Twins 6, Tigers 5
It's about 4:45 AM as I write this. I tend to sleep in 2 hour chunks now. Tonight it seems to have more to do with the throbbing of my surgically repaired knee than with our newborn baby, who's been blessedly quiet for the first night of her life.
Adding to my discomfort is the remnant of a paranoid dream I was having, in which I was the property of the Chicago Cubs, and the last piece they needed to fill out their championship roster. There were Cubs fans everywhere outside my room and window, wishing for my knee to recover faster. Not in a kind-hearted," we care about his health" kind of way, but in a petulant, "he'd better not screw this up for us" way. Wham's "Everything She Wants," which was playing in the waiting room of the physical therapist's office the other day, is the relentless soundtrack of this fantasy. "Somebody tell me why I work so hard for them!"
Anyway, it seemed like a good time to get out the laptop and talk about yesterday's game, which was blacked out on MLB.TV even though it was not the featured game on our local Fox affiliate. From what I heard, it went quite well for Scott Baker. He's beginning to build up some nice career numbers vs. the Tigers, about 1 ER lower than his career ERA. Good to be good against a division rival. It messed up my fantasy numbers to have him start the 8th, but with his pitch count at just 96 and the way the bullpen has been used over the last few days, Gardy had to try to get as many outs from him as possible. The 'pen bent a little, but once again held the lead.
After he struck out the side in the 9th, I thought it was a good time to check on Joe Nathan's K/9 rate for the season. It's 10.44, up from 9.67 last year. No signs of decline from him yet, to say the least.
I was sorry to see Nick Punto scratched from the game - he's been playing so well at SS - but Brendan Harris capably filled in. He also contributed the way you love to see a platoon guy do, beating up LHP Nate Robertson for 3 H, HR, 3 RBI. His 2 singles came with RISP and 2 outs, the first real damage the Twins have done in that situation since early in the game on Thursday. His overall splits vs. LHP still aren't very impressive, but hopefully, he can continue to be effective in this role. Not that a trade for someone like Adrian Beltre (5th in the league in BA vs. LHP, good zone rating) wouldn't be a welcome addition.
Speaking of additions, it's disheartening to keep seeing things like this. Yes, Francisco Liriano had a little hiccup a few starts ago, meaning he's only been awesome in like 9 of his last 11 starts. Livan Hernandez had a little hiccup a few starts ago as well, but in the other direction. Meaning he's been bad in 7 of his last 10 starts. But we don't have a spot for Liriano right now. Really?
And this. Why does everybody think Carlos Gomez is going to wake up tomorrow and stop being a bad hitter? It took Denard Span 2 extra years in the minors to get the point where he is. Why does Gomez get so much license?
In spite of their shortcomings, I'm really pleased with the way the Twins have responded to a disappointing series in Boston. Heading off to a 7-game road trip vs. the Red Sox and Tigers, I would have been pleased to see the Twins win 3, and they've done that. 2 of their 3 losses have been by just 1 run. They continue to hang with the best in the league. If they can win this afternoon and sweep the series, they have a chance to undo what they did against the Tigers back in April. Then, shaky bullpen play let the Tigers off the mat from their abysmal start, and began their long march back to the happy side of .500. With a sweep of this 4-game series, the Twins have an opportunity to deliver the knockout blow to their division rivals: down 8 games to the White Sox and Twins with just 68 left to play, I think the Tigers would have to start to accept that they won't be able to make the playoffs this year. Here's hoping we can make it a 2-team race!