Friday

5-7-10: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

IT'S FRIDAY!!!

Yes, I'm sure I didn't have to tell you that, but for some reason, I really need it to be the weekend already. I couldn't even really say why. An annoying week at the shop I guess. Who knows? All I know is that in a few scant hours, I'll be blissfully thinking of anything other than work for a solid 48, and enjoying every second of it.

But before we get to today's sports silliness, a couple of quick entertainment notes.

One, yes, I'll be seeing Iron Man 2 this weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the first film, and even though Scarlett Johansson was an epic failure of an interview on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson this week, I'm confident I'll like the second film too. Come on. It's Robert Downey, Jr. carrying a film. This guy's been stealing scenes since “Back to School”! It'll be a good flick. I'll have a brief review for you on Monday... probably.

(Hey, I don't like to make promises which I may or may not be able to keep, okay?!)

Two, Rick Riordan is out with a new book and the beginning of a new series. (Sorry to steal your “book club” bit, Cat, but I figure you'll forgive me.) If you haven't read his “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, I recommend you do. They're not the deepest books in the world, but they're fun, light, and entertaining reads. And what he did with Greek mythology in those books, he seeks to do with Egyptian mythology in “The Kane Chronicles: Red Pyramid”. The tone of the new book is very similar to “Percy”, but he employs a new narrative device in this one (I won't give it away here) which is kind of an interesting way to tackle the project. I'm only a few chapters in, but I like it so far. If you're in need of something fun to peruse, trust me, you could do far worse.

Okay. Enough with the preambling! Time to get really, really serious... about Updating you on my favorite squads!

Off we go!

”Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
- Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821), French military and political leader


Think Lil Nap (that'd be his rapper name right?) wishes someone would've reminded him of this lil chestnut before he had that lil hiccup in Belgium? I'm just sayin...

Right, now that you're over that pseudo-philosophical excursion, it's time to give you what you came here for. That's right. It's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...

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Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 19-10, in first place in the AL Central, and three games ahead of the Detroit Tigers.

You want to know why baseball is a game that requires patience? I could've started this section full of cheer and optimism over the Twins sweeping the Tigers in their mid-week series, but then they went and laid an egg against the Orioles last night and suddenly my cheer is tempered.

Look, it's the Orioles. They still suck. The Twins will be just fine.

What's more disconcerting for me is that for the second start in a row, the Twins wasted a Carl Pavano gem. Last Thursday, Pavano went 8 innings against the Tigers, scattering 7 hits while surrendering 2 earned runs. What kind of run support did he get? None. The Twins got blanked that night by Dontrelle Willis and Joel Zumaya.

Okay, that happens once in a while. Carl gave the bullpen the night off. The boys will pick him up next time, right?

Well...........

Last night, Pavano went 8 innings against the Orioles, scattering 6 hits, while surrendering 2 earned runs. What kind of run support did he get? None. The Twins got blanked by Brad Bergeson and the Baltimore bullpen. Sound familiar?

Suddenly it's getting more difficult to dismiss the coincidence. Especially considering that prior to last night, left-handed hitters (the Twins, they have a few) were batting .400+ against Bergeson. The Twins got exactly six hits and nary a run in his six innings.

I'm still going to deem it a coincidence for now. It's not like I think the boys are dogging it when Carl's on the mound. That's not something this team does. It's just a shame that when you've got a veteran on the hill "doin' work" (that's how the hip kids say it), and the team can't seem to scratch out some runs for him. Three or four would've gotten the job done, I think.

The Twins are still third in the AL in Runs Scored (149), OPS (.797) and Run Differential (+41), so how much can I really dog on the offense, right?

I'll leave that to Carl.

Seriously line-up, buy the man a steak or something. It's the least you can do.

The Twins complete their four-gamer with Baltimore this weekend. Francisco Liriano (okay, fine... FranKKKie) takes the mound tonight (weather permitting)[Ed.'s Note: Tonight's game has been rescheduled as part of a double-header tomorrow due to rain. Check your local listings for match-ups] to face Kevin Millwood. Scott Baker goes on Saturday (if I can get myself moving that day, I might take a trip down to the park). And Nick Blackburn takes the bump on Sunday. Then it's a brief two-game set versus Chicago next week before they hit the road to face... (gulp)... the Yankees.


Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 14-15, in fourth place in the NL West and four games behind the San Francisco Giants.

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times...

Wait, that's not how it goes, is it?

In this case, it is. The Diamondbacks came off a series win in Colorado last week feeling good, and headed to Chicago over the weekend where they promptly lost three of four. The worst of times.

What's the remedy for having dropped three of four to the Cubs? A trip to Houston, where Arizona promptly took three or four from the Astros. The best of times.

Okay, so when you lead the NL in Runs Scored and your opponent is dead-last, you probably expect to take three of four, but baseball psychology is a fickle thing. Sometimes even an expected outcome can boost your confidence. Given the roller-coaster ride this season's already been for the Snakes, they can use whatever confidence they can get.

Yes, Arizona's offense is still rolling. They lead the NL in Runs Scored (156) and OPS (.820) and yet their run differential is a near-comical -1.

No, it doesn't take a sabermetrician to determine what ails this club: pitching.

I almost typed “pitching and defense” there, until I paid a quick visit to my friends at Fangraphs.com where I learned that Arizona's currently fourth in the NL in UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) with a 9.7, which means their defense is doing just fine thank you. (As a point of reference, the Twins who are lauded for their defense have a UZR of 6.4 - good, but not as good as Arizona.)

See? It pays to check your stats before you go spouting off on a blog!

I probably shouldn't even complain about the pitching all that much. Arizona's had four quality starts in a row, including a season-best performance from Ian Kennedy. Okay, again, I have to point out that this was the Astros, and if I got my knuckleball back in shape, even I might be able to get through three or four innings against their line-up. But still! When your club's pitching has been as suspect as the D'backs' has, you'll take whatever positives you can get.

So let us all enjoy Ian Kennedy's acceptable ERA of 3.65. Let us relish Dan Haren's 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Let us savor Chad Qualls' improving to 6 of 8 saves converted.

Let us bask in the wonder of it all... because there's about to be a helluva rude awakening against Milwaukee.

That's right, the second highest scoring team in the NL visits Chase Field for three starting tonight. Edwin Jackson kicks things off tonight against Brewer Ace Yovani Gallardo. Recent call-up Cesar Valdez heads to the mound tomorrow night. And Ian Kennedy wraps things up on Sunday. Then the Dodgers are in starting on Monday for three. Yes, those Dodgers. The ones at the bottom of the division? (If my cousin the “Dodger fan” is reading this, sorry, but I have to get in my shots while I can!)


So there you go folks, a right proper Update to set you sailing into your weekend! Rest, relax, perhaps take a siesta... whatever you do, have a great couple of days off.

I'm back on Monday with more nonsense and skullduggery.

Until then, thanks for reading!

3 comments:

  1. Looks like Pavano is getting the Nolan Ryan treatment from his 'mates. They just get awed watching him do his thing they forget to hit the ball. Hopefully it turns around soon.

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  2. No worries Dan. I don't have a monopoly on book discussions...yet. :-) Plus I figure if I stay on your good side, you'll let me talk sports occasionally. Maybe? Right? You've read much further in to the Riordan series than I have (I still have to read Book 2 of Olympians) so actually I appreciate the recommendations.

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  3. Thanks Cat!

    I crushed the "Percy" series after seeing the trailer ahead of the last "Harry Potter" movie. Busted through all 5 books in less than a month. Really enjoyable.

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