First, let me begin by apologizing in advance for the length of today’s entry. I’m in the process of moving back to school and everything is a little jumbled right now. I look forward to getting settled in and getting down to business. Today I just want to cover a hodge podge of Twins thoughts I have had in the last couple of days.
Twins Win Again
Johan Santana continues to make his bid for the Cy Young. His dominance continued last night against Texas when he allowed 1 run in 8 innings while striking out 11. His has been so consistent that he must now be considered someone for teams to fear in the playoffs. A starter of his quality can easily make the difference between where the Twins have finished up the last 2 years and a World Series title this year. He is 4th in the league in wins, 1st in strikeouts, and 1st in ERA. When you consider how he started his season in mediocrity his numbers become even more impressive.
Something Twins fans may want to worry about with Santana is that he is also 3rd in the league in innings pitched. He already has surpassed his previous career high of 158.1. It’s safe to say that the 25 year is in unknown territory. My worst fear is that sometime in mid-September he is going to pull up with a tired arm. He has done a marvelous job, being such a horse and saving the bullpen, but there could be a cost. No one can foresee the future though and he has repeatedly defied doubters throughout his career. Also, his pitch counts have remained relatively within reason in all of his starts when he has gone late into the game. Is anybody else worried about this out there, or am I just being a pessimist? Perhaps with the big lead the team will be able to ease him into the playoffs without messing up his streak.
There were a few other highlights from last night’s game. Torii Hunter continued to play like he is ready to be a leader for this team, breaking the game open with a 2 run double in the 6th. Henry Blanco may be a frustrating alternative to Joe Mauer but despite his abilities he continues to play better then he ever has hitting his 8th homerun of the season. Kenny Rogers, who has 1 more win then Santana, was knocked out in the 6th innings. The Gambler really saved the Twins last year and it is good to see him having success in Texas. The Twins could probably use him but no one could have expected what he has done. He didn’t look good last night but along with Ryan Drese is a big reason Texas is playing so well. (I apologize if that sounded like Sid, I’ll try to never do that again!)
The Twins have all of a sudden become a very good running team. The past couple of years they have always had potential but it would be very common to see players have a steal percentage of 50%. Now everyone is running with great success. Lew Ford is 16/17, Jacque Jones 12/20, Corey Koskie 9/12, Luis Rivas 13/13, Cristian Guzman 8/13 and Torii Hunter 19/23. Teams are not even throwing the bal down on many plays to second. The team is even aggressively stealing 3rd. This is putting pressure on other teams and really sparking the offense. It makes for a fun game to watch. I know Torii Hunter says it’s the new turf that is making it possible but that cannot be the only reason. What has lead to so much recent success?
Paging a 3rd Starter
Who is this teams playoff third starter? Neither Kyle Lohse or Carlos Silva solicit much confidence. Lohse pitched better in his last start but has been terrible inconsistent all year and was shelled in his previous playoff outing. Silva is very unimposing. Imagine him making a start against the Yankees allowing hit after hit with the powerful Yankee lineup driving those runners home. He plays with fire every time he pitches and that is not a formula for success in the playoffs. At this point would Muholland make a possible start? He has pitched very well in his role but come on, he is still 108 years old! He hadn’t even been a starter in 4 years before this one. The Twins might need a fourth starter if their games don’t land on the right day. That will only compound the problem. Right now it looks as if Muholland gives them the best chance to win but it is shaky at best. There are no pitchers out there who are better then these three either. Shawn Estes is a name that has been thrown out and I cringe at the prospect of him even pitching a regular season game for this team. Maybe the team would be better off promoting Baker or Durbin and hope they perform the role that John Lackey did for the Angels in 2002. The 3 man rotation can be dangerous and if Radke or Santana lose one of their games it would be a tough series to win. Teams that are second in the league in pitching should not have to worry about such things, making the performances of Radke, Santana, Nathan and Rincon that much more impressive. Wouldn’t it be nice to have Joe Mays right about now? (I know many of you are cursing his name and probably me for bringing it up but let us throw out money right now because that is a sunk cost. He was hurt last time he was crushed but most people would have to admit that if healthy he is probably a better option then the 3 pitchers in the rotation right now who are doing an admirable job holding it together. The Joe Mays bashing may recommence when next we talk about payroll for next season or why we did not add any big contract during this one.)
I’ve said it before but we are definitely living in one of the best times to be a Twins fan. I want to know what people are thinking about the team. Feel free to drop a comment below about any topic including the ones I talked about above. As always you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime the greatest week every has spread into a second week.