Happy Monday to you all. Hope you had a fantastic weekend and are refreshed and rejuvenated at the start of another work week. Oh who the hell am I kidding? It's Monday and none of us want to be at work! Friday can't get here soon enough!
Today, I'm ripping off yet another idea from well-known sports writers by providing you with a running commentary from Saturday's Twins/Diamondbacks game which I attended with my dad. Then it's the makeup Monday Mailbag since I missed it on Friday!
“A baseball fan is a spectator sitting 500 feet from home plate who can see better than an umpire standing five feet away.”
Saturday evening I attended the Twins/Diamondbacks tilt at the Metrodome with my dad. My two favorite teams slugging it out. What better excuse to check out a ball game?! Here's my running commentary from the game:
Pre-Game: Tonight is the induction of former Twins closer Rick Aguillera into the Twins Hall of Fame. Before the ceremony, Rick got Joe Mauer to take a couple of pictures with his daughter. That ought to come in handy when she starts asking for the car keys! "Hey, remember when I got Joe Mauer to take a picture with you? Tell one of your friends they can drive."
The ceremony itself was all right. Former Twins Manager Tom Kelley formally inducted Aguillera. Tom's not the wordiest fellow in the world, but he did slip in a nice shot about Dan Gladden's "70's hairdo". Perfect.
Bottom 1st: The game got going a little late due to the ceremony, which apparently had an effect on Joe Mauer's timing. He strikes out swinging on four pitches. Somewhere the story about him striking out only once in his entire high school career was just told for the 8 billionth time.
Bottom 3rd: We're through 3 innings and there's still no score. Nick Blackburn and Micah Owings are locked in a heated pitchers duel surrendering only 1 hit a piece. Did I mention that it's a perfect night outside and in 2-years we'll be basking in the perfection of outdoor baseball?
Top 4th: So much for that scoreless game. D'backs SS Stephen drew leads off the inning with a double. I thought that was the perfect set-up for 1B Connor Jackson to bring him in, but Jackson flew out to center. Instead DH Chad Tracy lines a single into center to plate the run. A small part of me wants to celebrate, but I said I'm rooting for the Twins this weekend and I'm sticking to it!
Bottom 4th: Joe Mauer strikes out again? Color me genuinely concerned. Micah Owings has some good stuff, but I don't think it's this good! Somewhere Rick Aguillera's daughter just burst into tears.
Bottom 5th: Michael Cuddyer gives the Twins hope with a lead-off single. Which is promptly erased by a double play ball courtesy of Jason Kubel. Note to Gardy: keep Kubel and Delmon Young separated on the bench please? It's starting to rub off.
Bottom 7th: I tell my dad that the Twins have to get something done here, or they're in serious jeopardy of getting shut out. They've got the heart of the order coming up. And if they don't get to Owings here, the D'backs will bring in Pena and Lyons in the 8th and 9th and put the baby to sleep.
Augie Ojeda replaces Mark Reynolds at 3rd after Reynolds turned an ankle breaking from the batters box in the top half of the inning.
And Joe Mauer makes a brilliant baseball play. Recognizing the replacement at 3rd and how badly the Twins need a baserunner, Mauer drops a bunt right down the 3rd base line and beats it out for a single. I can't begin to express how good a play this was. Wow.
Justin Mornaeau spends the first two pitches trying to hit a ball to the moon. Finally with a 1-2 count he hits a rocket down into the right field corner for a double which scores Mauer. Morneau moves up to 3rd when D'backs catcher Chris Snyder mis-handles the throw from right field. Please tell me this isn't the start of another D'backs defensive melt-down. I want the Twins to win, but not like that... not like that.
D'backs manager Bob Melvin has had P Chad Qualls warming up in the bullpen since the start of the inning. I turn to my dad and say Melvin should go make the switch right now. After a Cuddyer groundout and Kubel walk, Melvin finally agrees.
