Yeah, I so much wanted that headline to be “Houston, YOU have a problem” but it was a disappointing weekend for the Twins, who lost two of three to the Astros. Houston played moderately well and certainly didn’t decimate the Twins, but Minnesota’s offense barely got going all weekend. With tough games on the road this week against the Cardinals and the Brewers, this last home stand was an opportunity to forge ahead, but Minnesota remains stubbornly just below the .500 mark for now.
Reading the triumphant 5-2 scoreline of Friday’s game, it might look to the casual observer that the Twins had a comfortable win, but this was far from the case. Kevin Slowey pitched well enough to get his tenth victory of the year, but in the top of the eighth inning, when Houston made it a one-run game, a Twins victory was far from assured. Fortunately, in the bottom of the eighth, Delmon Young managed to secure the 5-2 lead with a cheesey double that leftfielder Jason Michaels lost in the lights, but it was a far-from convincing victory.
Saturday’s game was just, well, kind of annoying. Minnesota managed all their runs via home runs with Brendan Harris, Delmon Young, Joe Mauer, and Jason Kubel all going deep. Trouble is, they did little else. Taking a 3-1 lead into the seventh, Scott Baker gave up a couple of runs and the score was tied at 3-3, so disappointing, but not a disaster. That is, until Ron Gardenhire, in his infinite wisdom, decided it was better to just go ahead and lose the game out right, introducing the comedy bullpen clowns once again. Sean Henn gave up a two-run homer, and Luis Ayala allowed another run to score, and despite Jason Kubel’s late-game heroics, and Jose Morales’s pinch-hitting double to make it interesting in the ninth, it was all too late by then, and Houston won the game 6-5.
Sunday: Two hits for the Twins the entire game, one of which was a solo home run shot by Michael Cuddyer. The Astros’ starter, Wandy Rodriguez, completely shut down the Minnesota offense, and Houston’s three-run first inning was more than enough to secure a series victory over a very disappointing and sorry looking Twins line up. Amusingly enough, Carlos Gomez did bunt the ball onto his head at one point, which pretty much summed up the entire weekend for Minnesota.
Finally, a series wins for the Twins on the road! It’s been a long time coming, but it was well deserved, and their first since the end of April. Minnesota is also back at .500.
On Friday afternoon, with a little bit of help from Milton Bradley, the Twins defeated the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field 7-4. Kevin Slowey pitched well and improved to 9-2 for the season, and Minnesota kept hustling and scoring runs, even after the Cubs had put up a threat here and there. It was great to see so many Twins fans at Wrigley cheering on Joe Mauer.
On Saturday, it was a little cloudy and overcast, but Anthony Swarzak pitched seven run-free innings, and the Twins won 2-0. Sure, neither team’s offense was sparkling, but the Twins did just enough to keep the Cubs at bay.
Glen Perkins returns to the rotation in the coming week, so unfortunately Swarzak got demoted to Triple-A Rochester right after the game! I’d personally have liked to have seen him kept in the bullpen, replacing the ineffectual Jesse Crain, but a roster move was necessary because of injuries to Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span. The Twins are an outfielder short right now, and will definitely need one for the upcoming interleague games at the Metrodome. They recalled catcher Jose Morales in place of Swarzak, but how this helps their outfield situation I’m not so sure.
Will Minnesota be able to pull off a sweep at Wrigley Field? It’s a tough proposition, but if Scott Baker is on top of his game and our bats can get going, it might just happen. The Cubs always appear threatening, and they’ll have Ted Lilly on the mound, but haven’t shown much offense so far this series. That being said, they’re probably due to erupt any minute, so here’s hoping they delay that for just one more game!
No, seriously! I mean, really? Why? Having watched Joe Mauer, Mike Redmond, and Jose Morales the past few seasons I have to ask… why would anyone WANT to be a catcher in the major leagues?
- You have to wear silly shin pads, a crazy chest protector that looks like a bullet-proof vest (only heavier), and a hockey mask.
- You have to SQUAT for hours on end.
- You have to deal with a big bloke in an ill-fitting jacket standing so close behind you he’s practically touching your bottom and screaming S-T-R-I-K-E in your earhole.
- If you call the pitch the pitcher doesn’t want to throw, but he throws your choice anyway and the batter hits a home run, you’d probably feel guilty for calling it.
- If you call the pitch and your pitcher turns you down and throws what HE wants to throw and the batter hits a home run, sorry, it’s too late to insist now.
- If you call the pitch and the batter strikes out, it’s that darn pitcher that gets all the credit anyway.
- Getting hit in the head with a ball.
- Getting hit in the head with a bat.
- Taking the full impact of that speedy baserunner slamming into home from third while you try and tag him out and see your final seconds of consciousness flash before your eyes as you desperately try and keep hold of a ball bouncing off the turf from the powerful throw from the outfield.
- You’ll never be as amusing as Yogi Berra.
PS — this post not to be taken too seriously, before some smart-alec writes “because you get paid zillions of dollars”.
Today’s concerns are brought to you by the letter C
Cuddyer: Should we be worried about Cuddles? He seems to be striking out an awful lot this year, but is Ron Gardenhire perhaps a little too stubborn to put him on the bench for a while? Evidently, he’s a popular ‘leader’ in the clubhouse, and a great outfielder, but I’m beginning to think he might be having problems right now.
Catcher: Which one should be sent down when Joe Mauer returns? Although Jose Morales has shown a bit more promise with the bat lately, I think Mike Redmond has thoroughly earned his place on the roster over the past years, and his hack and slash ability in clutch situations might be more reliable. But I must admit, I think Morales is very promising, and it’ll be kind of sad to see him not getting any more games just when he’s flourishing.
Carlos: Who? Carlos Gomez of course! Some say he should be sent down to Triple-A Rochester for a while too. It might happen. Many believe his center field defense is important, but I guess if he was gone, it’d be the Young-Span-Cuddyer combo every night… right now I kind of like the fact that Gardy is mixing it up, and I’ve already expressed concerns about Cuddyer above.
Casilla: Poor Alexi. He hasn’t had a great start to the season with the bat, and has looked a little vulnerable at second base, but hopefully he’ll pull his socks up and improve soon.
Crede: His name begins with C too!