What a difference a week makes.
Last week, as I wrote the game log, I was deeply concerned about the potential for a sweep -- and not the awesome kind we got treated to. The rotation is in tatters, all of the power hitters hurt or swinging wildly. We were going into a doubleheader armed with nothing but bullpen games.
And then, Saturday happened.
Now, it's all about getting ready for the Yankees. Wherever we end up facing them, the name of the game is putting this team in the best position to make it to the ALCS.
To that end, Berrios gets his penultimate warmup start tonight. I'm not expecting that he'll go very deep into the game. I'd hope that after six, they've got a big enough lead that they can give guys like Alcala and Hildenberger some face time.
They take on a Royals team that (shy of Soler) has basically folded for the year. The first two games have gone largely according to plan. Let's press on toward that sweep and, dare I say it, 103 wins.
What, you think I'm going to step up to the plate to pinch hit and knock one over the fence? Maybe a grand salami? Maybe a walk-off bomba? You've been watching too much Twins baseball. In these situations, I'm generally happy to work a walk and keep the inning alive. Rocco Baldelli is serving up a pitching surprise tonight. We know that Randy Dobnak will get the ball for the first inning, but after that it's an enigma wrapped in a mystery. I'd look for Rocco to ask Dobnak to go as deep as he can, four or five innings, and then see what the bullpen can do to finish it off. Rocco might as well take advantage of all the extra arms in the bullpen, it's worked out well so far this month and it'll be a different story rosters-wise next September. Kansas City is starting rookie Eric Skoglund to take the place of Jakob Junis. Skoglund has only pitched 14 major league innings to date, in part because of an 80 day PED suspension. Enjoy the last weekend of summer, folks. Play ball!
Magic number is still 7.
Montgomery on the hill for Kansas City.
Gibson toes the rubber for Minnesota.
Playing Kansas City, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit in the final weeks of the season got me thinking. Every team in the American League Central has played in the World Series ... except Minnesota. Every team in the Central has made an appearance in the past 15 years (though the only teams to win it
was were Kansas City in 2015 and Chicago in 2005) and in the entire league, only Seattle has seen a longer absence from the ALCS than Minnesota, by 1 year (Milwaukee, who made the NLCS last year, last reached the ALCS in 1982).
Not to put the cart before the horse - gotta win the game, then the division, then (lord willing) the league first - but I’d say Minnesota is due.
Odorizzi gets to try again at pitching in a game. He's done well against the White Sox this year, his only loss coming in a game where the other starter did pretty well.
Nova has also done well against the Twins this year. He has a 5.06 ERA for the season and a 3.12 versus the Twins.
The Twins are projected for 99.9 wins now and could be the underdog in every series.
It's now one game in the rear view mirror, but the Twins got through their 12 games against decent teams stretch relatively unscathed (at least judging by wins and loses). Split the 12 games and especially splitting the six with Cleveland basically put the division crown in a stranglehold. Say what you will about this team, but resilient has to be one of the words you use.
Game two against the White Sox, and the Twins catch a break with Giolito being shut down for the season a day before he was about to start against the Twins. Dude's a great pitcher so whew!, but hopefully not a serious injury. Someone named Ross Detwiler up for the Sox with his 6.79 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. Ouch! Martin Perez pitching for Twins and after his nice start against the Red Sox, basically remembered he was Martin Perez and had a lousy outing against the Nats. Hopefully we can get a nice outing today against a White Sox team that's just kinda interested.
6:40p start again tonight. Will be a warm one at the ballpark but I think the rain should hold off until late.
Busy day at work, so I don't have time to say a lot. That's okay since no one reads these things anyway. Let's hit some dingers and hack away at that magic number!
Win Probability: 37.7%
Enjoy the view today, citizens. This is what the world looks like when you're sitting, albeit precariously, in the catbird's seat. After one of the more eventful doubleheaders I've had the pleasure to see (especially the Sano salami that had everyone at Buffalo Wild Wings cheering), the Twins find themselves with a not-all-that-comfortable 5.5 game lead on Cleveland with just 14 games left to play. Even assuming a loss today, and Fangraphs makes it pretty clear who the underdog is, the Twins would still lead the division by 4.5 games with just two weeks to go. Over that span the Twins have a steady diet of Chicago, Detroit and Kansas City while the Cleveland squad still has to tangle with the Nationals and the Phillies. I like to think of the Twins as an old-time army that marched out of the city almost six months ago. Over the course of the summer campaign they battled with many other armies, collecting wins as their booty and hoisting home runs as their trophies. There were many triumphs and some difficult defeats. Now, with their spoils in tow, the weary army is marching home. The healthy do their best to carry the injured, and the walking wounded do what they can to stay on the march and in the fight. Up ahead, the city gates have come into view. All General Baldelli has to do is fight a rearguard action of daily skirmishes and get his men inside the walls before the army that's been in hot pursuit for weeks and weeks can overtake them. Do that and you get to keep the spoils and bear the title division champions. But if you fail, then all of the triumphs turn to dust and ash, your army is decimated, and your city is sacked and burned by the barbarian horde.
The Twins enter play today with their magic number at nine and an improbable chance to sweep Cleveland and pound a few nails into the coffin set aside for their playoff hopes. Baldelli is relying once again on the bullpen and call-ups to pitch the entire game, opening with Randy Dobnak who will give way to Kohl Stewart. The Indians delve into their embarrassment of starting pitching riches and trot out Not Justin Bieber, who has not given up more than three earned runs in any of his last 11 starts. The days are getting shorter, there's a chill in the air of a morning, and football is trying to infringe on pennant races. It's time to get this done. Play ball!
This last has been rough, folks.
This series is huge, but it might not mean anything if the lineup can't get healthy. And after last night, the umpires saw fit to waste a start by one of the few starters who's been doing ANYTHING lately.
It's not ideal.
There's (maybe rightfully) a certain sense of dread hanging over this series. Cleveland's got some deadly pitchers on the hill, and we've got....openers. you know what would cure that? A double header sweep!
Get it done, Smeltzer/Thorpe/Dobnak/etc!
There is baseball. It seems like every time these two teams meet they're heading opposite directions, and then they switch, despite the series going the opposite way. When the Twins took 2 of 3 out of the All-star break, it looked good. Then their lead slowly eeked away. When the Twins hosted the next series it didn't go so well, and Cleveland pulled ahead. But then they swapped right back. Last weekend the Twins came in looking good, and now a week later they're stinkin' up the joint. Since this is the last meeting, it's the right time for the Twins to pass that stink right back to the Indians. Let's hope they can grab a game or two in the process, and then wrap up the season beating on the bad teams.
Let's also hope for some home runs. Max Kepler is back in the lineup, and he's my call to do some damage, along with Sano. Heck, Sano is back too. This is good!
You’d like to see the fellas take 2/3 of these games against postseason-caliber teams. Let’s see what a ’healthy’ Kyle Gibson and a mediocre lineup (no Sano, Kepler, Gonzalez or Cave *edited to add Polanco (out for dental work)) can do when matched against a very good Patrick Corbin (Last 15 starts: 6-2, 2.29, 1.06 WHIP, 116k in 94.1 Innings Pitched).