Friday

8-6-10: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

Don't tell anybody... but we fooled 'em again!

That's right, we've made it to the end of yet another week, and it dawns on me that Summer is winding down in a hurry. What caused this rude awakening? Yesterday, I got got asked by the bosses to work overtime at the Fair again this year.

Yep, that's right, the Minnesota State Fair is right around the corner. Doesn't quite seem possible does it? But yes, eleven of the most annoying days of my work year are not that far away.

In the interest of maintaining whatever level of sanity I've managed to cling to, I'm going to attempt not to dwell on it. Suffice to say that if it's a Saturday, and you're at the State Fair, there's a better than average chance I'll be there too. Feel free to stop by and point and laugh a little if you like. Just try not to think about the fact that I'll be getting paid time-and-a-half to be there, while you'll be spending more money that could possibly seem reasonable!

Ah, the Great Minnesota Wallet Crusher! Er, I mean “Get Together”! Yeah... that's it!

But you didn't come here on a Friday to read about all that!

No! You came here to get yourself Updated, and Updated, my dear readers, you shall be!

Right after the quote.

”Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”
- Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804), German philosopher


And sports blogging is organized nonsense!



Organized nonsensical goodness? Well that would have to be... everybody's favorite segment...

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 61-48, in second place in the AL Central and 1.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox.

Perspective is an amazing thing.

As the Twins headed into their four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays, if you'd told me that the two clubs would split the series, I'd have been thrilled. The Rays are by every measurable statistic one of the two best teams in all of baseball. To think that the Twins could take two of four games from Tampa - on the road no less - would be a very encouraging thought, especially considering that the Rays took three of four from the Twins at Target Field back in early July.

Then came the first two games of the series. The Twins got a good, but not great, performance from Carl Pavano in Game 1, but couldn't muster enough offense against rookie Jeremy Hellickson and lost 4-2.

In Tuesday night's Game 2, the Twins got a good, but not great start from Brian Duensing and lost 6-4 when the bullpen melted down.

After those two games, losing three of four to the Rays again seemed like more than a fair possibility, and a sweep was certainly not out of the question.

But baseball's a weird, weird game. I don't know why I keep forgetting that, but fortunately, the baseball gods are consistently there to remind me.

In Wednesday night's Game 3, Scott Baker pitched an absolute gem. In fact, I don't think it's at all a stretch to say it's the best game he's pitched all season. He went eight innings of shut-out ball and only allowed four Rays to reach base. Three via hits and one via a walk.

The only previous Baker start that even comes close was his outing against Baltimore on May 8th where he went eight innings, giving up three hits and an earned run.

Baltimore? Tampa Bay? Yeah. Not much comparison between those two clubs.

So Baker had his gem and on came newly-minted Twins closer Matt Capps to finish things off in the 9th. Only a funny thing happened on the way to a brilliant 1-0 victory for Minnesota. Evan Longoria hit a fly ball to left center, and Delmon Young took one of his “interesting” routes to the ball, managing to actually kick it back towards the infield rather than actually catching it, putting the tying run on second with no outs.

A sacrifice fly and base-hit later, and we had a tie game.

F@#$, f@#$, f@#$itty, f@#$!

The two clubs traded failed scoring chances until the top of the 13th when Delmon came to the plate with runners at the corners and brought in what would end up being the game-winning run with a single.

Proving once again, the Delmon giveth, and the Delmon taketh away!

(Somebody famous said that once, right?)

But the baseball gods apparently didn't think that game was weird enough, because yesterday's game was even more odd.

In Game 4, the Twins jumped all over Tampa starter Wade Davis to the tune of four runs in the first. Given that the two clubs had battled for 13 innings the night before, Rays skipper Joe Maddon couldn't give Davis a quick hook, so the Twins were able to touch him for two more runs over the next five innings and seemed to be cruising to a comfortable 6-0 win.

Ah, but as you may have guessed (or seen if you watched the game), we haven't hit the weird part yet.

As good as Kevin Slowey looked for the first seven innings of the game, he slammed straight into a wall in the eighth. First he gave up a lead-off solo home run to B.J. Upton. Then hit a batter, gave up a single and a walk wrapped around a couple of outs before he was lifted from the game with the bases loaded.

Jesse Crain came on to try and get the last out, and gave up a walk, plating a run, making it 6-2 Twins.

Ron Mahay came on to try and get the last out and gave up a grand slam home run to former Twin Jason Bartlett. And just like that we had a 6-6 tie.

Nope, we still haven't hit the weirdest part yet. That came in the top of the ninth.

Jason Repko led off with a double. Alexi Casilla did his job and got a ball on the ground to the right side moving Repko to third. Joe Mauer was intentionally walked for the second time in the game (damn you Joe Maddon!), and Delmon Young hit a ground ball that nearly turned into an inning-ending double play. Fortunately for Minnesota, those 30 pounds Delmon shed in the off-season allowed him to beat out the throw to first and kept the inning alive.

That brought Jason Kubel to the plate. The same Kubel that's hit two grand slams for the Twins this season. The same Kubel that's hitting .389 with a runner at third and less than two outs. Unfortunately, there were two outs in the inning, and in those situations he's hitting .227.

