision. Bonser went 5.1 innings and allowed 3 runs on 6 hits, walking two and striking out one, while Garcia went 6.1, allowing 5 runs on 10 hits, striking out four. The Royals head to Detroit to take on the Tigers and will hopefully continue to play hard, after suffering their 100th loss to the Twins on Thursday.

Batting Title Race: Joe Mauer went 1 for 4, batting .349 during Thursday's win over Kansas City while Robinson Cano hit 1 for 4 in the Yankees' 7-1 loss to Baltimore, batting .343 on the year.


MVP Action for September 28, 2006...

Justin Morneau: 1 for 4 | .322 avg | 129 RBI | 34 HR
Johan Santana: 19-6 | 2.77 ERA | 245 K | 233.2 IP
Derek Jeter: did not play | .340 avg | 96 RBI | 14 HR

Carlos Silva (L 10-15, 6.07 ERA) just may have pitched himself right out of the postseason starting rotation on Wednesday. In four innings, Silva allowed 5 runs on 6 hits.

The game started out promising, when Joe Mauer (2 for 4, RBI) doubled in a run after a throwing error that put Nick Punto (2 for 4) on second. The Twins remained a run ahead until Kansas City tied it up in the third on a David DeJesus two-out homer, his eighth on the season.

The worst of it came in the fourth, when Mike Sweeney led off the inning with a line drive bomb to left, his seventh of the year. After two doubles, two singles and sac fly, the Twins found themselves three runs behind. The Royals got another one in the fifth when Matt Guerrier (3.31 ERA) came in to replace Silva and walked the first batter, got the next two, then gave up two straight singles.

Mark Redman (W 11-10, 5.71 ERA) continued to pitch well, allowing only 3 runs on 9 hits, striking out four batters. Minnesota tried to battle back in the seventh with a lead-off base hit by Mauer, a single by Michael Cuddyer (2 for 4, RBI) and with two outs, a line drive smash by Rondell White (2 for 3, 2 RBI) to bring them home. But Phil Nevin ended the comeback on a forceout.

After about a million substitutions, Cuddy blasted his 23rd homer of the year off of closer Joe Nelson (4.20 ERA) in the bottom of the ninth. The Dome was going crazy with everyone on their feet with rally caps on, but Justin Morneau struck out swinging, Jason Kubel grounded out and Mike Redmond was called out on strikes. The end.

The Twins found themselves losing a two-run game to a last place team, ending the Royals' eight-game losing streak and missing the chance to tie the first place Tigers, who own the tie-breaker. Lucky for Minnesota though, they remain one game behind Detroit, who fell to Toronto on Wednesday, 7-4.


VS.


Brad Radke (12-9, 4.46 ERA and the toughest man in baseball) is back to start his first game since he pitched only two innings on August 25th against the White Sox, leaving due to pain from a stress fracture in his right shoulder. Luke Hudson (5.49 ERA) will take the hill for Kansas City in the series finale and last meeting of the season on Thursday.

With Johan Santana (2.77 ERA) and Boof Bonser (4.15 ERA) expected to start the first two games of the Division Series, we might be watching Radke vying for the third spot in the postseason rotation.

Luis Castillo may miss Thursday's game with a sore right knee and Torii Hunter left Wednesday's game after fouling a ball off his left big toe, his status remaining unclear. Since he has played all year with a hurt ankle, he will most likely suck it up like he always does.

Batting Title Race: Joe Mauer went 2 for 4 raising his batting average to .350 in Wednesday's loss while Robinson Cano went 1 for 3 (.343) and Derek Jeter hit 1 for 4 (.341) during the Yankees' 16-5 destruction of the Orioles.


MVP Action for Wednesday, September 27th...

Justin Morneau: 2 for 4 | .323 avg | 129 RBI | 34 HR
Johan Santana: 19-6 | 2.77 ERA | 245 K | 233.2 IP
Derek Jeter: 1 for 4 | .341 avg | 96 RBI | 14 HR

9.26.2006



Johan Santana (W 19-6, 2.77 ERA) finally earned his 19th win Tuesday night against the Royals, in what was his last regular season start for the Twins, this year. Pitching eight full innings, he allowed 2 runs on 7 hits, walking no one and striking out five.

After two scoreless innings of work, Angel Sanchez led off the third with a base hit. David DeJesus then hit a ground-rule double that kept Sanchez from scoring, but Esteban German delivered a soft liner to center, bringing everyone home.

Lew "Put me in Coach" Ford (2 for 4) answered for Minnesota with a solo shot (4) in the bottom of the frame to cut KC's lead in half, but the inning ended with three ground outs.



Odalis Perez (5.91 ERA) held the Twins to 1 run on 4 hits until the sixth when they got three straight singles from Mike Redmond (3 for 4), Michael Cuddyer (1 for 4) and Justin Morneau (2 for 4) before Torii Hunter hit a sac fly to short center, scoring Redmond on a sweet head first slide. Phil Nevin (0 for 1, BB) was then intentionally walked to re-load the bags, but the Twins left them full with a Ford fly-out and a Jason Bartlett (1 for 4) line-out.

With Joel Peralta (L 1-3, 4.52 ERA) in for relief in the eighth, Morneau and Hunter each singled to start the inning. After a passed ball by catcher Paul Phillips with Luis Rodriguez at the plate (pinch-hitting for Nevin), both runners advance and L-Rod hit a sac fly to deep center, scoring the go-ahead run in Torii and essentially winning the game for the Twins.

But, it ain't over 'til the fat lady, she sings, says Automatic Joe (1.63 ERA). Man, did he have to work for his 36th save. Emil Brown walked to start off the inning. Angel Berroa reached on the force attempt when Joe overthrew the ball to Bartlett, trying to field the bunt. Error on Joe, go-ahead run at second, nobody out.

Oh, but it gets better. Phillips then bunted the runners over on a sacrifice, leaving first base open. Nathan then intentionally walked the pinch-hitting Shane Costa to fill first base and get to Sanchez, who was 2 for 3 on the evening against Johan in only his eighth Major League at bat. Got him swinging. Two down, DeJesus at the plate, got him swinging, the Dome goes nuts, Twins win. That's just how Joe rolls.

Minnesota wins their 94th game of the year by one run, and remains one game behind Detroit as they defeated Toronto 4-3. New York stays one game better as well, beating Baltimore 5-4.


VS.


Carlos Silva (10-14, 5.95 ERA) takes the hill for game three Wednesday night, facing Mark Redman (10-10, 5.83 ERA) and the Royals. In Silva's last start versus KC on August 5th, he pitched six decent innings, allowing 3 runs on 10 hits, striking out one and gaining the win. Redman won his last start at the Metrodome on the 29th of August, pitching a complete game, five-hit, 2-0 shutout. Yeah, that sucked.

Batting Title Race: Joe Mauer had the night off, batting .349 on the year. Derek Jeter went 2-4, raising his average slightly to .341 and Robinson Cano went 2 for 4 (.343).


MVP Action for Tuesday, September 26th...

Justin Morneau: 2 for 4 | .324 avg | 129 RBI | 34 HR
Johan Santana: 19-6 | 2.77 ERA | 245 K | 233.2 IP
Derek Jeter: 2 for 4 | .341 avg | 96 RBI | 14 HR


Maybe opposing teams will have to practice with this.

9.25.2006

Minnesota 8, Kansas City 1


Boof Bonser (7-5, 4.15 ERA) pitched 6.2 outstanding innings, earning his 7th win of the year and giving the Twins their 93rd and more importantly, a play off berth. Boof hurled that nasty curveball with the confidence we have seen a lot of lately from the young starter, allowing only 1 run on 2 hits, walking two batters and striking out five. It was nine up, nine down to start the game for Bonser. With a walk in the fourth and a double in the fifth, Kansas City remained scoreless until Angel Berroa homered in the sixth.

The Twins gave Boof an early lead in the first after Luis Castillo (0 for 3, 2 BB) walked, Nick Punto (3 for 5, RBI) singled and Joe Mauer (2 for 3, RBI, 2 BB) lined a base hit to left that brought the speedy Castillo home.


In the fourth, Torii Hunter (2 for 4, 2 RBI) doubled then stole third with Phil Nevin (0 for 3, BB) at the plate, who drew a walk. Then, Jason Tyner (2 for 4, RBI) stepped in and scorched a liner to left that scored Hunter.

Jorge De La Rosa (L 5-6, 6.69 ERA) was replaced in the fifth by Zack Greinke (8.10 ERA) after giving up 2 runs on 5 hits, walking six batters and striking out five. Greinke gave up a run in the sixth off a Punto single with two down after a Tyner lead-off base hit. Justin Morneau (2 for 4, 3 RBI) started the seventh inning with a line drive single to right before Torii crushed his 30th homerun of the year, a new career high. Hunter became the second Twin this year to reach the elusive 30 home run mark after a nineteen-year drought between Harmon Killebrew and Morneau. Congrats Torii! Did anyone see the girl that caught the home run ball? Man, she was pumped!


Dennys Reyes (0.91 ERA) got Shane Costa to pop out on one pitch to finish the seventh and Pat Neshek (2.31 ERA) pitched a perfect eighth before the Twins added three more in the bottom half off Jimmy Gobble Gobble (5.29 ERA) to polish off the scoring. With two outs, Mauer hit an infield single to beat out the throw to Gobble at first, before Michael Cuddyer (1 for 5) grounded to center bringing Joe to third and advancing to second on a throwing error by center fielder Joey Gathright. The Canadian Crusher then belted his 34th bomb of the year, bringing the score to 8-1 Minnesota and pretty much securing the win, clinching a much-anticipated playoff berth. With Automatic Joe on the hill for a 1-2-3 ninth, they put it in writing and our boys were off to the clubhouse to celebrate.

VS.

Johan Santana (18-6, 2.79 ERA) will take the hill Tuesday for the Twins, looking for his 19th win facing Odalis Perez (6-8, 6.06) and the Royals in the second of this four game series at the Dome. Johan has had a difficult time getting his 19th W, just not quite pitching like the normal post-All-Star-break powerhouse he has been in the past for the ball club.



Twins clinch 2006 playoff berth


The Twins indeed have their eyes on only the Division now, trailing the Tigers by one game. Detroit will begin a three game series against Toronto on Tuesday before a set with Kansas City to end the season. Meanwhile, Minnesota will finish the KC Series and welcome the (no-longer defending) former World Series Champs of South Side Chicago into the Metrodome for the last time this year.

Batting Title Race: Hometown boy Joe Mauer widened the gap between him and two star Yankee players going 2 for 3 with 2 walks and raising his batting average to .349 for the season on Monday night. Robinson Cano (who is only a couple more at bats away of qualifying for the batting race) went 2 for 4, hitting .341 during the Yankee's 16-1 pounding of the Devil Rays, while Derek Jeter also had a 2 for 4 night, batting .339 on the year.

MVP Action for Monday, September 25th...

