On A Good Pace

Right
now all of the Twins pitchers all have at least 5 wins setting their
paces for a great season, full of wins.  As of last night, the Twins
are 31-20, which is 11 games over .500 (.608), and they are 4.5
games ahead of the second place team in the AL Central, Detroit
Tigers.  There is only one team in the AL better than the Twins, the
Tampa Bay Rays, and in the NL, only the San Diego Padres sit atop with
the same record as the Twins.


If the playoffs were today here’s how the AL would stand:
1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Oakland A’s
Wild Card: New York Yankees

I’m hoping before the playoffs happen, that the New York Yankees fall
out of any of the spots that have a post season.  I know there is still
a lot of season left before post season happens, but as we only have a
little over a month until the All-Star Break (about 1/2 way thru the
season), one has to look at the standings to see what kind of a chance
their team will have of making it further than just the regular season.

I don’t think any team is necessarily out of the running, it’s too
early to determine something like that.  However, there are teams that
are sitting much better than the rest of their division.  The AL
Central is one of the toughest divisions in the American League.  In
the last few years, the winner of the division has come down to one of
the final games in the regular season.  I think this year it should be
a close race as well, but I think that the Twins will still shine about
the rest of the AL Central counterparts.

I
was happy that the Twins pulled off another series sweep.  I wish it
would have been at the hands of a team like Boston or the Yankees
rather than the Rangers (I have a soft spot for them and really admire and respect a lot of their players). 
I was somewhat nervous on Saturday when Carl Pavano was pitching.  Most
games that Carl has pitched this season, he has seen little run
support.  When Carl is starting, the Twins only have averaged 3.8 runs
in these games.  This is the lowest for average of run support a
starting pitcher gets.  Francisco Liriano has the next lowest,
averaging 3.9 runs per game he starts, Timmy (Scott Baker) 4.55, Kevin (Slowey)
5.5 runs, and Nick Blackburn gets the most with an average of 7 runs
every game he starts.  I’m wondering if I should go see more games Carl
Pavano pitches, or a game Liriano pitches, since I’m 11-0 and have seen
Kevin 5 times, and Nick Blackburn 4 times.  Maybe that’d help these
others do better.

This week the Twins are on West Coast time (7 game road trip to Seattle and Oakland).  They started their 4-game series with Seattle last night (winning 5-4) and then onto Oakland for a 3-game series.  Only one of these games is a day game (Sunday 3:10pm)
so be prepared to stay up until all hours of the night watching the
Twins win!  I’m not sure how much of these games I’ll make it through
considering I fell asleep during last nights’ game, but I’m going to do
my best!

Yup, that’s Drew Butera popping his gum
Twins return home a week from
today!  I prefer when they are at home vs. away.  There is just
something about watching games at Target Field that is much more
enjoyable to the other stadiums.  I wouldn’t mind if the Twins played
at Petco Park again (this is the only other ballpark I’ve been to besides the Metrodome and Target Field).  Petco is a lot like Target Field and quite beautiful.  Some day, I’ll make trips to other ballparks to see all for myself!
Now,
I’m going to wait for the rain to come in and enjoy some more baseball
tonight!  Nick Blackburn faces Jason Vargas starting at 9:05pm (CST)!

An Unusual Kind of Day

So while trying to come up with something to write about with the past
two game (neither of which I watched much of, one due to the fact
that it was a day game and I was working, the other because I was just
peeved about how the game went.
)  I was trying to think of something
else to refer to the Yankees as other than the Evil Empire (which I
do like that name, but it’s not becoming to frequently used and I like
to be different.
).  I came across wikipedia and saw that they had a list
of nicknames
for the different teams’ players.  Here’s what they
had for the Twins (I eliminated the past Twins players and only kept
current ones
).
Wikipedia’s Twins Nickname list (it’s short, but wacky):

The only player I think I’ve heard anyone use those nicknames for
is Joe Mauer.  I do only know two people (they are co-writers of Peanuts From Heaven)
that call Joe “Chairman Mauer”…though a lot of people that call him
“Baby Jesus”.  The others I don’t know that I here used…well…ever. 
Whoever decided to write that list of nicknames for current players is
sitting on that island alone.

Tonight, I think the Twins need to really step things up and show the
Yankees that they really are in it to win it this year.  They didn’t win
a single game last years against them, they more or less just let the
Yankees walk all over them and the Twins were the Yankees *******.  I
think this is a good year for redemption and to show the whole major
league that we are in fact competitors and want to go all the way.  I
think they have the capability and the potential this year.  Plus I
think if the Tigers can beat the Yankees (more than one game)
that the Twins can do that too, and do it bigger and better than the
Tigers.

