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.
Last night's game felt special. Cleveland lost early in the day. There was a chance to extend the lead. Things weren't working amazingly for the offense, but they did enough, and the pitching really stepped up. It had the feel of a team that knew what they had to do, and just executing. And then that final play... Winning a game on a memorable play like that... it seems like the kind of thing you see from the teams that are putting the pressure on others, not dealing with it themselves.
And tonight, the Twins get to apply that pressure directly. With a 6.5 game lead and just 22 to play, Cleveland is running out of room fast. Every win the Twins rack up this weekend further dents the Indians' chances to make to playoffs. It's a stark difference from the last time Cleveland left town, having tied up the division. Two very different directions for the clubs, and now it feels like the Twins can play loose and easy, and let their game be what it is.
I'm looking forward to a great weekend series, and hopefully, maybe even a Francisco Lindor concession speech.
This is pretty clearly going to be a dogfight to the end of the season, but last weekend, things were looking pretty dire.
They still need to tighten up just about every part of their game (the defense,in particular, has looked really sloppy these last few weeks), but now that the Twins are taking on lesser teams, and now that the Clevelanders are taking on actual contenders, this thing looks doable.
Berrios takes on Jurado tonight. This SHOULD be a winnable game. Let's make it happen.
What is there to say at this point of the season? It's a beautiful August evening, the Twins are in a pennant race, we've got a few weeks left of summer (today's discussion notwithstanding), and the weekend is here. Crack open a cold one, crank up the 'CCO, find some outdoor project to tinker on, or neighbor to chat with, and listen to the Twins bring another W home.
No way around it. Yes, Cleveland has done insanely well over the past 50+ games, but a double digits lead evaporated quick enough to make my head spin. It sucks.
But! We've still got the easiest schedule in baseball going forward, and I still feel that we've got this.
One of the most important pieces moving forward toward the division title takes the hill today. Odorizzi played like a deserving all star in the first half, and has played like someone who wants to go into free agency looking for a pillow contract so far in the last month or so. That needs to turn around. We need Buxton and Cruz, but it all begins with getting better starts from our rotation.
Alternatively titled: In Which The Twins Get Off Their Butts And Start Winning Games Again, Thus Marking The Part Of The Season Where They Take Care Of Business Like The Professional Hitters They Are, And Also Who Does This Shane Bieber Think He Is, Anyway?
Let's see what this Smeltzer kid has when he's used as more of a conventional attack than a surprise one, eh?
I think Gibson is a decent pitcher, but he is prone to the type of game he had last night, where he just doesn't have it. Rocco realizing that in the fourth inning and taking him out probably saved the ballgame. That's the type of good decision making that adds up over a season and becomes magnified in the postseason.
It also turned "I don't have a good feeling about this series" to "hey, this could work..."
Trying to keep the good vibes going today is Jake Odorizzi. He's taken a bit of a tumble lately, bit I'm thinking that his true self is somewhere between the truly great April and May that he had and the significantly less good June where he lost his hold on the All Star Game start and, eventually, a couple of layers of skin on one of his fingers.
We all know this series is big. A win or (dare I even a think it) a sweep puts Cleveland back in their places and (hopefully) gives them a seller's mentality here in the next few weeks.
Cleveland counters with Trevor Bauer. He's been up and down lately after his strong start. The Twins got to him last time. Hopefully, they do it again.
The Twins pieced together four shutout innings of relief to win their second straight game against the White Sox while pulling within a half game of first place in the AL Central. Nick Blackburn allowed two runs in five innings despite pitching around ten baserunners (sound familiar?). Craig Breslow, Boof Bonser (?!), and Jose Mijares each pitched a scoreless inning before Joe Nathan's 1-2-obligatory-4 ninth inning save, the 200th of his career. “You couldn’t ask for anything better than that,” Blackburn said of the bullpen. “They came in, did their job and got those guys out. No drama. It was great.” In Mijares's eighth inning, he retired JI JIM, Paul Konerko, and Ken Griffey, Jr. in order. Continue reading September 24, 2008: Random Day in Twins History→