Justin Morneau: 2 for 4 | .323 avg | 129 RBI | 34 HR
Johan Santana: 18-6 | 2.79 ERA | 240 K | 225.2 IP
Derek Jeter: 2 for 4 | .339 avg | 96 RBI | 14 HR

That's right Big Papi and Jermaine Dye. You're off my list. Welcome to Babes That Love Baseball's MVP Race, Johan K. Santana. You've made the list mainly because there's no one you haven't struck out, you're without a doubt winning the Cy Young Award this year and you've been a leader with dominant pitching, giving the Twins a chance to win everytime you step foot on the mound. Anyone actually know why Derek Jeter is being considered? I understood Ortiz's numbers were the factor for him, but that can't possibly be the case for #2. The only possible explanation I can come up with is that every writer with an MVP vote has a man crush on him.


[Go Twins.]

9.24.2006

For the second time this month, the Twins went into Oriole Park at Camden Yards with Matt Garza (W 3-5, 5.32 ERA) on the hill, but this time it was their very last road game of the regular season. During 5.2 innings of work on Sunday, Garza gave up 3 runs on 6 hits, struck out four batters and walked three.

Minnesota gave Matt an early lead in the first when Joe Mauer (3 for 5, 2 RBI) scorched his 12th home run of the year on a line drive shot over the left field wall with Luis Castillo (3 for 5) on base. Mauer still leads the Majors with a .347 batting average, widening the gap on Derek Jeter, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI, batting .339 in the Yankees' 11-4 loss to Tampa Bay. Jeter isn't the only Yankee Mauer has chasing him now, though. Second baseman Robinson Cano has now had enough at bats this season to qualify for the title as well and is hitting .341 after going 2 for 4 with a solo homer on Sunday.



Mauer's highlight reel


Adam Loewen (L 6-6, 5.30 ERA) tossed six innings, giving up 3 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits, striking out eight and walking one, but the Twins managed to find holes in his otherwise decent pitching performance. After Joe's two-run shot in the first, he led off the third with a base hit before being forced out at second on a Michael Cuddyer (1 for 4) grounder. Cuddy moved to third on a Justin Morneau (2 for 5) single, and was driven in by a Torii Hunter (1 for 5, RBI) base hit. After Rondell White (0 for 3) reached due to a fielding error by second baseman Brian Roberts, Phil Nevin (1 for 3, 3 RBI) scored him on a sacrifice fly, giving the Twins a 4-0 lead.

Garza didn't allow a run until the fourth, when Miguel Tejada (2 for 3, 2 RBI) hit his 23rd bomb with one out in the inning. After a walk, a double, and a coaching visit to the mound, he ended the inning, forcing Jeff Fiorentino to fly out. Trouble came in the sixth for Matt when Tejada showed he had the young pitcher figured out with another blast to left, cutting the Twins' lead in half. Two batters later, Corey Patterson hit one over the wall in the opposite direction to bring the O's within one. After a walk put Fiorentino aboard, Juan Rincon (3.04 ERA) came in to replace Garza and got Raul Chavez to ground out.

Brian Burres (3.18 ERA) and Todd Williams (4.82 ERA) pitched a scoreless seventh for the O's and Dennys Reyes (0.91 ERA) with Pat Neshek (2.38 ERA) kept them from scoring in the bottom of the frame. Russ Ortiz (8.13 ERA) replaced Williams in the eighth and nailed Rondell with a pitch. Of course, Lew Ford stepped in to replace the already hobbling left fielder before Nevin smashed his first home run as a Twin to right center, adding two runs to the lead. Congrats Philly!

Jesse Crain (3.62 ERA) pitched a perfect eighth and Automatic Joe Nate (1.68 ERA) recorded his 35th save of the season with a flawless ninth, striking out two. The Twins completed their winning road trip going 7-3 with a 42-39 away record on the season. Pretty impressive considering they were 12 games below .500 on the road at the All-Star Break.



VS.

Minnesota heads back to the Metrodome Monday to take of Kansas City in a four game set. Boof Bonser (6-5, 4.36 ERA) will look for his 7th win of the year, facing Jorge De La Rosa (5-5, 6.66 ERA) and the Royals. With seven games left in the season and Detroit having the day off, the Twins have the opportunity to gain a game on the Division leading Tigers before they host Toronto on Tuesday. Minnesota remains 1.5 games behind Detroit, who clinched a play off spot with their 11-4 win over KC, while Chicago stomped Seattle 12-7, staying 5.5 games back in the Wild Card - the dark cloud of elimination hovering only two losses away.


MVP Action for Sunday, September 24...

Justin Morneau: 2 for 5 | .323 avg | 133 RBI | 33 HR
Derek Jeter: 2 for 4 | .338 avg | 96 RBI | 14 HR
David Ortiz: 1 for 4 | .286 avg | 134 RBI | 53 HR (tied Babe Ruth's mark for road homers in a season Sunday)
Jermaine Dye: 0 for 2 | .316 avg | 119 RBI | 43 HR

9.23.2006


It was ugly, but the Twins managed to come out alive. Scott Baker (5-8, 6.37 ERA) only lasted 3.2 innings and allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 7 hits with one K, finding it difficult to locate his pitches with really no help from the defense early on.

Erik Bedard (L 15-10, 3.67 ERA) didn't last much longer that Scott, only pitching 4.2 innings while giving up 6 runs (3 earned) on 12 hits, striking out four batters and walking two.

The Orioles scored in the first after Brian Roberts led the inning off with a single and later was driven in on a Miguel Tejada double. Michael Cuddyer (1 for 3) then led off the second with a walk. Base hits from Torii Hunter (3 for 5, 2 RBI) and Rondell White (amazing 4 for 4, 1 RBI night) tied it up.

In the bottom of the inning, Corey Patterson reached on a fielding error by Jason Bartlett (11) with one out before Kevin Millar doubled and Jeff Fiorentino brought him in with a sac fly to center, giving Baltimore the lead once again.

Bartlett (1 for 4) started the third with a base hit, but was out on a double play ball by Luis Castillo (1 for 3). Mike Redmond (2 for 5) then doubled to right and was sent home when the circus came to town. Cuddyer struck out swinging, but the ball was in the dirt. Catcher Ramon Hernandez then hurled it to first and the ball went sailing over Kevin Millar's out-stretched glove, allowing both Nick Punto (3 for 5, RBI) and Redmond to score. Thanks Baltimore! Justin Morneau (1 for 5, RBI) tacked on another run on a ground ball to center that brought Cuddyer around, giving the Twins a 4-2 lead.

This game was so back-and-forth it would give the chair ump at the U.S. Open a sore neck. Patterson started the fourth with a triple before Millar grounded out to send him to home. One out later, Roberts doubled to force Baker out of the game. He was replaced by Matt Guerrier (W 1-0, 3.27 ERA), who immediately gave up a Chris Gomez RBI single that tied the game at 4 a piece.

In the top of the fifth, Cuddyer was in at first on a fielder's choice. With one out, Torii hit his 29th bomb of the season, tieing his season home run record set in 2002. Baltimore got one more in the bottom of the frame off of Guerrier on a Patterson single that scored Jay Gibbons. Matt was replaced in the sixth by lefty Glen Perkins (0.00 ERA) who allowed only 1 hit facing three tough hitters. Pat Neshek (2.43 ERA) was brought in to get Tejada, who lined out. We love our hometown boys.



White goes 4 for 4


Dennys Reyes (0.92 ERA) pitched a scoreless seventh before the Twins got one more in the eighth off reliever Todd Williams (4.85 ERA). After a two-out walk and a single, Punto lined a shot to center, bringing Bartlett around to score. After Jesse Crain (3.67 ERA) pitched a scoreless eighth (whew!), Rodrigo Lopez (5.90 ERA) allowed a Hunter double and a Leeeeeeeeeeew Ford (1 for 1) line drive RBI.

Automatic Joe Nate (1.71 ERA) polished off the game with yet another perfect ninth with one strikeout, earning his 34th save on the year. Twins win, 8-5 and Matt Guerrier gets his first Major League win. Congrats Matt!

Minnesota remains 1.5 games behind Detroit for the Division Lead, with the Tigers pounding the Royals 15-4 in Kansas City on Saturday. Chicago beat Seattle 11-7, and still trail the Twins by 5.5 games in the AL Wild Card Standings. The Twins and the Blue Jays put the kabosh on the Red Sox play off hopes for the first time in four years, as they were officially eliminated from the Wild Card Race Saturday after their 5-3 loss to Toronto.


VS.

Minnesota will look to walk away with a series win over Baltimore Sunday afternoon with Matt Garza (2-5, 5.40 ERA) on the hill facing Adam Loewen (6-5, 5.35 ERA) and the Orioles. In Garza's last outing in Boston on Sept. 19th, he pitched 5.2 good innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits. Loewen last appeared on the 19th as well, facing Tampa Bay, giving up 4 earned runs on 6 hits through six innings of work.

Batting Title Watch: Derek Jeter went 1 for 4 during New York's 8-0 blanking by Tampa Bay Saturday, batting .338 on the year. Joe Mauer still leads at .334, as he had the day off.

MVP Action for Saturday, September 23...

Justin Morneau: 1 for 5 | .323 avg | 126 RBI | 33 HR
Derek Jeter: did | not | play
David Ortiz: 2 for 5 | .285 avg | 133 RBI | 52 HR
Jermaine Dye: 1 for 4 | .317 avg | 119 RBI | 43 HR

9.22.2006

Carlos Silva (L 11-15, 5.95 ERA) went 5.2 innings allowing 5 runs on 10 hits, walking two batters and striking out three, getting his 11th loss of the season and Minnesota's 63rd. Designated hitter Jay Gibbons singled with two out and two on in the first, giving Baltimore the first run of the game.

Minnesota answered in the top of the second after a Torii Hunter single, a wild pitch by Daniel Cabrera (W 8-10, 5.05 ERA) and a groundout moved him to third. Jason Bartlett drove him in on a soft liner to right, but was caught stealing to end the inning.

The real trouble came for Silva in the bottom of the inning. With two down, left fielder Jeff Fiorentino walked before second baseman Brian Roberts smashed one over the right field wall, giving the Orioles a two-run lead. Third baseman Melvin Mora then singled to left and right fileder Nick Markakis (who was a thorn in Minnesota's side last series) drove him in with a line drive double to right. After yet another base hit, Silva finally got Gibbons to pop out.

Cabrera kept the Twins scoreless for the next four frames, allowing a total of 3 runs on 5 hits with 8 strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work. In the sixth, Fiorentino and Markakis each doubled bringing the score to 5-1, Baltimore. Willie Eyre (5.66 ERA) came in to relieve Silva and get Tejada.

The Twins added 2 when Justin Morneau led off the seventh with a walk and was forced out on a Hunter ground ball. Torri then stole second before Rondell White drove him in base hit to center (Lew Ford in for White). Lew stole second but Jason Tyner was put on base by a walk, which led to a pitching change: Brian Burres (3.60 ERA) in for Cabrera. Luis Castillo then singled to score Lew and after a double steal, Nick Punto grounded out to end the inning.

