Thursday, September 30, 2010

Morneau Returns?

Yesterday we read that first baseman Justin Morneau has had four good days in a row and that he will take part in a full workout with the team today. This is by far the best news on this front since he went down with the concussion on July 7. Now all of a sudden, there is this rush to get him in the lineup for Wednesday's playoff opener. But lets be serious here. He won't play in the first round of the postseason. He has been inactive for three months. He needs a bit of time to shake off the rust, if he can manage to still have those consecutive good days. He was having a great season (.345, 18 HR, 56 RBI) before he went down. And we all want him back hitting behind Mauer in October. But the Twins are gonna give him time to get back into game shape and monitor his health as well. If he does well, I could see him possibly playing in the ALCS (If the Twins make it that far). But the Twins are in no hurry to get him back on the field. And they shouldn't. Lets all just assume Cuddyer will be playing first for however long the Twins play in October. And if Morneau plays, that's just a added bonus. But just for kicks and giggles, lets look at what the lineup would look like with and without Morneau:

With Without

Span CF Span CF
Hudson 2B Hudson 2B
Mauer C Mauer C
Morneau 1B Cuddyer 1B
Cuddyer RF Kubel RF
Kubel DH Thome DH
Young LF Young LF
Valencia 3B Valencia 3B
Hardy SS Hardy SS

The lineup gets that much better with Morneau. But, I trust the one without him too. So all lets just hope that Justin can get just get healthy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Twins White Sox Recap

If you think the White Sox have a chance still, you are crazy. The Twins have nailed the coffin shut and they did not spare the nails while sweeping the Sox at US Cellular Field (9-3, 9-3, 8-5). The Sox played abysmal and the Twins made them pay. The Twins now hold a 9 game lead in the Central division and their magic number has reduced to 8. They could potentially clinch the division during the next homestand (If you do, please do it Wednesday when I'm there!), but I'll bet they do it in the series after at Detroit.

Back to this series, the Twins got very timely hitting off the Sox best starters. My Twins key player from Tuesday's post, Delmon Young went 4-9 with 2 HR and 4 RBI while scoring 5 runs. He was very key to this sweep. But this guy was better. Joe Mauer stepped up big going 8-14, with a HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, and a walk. His three run homer in last nights game definitely left no doubt that this race is over and the Twins now need to look ahead to securing homefield advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Twins are tied with the New York Yankees at 0.5 games behind Tampa Bay for the AL's best record. And the Rays and Yankees have 4 games with each other starting Monday in the Bronx. So if the Twins can keep their foot on the gas and let the Yanks and Rays rip each other apart, the Twins could easily walk away with the #1 seed.

This is all I have for right now as I am trying to stay awake while posting this. But I'll be back tomorrow with a Twins-A's series preview. I'll leave on this thought. When we see the Sox again, they could be without A.J. Pierzynski, Paul Konerko, and Ozzie Guillen. How weird would that be?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Series Preview-Twins/White Sox


WED: BRIAN DUENSING (8-2, 2.02 ERA) VS GAVIN FLOYD (10-12, 3.91 ERA)
THU: CARL PAVANO (16-11, 3.47 ERA) VS MARK BUHERLE(12-10, 3.99 ERA)

Happy Tuesday everyone. Today the Twins and White Sox kick off a crucial three game series on the south side tonight. And as Joe Christensen wrote yesterday, anything but a White Sox sweep, and the Twins can start putting champagne on ice.

Both teams have their ideal starting pitchers going in this series. So I'm not expecting to see much offense in this series. Buherle and Danks have started a combined 8 games vs Minnesota this year and have gone 4-2 with a 3.63 ERA. Meanwhile, gavin Floyd has been hit hard by the Twins as he is 0-3 with a 7.41 ERA against them this year. On the Twins side, Francisco Liriano has been one of baseball's best pitchers since the All Star break going 7-0 with a 2.22 ERA in 10 starts. Brian Duensing has made 9 starts since he was moved into the rotation and has gone 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA. And the Twins "Ace" (If you want to call him that), Carl Pavano has lost four of his past five starts, but has averaged 7.1 innings pitched during that stretch.