Did you know that the Yankees (still the
highest paid team in MLB
) have an average salary that is
$108,774,222 more than the Twins (this current season 2010.)? 
The Twins are ranked #11 (which I would wager is high for a
“small-market team”
, but I’m sure signing Mauer to the deal he
got bumped the Twins up a bit higher
).  On the note of high payed
players, I find it kind of funny that Justin Morneau in the ad for
Continental Diamonds (I believe) says “Because I don’t make as
much as my buddy Joe”.  Hate to break it to Justin, but this year, he
does make more than Joe.

Tonight’s Match-up: Scott Baker (4-2; 4.57 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (4-1;
3.40 ERA).  Here’s hoping for a successful night for Twins players in
our line up.  More after this weekend’s series.  I hope to give out 3
Stars of the Series again since the haven’t WON the last two, merely
split both of those series (yes, I know the one is slightly jaded and
either was a sweep, split or swept series
).  GO TWINS and Go
Timmy!!

Target Field Preparations

 
Now I know today is “Delmon Young Day”, but I really
don’t know what to write about Delmon Young, because I’m more just
indifferent towards him.  I also don’t really want to talk about the
game last night, because quite honestly the commentary and comments made
about Kevin Slowey and how bad he was (cause don’t you know that a
pitcher is the only one playing in the defensive side of the game?
),
so I turned off the game to watch repeats of The Office, because it
made me less crabby than the game was making me.  So today, I’ve decided
that for those who haven’t been to Target Field, that I would put
together sort of a “what to expect/bring with” guide for Target Field to
help better prepare others (given that I have been to 8 games so far
there
).
What
will you need to bring with you to Target Field?
Well quite
honestly, it depends on what mother nature decides to do on that given
day, but I would suggest regardless if it is raining, to bring with: 
1. A poncho
(the come in packs of 2 and are small to carry with you.  They fit
easily in a bag that for the men out there, could be a backpack
).
2. A
sweatshirt
(or other long sleeved item.)  If you haven’t ever
sat in the seats you will be sitting you, you may not know if you are
underneath the overhang or not.  If you are under the overhang on a
sunny (50-60 degree day), you will be cold and want sleeves.  A
lady who sat next to Katie on Sunday learned this quickly (she
complained the entire game
).
3. A blanket.  The night
games tend to cool off a lot more than the day games, and considering we
are in Minnesota, it can get quite cool at night.  It makes it easier
to be more comfortable while sitting in the hard plastic seats for the
entirety of the game.  Plus, if the chair gets too uncomfortable, you
can always use your blanket as a cushion to sit on.
4. An
umbrella.
  Sure this goes along with the poncho, but my theory is to
always be safe, rather than sorry and miserable.
5. Mittens
I’m a freeze baby, and those games that I’ve sat in the shade, or it’s
dipped down low enough to be a tad bit cold, mittens (just the cheap
1.49 light-weight mittens) were my best friend and kept my hands oh so
warm.
6.
Good shoes to walk/stand in.
  You will do some walking from parking
spots/light rail to the new stadium, and also once you get inside. 
There are so many things to see once inside Target Field, that you want
to be comfortable.
Where do I park/what’s the best way to get to
Target Field?
I prefer to drive downtown myself, because I don’t
want to have to wait for a long period of time after the game to get
back on the lightrail (I’ve been told that the line moves quickly,
but when the game doesn’t get over with until around 10pm for night
games, I want to get home as quickly as I can
).  I wouldn’t suggest
parking in any lot that is more than $7.  There are PLENTY of lots
around the field that range from $3-$7 for parking, all within a couple
blocks of Target Field.  Don’t waste your money at the places that try
to rip you off and make you pay $10-$20.  It’s nuts.  Day games during
the week, however, are a different story.  Most ramps and surface lots
are used for people who work downtown, and a lot of them also fill up
before 10am, so it will make it more difficult to find a cheap,
affordable parking spot.  Expect to pay more on these games (however,
don’t settle on the first lot you find, there may be a cheaper option
only a block or two further away.
).
What
are the best things to see at the new field?
My favorite
place at the new stadium, inside the gates, is quite possibly Hrbek’s. 
It’s so incredible (there are tiles on the ceiling that you really
have to see in order to know how neat they really are.
).  Kent
Hrbeck has all of the jersey he has worn in his baseball career (high
school included
) displayed on the wall, along with some really neat
artwork.
 
Be
sure to notice the wind wall (alongside the ABC Parking Ramp B).  It’s
the largest piece of artwork in the Twin Cities.  It’s a wall of small
stainless steel plates that moves with the wind.  It almost looks like
smoke when it gets moving.
I think the statues outside of the field are neat to see too. 
Two of them (Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew) are right by each other
(near the ABC Parking Ramp B (the one you see behind the right-center
field), but it takes a little searching to find Rod Crew (he’s near the
ABC Parking Ramp A, near 7th street), he’s off a little ways, but worth
the walk to see.  The Golden Glove is also really neat (and huge), and
worth the wait in line to get your picture sitting/standing in the
glove.  The line moves fairly fast, and as long as you have some time to
kill, you might as well do it.