Eyre and Dennys Reyes (0.93 ERA) held the O's in the seventh, but Juan Rincon (2.96 ERA) came in to pitch the eighth and fell apart. He immediately gave up a single, giving Baltimore another run on a Roberts double.

Then, Mora sliced a base hit to center on a slider left too high, driving in another run and completely erasing any come-back effort the Twins had put together. Chris Ray (2.81 ERA) pitched a quick 1-2-3 ninth, ending the game.


VS.


The Twins look to even up the series against Baltimore with Scott Baker (5-8, 6.33 ERA) on the mound Saturday afternoon versus lefty Erik Bedard (15-9, 3.62 ERA) and the Orioles. During Baker's last start in Cleveland, he allowed only 1 earned run on 6 hits through six innings, walking two and striking out three. Baker has been one of the Twins rookie starters to really get down to business after a talking-to by babes that love baseball. Bedard pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only 4 hits, walking one and striking out ten in his last start on September 18th at Tampa Bay.

With Chicago losing 11-6 to Seattle Friday, the White Sox (who have lost 7 of their last 8), remain 5.5 games behind the Twins in the Wild Card Standings. Detroit beat Kansas City 7-3, and gained a game and a half lead in the AL Central.

Batting Title Watch: Joe Mauer went 1 for 4 bringing his average down to .344 Friday night, leading Derek Jeter, who went 1 for 4 with a .338 average in New York's 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay.


MVP Action for Friday, September 22:

Justin Morneau: 0 for 3 | 3.23 avg | 125 RBIs | 33 HRs
David Ortiz: 0 for 3 | 2.85 avg | 132 RBIs | 52 HRs
Derek Jeter: 1 for 4 | 3.38 avg | 95 RBIs | 14 HRs
Jermaine Dye: 1 for 4 | 3.17 avg | 119 RBIs | 43 HRs

Considering Johan Santana's 12-3 record in 21 career September starts, the last thing on Twins' fans minds was a loss Thursday night in Boston. With Detroit losing to Baltimore earlier in the day, putting the two teams together at the top, Minnesota was left with an opportunity to take the lead in the American League Central: something that they haven't done all season for longer than 20 minutes.

Instead, Santana (L 18-6, 2.79 ERA) was handed his first loss since July 7, going only five innings while allowing 4 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits, walking and striking out three. It was pretty apparent from the start that Santana didn't seem to have his best stuff. Trying to throw a fastball away to David Ortiz with two outs in the first inning, he instead left it hovering over the middle of the plate, allowing Big Papi to smash his 51st home run of the season, becoming the first Red Sox player in history to reach that number. There was a giant hoorah and hugs ensued (puke...single tear). But seriously, congrats to the former Twin.

The hopes were that Johan would settle in and shrug it off, but after giving up back-to-back singles to start the second inning, he attempted to field a sacrifice bunt from shortstop Alex Gonzalez. He slipped while looking over at third base, losing the out there after dropping the ball, then completely overthrew Justin Morneau at first in a lay out. It was pretty ugly, bringing in two runs on the bunt, which ended up being a double error on Santana that was later changed to a sac bunt for Gonzalez. The damage didn't end there, as one more run would score on sacrifice fly by Mark Loretta for a 4-0 Boston lead.

The Twins' bats were silenced by a dominating Josh Beckett (W 16-10, 4.82 ERA) who pitched eight shut out innings, allowing only 6 hits and striking out five batters. Joe Mauer (2 for 4), Torii Hunter (2 for 4) and Jason Bartlett (2 for 3) each had decent nights at the plate, but were not able to produce any runs.

After Santana's exit, Ortiz belted his second homer of the night in the seventh inning off reliever Matt Guerrier (3.34 ERA), giving Ortiz 52 on the year. Mike Lowell followed with another longball, bringing the score to 6-0, Boston.

On a lighter note: As far as the standings are concerned, Thursday never happened. Both Detroit and Chicago lost, leaving Minnesota with the same margins, trailing the Tigers in the AL Central by a half-game and leading the White Sox by 5.5 in the Wild Card.


VS.


Minnesota looks to bounce back Friday with Carlos Silva (10-13, 5.88 ERA) on the bump against Daniel Cabrera (7-10, 5.10 ERA) and the O's in Baltimore.

Batting Title Race: With Joe Mauer having a .500 night at the plate Thursday, he raised his average to .345, staying ahead of Derek Jeter (.339) with the Yankee's day off.

9.20.2006

One night after Twins' rookie Matt Garza (5.40 ERA) shut down the Boston line up, Boof Bonser (W 6-5, 4.36 ERA) was able to hold them to 2 runs on 7 hits for seven innings, walking no one and striking out five.

Minnesota gave Boof an early lead in the first after Joe Mauer (2 for 5) doubled with two down and was brought home on a Michael Cuddyer (3 for 4, RBI) base hit. Boston answered in the second after catcher Jason Varitek tripled with one out and came home on a Dustin Pedroia single a batter later.

Curt Schilling (4.07 ERA) held the Twins to a run on 7 hits through the fifth, striking out three batters and walking none. He was replaced by Manny Delcarmen (4.67 ERA) in the sixth, who held the Twins scoreless. In the bottom half of the frame, Boof became the unlucky pitcher to allow David Ortiz to reach 50 homers this season (puke) and take the lead by one.

Bonser and Keith Foulke (4.63 ERA) each pitched a scoreless seventh before the Twins made their comeback in the eighth off of Craig Hansen (L 2-2, 6.87 ERA), who earned the blown save and the loss. Cuddyer led off the inning with a line drive double (40) and advanced to third on a wild pitch with Justin Morneau (1 for 4, RBI) at the plate, who ended up walking. Torii Hunter (2 for 5, 4 RBIs) then smashed his 28th bomb of the season "into the Massachusetts night" as Dick so poetically described it.

Rondell White then doubled on a liner to center (still nobody out, mind you) and Lew Ford (1 for 1, RBI) took his place on the bag. This brought a pitching change to Craig Breslow, who gave up a base hit by Jason Tyner (2 for 5) and allowed Ford to score on a force out at second. Breslow balked, then gave up another single to Luis Castillo. "Get the #&!% off my mound", says Terry Francona. Bryan Corey (3.22 ERA) took the hill and ended the inning with a double play.



Hunter hits number 28


Jesse Crain (3.73 ERA) came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth and walked Coco Crisp with one out. After forcing Mark Loretta to fly out, he was replaced by Dennys Reyes (0.94 ERA), who was asked to get Big Papi. He put him on instead. In comes Pat Neshek (2.45 ERA) to strike out the potential tieing run, Mike Lowell.

Minnesota poured salt on the wound in the ninth when Mauer led off the inning with a soft single to right. Cuddy was immediately hit by a pitch and the Canadian Crusher singled on a grounder, scoring Mauer and advancing the runner. Torii then grounded out to score Cuddy and move Morneau before Leeeeeeeeeeeeeew RBI singled to right. Mike Burns (6.52 ERA) replaced Corey and denied both Jasons a hit to end the inning.

Juan Rincon (2.84 ERA) pitched a perfect ninth, giving Minnesota their 90th win of the season and moving into a first place tie with Detroit for the Central Division Lead. That lasted for approximately 20 minutes until the Tigers finished their 6-2 win over the White Sox, taking a half game lead over the Twins...for now. Boston was officially eliminated from the Eastern Division "race" and moved to 9.5 behind in the Wild Card Standings.


VS.


Minnesota puts Johan Santana (18-5, 2.77 ERA) on the hill against Josh Beckett (15-10, 5.02 ERA) and Boston at Fenway on Thursday evening. Who's pumped up? This girl.

Batting Title Watch: Joe Mauer went 2 for 5 and finished Wednesday night's game batting .344. Derek Jeter sat during New York's 3-2 loss to Toronto, his average hovering at .339.

9.19.2006

The Twins gave Matt Garza (W 2-5, 5.40 ERA) the lead in the second after Justin Morneau started his amazing 5 for 5 night with his first of three line drive doubles (37) to left. One batter later, Rondell White singled on a sharp liner to left bringing him home. After a Phil Nevin walk and a wild pitch by Tim Wakefield (L 7-10, 4.50 ERA), Jason Bartlett (1 for 4) smoked a three-run shot to left, giving the Twins a four-run lead. Torii Hunter added two more runs in the third with his 27th longball of the year. Wakefield only made it 3.1 innings, allowing those 6 runs on 8 hits, walking two Twins and striking out three. Lenny DiNardo (7.17 ERA) held the Twins scoreless for 3.2 innings of relief.

With a nice early lead to work with, Matt Garza went 5.2 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, walking three batters and striking out four. He didn't allow a run until the fifth, until a lead-off single to first baseman Eric Hinske followed by a basehit by catcher Doug Mirabelli. Short stop Alex Gonzalez then hit a sac fly to left, scoring one. Garza didn't seem to let the run bother him, ending the inning with a Coco Crisp forceout and fly out by infielder Mark Loretta.

In the sixth inning, after a Hinske two-out single, Garza was replaced by Jesse Crain (3.77 ERA), who promptly gave up a Mirabelli RBI double, but ended the inning with the next batter, suddenly cutting the Twins' lead in half.

In the top of the seventh, Torii bounced a ball off of his ankle, delaying the game a bit with what seemed to be pain. He shrugged it off and hobbled to first on a walk, but the Twins would not add anymore scoring that inning. Hunter was replaced by Lew Ford in the ninth and hopefully will be okay, considering the Twins have no more days off this [regular] season. Dennys Reyes (0.94 ERA) replaced Crain with one out in the bottom of the frame and pitched it scoreless.

Reyes threw a wild pitch outside to Trot Nixon in the eighth allowing him first base, but forced third baseman Mike Lowell to ground into a double play. Dustin Pedroia was brought in for Hinske and singled to left before Juan Rincon was brought in to get the final out, but walked Mirabelli. Nick Punto made an outstanding catch over the wall on the third baseline to end the inning with the tieing run at the plate: Jason Varitek, pinch-hitting for Gonzalez. Huge play.



The Canadian Crusher goes 5 for 5


After a Michael Cuddyer double (39) in the top of the ninth off Bryan Corey (2.55 ERA), Morneau drove him in on a line drive single off Javier Lopez (3.21 ERA), pounding another nail into Boston's inevitable coffin. With New York's magic number at 1, their 2006 future is not looking too bright. Automatic Joe Nathan pitched a perfect bottom half, striking out one and putting the Twins' win in writing.


VS.


The Twins will put Boof Bonser (5-5, 4.52 ERA) on the hill in his only start against Boston this season with veteran Curt Schilling (14-7, 4.13 ERA) hurling for the Red Sox in game two Wednesday night.

With Chicago shutting out Detroit 7-0, the White Sox remain five games behind Minnesota in the Wild Card Standings, with the Tigers quickly losing hold of their one-game Divisional lead.

