It’s been a tough week for having much interest in the same old political back and forth. Here’s some thoughts a week after Tucson on our country’s leaders – left and right – and a wish that we could have some more who wouldn’t always look for petty advantage when there are much more important things going on.
And Jim Thome signed back with the Minnesota Twins this week! The good news is celebrated.
Jim Thome changed the conversation from the awful performance from Scott Baker & the lesser sins Matt Capps of Jon Rauch in the late innings. The lumbering slugger drove Matt Thornton’s 2nd pitch high over the right field wall and into a jubilant horde of Twins fans. The blast was so much more than just two runs on a Tuesday eve.
Obviously, it won an important game. The Twins now lead the Pale Hose by 4 games in the central. But it also represented an epic comeback win in a game the Twins by all rights should have lost. Their starter was hideous, their closer blew the save, and the former closer gave up a run in extras. But the landmass that is Jim Thome refused to take the hint and stole the win for Minnesota anyway.
The nature of the loss is such a swift and painful change in that ephemeral thing called momentum that one wonders if it may just impact the White Sox long term.
The whole escapade also has an extra touch of misery for the White Sox beyond all that jazz – as they allowed Thome to flee from the Windy City to the Dodgers at the end of last year’s campaign and refused to resign him in the off-season. As the Chicago designated hitters continue to struggle, James Thome places the knife squarely into the proverbial back of the Sox… playing for their biggest rival.
The MLB Network played WGN’s call of Thome’s blast this evening. It was truly delightful to behold the ever-obnoxious Hawk Harrelson’s downcast spirit at this moment of pain.
The Twins are a season high 19 games over .500 @ 69 Wins and 50 Losses.
But Scott Baker REALLY was hideous. He is now our 5th starter. Think about it. Who does he slot ahead of? Certainly not the Stash or Franchise. Slowey? No. Duensing?! Well you’d think so, but nay. Nope. Send Scott Baker to Siberia. Do it now.
Jason Kubel made an outstanding leaping catch to rob the 80 year old Omar Vizquel of a possible triple earlier in the contest – quite possibly forestalling a White Sox rally.
Delmon Young made an intriguing effort to knock the baseball from AJ Pierzinski’s grasp during a play at the plate earlier in the game. He flailed his arms in a push at AJ’s arms and chest. It would not take too much of a stretch to see the play as a bit dirty, and it will be intriguing to see if the Sox perhaps take an opportunity to somehow retaliate and rally their flagging spirits.
The Minnesota Twins have roared out of the starting gate, taking all 6 series they’ve played to begin 2010. GooseRadio’s Ryan Howard joins me to celebrate the glory. The state of our starting pitching is first up. Ryan noted earlier this spring that he thought the Twins’ needed to do more to address their pitching needs in the offseason, but what does he think now that Francisco Liriano has rediscovered some magic and Carl Pavano is pitching like Greg Maddux.
We talk Jim Thome and the affect his presence has in adding a heretofore unheard of dimension and depth to the Twins’ lineup. Ryan gives his take on how close the Detroit Tigers might follow Minnesota in the standings this year. Entertainment, Information & a General Sense of Well Being await!
After 12 games, the Twins are a spectacular 9 and 3. They”ve emphatically taken series from the Angels, White Sox, Red Sox, and now the Royals. The first three are all considered playoff contenders, and hey – the last one has Zach Grienke. Our inaugural “Diamond Dingers” looks at the highlights of the youthful Twins season…
#1 – The Franchise!
Holy biscuits and gravy! Francisco Liriano looked fantastic in his start against the maroon stockings on Thursday. Not only did he pitch a shutout for his 7 innings, the man”s signature slider was snapping like the days of yore. Using a solid changeup and a fastball with a good deal more zip than it”s featured any time since “06, the Sisco Kid gave the Twins and their faithful a great deal of hope. In addition to the formidable nature of his pitches themselves, it was neat to see Francisco not lose his cool in some early inning jams *difficulties – not delicious jellies and preserves*.
#2 – We”re 9 – 3!
That”s not a bad looking record. The last time the Twins started out with 4 straight series wins and this type of success was in 1987. I was 2! And I”ve heard something fairly positive happened that year? The Twins have looked formidable on the mound, at the plate, and in the field. Their starters have been more than serviceable, their pen capable (even in spite of some recent injuries to Patrick Neshek and Jose Mijares, and their bench (for the first time since the Book of Genesis) has been deep.
#3 – I Haven”t Minded Nick Punto
With a lineup so capable from 1 – 8, having the tiny tumbler at 3rd and batting 9th doesn”t bother me nearly as much. There are moments when Brendan Harris seems to cry out from the bench – “I can hit 100 points higher than this man!”. But when everyone besides Punto keeps launching extra base hits at will, the whole deal just doesn”t seem as key as in recent years. In fairness, Nicholas continues playing stellar defense at 3rd and even offering hits on occasion.
#4 – This Offense Looks Neat
In recent years, every mistake the Twins made caused we fans quite a bit of stress. For we knew that for under blunder leading to an extra run for the opponent, we”d need to score one more too. That wasn”t always easy! Such luminaries as Lew Ford, Luis Rivas, elderly Jose Offerman, wizened Tony Batista, and decidedly advanced-age Ruben Sierra have been the cogs making up good portions of Twins batting orders in the past decade. When Mauer and Morneau weren”t doing their thing, it was often a real struggle to attain scoring. But no longer! With a batting order that can place today”s incarnation of Jason Kubel in the 7th spot in the order (as in Saturday”s game), the “10 Twins sport their most potent lineup since 1987. The off-season acquisitions of JJ Hardy, Jim Thome, and the O Dog Hudson have already born fruit.
#5 – Carl Pavano Has Become Greg Maddux
With Minnesota”s new-found offensive prowess, the only two commonly pointed to questions about the team have been – (a) Who will replace Joe Nathan and (b) How will we make any headway in the playoffs without a genuine ace starting pitcher. Jon Rauch (6 saves in 6 chances through Saturday) continues to make the first query moot. So far, the latter question is being answered capably by Liriano and Carl Pavano. Pavano has been outstanding, winning his first 2 decisions and a 1.38 ERA. In his 13 innings thus far, he”s only given up 10 hits. The most startling and tremendous thing about this old guy has been his great control and the excellent movement on his pitches. These pleasantries lead to the Maddux comparison. Pavano even sports the Maddux-authored 2-seam fastball that looks like it”s going to smack into a hitter”s person and then zings late right over home plate for a strike.
An additional neat feature of the reincarnated Pavano – his mere continued existence is enough to make New York Yankee fans angry. His success makes them angry and sad. Note the link to his statistics in the previous paragraph. His baseball reference page is sponsored by a Yankee fan, harpooning him for his injury riddled 4 seasons in the Yankee-land. That is just awesome!