First Pitch - 7:10 p.m. CDT Television - FSN, FSKC Lineups
Boolean operators are cool. I did a Google search for Game 54 and this is the picture I got. Even I am too young to remember the show when it originally aired, but I do remember it vaguely from afterschool sitcom reruns way back in the day. Sorry, I get distracted easily these days.
After too many games against east and west coast teams, it's time to flip this season over and give it a good shake so we can focus on losing within the division now. The Twins kick off a two game series tonight against the Indians, just the second divisional series for the team this year. About ten minutes before the first pitch, Daughter the Younger will commence her final orchestra concert of the year. Las Vegas has set the line at 7-to-1 that I'll be watching the concert instead of the game tonight. Play something sweet, play something mellow, play something I can sink my teeth in like Jell-O.
Jeebus, did the guys at the MLB Genius Bar secretly realign divisions and put us back in the AL West? This makes three series against this stupid Angels team in just over a month. Know how many series we've had against division opponents in that time? One. So yeah, I'm sick and tired of Torii Hunter kicking our collective ass (stop throwing him breaking balls in the strike zone, already!) and having to counter real starting pitching with our currently constituted rotation. It's like charging the beaches of Normandy with a slingshot and a bag of marshmallows for ammo. Oh, and Pujols is starting to hit the ball again. So we have that to look forward to. On the bright side, our offense this year is better than Oakland's. But on the dark side, they are the only AL team with an offense worse than the Twins at the moment.
ON THE HILL
Jered Weaver (4-0, 1.61 ERA, 2.00 FIP, 2.88 xFIP) - Last time out this guy threw a no-hitter. He was one walk and one passed ball from a perfect game. To be fair, he was facing one of the worst hitting lineups since the '62 Mets, but you have to tip your hat anyway. Weaver is the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter, then face the same team in his next start since Derek Lowe did it in 2002.
Francisco Liriano (0-4, 9.97 ERA, 6.75 FIP, 5.44 xFIP, ) - This guy is yet another reminder that spring training hype has all the substance of a popcorn fart. By now everybody except Liriano knows what Liriano's problem is. If pitching smarts were chocolate density, the F-Bomb would be a Three Musketeers bar. Because consistently overthrowing sliders when you get behind in the count only gets you further behind in the count. Consistently.
It’s déjà vu all over again as the Twins kick off a six-game left coast road trip, this time as a battle of basement-dwellers. When last we witnessed our intrepid team taking on the Cherubim and Seraphim, it was the Twins home opener series. It was also the last series win for the Twins this year. So here’s to hoping that this time around the outcome is the same or even better. Because while we’ve been swept three times already, the Twins have yet to sweep a series against a competitor this year. Now, we all know the Twins have sucked badly since winning the division in 2010. But against the Angels in that timeframe they’ve fared fairly well with a 10-9 record. Mauer especially has done well against the Angels, batting .335 with eight doubles, seven home runs, 32 RBI and 25 walks in 50 career games against the Angels. We suck worse against some other teams is all I'm saying.
ON THE HILL
Nick Blackburn (0-2, 7.53 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 3.98 xFIP)
I don't look at standings or stats much in April, it's sort of like looking at the thermometer. You can tell today's temperature, but you aren't going to spot any real trends yet. Or maybe you can start to see the shape of things to come and I'm just in denial. Either way, I'm not too worried about our slow start (5-11, but who's counting?) when we have such a long, long road ahead of us with many potentially scenic vistas to enjoy.
Oy. Considering the season start we're having, heading to New York City for a four-game series against the Evil Empire just seems sadistic. What, the brain trust that is MLB scheduling couldn't wait a few weeks to add insult to injury? They couldn't wait until May or June to have the Twins demonstrate their futility in the Bronx?
ON THE HILL
Few things tickle me as much as the fact that the Yankees paid Carl Pavano 40 million dollars for less than 150 innings of work over 4 years, and the Twins have wrung 220+ innings out of the guy each of the past two seasons. So at least in the coveted IPP metric (Innings Pitched per Pavano), the Twins continue to outperform the Yankees. While Pavano has been adequate as expected in his first two starts, he's giving up more hits and more runs that any of us would like and would do well to pitch a bit less to contact and a bit more to the catcher's glove.
On the other side of the street, the Yankees send longtime lefty Twins nemesis Freddy Garcia to the mound. The last time I saw Garcia pitch, Jim Lehland was trotting him out against Ozzie Guillens' White Sox in a rainout makeup game that would send the Sox to a game 163 versus the Twins. The last actual time Garcia pitched, just last week, he threw five wild pitches, the first MLB pitcher to pull that off since 1989.
In a universe where karma moves faster than a rebate check from Menards, the Twins would win this game by ten or twelve runs and Pavano would throw a 130-pitch complete game shutout (come on, you just know that a-hole A-Rod would break up the no-hitter with a two-out Texas league dink in the 9th inning). But I'm going on the record as predicting that won't happen today, or any other day for that matter. All I'm asking for out of this series is a split and I'd settle for just one measly win. With Sabathia pitching tomorrow and former Dodger Kuroda on the hill Wednesday, today may be as good a chance as we get this series.
I guess I let my spring-fever induced optimism get the better of me. I should have tempered expectations a little more. I thought that after six months of patiently waiting and what appeared to be a pretty good spring training performance, I might actually witness real competence from the Twins over the weekend. On the bright side, the pre-season focus on defense seems to be paying off, with the possible exception of Danny Valencia. But the pitching was only middlin' and the offense sorely disappointed, to say the least.
Tonight I'll be up to my elbows in pumpkin gore, digging out their slimy, lumpy entrails before taking a sharp knife to their faces. It's a tradition with our girls that goes back at least a dozen years or more, and we've never had a completely severed finger in all that time. So we're almost ready for Halloween, except for one thing. We need some werewolves.
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