Batting Title Watch: Joe Mauer went 1 for 5 during Tuesday night's game, lowering his batting average to .343 while Yankee Derek Jeter (.340) also went 1 for 5 (with 2 RBIs) during New York's 6-3 victory over Toronto.



GREAT NEWS. Beloved ESPN baseball analyst Peter Gammons will be reporting from the Twins' game in Boston Wednesday night, returning to work just three months after suffering a brain aneurysm.



Dear Mr. Peter Gammons,

Welcome back! You were dearly missed and I'm sure Baseball Tonight's ratings have dropped accordingly. Although, we do kinda like Tino's boyish charm.

Love,
babes that love baseball

9.17.2006


On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Cleveland that seemed perfect for baseball, Scott Baker (W 5-8, 6.33 ERA) pitched six strong innings for the Twins. He allowed only 1 run on 5 hits, walked two batters and struck out three, two days before his 25th birthday.

I think I speak for all Twins fans when I express how excited/relieved I was to see Baker have such a dominant outing. What the Twins really need to stay in playoff contention is for all their starters to get down to business. Fans were beginning to wonder when Baker would be ready to pitch at the Major League level, and I think he proved today that he'll be able to help the club during the final two-week stretch.

Scott had been sent down to AAA Rochester on two separate occasions this year due to major inconsistency in his pitching. Since his early September recall, he has won two of three starts.

After right fielder Casey Blake singled in a run in the first, the Twins were given an opportunity to tie it up in the second, thanks to poor Cleveland defense. With two gone, Torii Hunter (1 for 5, 2 RBIs) hit a grounder to short for what should have been an easy play. First baseman Ryan Garko dropped the low toss by Jhonny Peralta though, putting an error on the board and allowing the inning to continue. Phil Nevin's infield hit (2 for 3, 2 RBIs) was then followed by a Jason Tyner (3 for 3, RBI) single to left.

Paul Byrd (L 9-8, 4.88 ERA) pitched four innings, allowing 5 runs with 4 earned on 8 hits, walking four batters and striking out three. The trouble for him came in the third with one down after Nick Punto (1 for 4, RBI) was aboard with a walk. Joe Mauer (2 for 5) bunted for a hit before Michael Cuddyer grounded out to the mound. Justin Morneau was then intentionally walked to get to who? Torii Hunter. He promptly lined a single to left, scoring two runs and advancing to second (Morneau to third) on Franklin Gutierrez's crazy attempt to end the madness at homeplate. Philly then batted in two more runs on a single that third baseman Andy Marte couldn't handle. Punto also added a sacrifice fly for good measure in the eighth.



The Twins had another outstanding defensive outing Sunday, turning five doubles plays: four behind Baker and another for Matt Guerrier (3.13 ERA), who pitched the final three innings of the game, allowing only two hits without a run. Congratulations to Matt on his first career save.


VS.


After a well deserved and much-needed day off Monday, the Twins head to Boston for a three game series with the Red Sox. Matt Garza (1-5, 5.50 ERA) will kick off the series against Tim Wakefield (7-9, 4.19 ERA) on Tuesday night, Boof Bonser (5-5, 4.52 ERA) is set to battle Curt Schilling (14-7, 4.13 ERA) on Wednesday and Johan Santana (18-5, 2.77 ERA) will take the hill for the series finale versus Josh Beckett (15-10, 5.02 ERA) on Thursday.

With both Chicago losing 5-4 to Oakland and Detroit falling 12-8 to Baltimore in a 10-inning battle on Sunday, Minnesota leaps to four games ahead of the White Sox in the Wild Card Standings and just one game behind the Tigers for the Central Division lead. There are 13 games remaining in the regular season.

Batting Title Watch: Derek Jeter sat for the first loss of a Yankees' doubleheader on Sunday against Boston, but went 0 for 4 in the second loss, lowering his average to .341 and breaking his 25 game hitting streak. Joe Mauer went 2 for 5, still batting .344 on the season and still leading the majors in hitting.

9.16.2006

After a tough loss Friday night at Jacobs Field, Carlos Silva (W 10-13, 5.88 ERA) gave the Twins a chance to come back and take the series lead. After a rocky mid-season for Silva, he has changed up his pitches in recent starts, particularly the way he grips the ball. Again, he avoided that high breaking ball that usually leaves the park and stuck with that low slider, forcing 11 ground outs and 8 fly outs. This is thanks in part to Minnesota's outstanding infielders. On a Silva start, the defense really needs to be on it's toes to field some tough grounders and turn double plays. In seven innings, Carlos allowed only 1 run on 5 hits, walking a batter and striking out two. Cleveland's one run came in the first inning on a Victor Martinez RBI single. Dennys Reyes (0.97 ERA) came out and tossed a scoreless 2/3 of the eighth before Juan Rincon (2.90 ERA) was brought in to take care of Ryan Garko to end the inning. Automatic Joe Nathan (1.76 ERA) recorded his 33rd save of the season with a perfect ninth.

Smell em! Mike Redmond, who has proven to be clutch in his every opportunity when Joe Mauer sits, went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs. Torii Hunter hit his 26th home run of the season in the fourth, bringing him just 3 shy of his career high 29, in 2002. Captain Cheeseburger (L 11-10, 3.26 ERA) was without his ketchup this evening, allowing 3 runs on 10 hits with one walk in seven innings pitched. No wonder he hates the Twins.



VS.


The Twins put righty Scott Baker (4-8, 6.72 ERA) on the hill Sunday afternoon at the Jake against Paul Byrd (9-7, 4.83 ERA) and the Tribe. Baker has yet to stabalize his Major League career while Byrd is 2-0 against the Twins this year.

With Chicago losing 7-4 Saturday afternoon to Oakland, Minnesota takes a 3 game lead in the Wild Card Standings. The Twins remain 2 games behind Detroit, as they beat Baltimore 2-0.

Batting Title Watch: Derek Jeter (.343) went 1 for 5 during both the Yankee's 7-5 win and their 5-2 loss to the Red Sox Saturday, falling behind in the rankings to Joe Mauer (.344), who had the evening off.

Friday was not the regular dominant Johan Santana (18-5, 2.77 ERA) outing that fans have come to expect. After hanging in there for eight innings, he allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 7 hits, 4 of them coming before the second inning. Johan walked one and struck out seven Cleveland batters. The Indian runs started early, with a first baseman Ryan Garko 2-run homer (6) in the first. They scored again when left-fielder Franklin Gutierrez lined an RBI single in the second, bringing the score to 3-o.

Fausto Carmona (1-9, 6.03 ERA) had held the Twins hitless with 3 walks up until the fourth inning. After walking Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau singled to bring him home. Another walk put Torii Hunter on board before Rondell White grounded into a double play, scoring Michael Cuddyer.

In the fifth, short stop Hector Luna led off with a double and was in safe at third on second baseman Joe Inglett's fielder's choice after a rare mishandled ball from Santana to Nick Punto. Punto then threw Luna out at home on a head's up play, but then Gutierrez doubled, scoring Inglett.

Cleveland held their 4-2 lead until the top of the ninth, when Jason Bartlett lined a base hit, Luis Castillo walked and Punto singled, loading the bags. Mauer then grounded out to score Bartlett, bringing the Twins within one. Reliever Tom Mastny (4.02 ERA) must not have gotten the memo about our Canadian Crusher being 2nd in the league for RBIs, because he intentinoally walked Cuddyer to load the bases again to get to Justin. Morneau delivered a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Castillo, knotting the game at 4.

Pat Neshek (L 4-2, 2.48 ERA) replaced Santana in the ninth, striking out the first two batters, walking one and forcing a pop out to bring the game into extras. Fernando Cabrera (W 3-2, 4.95 ERA) came in for Cleveland in the top of the tenth, forcing Lew Ford and Jason Tyner to ground out and Bartlett to strike out swinging.

After a Gutierrez double in the bottom of the tenth, Dennys Reyes (0.99 ERA) replaced Neesh and it all fell apart from there. He intentionally walked right-fielder Casey Blake with one out, and threw a wild pitch that advanced both runners. Then, he put catcher Victor Martinez on board to load 'em up. This would bring another pitching change: Jesse Crain (3.80 ERA) to get the last two outs. He forced a groundout to scary Ryan Garko, but after Castillo's flip, Bartllett threw a bad hop to Morneau, and Justin just couldn't dig it out. Gutierrez scores. Indians win 5-4.


VS>


Carlos Silva: I eat Indians for breakfast!
C.C. Sabathia: I hate the Twins. They're good.
The Twins will look to take the series lead Saturday with Carlos Silva (9-13, 6.08 ERA) on the mound against none other than Captain Cheeseburger Sabathia (11-9, 3.24 ERA) and the Tribe. Booooooo!

Detroit put the stomp on Baltimore with a 17-2 victory Friday, taking a 2 game lead over the Twins in the Division. Chicago was held to 3 hits in their 4-2 loss to Oakland, remaining 2 games behind the Twins in the Wild Card Standings.

Batting Title Watch: Joe Mauer went 1 for 4 with 1 RBI and 2 walks during Friday's game, bring his average down to .344, while Yankee Derek Jeter takes the lead at .345 with his day off.

Five huge plays from August


Rodriguez's spin move vs. the Rangers, 08.02.06


Tyner nails Ordonez at homeplate, 08.08.06


Punto fields a tough grounder vs. the Jays, 08.10.06


Hunter's leaping grab vs. Baltimore, 08.23.06


For ma girl Jessie, Morneau does the splits vs. Chicago, 08.26.06

Five big plays from June.


Kubel snags a liner vs. Seattle, 06.06.06


Hunter's stumbling catch vs. Boston, 06.13.06


Nick Punto's diving stop vs. the Pirates, 06.17.06


Bartlett, doing what he does best vs. the Dodgers, 06.28.06


Castillo throws from the hole vs. the Brew Crew, 06.30.06

Five+ sweet plays from July.


Kubel lays out vs. the Brewers, 07.01.06


L-Rod's backhanded toss vs. Milwaukee, 07.02.06


a day at the office for Bartlett, 07.05.06


Hunter's catch at the wall vs. Cleveland, 07.13.06


Cuddyer's sliding catch vs. Chicago, 07.25.06


Morneau snares a liner vs. Detroit, 07.29.06


Punto steals a hit vs. the Tigers, 07.30.06

9.15.2006

Five great defensive plays made in May...


Twins defense shines vs. Seattle, 05.01.06


Hunter robs Thome, 05.14.06


Twins turn two DPs vs. Cleveland, 05.24.06


Hunter's doubleplay vs. Seattle, 05.26.06


Twins triple play vs. Seattle, 05.27.06

After all the amazing offense and great pitching performances we've seen, I feel like maybe I havn't given the defense enough props lately. Here are five kickass plays made in April.


