After their successful midweek sweep of the Chicago White Sox, the Twins were quickly brought back down to earth with a resounding thud, being swept by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in three games.
The Halos scored an incredible 35 runs, thoroughly decimating a sorry looking Twins who have now dropped to one game under .500, and yet they still remain merely three games back, which I think says more about the weakness of the AL Central than it does about the abilities of this year’s Minnesota team.
Even though Nick Blackburn pitched effectively on Friday evening, and the Twins opened up a 5-2 lead, the Angels came back to tie it up in the eighth inning due to the familiarly ineffectual Minnesota bullpen. A six-run eleventh inning then completed the comeback, humbling the Twins who really should have done a better job holding their lead, as the Twins finally lost 11-5.
On Saturday, Anthony Swarzak gave up six runs, and not to be outdone, the bullpen chipped-in for five more. The Twins were in it early on, matching the Angels with two-run second and third innings, but the Halos were far more relentless and once again crushed Minnesota 11-6.
If those two games weren’t ugly enough for Twins fans, Sunday didn’t bring much joy either. Glen Perkins was his usual ineffective self, and the Angels ran out 13-4 winners.
It’s worth noting that on Friday, LA catcher Mike Napoli went 4-for-6. On Saturday, he went 3-for-5. And on Sunday, he didn’t even play, yet the Angels still put 13 runs on the board. Despite Minnesota’s thorough inadequacy this entire weekend, there’s no doubt in my mind that this Angels team really looks the part. Against overwhelming odds, Mike Scioscia has done an incredible job with his team this season. Even with injuries to star players like Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero, and the tragic death of Nick Adenhart, this team has played like champions these past few months, and I’d be very surprised if they didn’t go all the way, providing their starting pitching can settle down.
Minnesota on the other hand… Well, as I mentioned above, somehow they’re still in it, and now move on to face three at Cleveland and then three at Detroit. While it’s true that they’ve fared far better this year against AL Central opposition, these upcoming games will be crucial. Cleveland may be a little depleted personnel-wise, but now the pressure is off them, they put up an excellent showing against the aforementioned Tigers this weekend, so they’ll be no pushovers as usual.
Dick & Bert consistently harped on about a Carlos Gomez throwing error in the game on Friday night, and other defensive miscues here and there this weekend, but the simple fact remains that the Twins were outdone not only by an Angels team who are far stronger and quicker than them offensively, but more importantly, Minnesota’s starting pitching and bullpen sucked huge donkey balls and won’t be able to take this team all the way if they continue to put up performances like that. Make all the excuses you like, if the pitching doesn’t get it done, this team will be thoroughly held back from ever succeeding.
Not the best week for Twins baseball. After a relentless 14 games on the trot, because of inclement weather, Minnesota found themselves with three days off this week, and one day playing some pretty crappy baseball best forgotten about.
The three game series with Cleveland should hopefully be a bit better. Regardless of whether the Twins win or lose (of course, we want them to win, but you know what I mean), it’d be nice to see them truly competing. To be honest, their current 7-9 record seems a little flattering. Only a couple of those games has been a true ‘blow-out’ (the 12-5 victory over the White Sox, and the 9-2 win over the Angels), the rest have been very close calls or sneaking up on teams from behind.
Of course, a win is a win, in whatever form it takes, but it’d be really encouraging if this weekend the Twins could command a game from start to finish, scoring runs early and limiting the offense of their opponents. The Indians have had a mixed start to the season, that’s for sure, but there’s no denying their batting lineup is strong, but if Minnesota can silence them this weekend, it could be a great series, so good luck fellas.
But of course, who cares anyway when the Red Sox are playing the Yankees this weekend (yawn). Justin Morneau could smack three grand slams, Nick Blackburn could throw a no-hitter, and Travis Hafner could hit for the cycle twice, but if Big Papi so much as farts, it’ll be all over ESPN and FOX.
It’s taken a while, but at last the Twins have won their first series of the year, and against the usually very dangerous Angels of all people. Today, Sunday, they’ll be hoping for the sweep. Yesterday’s game looked to be following the same pattern of the Twins going behind early, but Kevin Slowey redeemed himself, and that man Jason Kubel came through again with four hits.
The Twins got their newly acquired pitcher Juan Morillo out on the mound in the 9th in an admittedly non-pressure situation, but he threw fast and got three outs in quick succession, and didn’t show any of the “control issues” he’s apparently known for in his first start.
Story of the day though must be the Indians drubbing of the Yankees. That 14-run second inning by the Indians was amazing to behold, not just for the runs scored, but the sheer number of hits and command the Indians showed. Of course, those idiotic Yankee suck-up FOX commentators never once discussed how great the Indians were hitting, but even resorted to saying it was because of the heat/humidity and how well the ball was traveling and that the Indian pitchers would “have trouble keeping the Yankee bats at bay”. Of course, that wasn’t the case, as the Indians went on to win 22-4.
But even though I chided Chien-Ming Wang the other day for his crazily high ERA, I can’t help feeling a little sorry for the guy who has allowed an incredible 23 runs over 6 innings pitched. Sure, that sucks for the Yankees, but the poor guy looked so shell shocked on Saturday, it was almost upsetting. Almost.
Yes. We really needed that. It looked like the Twins had let yet another lead slip away with an incompetent bullpen giving away five runs in the 7th, and the Angels were up 9-3. The Twins could only muster a solitary run in the bottom of the 7th, so it was 9-4 going into the 8th.
Some good Twins hitting and poor Angels pitching saw that lead cut to 9-7. Brendan Harris strikes out and there’s two gone, but the Angels walk Morneau to load the bases. Up steps Jason Kubel and cracks one to the upper tier! As if the grand slam wasn’t enough of a cause for celebration, Kubes had hit for the cycle, and the Twins went into the 9th with an 11-9 lead. Within a handful of pitches, Joe Nathan had saved the game in the 9th.
Another exciting night at the Metrodome, and maybe this will be the one that will see the Twins overturn their rocky start to the 2009 season!
Putting things in perspective however, it’s been a tougher start to the season for the Angels, what with the untimely death of Nick Adenhart, and the (admittedly less significant) news that Vladimir Guerrero will be out for a few weeks with a torn muscle in his chest.