Twins' Key Player: Delmon Young: July was Delmon's month. The guy just raked the baseball, hitting .434, with 6 HR and 30 RBI. His OPS during that month was 1.191. To show how good that is, Albert Pujols' OPS for the season is .996. But since that incredible month, Young hit just .218 in August and is hitting .190 in September with a OPS during those months are .552 and .525 respectively. The Sox have two lefties pitching in this series (Buherle and Danks) and that really hamstrings the lefty power bats (Kubel and Thome). So the Twins need someone from the right side to step up and drive the ball. Delmon needs to be this guy. He is a career .349 hitter against the south siders and carries a .354 average at US Cellular Field. And if anyone is due to come up big for the Twins this week, its Delmon Young. Lets hope he finds that July stroke again.

White Sox Key Player: A.J. Pierzynski: In May, we were talking about A.J. as a potential player who could be wearing a different uniform, come September. But he is still on the south side. And he is getting big hits for the Sox as of late, driving in go ahead runs in the late innings. Overall in the past month he has been red hot, hitting .382 with 17 RBI. Thats pretty impressive for a catcher (Not named Mauer) this late in a season. This year against Minnesota, Pierzynski has only hit .245 with 8 RBI. And with him catching it is likely he will only play two games, so he has to make those ones count. The Sox are getting good production from the middle of their order and Pierzynski hits around the 5-6-7 area meaning he will have guys on when he comes up, and they need him to drive them, to not only win in this series, but catch the Twins in the standings too.

Prediction: To quote Bert Blyleven, "I love a good pitchers duel!" And thats exactly what were gonna see in this series at least twice. It will be interesting to see how many fans turn up at US Cellular this week as the last time the Twins were in town the average attendance as around 25,000. And that was when the Twins and Sox entered the series tied for first. But this time the Twins enter leading by 6 games with 19 games to play. The Sox need a sweep, but I don't see it with the starters Minnesota has going out there. If the Twins win game one tonight, I think the Sox kiss October goodbye and it becomes easier for the Twins to win the remaining two and nail the coffin shut. And I think thats what will happen. But I don't discredit the Sox, and they are able to win a game, but no more. Twins win 2 out of 3 and look ahead to getting home field advantage in the postseason after this series.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Schedule Comparison

Here we are again, watching the Twins and White Sox battle down the stretch for a division crown. Since New York and Tampa Bay are racing for 100 wins in the East, one can assume that the loser there would win the Wild Card, leaving the two central teams chasing for one playoff spot. The Twins have enjoyed a nice 6-1 homestand since last Tuesday, but have gained no ground since the White Sox have won 7 in a row. The Twins still stand 3.5 games ahead of the Sox with a three game series on the south side looming next week. Lets have a look at the remaining schedules for both teams:

3 @ DET 2 vs KC
3 @ KC 3 @ CLE
3 vs MIN 3 @ CHW
3 vs DET 3 vs OAK
3 @ OAK 3 vs CLE
3 @ LAA 3 @ DET
4 vs BOS 3 @ KC
3 vs CLE 4 vs TOR

As you can see there are many similarities in schedules. The Sox have a bit tougher stretch with Oakland, Anaheim, and Boston before ending their season with Cleveland. The Twins schedule frightens me in those final 7 games with Kansas City and Toronto who will be no tough games. (For further reference on Kansas City as a spoiler look up the Royals from 2006 and their final three games in Detroit) But I fully know that if the Twins go into Chicago and win all three, those final seven games will probably mean nothing unless your name is Ben Revere, who would see massive playing time. Or could this come to another Twins White Sox Game 163 matchup? (If you are like me then you'd rather not have another 163 because blood pressure tends to spike during those games.)The Twins are the hottest team since the All Star Break. They have gone 35-15 in the second half, despite battling injuries to key players. The White Sox have been a very streaky team. Red hot for two weeks, ice cold for the next two weeks. And right now they ride a seven game win streak. But how long before this streak turns to ice? It could very well end during that three game series versus the Twins. And I hope it does.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Time Had Come

It was time. Time to switch this up. From now on this blog has become a Minnesota Twins only blog. Its all I post about. Its the only sport I am this knowledgeable about to blog on. So thats why I made this change. Enjoy.