Cuddyer's diving catch vs. Oakland, 04.11.06


Torii Hunter robs a Yankees' run, 04.15.06


Castro's diving play vs. Los Angeles, 04.16.06


Hunter robs Konerko, 04.23.06


Ford's sliding catch vs. KC, 04.26.06



The end of August I made my predictions for how I saw the Central Division playing out the rest of the way. So far eh not bad. Here they are for your viewing pleasure.


Minnesota Twins -

Home Series - Kansas City Royals (3-0) -- WENT (1-2)
Away Series - New York Yankees (1-2) -- WENT (1-2)
Away Series - Tampa Bay D'Rays (2-1) -- WENT (2-1)
Home Series - Detroit Tigers (3-1) -- WENT (3-1)
Home Series - Oakland A's (3-0) -- WENT (2-1)
Away Series - Cleveland Indians (2-2)
Away Series - Boston Red Sox (1-2)
Away Series - Baltimore O's (2-1)
Home Series - Kansas City Royals (4-0)
Home Series - Chicago White Sox (2-1)

# Home Games: 17
# Away Games: 16
Record the rest of the way: 23-10
Final Record: 99-63

Chicago White Sox -

Home Series - Tampa Bay D'Rays (3-0) -- WENT (2-1)
Away Series - Kansas City Royals (2-1) -- WENT (1-2)
Away Series - Boston Red Sox (1-2) -- WENT (1-2)
Home Series - Cleveland Indians (3-1) -- WENT (2-2)
Away Series - Los Angeles Angels (1-2) -- WENT (2-1)
Away Series - Oakland A's (1-2)
Home Series - Detroit Tigers (2-1)
Home Series - Seattle Mariners (3-1)
Away Series - Cleveland Indians (2-1)
Away Series - Minnesota Twins (1-2)

# Home Games: 14
# Away Games: 18
Record the rest of the way: 19-13
Final Record: 95-67

Detroit Tigers -

Away Series - New York Yankees (0-3) WENT (1-2)
Home Series - Los Angeles Angels (2-1) WENT (1-2)
Home Series - Seattle Mariners (2-1) WENT (1-2)
Away Series - Minnesota Twins (1-3) WENT (1-3)
Home Series - Texas Rangers (2-1) WENT (1-1) Makeup Game Later
Home Series - Baltimore O's (2-1)
Away Series - Chicago White Sox (1-2)
Away Series - Baltimore O's (0-1)
Away Series - Kansas City Royals (2-1)
Home Series - Toronto Blue Jays (2-1)
Home Series - Kansas City Royals (2-0)

# Home Games: 17
# Away Games: 14
Record the rest of the way: 16-15
Final Record: 98-64

Final Results:

Minnesota Twins 99-63____.611
Detroit Tigers 98-64____.605 1
Chicago White Sox 95-67____.586 4

Central Division Winner: Minnesota Twins
AL Wild Card Winner: Detroit Tigers

That's how I see the schedule's playing out. The White Sox have a clear disadvantage with so many road games against teams that play them tough. The Tigers have the roughest Schedule due to the teams they have to play. It's no secret that the Tigers have not fared well against the upper echelon opponents this year. Either that trend is going to have to quickly change even as these teams make thier own push in their respective divisions or the Tigers will endure the suffering of this fact.


Games Against Teams with Winning Records:
Detroit Tigers: 19
Minnesota Twins: 16
Chicago White Sox: 15

In conclusion, the AL Central Race is wide open and the team that steps up with Hot Hitting, Solid Pitching and Overall Heart and Determination will play their way to the title. NOW IT'S YOUR TURN!! In the comments enter your predictions from here on out. Let's see who can make the best prediction.

P.S. Those who predict the Tigers and Sox getting in over the Twins will feel the brunt of a return comment coming their way - be forewarned!!!




The rumors of a possible Tommy John surgery for Francisco Liriano have been quieted after a positive MRI taken on the rookie phenom's left arm showed no new structural damage. Even though this is good news, and certainly not as bad as we all had feared, Liriano will not rejoin the team in the 2006 season.


9.14.2006



Boof Bonser (4.52 ERA) led Minnesota to a 9-4 win over Cleveland Thursday night, pitching 5.2 good innings and allowing only 3 runs on 5 hits, walking three batters and striking out six. After a leadoff walk to center fielder Grady Sizemore in the first, catcher Victor Martinez drove him in on a base hit to right field. Minnesota answered in the third inning on a two-out Justin Morneau double (2 for 6, RBI). Torii Hunter (3 for 6, 4 RBIs) then singled to left on a sharp ground ball, scoring Justin and knotting the game.

Twins: meet the Indian bullpen.

In the top of the fifth, Cliff Lee (4.47 ERA) was replaced by Brian Sikorski (5.46 ERA) after throwing 102 pitches, walking two and striking out three. Lee allowed only 1 run on 5 hits. Sikorski got Cuddy swinging, but then gave up a single to Morneau. One batter later, Rondell White (3 for 5, 2 RBIs) hit his 14th double of the season for the go-ahead run.

The sixth would see another pitching change, this time bringing in righty Andrew Brown (5.14 ERA). After a flyout, a Luis Castillo walk (2 for 5), a Nick Punto double (2 for 5, RBI - awesome defense as well) and an intentional Joe Mauer walk (1 for 4), Brown walked in a run with Cuddyer at the plate and left the bags loaded. 100 runs batted in for our main-man, Cuddy. "Umm...good effort," says Eric Wedge, "now gimme the ball."

Now serving Cleveland relief pitcher #3, Rafael Perez (4.15 ERA). Morneau reached on a forceout attempt and throwing error by second baseman Joe Inglett allowing Punto to score. (Queue circus music). Next batter, next pitcher: Jason Davis (L 3-2, 4.17 ERA), who ends the scoring with a pop out and a K.

Boof was replaced with two outs and two men on in the sixth by Jesse Crain (W 4-5, 3.82 ERA) who would end up with both the blown save and the win. No fair, I know. But that's how the cookie, she crumbles. The first pitch from Crain to Andy Marte leaves the field and ties the game at 4 a piece.

But never fear Twins fans. Our boys put together two straight one-out singles by Jason Bartlett (2 for 4) and Castillo before Davis threw the inevitable wild pitch to advance the runners and toss out the idea of an inning-ending double play. Punto then scored Bartlett on a hard-hit sac fly to center, which would of course bring another pitching change: Juan Lara (0.00 ERA). He ended the inning with a Joe Mauer lineout.

Crain then pitched a scoreless seventh inning before Fernando Cabrera (5.04 ERA - the seventh Indians pitcher to step foot on the mound) gave up three more runs in the top of the eighth. He started by nailing Cuddyer in the ribs with a fastball; his first hit batsman of the year, obviously unintentional. Cuddy then stole second, knowing Cabrera wasn't paying attention to the hobbled runner at first. A batter later, Hunter smoked his 25th homerun and 80th RBI of the year 422 feet to deep left field, giving the Twins a 3 run lead. Rondell, not to be out done of course, smashed one to deep left-center, cracking the barrel of his hot bat, but only carrying it 419 feet. After Phil Nevin walked, we wouldn't want to leave anyone in the bullpen feeling unwanted. So, Edward Mujica (3.31 ERA) joined in the fun and faced three batters but didn't allow any more runs.



Hunter and White go back-to-back


Juan Rincon (2.91 ERA) entered the game and pitched a scoreless eighth with a walk and a strikeout, giving the Twins a chance to score one more insurance run in the top of the ninth off a Hunter RBI double. Rincon was replaced by Pat Neshek (2.27 ERA) in the ninth who ended the game quickly with two strikeouts and a pop out.


VS.


The Twins put Johan Santana on the mound in the second of this four game series at Jacobs Field against Fausto Carmona (1-9, 6.24 ERA) and the Indians. Johan leads the league in strikeouts (230), wins (18), ERA (.275), and innings pitched (212.2). He has only 5 losses this year, all coming before the Mid-Summer Classic. As far as Carmona goes, for the Indians' bullpen's sake, maybe he can go more than four innings, even though Bert called a beatdown? Probably not.

With both Chicago and Detroit having the day off Thursday, Minnesota moves within one game of the Tigers for the Division Lead and gain another on the White Sox, who now trail the Twins by two.

Batting Title Watch: Joe Mauer (.347), going 1 for 4 with two walks Thursday evening leads Yankee Derek Jeter (.346) by a fraction of a point in the race (conscious or not) for the American League Batting Champion.

9.13.2006

The Twins' worst nightmare came true on Wednesday afternoon when lefty Francisco Liriano (12-3. 2.19 ERA), fresh off the DL, left his start early in the third inning with elbow pain in his left [throwing] arm.

Only one batter into the third and 28 pitches later, he exited after throwing what appeared to be a slider in the dirt to Bobby Kielty on the first pitch, wincing with pain and dropping his shoulder after the motion. Catcher Mark Redmond could tell immediately that there was something wrong, coming to the mound with Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson.

This start was the first for Liriano since Aug. 7, when he left a start in Detroit after just four innings due to pain in his left elbow. Liriano cruised through the rehab program to strengthen his shoulder, after doctors determined the pain was being caused by a mild strain of his ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow.

Liriano made one start for AAA Rochester in their playoff run last Saturday where he threw three scoreless innings, didn't allow a hit and struck out four. He was scheduled to throw around 60 pitches in this outing, with the hopes that it would go smoothly so he'd be able to help the Twins in their playoff chase. But he was put on the shelf for the season, after hearing what he decribed as a 'pop' in his elbow.

This years' ML Rookie of the Year Pitcher, Matt Garza (L 1-5, 5.50 ERA), came in to replace Liriano, who of course, won the award last year. He pitched 5.2 good innings of relief in what was originally supposed to be his Wednesday start. He allowed only 1 run on 8 hits and struck out four batters in the Twins 1-0 loss to the Oakland A's. With the White Sox blanking the Angels, Chicago snuck back within a game and a half of the Wild Card. The Tigers were rocked by the Rangers in their 11-3 loss on Wednesday, and lead the Twins by a game and a half.



Francisco Liriano's injury.


VS.


Minnesota will look to turn a new leaf, with a new series against the Central Spoiler Cleveland Thursday night putting Boof Bonser (5-5. 4.50 ERA) on the hill against Cliff Lee (12-10, 4.53 ERA) and the Indians at the Jake.

Matt Guerrier (0-0, 3.30 ERA) only pitched 4 innings (pretty much as expected), allowing 3 runs on 4 hits and struck out three Oakland batters. It was a rocky start, as he gave up 2 straight singles and a wild pitch in the first, before third baseman Eric Chavez tripled to score 2 runs.

Minnesota answered with Justin Morneau, (3 for 4, 2 RBIs) leading off the second with his 32nd double of the season. Torii Hunter (1 for 4 RBI) singled before Morneau went out on a Rondell White lineout double play. With Jason Tyner (3 for 4, 2 RBIs) at the plate, Hunter stole second, which turned out to be huge, because JT singled on a hard liner to right, bringing Torii home. After Jason Bartlett drew a walk, Luis Castillo (2 for 4, RBI) singled to left scoring Tyner but was caught stealing to end the inning.

