Friday, September 5, 2008

Oh, the Humanity

Blue Jays 7, Twins 5
Blue Jays 5, Twins 4 (11 innings)
Blue Jays 9, Twins 0

Well, it could have been worse.

The Twins could have lost that first 12 inning game in Anaheim. Denard Span's throw to the plate in the last game in Seattle could have been off line. Or the team plane could have crashed into Lake Huron.

As it was, this dreaded 14-game road trip concluded with a sweep in Toronto and a 5-9 record. 8 of the 9 losses came by 2 or fewer runs. 5 came in the opponent's last at-bat. That three of those losses came because the bullpen's best member, Joe Nathan, blew a save was excruciating. That at least 2 if not all 3 of those blown saves were the result of bad defense was embarrassing.

This was not a good time to be facing the Blue Jays. They have been playing very well over the past several weeks on all sides of the ball. Their defense has made the fewest errors in the league since the All Star break, and their placement, range, and decisive, strong throws robbed the Twins of several potential hits. At the plate, they had a good approach up and down the lineup, and they got an amazing debut from rookie Travis Snyder. I'll be rooting for them to have a great September and knock the Yankees into 4th place.

Joe Nathan, as I mentioned, got no help from the defense in his blown save on Wednesday. All of his blown saves on the trip had 2 things in common: a fielding error, and the leadoff man reaching base. He can't control what his fielders do behind him (unless he's the one doing the fielding), but he can avoid walking the backup catcher with a .230 BA. Get the first one, Joe!

As great as Snyder was for the Jays, the Twins' September callups did not distinguish themselves in this series. Matt Tolbert did a good job at the plate (a couple of hits and some loud outs), but couldn't quite get to several balls at 3rd, plus made a throwing error on a routine play. Jason Pridie's brutal error in the 9th on Wednesday cost the Twins the game. Bobby Korecky and Philip Humber were blown to bits in their one combined inning. I hope Jose Mijares does better whenever he gets out there.

Wednesday night was the third time since the break that Gardy has pulled Nick Blackburn out of a game (when his pitch count was OK) mainly because his defense was making mistakes behind him. With the bullpen struggling as much as it is, I think it would be wise to leave the starter in there as long as he's not giving up a ton of hard-hit balls, which was the case in the 7th inning the other night.

The Twins had better win a ton of games at home now, because they're headed right back on the road for 10 more next week.

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