Oh my god. I just realized that Delmon Young is up to bat with runners on first and 3rd and two outs. Will the human rally-killer strike again?!?
On a 1-1 pitch Young singles to right. The Twins lead 2-1. I turn to my dad and tell him, "I told you he'd come through"! He's kind enough to chuckle and not point out the obvious lie in my statement. You have to love dads!
And the flood-gates are opened. A Buscher double, Harris double, Gomez strikeout, and Casilla single later, the Twins lead 6-1. Mixed in there are a passed ball and several more bad throws from the outfield to the infield by the D'backs. I know I said the Dome would be a problem for Arizona, but this isn't the Dome's fault. This is just good ol' fashioned lousy defense. It's tough to watch and a real shame after Owings pitched such a solid game.
Top 9th: Dennis Reyes takes the hill for the Twins in the 9th. No need for Joe Nathan with a 5-run lead, but Reyes always seems to make things interesting. Stephen Drew grounds out. Connor Jackson singles to center. And Orlando Hudson does Reyes the favor of hitting a tailor-made 4-6-3 double-play ball. And that's your ball game! Twins win 6-1. The 25,000+ who were in attendance (and judging by what I could see, many of them weren't) rejoice!
As I was enjoying the game, I sent the following text to one of my best friend's, who's son was going to Sunday's game courtesy of his Uncle and Aunt-to-be:
I got us a win tonight. Now tell Logan it's on him to get us a sweep!
After the Twins managed to get that sweep with a 5-3 win over D'back ace Brandon Webb, I got the picture you saw at the top of the post. That's one of the most brilliant things I've ever seen. Well done Lon!
Oh, and by the way D'backs fans, you can also put Sunday's loss square on my Mom. She called me from Phoenix after the top of the 4th inning when Arizona scored their 3 runs. I warned her that the baseball gods don't look favorably on boasting that early in a game, but she "neener neener'd" me anyway. So baseball karmic retribution was in full effect in the 5th when the Twins put their 5 runs on the board. Sorry Mom. I tried to stop you! Some lessons have to be learned the hard way.
But have no worries D'backs fans. I'm back on the bus and it's headed to Boston tonight for a big tilt between the Snakes and the Red Sox (whom I hate). Tonight it's Dan Haren's turn to try and slay the beast from the east as he faces Josh Beckett. Together folks, we can defeat evil!
Next up, it's a Monday version of the Sports Take Mailbag!
Today's question comes from Craig in Burnsville,
With Soriano and Pujols both going on the disabled list, what are the chances of the Brewers taking over 1st place in the NL Central?
This question was sent to me a couple of weeks ago, so you can now throw in Cubs P Carlos Zambrano amongst those important injuries at the top of the NL Central.
To directly answer the question, I'd say the Brewers are still at best 7-1 against winning the Central. They're playing pretty good baseball, but the Cubs are looking pretty much unstoppable after sweeping the White Sox over the weekend.
(I've got to say thanks for that by the way. The Twins sweep of Arizona moves them only a game and half back in the AL Central. Thanks Cubbies!)
Put it this way, the Brewers have won 7 out of their last 10 and picked up only 1 game on the Cubs.
Here are some stat rankings to consider: the Brewers are 9th in the NL in runs scored and 12th in team batting average. But they're 3rd in home runs and 4th in slugging percentage. On the pitching side they're 8th in runs allowed and opponent's batting average and 9th in team earned run average. Not awful, but they're going to have to step those up if they want to catch the Cubs.
We're still in the early stages of the Zambrano injury though, so it's tough to assess how much of an effect that will have on the Cubs machine. But so far, there's been few signs that the Brewers have enough to overtake the Cubs.
They have managed to close to within 2 games of the Cardinals, who hold the Wild Card lead in the National League. That perhaps is a more realistic goal for you Crew fans to set your sights on.
And with that, I'm going wrap things up for today. Hope you enjoyed the running commentary. And once again, sorry Mom! I'll be back Wednesday with more Sports Take wonder for you!