After a scoreless third, Guerrier gave up a home run to Chachi Chavez (who appears to be Matt's new nemesis) in the fourth, giving the A's a 3-2 lead. The Twins came back in the bottom of the frame with a Rondell two-out double and a JT RBI single to knot the game.

Willie Eyre (5.73 ERA) started the fifth and immediately gave up a Dan Johnson home run. Anyone who remembers DJ's debut at the Dome last year knows this was just a matter of time. After a walk and a wild pitch, he walked the next two batters to load the bases. Enter Pat Neshek (2.35 ERA) who forced the Big Hurt to line out and Chachi to strike out swinging.


a day at the office for Jason Bartlett


Oakland ended up with a run off Neesh with a single by centerfielder Jay Payton and a line drive base hit by shortstop Marco Scutero. After single by catcher Jason Kendall, Jesse Crain (3.76 ERA) was brought in to end the inning with a ground out. He pitched a scoreless, one-hit seventh and then Denny Reyes (W 5-0, 1.02 ERA) allowed just one hit in the eighth.

In the bottom of the eighth with rally caps on, Nick Punto started the inning with a base hit. With Joe Mauer (0 for 2, 2 BBs, run) at the plate, Joe Kennedy (L 4-1, ERA) threw a wild pitch allowing Punto to advance to second, even though he would end up there regardless due to a Mauer walk. Then Michael Cuddyer hit his 99th RBI on a ground rule double, moving Joe to third. Morneau then hit his 33rd double of the season, bringing in the go ahead run, giving Kennedy his 2nd blown save and the eventual loss.

Justin Duchscherer (3.24 ERA) was brought in to relieve Kennedy and he got two quick outs. The ball got away from Kendall on a swinging strike by Tyner, allowing Morneau to cruise home on the wild pitch, adding an insurance run before Bartlett lined out to end the scoring.

Joe Nathan (1.79 ERA) recorded his 32nd save of the year, pitching a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts. Minnesota picks up their 85th win in dramatic piranha fashion, remaining 1.5 games behind the for the Division Lead Tuesday evening, with their 3-2 win over the Texas Rangers at US Cellular Field, after walk-off homer. The Twins also put another game between themselves and the Chicago White Sox after their 4-3 11th inning loss to the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim).



VS.


The long-awaited return of Francisco Liriano (12-3, 2.19 ERA) is finally here. He will take the mound Wednesday afternoon on National television, against Dan Haren (13-11, 3.95 ERA) and the Athletics for the series finale. Although he is limited to a short pitch-count these days, Liriano should be able to give the A’s a run for their money and the Twins a good chance at another Oakland sweep.

9.12.2006

Carlos Silva (9-13, 6.08 ERA) tossed seven good innings Monday night against the Oakland A's, allowing only 1 run on 5 hits, walking one and striking out one. For Silva to dominate like that is a really good sign for this ballclub. His sinker was finally back in action, as he recorded 13 ground outs in the game. Much of this recent success for Carlos on the mound is due to a change of the way he grips the ball. The Twins have been in desperate need for a few of their starters to buck up and suck it up. Silva showed that even after a tummy ache, he could bounce back and show the opposing team who's boss.

The offense helped out too, of course. After Frank Thomas blasted his sixth home run in as many games with a solo shot to left-center in the top of the fourth, the Twins got Silva out of a hole. Michael Cuddyer (2 for 5, 4 RBIs) led the comeback, hitting a two-run shot (22) in the bottom of the frame. He later added a two-run double in the eighth.



Cuddy hits number 22


A three-run sixth helped open the Twins' lead to 6-1, as Torii Hunter (2 for 5, 2 RBIs) homered to straight center leading off the inning before Nick Punto (2 for 5, 2 RBIs) added a two-run single.

It was all lookin good from there, with the game in the bullpen's hands and a nice lead. Dennys Reyes (1.04 ERA) pitched 21.1 innings without allowing a run until the eighth when he allowed 2 runs (1 earned) in just 1/3 of an inning, pulling the A's to within three. After Joe Nathan (1.82 ERA) came in to record the final out of the eighth, Cuddy and Hunter drove in three more runs to really bust the game wide open.

Since Scott Sauerback beaned Joe Mauer (1 for 3) with a pitch between his shoulder blades in the eighth, I don't see why Nathan didn't just graze somebody in the top of the ninth. He ended up putting three men on anyway. But he was able to pitch out of the situation, and record his 31st save of the season, while giving Gardy and the rest of us some minor heart issues.

The Twins pick up their 84th victory, and shave off another half game from the Detroit Tigers' divisional lead, as they had the day off Monday. The Chicago White Sox remained a game and a half behind Minnesota with their 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

9.11.2006

After a moment of silence for the mourning familes of the NYPD, FDNY and everyone working at the World Trade Center five years ago...

I believe this may be worth another look.

In Sunday's series finale, and last meeting of the [regular] season between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers, Johan K. Santana pitched a two-hit, eleven strikeout game.


Johan K's eleven

9.10.2006

All I can say is "Wow". Since I can't decide which to write about first, I'll start with the amazing outing by Johan Cytana (18-5, 2.75 ERA). I could even go so far as to call it magical. Johan pitched one batter into the seventh inning due to a pitch count of 108, allowing only 2 hits. He walked 2 Tigers (on iffy calls by the home plate blue, if you ask me) and struck out eleven, earning his 18th victory of the year. Sunday's game only added to his case for another Cy Young Award, and brought more MVP whispers.

To have three MVP candidates on one ballclub is pretty special, and I'm willing to bet it hasn't happened since 1965. Twins shortstop Zoilo Versalles won it that year, over outfielder Tony Oliva and ace Mudcat Grant, becoming the first Latin player to win the award.

When it comes to the Twins' show of offense, I think it can best be described by Joe Mauer: Pour it on, Minnesota. With Jeremy Bonderman (11-8, 4.18 ERA) only pitching 5.1 innings, the boys got 7 runs off 8 hits, struck out six times and walked three. The runs came early, with one in the first off a Joe Mauer double. They grabbed another one in the second after Torii Hunter (3 for 4) singled, stole second and advanced to third on a Jason Kubel (1 for 3) swinging strike that got away from catcher Vance Wilson. He was then driven in on a sac fly by Jason Tyner (1 for 1, 2 RBIs), bringing the score to 2-0, Twins.

More strikeouts by Santana ensued, getting 1 in the third, 3 in the fourth and striking out the side in the fifth. After Tyner tripled, Jason Bartlett (1 for 2, 2 RBIs) took one for the team. He then stole second before Luis Castillo (1 for 2, 2 RBIs) walked. Nick Punto (4 for 5, 3 RBIs), who has been a tear of late, grounded into a forceout at home, but left the bases loaded. Mauer hit a sac fly to left, scoring Bartlett, but Michael Cuddyer (0 for 4) then lined out to end the inning. Johan gets another K in the top of the sixth and this is about when the pounding began.

After two straight singles by Morneau (2 for 4) and Hunter, Kubel bunted to move the runners over. Then JT was intentionally walked...never a good idea with Bartlett on deck, who's hitting .328. He hit a sacrifice fly to score Morneau before Castillo tripled, scoring two more. At this point, Jim Leyland had had enough, so Bonderman was replaced by reliever Jamie Walker (2.02 ERA). It didn't really matter though, because Punto promptly singled before Mauer doubled again to bring him home. Cuddy ended the inning again on a ground out. :(

Santana came onto the mound in the top of the seventh, ready to roll. After a lead off single by Magglio Ordonez, he threw a wild pitch with the runner advancing. He then struck out Carlos Guillen before being replaced by Juan Rincon (2.97 ERA). Fans went nuts during a much-deserved standing ovation for Johan, as we watched the All Star Cy Young candidate exit the game. Rincon ended the Tigers' hope of scoring with a man on, forcing two groundouts to polish off the inning.

As if an 8-0 lead wasn't enough, the Twins came back with 4 more in the bottom of the frame. With Jordan Tata (6.14 ERA) pitching, Morneau, Hunter and Kubel strung together three straight singles to load the bags for Tyner. He scored Justin on a sac fly to right, and Bartlett singled on a liner to center. One batter later, Punto belted a single to center, scoring two more runs. Twins 12, Tiger, 0. Minnesota had a total of 15 hits - 3 triples and 2 doubles - in the game, scoring on all but 3 of hits, with 3 stolen bases. It's the little things. With all 12 runs, not a one was a homer. That's just how they roll.



Offensive push in the sixth


Detroit didn't score a run until Willie Eyre (5.60 ERA) came in to pitch the ninth, and gave up two base hits to Alexis Gomez and Ramon Santiago, then a Neifi Perez single on a soft liner to left. Gomez scored, but that was the only run allowed when Wilson grounded into a double play to end the game.

Batting Title Watch: Joe Mauer (.350) had another impressive game Sunday, going 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs and a walk, maintaining his lead in the batting title run over Derek Jeter (.345), who went 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs in the Yankee's 9-4 win over Baltimore Sunday afternoon.

With Chicago losing late to Cleveland 5-2, the Twins take a 1 1/2 game lead over the White Sox in the Wild Card Race and come as close as any team has gotten to the Tigers with a two game deficit. Interestingly enough, Minnesota has played one less game than Detroit, showing a one-loss difference in records.



VS.

The Twins start a brand new series against the Oakland on Monday with Carlos Silva (8-13, 6.30 ERA) on the hill against Joe Blanton (15-10, 4.66 ERA) and the A's. Oakland leads the American League West by six games over the Angels. With Matt Guerrier (0-0, 3.04 ERA) getting his very first start on Tuesday, Francisco Liriano (12-3, 2.19 ERA) will make his long-awaited comeback in the series finale on Wednesday.

9.09.2006


It was a close one, but Boof Bonser (5-5, 4.50 ERA) rocked the house Saturday night, delivering his second straight quality start as he held the Tigers to just 1 run on 5 hits over seven innings in Minnesota's 2-1 win over Detroit. This victory brings the Twins within 3 games of the divisional lead, and still a half game ahead of the White Sox, with Chicago's 10-8 win over the Indians.

At first, it looked like we'd see a short outing for the starter, since he already had 66 pitches under his belt through the first four innings. But Boof busted out three 1-2-3 innings and finished with 104 total pitches on the night. He struck out five batters and walked just one, his first in 18 innings. The run came in the fourth after walking leadoff batter Sean Casey before he scored on an Omar Infante groundout.

Nate Robertson (12-12, 3.84 ERA) managed seven innings allowing 2 runs off 6 hits, with 1 walk and 5 strikeouts. Michael Cuddyer singled to center in the second and then scored on a fielding error by Infante for a 1-0 lead. The error allowed Justin Morneau to reach second base before advancing to third on the throw. Deja Vu! Torii Hunter followed with a smashed single to left, driving in Morneau to put the Twins ahead, 2-0. Pat Neshek (2.15 ERA) and Joe Nate (1.71 ERA) combined for three strikeouts in two scoreless innings to put a lid on it.

