Friday, August 29, 2008

Down and Up

Mariners 3, Twins 2
Twins 6, Mariners 5
A's 3, Twins 2
Twins 12, A's 2

I missed most of the last 4 games while burying myself in research on childhood vaccinations (my daughter will be 2 months old next week) and the Democratic National Convention (mostly boring, though I really liked Bill Clinton's speech). Looks like I missed out on a whole bunch of excruciating Twins baseball!

What's most frustrating is this: thanks to tonight's blowout, the Twins actually outscored their opponents 32-29 over the last week, but went just 2-5. Couldn't they have had just one of those 12 runs tonight moved to last night, when Joe Nathan could have pitched the 9th inning instead of the reeling Jesse Crain (who has been on the mound when the winning runs scored in 3 of the 5 losses this week)? How about moving one of them over to Monday, giving Joe Nathan enough cushion to overcome Adrian Beltre's leadoff double? If you've ever wondered how the Indians could be (until very recently) so far under .500 despite having a positive run differential, this past week is your answer. What a drag to have to endure that for 5 months instead of just one week!

Thankfully, Denard Span came up with a big throw to the plate on Wednesday afternoon, or this road trip would already be a total disaster. As it is, the Twins are still running uphill at 4-5. But the A's are a terrible offensive team, and the Twins' starting pitching has been solid (2.78 ERA in 58.1 IP on the trip so far), so it shouldn't take too many runs to get a couple more wins this weekend.

One of the reasons the Twins struggled to score runs earlier in the week was the disappearance of Joe Mauer. Coming into Friday's game he was just 6-28 on the road trip. He busted out with a career-high 5 hits, knocking in 4 runs while he was at it. He's got to be productive for the offense to work. The other key is Justin Morneau, and he appears to breaking out of the slump that bewitched him for most of the month. He's hitting .443 over the last 6 games, with at least one double in each.

One very encouraging sign: despite their troubles over the past week, the Twins remain just 0.5 games behind the White Sox, who have an identical 30-36 road record. That means that, for all the time away from home the Twins have to spend the rest of the season, the White Sox will match them game for game. They also have to play the Angels - baseball's winningest road team - at home. It's been a bad week on the road for the Twins, but it's not a disaster yet.

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