Last night's game was a very long one, but in the end it was worth it as the Twins picked up a 9-4 victory over the Indians in the series opener. With the win, the Twins gained a half-game in the standings against idle Chicago and Detroit. They are now just one game behind the Tigers for first place in the division, while they lead the wild-card race by a full two games. Some notes:
* The Twins had a total of 18 at-bats with runners in scoring position. EIGHTEEN! Even though they scored nine runs, they only went 3/18 in those scoring opportunities.
* Rondell White had another nice game last night, going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a solo homer. White's numbers (.231/.261/.357) are still far from respectable, but he has hit the ball pretty well since returning from his demotion. I'm not saying I am in favor of the Twins bringing him back next year, but I can definitely see them doing it at this point.
* Jesse Crain sure earned himself a victory last night. He entered the game in the sixth in relief of Boof Bonser, who had pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball but had put a couple runners on while watching his pitch escalate over 100. Crain entered with a three-run lead, and it took him only one pitch to give it up, as Andy Marte slammed his first offering to center field for a game-tying three-run homer. Fortunately, the Twins quickly jumped all over Cleveland's horrendous bullpen, scoring five runs over the next three innings and allowing Crain to pick up the W.
The Twins' usually reliable bullpen has been letting them down a bit lately. Certainly nothing to get overly worried about, but it is worth keeping an eye on. The success of the 'pen is going to be extremely important over the last batch of games with this makeshift rotation carrying the Twins down the stretch.
* It looks like Francisco Liriano does not have any structural damage in his elbow, which may or may not be seen as good news. The MRI results were the same as the ones first taken back in August, and obviously things didn't work out too well after that. It's possible that a full off-season of rest will allow Liriano to come back at full strength for Spring Training next season, but I'm not so sure about that. The team still may want to consider surgery and/or adjusting his mechanics to take stress off the young lefty's elbow.
* I've been reading some new-ish Twins blogs lately and I've really been enjoying them. Pulling a Blyleven features some pretty humorous and insightful conversation logged during games between a couple guys. RonCoomer.com is dedicated entirely to Ron Coomer (worst Twins' All-Star ever!), so that's plenty right there to make me a regular visitor. Battle Your Tail Off is a very nicely designed site with a lot of content -- though I wish they updated their Twins blog a little more often. And finally, there's Twins Without Spin... this site's actually been around for a while and I don't know why I haven't been reading it up until this point, but author Mr. Baseball No. 1 updates frequently and he's got some great analysis plus lots of pictures. Definitely one of the more well-written Twins blogs around.
I've added all these links to our sidebar and definitely recommend checking them out regularly.
* Speaking of the sidebar, we've added an About This Blog page there as well. Basically it's just intended to let new readers, as well as our regulars (AKA our immediate family), know what this blog is about and what we hope to accomplish. So that's that. Not very interesting, I know.
Have a good weekend.