Gardy and company says it's time to get serious when it comes to the Twins' starting pitching. Scott Baker was 5-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 12 starts for AAA Rochester this season, but went 4-8 with a 6.72 ERA in 14 starts for the Twins. Rick Anderson feels that a large part of those struggles have been due to Baker's lack of confidence at this level, referring to his pitching as "timid". After Scott's last start, Matt Guerrier (3.04 ERA) will get the nod for Tuesday's game against the Oakland Athletics at the Metrodome. Matt has been a large part of the success of the bullpen when healthy, and has yet to earn his first Major League win. I'm very much looking forward to seeing him pitch more than just a couple of innings.



Defense wins ballgames, too

VS.


If there's anyone the Twins can look to for a W, it's this guy. Johan Santana (17-5, 2.84) will be the icing on the cake for this four game series against Detroit Sunday afternoon at 1:10pm CT, as he takes the hill looking for his 18th, what would be a crucial series win for the Twins, versus Jeremy Bonderman (11-7. 4.02 ERA) and the Tigers. The Twins will have an opportunity to move within two games with a win. It's been a long road for this team, and they've worked their tails off for this.

Speaking of hard-working players, Francisco Liriano was to make his Minor League start for Rochester Saturday night, throwing around 50 pitches for the team. If he feels well and is ready, we could see him on the mound for the Twins as early as Wednesday against the A's. This is something Minnesota desperately needs to happen. No one wants to rush Liriano's return, but the club has received nothing but good news since he's been rehabbing, and are anxious to get him back in the pennant race where he belongs.

The Twins pulled off a crucial victory Friday night against the Detroit Tigers at the Metrodome, pulling back within four games of the division lead and half a game ahead of the White Sox in the Wild Card Race.

Matt Garza (1-4, 6.23 ERA) went only 4. 1 innings, after allowing four walks and five hits, amounting to 4 earned runs. On the up side, he struck out six Tigers. So, he did have that breaking ball working, and showed the ability to retire batters on a 3-2 count.

Detroit scored first in the third inning, when Magglio Ordonez doubled on a two-run liner to left. In the bottom of the frame, the Twins strung together four straight 2-out singles. Nick Punto (2 for 5) and Joe Mauer (3 for 4, walk) each got on base before Michael Cuddyer (2 for 3, 2 BBs) singled to score them both. Justin Morneau (2 for 3, walk) then slapped a base hit to left to score Cuddy, and the game was tied. The Dome went berzerk.

Detroit scored two more runs in the fifth. After Ivan Rodriguez singled to left, Craig Monroe came up and doubled one the other way to score Pudge. After an Ordonez RBI single, Garza was replaced by Dennys Reyes with one out in the inning. Denny allowed a Carlos Guillen base hit, retired Sean Casey, and was replaced by Pat Neshek (4-1, 2.22 ERA), who promptly forced Marcus Thames to pop out.

Wilfredo Ledezma (2-3, 3.13 ERA) pitched halfway through the bottom of the inning, allowing Joe Mauer and Cuddyer each to single, followed by a Canadian Crusher two-run double. Justin moved to third on the throw to the plate before Torii Hunter drove him home on a sharp single to left off a brand new pitcher (Jason Grilli). Again, the Dome goes nuts. This time, the Twins have a one-run lead.


The following inning is when things really started to roll. When you're playing one of the best teams in baseball, it's a good idea to tack on some insurance runs. So when another new pitcher (Andrew Miller) came in for Detroit, Minnesota took advantage. After two outs, this kid completely fell apart. He walked Mauer. He walked Cuddyer. He walked Morneau to fill the bags. Bases loaded = pitching change. Here comes Zach Miner, former Detroit starter (here's why). After a Torii Hunter 2-run single, Rondell White hit one off of third baseman Brandon Inge's glove. Error credited to Inge. Lew Ford pinch-runs for Rondell. And here comes Philly! Nevin then doubled on a liner to right scoring Torii, and Lew came to a screeching halt half-way to home. Twins 9, Tigers 4.



The Canadian Crusher's huge day


Jesse Crain (3.86 ERA) pitched two scoreless innings before Detroit tried to answer with one run in the top of the ninth off Juan Rincon (3.05 ERA), but it was too late. The Twins even up the series and Neesh gets the win. It's pretty much impossible to pick a Player of the Game in this one, since nearly everyone contributed to the pounding. Great game. If this one didn't feel like the Playoffs, I don't know what does.



VS.


Boof Bonser (4-5, 4.83 ERA) probably hasn't pitched a more important game in his life than he will Saturday against Jeremy Bonderman (12-11, 3.93 ERA) and the Tigers. Every game is important now, but it's maybe now or never if the Twins want to gain ground on their division leader.

Batting Title Watch: Joe Mauer leads the American league in hitting with a .348 average after Friday night's game going 3 for 4 with a walk and 3 runs scored. Yankee Derek Jeter is still on his tail, batting .343 after New York's 9-4 loss to Baltimore, where he went 1 for 4.

9.07.2006

The Twins didn't even put a run on the board until the seventh inning - Michael Cuddyer's 21st longball (2 for 4) - and another on a Torii Hunter RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Jason Tyner and Luis Castillo each went 2 for 4 also, but it was just too little too late.

Joe Mauer, who went 1 for 4 with 2 strikeouts Thursday night is now tied with Yankee Derek Jeter for the batting average lead in the American League, hitting .344. That, to me, is the worst news of the evening.

Scott Baker (4-8, 6.72 ERA) went five innings, and was rocky from the get-go. He allowed 5 runs on 9 hits and struck out only two batters. First, Curtis Granderson (2 for 5) lead off the game with a home run (14). Then, after a Sean Casey single in the second, Marcus Thames (2 for 4) hit one to left center, bringing the score to 3-0. Detroit got two more in the fifth off a Craig Monroe single, and with Matt Guerrier (4IP, 3.04 ERA) on the mound in the seventh, Pudge's 11th home run on the year (2 for 5) brought the score to 6-1. They tacked another one on for good measure in the ninth with another home run, this time by Omar Infante (3 for 4).


Pudge: "Right there?" Justin: "Yeah, that feels nice."

Justin Verlander (16-7, 3.19 ERA) pitched seven good innings, allowing just 1 run on 8 hits, walking two and striking out five.


VS.

The Twins will look to even up the series Friday night with rookie Matt Garza (1-4, 5.88 ERA) on the hill against Wilfredo Ledezma (2-2, 2.38 ERA) and the Tigers in game two of this four game series at the Metrodome. Garza was recently voted this year's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, after cruising through all three levels of the system. Francisco Liriano won this award last year. The Twins sure know how to raise 'em, huh.With Thursday's loss, Minnesota falls to 5 games behind division leading Detroit and remain a half game in front of Chicago with their 9-1 loss to Cleveland.

9.06.2006

Minnesota got the first run of the game off a Joe Mauer home run (11) in the fourth inning and things were looking good. They looked even better in the top of the seventh when Rondell White hit a linedrive bomb (6) to left off of [winning] Tampa Bay reliever Shawn Camp (7-2, 4.14). Jason Hammel (0-2, 5.61 ERA) pitched 6 decent innings, giving up only 1 run on 3 hits with 4 strikeouts and three walks, but didn't get the win without added run support. Now, when one of your relievers has more wins than most of your starters, there's something awry in the clubhouse. Just an observation.


Rondell hits his 6th home run of the year

Carlos Silva (8-13, 6.30 ERA) was in the midst of his best start of the year with 6 scoreless innings behind him when he had to exit the game due to an upset stomach. He went six innings, allowing only 1 hit and 1 walk, striking out two batters. It's a shame.

Silva was replaced by Pat Neshek (3-1, 2.33 ERA) in the seventh, who blew the game and earned his first loss of the year. This seemed rather uncharacteristic of the talented submariner, as his ERA was 0.92 less than a month ago. After Delmon Young reached on a fielder's choice with one out, first baseman Greg Norton homered (13) to right, tying the game just like that. The next batter, Ty Wigginton hit his 20th longball to left centerfield, giving Tampa their first lead of the night. Neesh was replaced by Denny Reyes to get lefty DH Kevin Witt and Jesse Crain finished the inning without allowing anyone else to score.

After two straight singles in the eighth with Juan Rincon on the hill, the D'Rays tacked on an insurance run with a (who else?) Delmon Young single. It sounded like runs in the top of the ninth with Torii Hunter, White and Mike Redmond due up, but all they managed to get was a Redmond single followed by a Jason Bartlett fly out.

The Twins go down with a final score of 4-2 to the second-to-worst team in baseball, but take the series. With Detroit losing another one-run heartbreaker to Seattle, Minnesota remains 4 games behind the division leaders, but lose a whole game lead over Chicago, after an 8-1 blowout over Boston Wednesday, leaving our boys only a half a game ahead in the Wild Card.



VS.


The Twins head back home Thursday with Scott Baker (4-7. 6.55 ERA) on the hill against Justin Verlander (15-7, 3.27 ERA) for the series opener versus division rival Detroit. This could be the beginning of something beautiful for the Twins.

Michael Cuddyer has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award, which acknowledges the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and individual contribution to his team. "I take more pride in that than an on-the-field award," Cuddyer says. "To be able to be associated with an award for somebody like Roberto Clemente, the humanitarian that he was, it's awesome. Words can't describe how it feels personally to have something like that." Way to go Cuddy!

Francisco Liriano threw around 50 pitches during a simulated game on Wednesday, still feeling no pain in his throwing arm. If all goes as planned, he will be pitching in a rehab start on Saturday - a playoff game for the Wild Card winner Rochester Red Wings. Complete game shutout, anyone? Take it easy on 'em, Franchise. We might be seeing him back up in the Bigs (where he belongs) sooner than expected, maybe as early as mid-September.

9.05.2006


Once again, it was the Johan Santana Show. From the very beginning, the Devil Rays didn't have a prayer, as he retired the first 10 batters. In his 2-hit, eight-inning outing, Santana (17-5, 2.84 ERA) struck out 12 men (207 on the season) and walked one. He was absolutely electric in Tuesday night's 8-0 victory, earning his 17th win of the season, throwing 95 pitches - 70 of which were strikes. This is something Twins fans around the nation have become accustomed to seeing.

Minnesota started the scoring in the fourth inning, when Michael Cuddyer (2 for 4) hit a home run to left field. Oh wait. "That wasn't a home run!" says third base umprire Tim Tschida. The ball was caught by a young man in the first row, but he apparently doesn't know how to use his glove, cause it fell out and bounced off the wall. So, Cuddyer was in with a double. Ron Gardenhire flipped out and got tossed, standing up for his boy. Crappy, yet we sensed a reckoning within the dugout. I'm not exactly sure why, but the young man was removed from the stadium by a security officer. Bummer.

