White Sox 1, Twins 0
If someone had told me Nick Blackburn was going to allow 1 R in 6.1 IP in that game last night, I would have said the Twins will win for sure. His effort was exactly what the Twins needed, enabling them to forego every dicey member of the bullpen and hand the ball straight to Jose Mijares and Joe Nathan. The only damage he allowed was a titanic solo HR from Jim Thome - and as Bert Blyleven often reminds us, that's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It was the performance the Twins needed in a high-pressure game on the road.
John Danks was even better, and on 3 days' rest to boot. I'm astounded that the White Sox were able to string together 3 consecutive outstanding starts from pitchers on short rest. I would have been amazed if they'd all thrown quality starts, but these were well beyond that. Danks allowed only 2 H, and really had only one threat to contend with after Alexi Casilla lined into a DP with Denard Span in motion in the 1st inning.
Michael Cuddyer led off the 5th with a double, advanced to 3rd on a fly ball from Delmon Young, and attempted to score on a shallow fly ball from Brendan Harris. Junior Griffey made a pretty weak throw, bouncing twice before the plate despite the relatively short range from which he let it go, yet it still beat Cuddyer - the ball just wasn't hit deep enough. Cuddyer did everything he could, slamming into AJ Pierzynski just after the ball arrived, but he wasn't able to jar it loose. The Twins did everything they could with what they had in that inning, but the Sox made the play.
That was how it went - last night, the Sox, a mediocre fielding team at best, made all the plays. I'll put it another way - they didn't make any mistakes. The Twins just made the one to Thome, and that was enough.
So the 2008 season ends with the Twins in 2nd place, an accomplishment no one would have expected them to achieve prior to the season. I'll break down September, review the season and look forward to next year in the coming days. But I want to remind you that the division wasn't lost in that hard-fought, extremely well-played 1-0 game last night. As I stated in my post yesterday, the division was lost 5-4 in KC, or Boston, or 3-2 in Oakland, or 4-2 in Seattle, or 4-3 in Toronto. We can proud of the road game the Twins played on September 30th - it's so many of the earlier road games that let us down.