So what does he do? He hit's a sky-high pop up that seemed ticketed for an infielder's glove to end the inning.

Then a funny thing happened. The Trop reached out and swatted it.

Say what?!

No, you didn't read that wrong. Tropicana Field contains a labyrinth of catwalks and scaffolding under its dome, much of which is in reach of batted balls. One of those structures is called the “A-Ring” and sits directly under the apex of the dome. Over the years since the Trop has been in service as a MLB facility, more than 100 balls have hit catwalks. But only one had hit the A-ring. That was until Kubel's pop-up hit it and dropped straight down to an area that Rays infielders were unable to cover.

That's right, Jason Kubel hit an RBI single that traveled a mile in the air, and maybe 70 feet from home plate. This is where someone would say, “in the box-score, it's a frozen rope line-drive”. Anybody who reads the box-score and says that is a doosh. Trust me. It was blind, stupid luck, and that's all there is to it.

Thanks to Tropicana Field ground rules, the ball was ruled in play and the Twins had the lead. After tacking on an insurance run, the Twins had themselves an 8-6 win and a series split.

Perspective.

I went from “hey, I'll take a split!”, to “good lord, let them win just one!”, to “atta boy Scotty Bake!”, to “F@#$, f@#$, f@#$itty, f@#$!”, to “whew, eked that one out!”, to “nice, we're going to get a split!”, to “why is there life on this f@#$ing planet?!”, to “thank you baseball gods, now can we get the hell out of Tampa?!” - all over the course of four games.

And if that doesn't help you understand why I love baseball, I'm not sure how to better explain it!

The Twins continue to try and prove themselves as road warriors this weekend as they head to Cleveland to take on a struggling Tribe squad. The match-ups look thusly:

Friday: Francisco Liriano (10-7, 3.18) vs. Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 1.50)

Saturday: Carl Pavano (13-7, 3.32) vs. Fausto Carmona (11-8, 4.18)

Sunday: Brian Duensing (4-1, 2.10) vs. David Huff (2-10, 5.97)

Not going to say I like the Twins' chances. Nope, not gonna poke the baseball gods in the eye like that at all.

After the three games in Cleveland, the Twins get Monday off, and then it's three huge games in Chicago against the first-place White Sox. Bring me some Ozzie! (And make sure you have your Asian-interpreter with you!)

(Ed.'s Note: If you don't get that joke, please read this story.)


Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 40-68, in last place in the NL West and 23 games behind the San Diego Padres.

Last week I said that the Diamondbacks had the good fortune to be facing a struggling Mets club, and the misfortune to be facing them on the road.

Turns out their fortune outweighed their misfortune, and they took two of three from New York. Nice!

Then they got to come home and host the Washington Nationals - owners of only a slightly better record than Arizona - for four games. What an opportunity!

Four games which they proceeded to split, two wins apiece.

Look, when you're 40-and-freaking-68, a split of a four-gamer, any four-gamer is essentially a win, right?

Most encouraging in that seven-game stretch was the Diamondback debut of Daniel Hudson, the right-handed pitcher Arizona acquired from the White Sox for Edwin Jackson.

Hudson went eight innings against the Mets this past Sunday, scattering three hits and allowing only a single run. Sure the Mets haven't been able to hit water falling out of a boat of late, but again, when you're a 40-and-freaking-68 ballclub, that kind of start is something to celebrate.

Need more good news? How about Joe Saunders - acquired as part of the Dan Haren trade with the Angels - winning his Diamondback debut this past Tuesday?

Not enough?

How about the possible return of Brandon Webb?

Yes, he of the most un-bionic arm in the history of baseball, might end up making a return in 2010 after all... in the bullpen.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, reported last week that the Diamondbacks are considering letting Webb ease his way back into action as a reliever.

Pitching coach Mel Stottlemeyer said:


“We're going to have to discuss that. I think he would be up for that, but I need to sit down with (interim General Manager Jerry Dipoto) and find out the direction we want to head with this.”


Seems to me the “direction they'd want to head with this” would be whatever gets Webb back on the field the fastest, so the Diamondbacks can try to get something out of the money they've spent on a pitcher that hasn't made a big league appearance since April of 2009.

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

The Diamondbacks continue their homestand this weekend against the NL West-leading Padres. Here are the match-ups:

Friday: Daniel Hudson (1-0, 1.13) vs. Jon Garland (10-7, 3.60)

Saturday: Rodrigo Lopez (5-10, 4.64) vs. Chris Richard (9-5, 3.60)

Sunday: Joe Saunders (1-0, 1.69) vs. Matt Latos (11-5, 2.47)

After they get done with the Pads, the Diamondbacks head straight out on the road for a seven-game trip with four in Milwaukee (Algonquin for, “the good land”) and three in the nation's capital (should that be capitalized? I can never remember.)


That's going to wrap things up for this week. I hope you all feel properly Updated. I know I sure do!

I'm back on Monday with more nonsensical goodness (I can't help it, I just like the way that sounds).

Until then, thanks for reading!

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