So with Gardy watching from afar, Justin Morneau (2 for 5) reached on a triple to score Cuddy, giving Minnesota the first run of the game. Torii Hunter then flied out to center, and after a Rondell White intentional walk, Jason Tyner doubled on a liner to left, scoring Morneau and moving Rondell to third. Then Jason Bartlett (2 for 3) came up to the plate with that piranha look in his eye, and smashed a sacrifice fly to center, scoring White. That ended the runs for the inning, with the Twins taking a 3-0 lead.

Delmon Young ruined Johan's no-no in the fifth with a double to center, but nothing ever came of it, cause everyone else was ice cold. After a few more Santana Ks, the Twins tacked on a few more runs. In the seventh, Newbie Juan Salas (18.00 ERA) replaced Jae Seo (3-10, 4.96 ERA), who allowed those 3 runs on 8 hits with a walk. With two outs in the inning, Joe Mauer walked and scored on a Cuddyer double. The Canadian Crusher then tripled on a ball hit well into the left-field corner, bringing his RBI count to 114. Next, Torii reached second on yet another Tampa Bay fielding error, with Morneau skipping home.

As told by Dick and Coomdog...



That's a dozen, cousin.


A pitching change to Edwin Jackson in the eighth would allow a Bartlett single and a Luis Castillo walk, Mauer doubled on a liner for 2 RBIs. That makes 30 doubles on the year for our batting champ. Those eight runs would top off the game. Matt Guerrier (2.92 ERA) pitched the ninth allowing 1 hit, and that as they say, is history.

With Chicago's 1-0 loss to Boston and Detroit's 4-3 loss to Seattle, the Twins leap to 1.5 games ahead in the Wild Card Race and just 4 games behind in the the Division!



VS.


Minnesota will attempt a much-needed series sweep with Carlos Silva (8-13, 6.56 ERA) on the hill against Jason Hammel (0-2. 6.86 ERA) and the D'Rays in Wednesday's series finale at Tropicana Field.

Monday, the Twins recalled Josh Rabe (yay!) from AAA Rochester and also added minor league pitching coordinator Rick Knapp to their Major League staff.

Former Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven was busted cussing during the Twins Pregame Show Sunday and was suspended on Monday for two games. I don't see what the big fucking deal is. Fuck.

Here it is, you be the judge.


9.04.2006

Twins 2, Devil Rays 1


For those of you who don't know the story of Boof Bonser, I will quickly fill you in. Boof was born October 14th, 1981 in St. Petersburg Florida. Armed with a fastball, change and curve, his parents named him John Paul Bonser. As he skipped through life, the nickname "Boof" was given to him at an early age and boy, it stuck. In fact, after years of being known as Boof, John Paul decided to legally change his name in the summer of 2001. With this, a legend was born.

So, how did the name get such publicity and turn Mr. Bonser into a cult hero? This can be traced to his early days living in New York. When Boof was in his younger years, a group of teenage counselors at a summer camp in Long Island, New York took a strong liking to Boof's unique first name. After replacing numerous verbs, adjectives, and other parts of speech with the word, it has caused his popularity to grow immensely among youngsters in Long Island. Chants of "B-O-O-F, BOOF, BOOF, BOOF" break out during athletic activities, as well as sentences containing the word, 'boof'. For example: "Hey man, this new rule is mad boof!" or "Today's game will be Boofball," the 'Bonserfied' version of dodgeball. Thus, the legend grew.

On Monday afternoon (America's Labor Day), Bonser (3-5, 5.17 ERA) made an indelible impact in a baseball match against the little team that never could, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Six and a third strong innings of work, including 6 Ks, raised the Boof Roof. He earned his fourth win of the year and lowered his ERA by nearly half a point. So how was it done?

In all honesty, the game was boring. It was the type of game where you drift in and out of sleep only to regain your composure and realize that nothing has changed. Five innings of scoreless baseball went by until a 22 year-old rookie catcher by the name of Dioner Navarro decided to play longball with Bonser's first-pitch fastball. Navarro is a solid player who came out of the Yankees' farm system and was shipped around three times before winding up on the Devil Rays.
Tampa Bay 1, Minnesota 0.

Suzy: "Someone wake up JoeMantle before he misses the action!"

(Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep) Sorry, I appeared to have dozed off. Fast forward to the seventh frame. After a Justin Morneau single, Rondell White stepped up and took matters into his own hands...or should I say bat. On a 1-2 count, White gave Twins Nation reason to say a collective "BOOYAH!!" as the ball sailed over the left field wall. Enter the bullpen to allow only one hit in the final 3 frames and baby, this one's in the bag.




With Chicago's 3-2 loss to Boston on Monday, this win puts Minnesota back in front in the Wild Card Race by a half a game and five games behind Detroit in the division, with the Tigers' 6-2 win over Seattle.

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Johan Santana (16-5, 2.95 ERA) will take the bump Tuesday night, looking for his 17th win of the season against the Korean interpretive dancer commonly known as Jae Seo (3-9, 5.13 ERA). I predict there a huge brawl with 8 ejections, a bloody Rocco Baldelli and a Justin Morneau powerbomb off Delmon Young. You'll have to tune in to see all this mayhem unfold at 6:15 CT.

Matt Garza (1-4, 5.88 ERA) had a tough start Sunday afternoon in New York, going only 4.2 innings, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, walking four Yankees and striking out two. The Twins relievers allowed 5 runs collectively. Willie Eyre (5.54 ERA) and Juan Rincon (2.61 ERA) each gave up 2, and Pat Neshek (1.05 ERA) surrendered a three-run bomb by Alex Rodriguez (3 for 5, 5 RBIs) in the seventh.

A-Rod had another big day against Minnesota, also hitting a solo shot off Garza in the fifth. He has 29 on the year now, with 91 RBIs. This was just not your average outing by the best bullpen in baseball. Was anyone else praying for rain?

Darrel Rasner (1-0, 1.77 ERA) pitched 6 good innings, holding the Twins to 4 hits and 1 run - a longball by Torii Hunter (23) in the second. That was pretty much the most exciting moment of the day, knowing that Torii was that much closer to 30 home runs, something only one Twin has done since 1987. Speaking of Justin Morneau, he and Jason Tyner each had 1 hit and Jason Bartlett went 2 for 2. That sums up the action for Minnesota. Even though they lost the series, Detroit and Chicago also dropped their games on Sunday, so the Twins get a break with not losing any more ground in the division or Wild Card standings.

The Twins have scored only 15 runs over their last seven games (including 6 in game two of the New York series), hitting only .217. Time to step it up, boys!


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The Twins will look to start a new streak with a three game series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field on Monday afternoon. Boof Bonser (3-5, 5.17 ERA) will take the mound against Tim Corcoran (4-6, 3.97 ERA). Luis Castillo will also return to the line up, as his mild ankle sprain has stopped bothering him. The Canadian Crusher will see some time at DH and Phil Nevin will get some time on the field, playing first base.

9.02.2006

Scott Baker (4-7, 6.55 ERA) pitched a gem for five innings on Saturday afternoon against the Yankees, allowing just 1 run on 2 hits, walking three batters and striking out four. It was awesome to see Baker settle in to his starting role after being called back up from AAA Rochester.

If the Twins want to stay in the race, it's going to come down to good pitching performances like Scott's today. If the starters can go five or six innings, there's really no stopping the Twins bullpen from holding down the fort when given a decent lead. Dennys Reyes (0.86 ERA) pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, striking out a batter and Jesse Crain (4.08 ERA) finished the game by walking a batter before it started raining cats and dogs.

Jeff Karstens and his sweet eyebrows (1-1, 3.86 ERA) lasted seven innings, giving up 2 earned runs on 6 hits, walking one and striking out one. Minnesota had an early lead in the first after two straight singles by Luis Rodriguez (1 for 4) and Joe Mauer (1 for 3), and a sac fly by Michael Cuddyer (1 for 3), his 91st RBI of the year! New York answered with a Derek Jeter RBI double in the third, but then Torii Hunter (2 for 4) came up in the fourth with a home run against the wind to left field.

Then in the eighth inning, with Brian Bruney and his sweet 'stache (1.59 ERA) pitching, The Canadian Crusher (2 for 4) came up to the plate and blasted his 33rd home run of the season, chalking up his 114th RBI. Wow. That of course, makes it his Golden Home Run, being that he is number 33. With all the wind and rain, the game was called without the Yankees even getting a chance to play the bottom of the eighth, evening up the series at 1-1.


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Tomorrow, the Twins will look to take the series with Matt Garza (1-3, 5.06 ERA) on the hill against Darrell Rasner (career 0-1, 3.00 ERA). Rasner has only pitched 1.2 innings for New York this season, which came against Detroit on June 1st. He struck out 1 batter and allowed 1 hit. Garza has made HUGE strides in his last couple starts. He suffered a hard loss in his last outing against Kansas City when he pitched more than seven innings, allowing only 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out seven batters, but had no run support.


Liriano feels good throwing in spikes, story here.

The Twins remain 1/2 a game behind the White Sox in the Wild Card Race as of Saturday, with Chicago's 5-3 win over Kansas City. The Tigers lost to the Angels 2-7 and hold a 5 game lead in the division.

9.01.2006

Yankees 8, Twins 1


Carlos Silva (8-13, 6.56 ERA) got another loss Friday night at Yankee Stadium in the series opener, as the Twins got totally smashed and held to one lonely run. In four innings, he allowed 4 earned runs on 9 hits, walking one and striking out four batters. The runs started an inning at a time with one in the second - an Alex Rodriguez home run (28), and another in the third off a Bobby Abreu single.

The real trouble came in the fifth, after two straight singles by Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter. Abreu came to the plate and singled again on a liner to center, scoring two. Yankees up 4-0. Giambi then reached on a throw-out attempt, an error by Justin Morneau (2 for 4), allowing all runners to advance. Bags loaded. After Rodriguez singled, Silva was finally pulled and replaced by Matt Guerrier (2.98 ERA). One strikeout later, Robinson Cano singles to score Abreu. Then Aaron Guiel grounds out, scoring Jason Giambi. That would end the scoring for the inning.

In the seventh, New York scored another run on another A-Rod bomb to left (29). After a Jorge Posada double, Guerrier was replaced by Willie Eyre (5.33 ERA). After a pop out and a walk, he gave up an RBI single to Melky Cabrera. New York 8, Twins 0. It ended up being a 14-hit fiesta for the Yankees. No bueno for the Twins. They had 3 total errors in the game, all of which ended up being costly. Looks like there'll be some gloves in the nuker tonight.

Corey Lidle (11-9, 4.46 ERA) pitched six innings, giving up only two walks and striking out four Twins. Four relievers later, Minnesota managed to spoil the shutout in the top of the ninth with a Canadian Crusher RBI double, but couldn't keep it going.


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The Twins put Scott Baker (3-7, 6.93 ERA) on the mound Saturday afternoon...maybe (unless it rains) to face Jeff Karstens (1-0, 4.63 ERA) and the rest of those effing Yankees. Someone needs to help Karstens with his eyebrow penciling.


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