Monday, July 7, 2008

An Amazing Weekend

Twins 12, Indians 3
Twins 9, Indians 6
Twins 4, Indians 3

It's hard to believe anyone could have a better weekend than the Twins just did, but I can say I did. My daughter, Cady, was born just after midnight on Saturday, and it's been amazing to get to know her over the last 48 hours. It's been exhausting as well, and I certainly didn't get a chance to watch all the games this weekend. It was a pleasure, though, to stagger home from the hospital and check the box scores.

I thought Friday night's game would be telling. The Indians were coming in on such on offensive slide. If they couldn't beat Livan Hernandez, who were they going to beat? If Livan couldn't shut down the Indians, what good was he? Well, he shut them down just fine, putting up a fine line of 6 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 4 K. He gave up all 3 R on 2 HR. Anybody want him? Meanwhile, the Twins absolutely demolished Paul Byrd for the second time in a row, disrupting his ludicrously good career numbers at the Metrodome. Delmon Young continues to pull the ball with authority, and Nick Punto is showing himself to be at least as valuable as Brendan Harris at the plate (while being far superior in the field).

I was disappointed to see Slowey have a bad inning (especially since he's one of the anchors of my fantasy team), but it was great that Gardy now has the confidence in him to let him work through it - he eventually earned the win despite allowing 5 ER. After giving up all 5 R over the first 10 batters, Slowey allowed only 1 baserunner the remaining 4.2 IP he was out there. In this one, the Twins used 8 BB to fuel their offense - the type of patience we saw all the time in late May. Gardy revealed his revised lineup vs. LHP, using Harris in a platoon at 3B and Craig Monroe at DH. Interesting that Denard Span was left in there against the lefty, but he did just fine.

On Sunday, facing one of the AL's best in Cliff Lee, I was just hoping Glen Perkins could keep the Twins in the game long enough to give the offense a chance, and that's exactly what he did. He made a mistake to Jhonny Peralta for a 2-run HR, but otherwise had another effective and efficient outing, lasting 7 IP with a 1.14 WHIP. Span keyed the Twins' comeback with 2 excellent ABs against a tough LHP: a leadoff 3B in the 6th, putting himself in position to score the 1st run on a ground out by Alexi Casilla, and a bases loaded BB in the 7th that forced in the tying run.

The Twins are playing incredibly well right now - you just get the feeling that they're never out of a game no matter how many runs they give up, or how much the lineup is being fooled by the opponent's starter. They've won with pitching, power, speed, defense and patience at the plate. With the Boston loss last night, the Twins are just 0.5 games back in the Wild Card standings, as well as just 1 game out in the Central Division.

Span vs. Gomez

Span showed everyone what he's been up to in Rochester over the past 2 months. In 6 starts this week, we went 7 for 17 with 3 2B, 3B, 5 BB and 4 K, raising his season line to .313/.411/.417. Carlos Gomez had a pretty good week too, thanks mostly to his series vs. the Tigers. He went 9 for 26 with 2 2B, 2 BB and 7 K. Both showed tremendous range in the outfield, turning hits into outs and doubles into singles.

Even with both of them having very good offensive weeks, Span's superior ability to draw walks resulted in a .545 OBP for the week vs. .393 for Gomez. Span's approach is going to get him on base more than Gomez. They should swap spots in the batting order, so that Span is getting the extra AB each game. This week alone, that switch might have resulted in 1-2 extra base-runners in front of Mauer and Morneau. I hope to see that change this week, before Michael Cuddyer's return from the DL muddies the waters.