This Joe Ryan kid looks like the real deal. Let's get the Tommy John surgery pool going now because it seems almost inevitable. The Twins take on Toronto today with Big Mike Pineda and Steven Matz getting the call. That's all I got. Play ball!
Game Time - 6:10 p.m. CT
After winning in spectacular gut-wrenching, extra-inning, bomba-blasting fashion to even the series in Boston last night, the Twins seek to win their fourth series this month by taking tonight's rubber game. Rocco seems determined to see if John Gant can be turned back into a starting pitcher after two years of bullpen duty, so he'll be pitching the initial frames for the Twins tonight. The Red Sox, 7.5 games back of the Rays and 3 behind the Yankees, are feeling the pressure to win games and at least secure a wild card berth in the playoffs. They'll be sending Chris Sale to the mound for just his third start in two years following Tommy John surgery. But they've been really good starts. He's 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 10 innings. Play ball!
Game Time - 6:05 p.m. CT
The Twins hit the road today to kick off a 4-game set with the Yankees on the heels of their most successful homestand of the year, winning all three series and going 6-3 against the White Sox, Rays, and Guardians. In three of the last four games, Twins wins came off the bat of Jorge Polanco, who delivered a sac fly and two base hits for walk-off victories. I would love to see the boys extend their winning ways on this road trip, but whenever we head to New York and that bandbox replica stadium, I take all of my expectations for winning, tie them up in a burlap bag, and drown them in the river.
After the game Tuesday night I rode an elevator with John Gant and what I assume is his wife or girlfriend (I don't really know his marital status). Players don't normally use that elevator so maybe he got lost in the tunnels or something, but I knew it was him by the name tag on his suitcase. Just to make some small talk I asked him how he liked Minnesota. He said he loves it so far. I replied with, "Well, we like your pitching. So far."
It sounds like Rocco is going with a bullpen game tonight with Gant getting the ball first. Since joining the team he's had six good outings and one bad one where he gave up five runs over two innings , but the man has strike-'em-out stuff and I'm happy to have him around. Even though I think of him as a relief pitcher, this will be Gant's 15th start this year, his most since 2018 when he started 19 games. He worked exclusively out of the bullpen in 2019 and 2020. I'm guessing he'll throw just a few innings tonight before passing the baton and hitting the shower. Jameson Taillon gets the ball today for New York. He's 7-4 in 23 starts on the season with a 3.89 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He strikes out about one batter per inning, and strikes out three hitters for every one he walks, so he's been pretty good. Play ball!
Game Time - 7:10 p.m. CDT
The Twins made multiple deals ahead of the trade deadline last week as they "retool for the future." No word on when that future is expected to arrive. Fans are asked to remain patient while the retooling process is underway.
Griffin Jax on the mound for the Twins today. He's 1-1 in 3 starts with a 6.41 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP, so there's some room for improvement here. Framber Valdez takes the ball for the Astros. He's got a 7-2 record, a 3.01 ERA, and a 1.30 WHIP. Play ball!
Game Time - 7:10 p.m. CT
Gates Open - 5:30 p.m. CT
During the last home stand I noticed a few ushers sitting in the bleachers during BP collecting baseballs hit up there. I asked one of them about it and he said they give them to kids during the ballgame. I think I'm gonna be one of those guys now. Lots of promotions at the ballpark this weekend. Tonight is Celebrate Diversity day with free shirts to the first 10,000 fans. Friday is postgame fireworks and Josh Donaldson Bobblehead night with the wobbly souvenirs going to the first 10,000 fans through the gates. Saturday and Sunday are Back to School weekend with an undisclosed back to school item going the the first 5,000 fans 12 and under each day.
My wife is convinced that every year the Twins get on a roll of winning right before the All-Star break and then go on a losing streak after the break. I haven't done the research on previous years yet, but this year we won the last four games before the break and lost the first three games after, and we've only won two and lost five since coming off the mid-season intermission. That's mainly due to bad luck from not playing very good.
Kenta Maeda (4-3) today gets his 16th start of the year for the Twins. He's sitting on a 4.71 ERA, almost a point higher than his career total, but he's got 79 Ks in about 73 innings. He's only walked 14 batters, though, and over his last seven starts his WHIP is a meager 1.14.
Andrew Heaney (5-7) gets the start for the Angels today. He sports a 5.56 ERA, also about a point higher than his career total. He's lefthanded and breathing. Play ball!
Game Time - 7:10 pm CDT
The Twins kick off their last series before the All-Star break against the Tigers tonight, and their last series at home until the Angels come to town on the 22nd. At 35-50, the Twins sit 15 games below .500 and in sole possession of last place in the division 15.5 games behind the Pale Hosers. I have to think that Messieurs Falvey and Levine are working overtime to figure out how to extract the most possible value for any player that's not a building block. At this point they have to have a chop shop mentality - strip it to the frame, get what you can for the parts, and start rebuilding this broken down team.
There are no promotional giveaways tonight (there is a UND special ticket package), but tomorrow's game features the baby blue Twins replica jerseys to the first 10,000 fans, along with post-game fireworks. Saturday is the 30 HR Bomba Club bobblehead giveaway, and Sunday they're handing out Twins photo magnet schedules. The team has been drawing close to 20,000 fans per game at home since going to 100% capacity, even with the poor caliber of play on the field, so I'm thinking there's just a ton of pent up demand to take me out to the ballgame and low quality performance is not going to deter most people from coming out. It's nice being part of the ballpark experience for folks, but standing on concrete for six hours sure does take a toll on your lower extremities, and I'm working three out of four games this series starting tonight. I'm hoping for fast games with no extra innings, and any wins that the Twins might stumble into are a bonus. J.A. Happ on the hill for the Twins tonight, southpaw Tarik Skubal starting for the Tigers. Play ball!
Happy Independence Day to the Nation.
A little background music for the ultra lounge tonight.
In 1986 I went to see Crossroads and got introduced to Steve Vai as the devil's guitar player, so time and money well spent.
We had some exciting musical news in the family recently. For many years my big brother Boe has been writing songs as a hobby and he's made a lot of friends and connections along the way. Well, one thing led to another and a couple of weeks ago he went to Nashville and signed a contract with bluegrass publisher Billy Blue Records for a song he wrote called Widow's Bridge. They'll be recording a demo soon and then start shopping it around to bands. No guarantees in the music business, of course, but he's pretty excited about it and I'm real happy for my big brother. So drop your lists, and if you have a favorite bluegrass tune to share, holler it out. I'm real partial to John Hartford's take on this classic, myself.