Saturday, July 22, 2006

Cleveland Rocked

On this blog we try to keep a fairly balanced and level-headed view of the Minnesota Twins. We try not to get too worked up after a loss or too excited after a win. However, I have to say that last night's 14-6 clobbering of the Indians in Cleveland has gotten me downright giddy. Despite the fact that they have been the best team in baseball over the past month and a half and their record ranks fourth in the American League, the Twins have consistently been one of the league's worst teams on the road, even recently when they've been almost literally unbeatable at home. Last night they went into Cleveland to open a three-game series -- in a stadium where they were easily swept early in the season -- and they had their worst pitcher taking the mound against the Indians' ace. There was every reason to think the Twins would snap their seven-game winning streak.

Instead, the Twins' offense, which has generally been flat when away from the Metrodome this year, turned around their road woes and piled on C.C. Sabathia and the Indians' pitching staff for 14 runs on 18 hits, including an eight-run fourth inning. The Revival of Rondell continued as White went 4-for-5 with four RBI. Michael Cuddyer delivered four RBI of his own to go along with three hits. Joe Mauer went 3-for-5 with a double and a triple and a pair of runs batted in. Justin Morneau went 2-for-4 with a couple walks and scored four times. The same Twins' offense that could do nothing away from the Metrodome for most of the season was absolutely spectacular, making a big statement in the first match-up of a six-game AL Central road trip.

One guy who did not rebound from his road struggles was Carlos Silva, who got knocked around for six runs (five earned) on 13 hits in just 4 and 2/3 innings. Fortunately, that didn't matter much thanks to the offensive explosion and thanks to the bullpen -- as usual -- keeping runs off the board for the remainder of the game.

The Twins' turnaround has been nothing short of incredible. On June 8th, they were 25-33, eight games below .500. They were in fourth place in the AL Central, trailing the Tigers by 11.5 games, the White Sox by 11 games, and even the Indians by four. Any fan making an attempt to be even slightly realistic or objective had to believe that the Twins were pretty much out of the race, considering they were playing in the same division as the two best teams in the league and had lost seven of their last nine. Instead of laying down, the Twins went ahead and won their next series against the Orioles. Then they swept the Red Sox and the Pirates. Then they won a series in Houston. Then they won 11 straight games, sweeping the Cubs, Dodgers and Brewers in the process. Then the Twins hit a bit of a rough stretch, losing series against the Royals and Rangers. Now the team has rebounded, piecing together another eight-game winning streak.

As a result of all that winning, the Twins are now just three games away from a playoff spot, which would have been unthinkable back in the middle of June. If the Twins and White Sox play even for the next couple games, the Twins will enter Chicago on Monday night with a chance to sweep and move into a tie for second in the division, and potentially for the lead in the Wild Card race.

Who would've thought that two months ago?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great stuff meng! I hope the Twins can past the Soxs. I think they can since they are playing them soon and the twins are playing awesome.

-E264

Anonymous said...

Go Twins. I am really looking forward to the up coming Chicago series.

I'd like to say congrats to Johan Santana for his 1000 inning. With 1053 strikeouts, he is only the 5th pitcher in all of history to have more strike outs than innings (over 1000). THe others are N. Ryan, R. Johnson, P. Martinez, and K. Wood

Dan said...

Pretty unbelievalbe. In the midst of the excitement though, there is still some nervousness. I know all fans get nervous about their teams, but the dichotomy between our top two or 3 pitchers and the back end of the rotation is about as wide in all of baseball. I know part of it is because Santana and Liriano are that good, and it would be unfair to make comparisons, but Silva was awfully lucky last night, and I don't see the offense bailing him out every time he takes the mound.

Silva is the guy who still has never really turned it around and yet is in the rotation. I guess they are going to stick with him, but something in me really wishes his next spot(game 3 against the sox at U.S. Cellular) will be skipped in favor for just about any AAA pitcher the Twins have, maybee even Lohse, just for this one game, and then stick Silva back in.

Silva threw maybee two ground ball outs last night, everything else was pretty much ripped on a line or in the air. Those will pretty much be HR when he faces Thome, Konerko, Dye, and even others.

I think throwing a AAA pitcher leaves the Twins with more of a chance, as they can rely on hopefully lack of scouting reports and familiarity atleast for a few innings.

Sorry to go on about Silva, but it was 9 to 5 with the bases loaded when the Gardy finally yanked him. It was just in time, otherwise it could have been one of those losses that take the wind right out of their sails, and that's what I don't want to happen the next series either.

Nick N. said...

Good thoughts Dan. How could we forget when the Twins played Chicago earlier this year at the Dome and had taken the first two games of the series, and then put up seven runs in the first inning against Buehrle but Silva still ended up losing the game. The Twins wound up splitting the series with the Sox. That was brutal.

Nick M. said...

Silva needs to be gone. Period. He's useless.

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