Today's column is going to take place during the game. I will be watching it from my parent's house in beautiful Northfield, Minnesota. This blog has been around for nearly 2 months now and I would like to give all our readers a view into my thoughts during the game. This is not a game recap and I might not have something to say for every inning. What it will be is my observations and the types of things I would talk about with Ryan if we were watching the game together. Day games are my favorites so it should be an overall good time.
Game Preview - Johan Santana starts for the Twins today against Mark Hendrickson. The Twins need to win this game and Santana needs to show that he has turned a corner. Nothing short of 7 strong innings is good enough. The Twins bats need to come alive against the mediocrity that is Hendrickson. I'm disappointed to see that Mauer is not playing this afternoon. It also strikes me as interesting that Mike Ryan gets the start against a lefty. He is in need of at bats and I still expect a big day from him. I also am not a fan of Torii Hunter in the 3rd spot in the lineup. He is not patient enough to hit there.
Top of First - Great start for Johan. He was hitting his spots and he looked to have both his fastball and changeup working. None of the outs were even hit hard. This is a very good sign of things to come in this game. He was efficient and didn't throw too many pitches either.
Bottom of the Second - Twins mount a rally with 2 outs but leave 2 aboard. I just want to say this about Michael Cuddyer. He needs a spot on this team. They need to show faith in him and put him somewhere where they arn't going to juggle him around. He looks like a hitter at the plate and will produce if ever given a chance. I'm not sure yet if he is a second baseman but he needs a place. I'm really impressed with Alex Prieto. He just looks scrappy at the plate and has done everything asked of him. Already he appears to be a better player then Denny Hocking was for this team. As happy as I am to see Rivas back I will be sorry to see Prieto go. I guess I'm just a homer for the little guy. Johan is looking very good through 2. His offspeed stuff is on today meaning good things are ahead.
Bottom of the Fourth - Finally the Twins break through and score another run against Hendrickson. What makes this more amazing is that the run scored off the bat of Henry Blanco. Maybe he's good for something afterall but I still would prefer to be watching Mauer. Despite the team's two runs they still do not look good at the plate. They are wasting opportunities. It makes me sick to watch Hunter hit. For some reason, now it looks like he's having trouble with the inside breaking ball. Yes, he hit the ball hard last time up but it turned into 2 outs! This guy up with runners in scoring postion can be really sickening sometimes. Johan seems to be in the middle of something special. 5 k's so far and no hits. He looks really tough to hit and all his pitches are working for him.
Middle of the Fifth - Why did Bremer just do that? YOu would think that he had been around the game long enough to know better. Instead he said the dreaded word which I refuse to use here. Let's just say that Johan has thrown 5 very good innings so far. The baseball gods will not smile on anyone saying more. So now when it doesn't happen we can blame Dick. I look for the D-Rays to break through next inning as much as it saddens me.
Middle of the Sixth - For there was no joy in Twinsland, mighty Johan has gotten shelled. I hate it when I'm right. Everything was going great and even when he gave up his first hit of the game it still looked like he would be able to get out of it with the shutout intact. Then the crap hit the big fan. Now all those missed scoring opportunities come back to haunt us. It has to be so disheartening to the hitters to now have to go out there and dig themselves out of a hole. Earlier in the season they would have gotten on their horse at this point and scored some runs to win the game. I just havn't seen the same spunk fromt his team lately. The chinks in their armor are showing. What makes everythign worse is that everything has happened against such poor competition. The Devil Rays just don't do this. They were the worst road team in the majors coming into this series and now they are on the verge of taking 3 out of 4 in this series. There comes a point where the team can't just sit back and complain about lost injured players. The players still around need to be held accountable. There are too many underperforming stars still around to fall on that excuse. I said earlier that Johan needed to turn a corner in this game. Maybe this is just what we can expect from him this year. Through 5 innings no one could have pitched better and then the 6th came along and he gave it all up. This inconsistency has to stop!
Top of the Eigth - I might be wrong. Johan is pitching into the eigth inning for the first time this year. He has done a great job of shaking off his rocky inning and seems to be pitching as well as he did before the 6th. It means a lot to this team for him to eat some innings. Perhaps, he isn't be as inconsistent as previously thought. Still, even if this team finds it within itself to come back and win this game there have been some disturbing trends developing.
Recap - The poor play continues... I want to say the team showed some life in this game but then I think about our hitters. The Devil Rays do not have a good pitching staff and yet we could only muster 2 runs. Perhaps Detroit is the cure for what ails us. Unfortunatly they have been playing a lot better this year and might take this opportunity to put up a fight. I wish I had more to say but at this moment I'm disgusted with the home team's play this afternoon. Yet another wasted opportunity.