What’s
the best food to try at the new field?
Quite honestly, I’ve only had the
french fries, and some ice cream at the new stadium.  I’m too frugal to
spend $9.50 on a burger and fries.  The prices of the food have
increased this year, so bring more money with you if you plan to eat
there.  I’ve noticed that for plain nachos (like they had at the Dome
last year) have stayed relatively the same price, as I’ve been told,
have hotdogs.  I don’t really care for hotdogs, much less Schweigert’s
hotdogs.  Those just gross me out even more, so I tend to steer clear
from hotdogs all together.

Is there a spot the players come out after
the games to sign autographs like at the Dome?
Sadly, the
parking for the Twins players is now under the new stadium.  It’s a
player/personnel only lot, so you’re chances of getting there are slim. 
Plus I doubt any of the players will be signing post games this season.
If
anyone has other questions that they would like to know answers to, feel
free to post a comment and ask.  I’ll respond to them quickly.  If I
don’t know the answer for you, I’ll try to find out the answer.

Just Like A Banana…Split

 Although the Twins didn’t win this 4-game series
against the Orioles, they sure played a couple great games Saturday
night and Sunday.  The bats for the Twins just seem to be quieted on
Thursday night, none able to score any runs against the worst team in
MLB.  Carl Pavano didn’t pitch poorly at all either in Thursday’s
outing.  He only allowed a total of 2 runs (both earned) in his 8
innings of work.  Why can’t the Twins muster up 2 measly runs or more
to give poor Carl Pavano a little support. This season, so far, Carl has
only allowed more than 2 runs in one of his six appearances.  I think
this speaks very promising of the kind of pitcher Carl will be for us
for this season.

On the note of having a bad day, boy did Justin Morneau seem to have a
bad day at the plate on Sunday.  When that man has a bad day, he goes
all out!  He struck out 4 of 4 times during the game.  Only 1 other game
this season has he struck out every time up to the plate (this one
was his season high so far, the other was only 3 at bats, and the other
game he struck out 3 times, he also paired that with 2 walks
).  I do
find this season a bit humorous for Justin, he uses “Rock and Roll
Ain’t Noise Pollution” for his at-bat music.  The last time that Justin
has this song for what he entered to, was the year he was MVP.  Do you
think he’s trying to regain that title again this year and take it away
from his buddy Joe Mauer, who’s got it the last two seasons?

Yesterday as well seemed to have a feel like I was in an episode of the
Twilight Zone.  Alexi Casilla was one of the best hitters of the game. 
He went 2 for 4, with a double and an RBI.  This is not a regular thing
for Alexi.  He hasn’t had more than one hit in any of the few games he’s
played so far this season, yet Gardy still prefers to play him over
Brendan Harris (while JJ Hardy is out).

Brendan Harris was also another great asset for the Twins yesterday, he
went 3 for 4 with a double, he wasn’t able to get any RBI’s, because it
didn’t seem like the guys who were in the line up before him could get
on base to give him the opportunity.  I’d honestly like to see more of
Brendan Harris at 3rd (or short stop when JJ is unable to play). 
I think Brendan has a great throwing arm, and he’s willing to dive for
the ball and make some great plays in the field.  I think Gardy has a
tendency to put Brendan on the shelf and not use him, for what reason,
I’m not entirely sure.

This season, there seems to be a lot of smack talk
about Timmy (Scott Baker).  Sure, I know, his first few outings
could have gone better.  But after seeing him pitch, in my opinion, his
best outing of the season on Saturday night, I think he’s shown us the
kind of potential that he is capable of.  He only allowed 1 earned run
in 8 innings pitched, which is the second time this season that he’s
only allowed one run.  That run was a home run given up to Luke Scott in
the 5th inning (a solo shot).

Next (provided the rain stays away long enough to not interrupt or
post-pone the games
), the Twins face off against division rivals,
the Chicago White Sux.  It’ll be the first series (though a only two
game series)
that I will miss seeing any of the games.  So far, I
have been to 8 games, and all 8 of the games I have been to, the Twins
have won.  I like being on this winning streaks and I think my “luck”
will truly be tested at the Yankees game I go to at the end of this
month.  Let’s hope my luck continues and I do prove to be a good luck
charm for the Twins.  It’d be nice…maybe I could get some free tickets
as a result.  I definitely wouldn’t mind, nor pass those up.

Now enjoy some more pictures during this gloomy off day the Twins have
today. (pictures are from Saturday night and Sunday’s games)

(nope, Justin wasn’t looking for a ball, just
day dreaming
)

Congratulation, Tigers, You Suck

Well it was a great day for baseball!  Sure it was
a little cool and windy outside, and occasionally it liked raining on
us, but I couldn’t complain.  I got out of work to go see the Twins to
help the win the final game against the Tigers!  I now have a 6-0 record
when attending Twins games.  I think I need to find out who to talk to
about getting free tickets since I am the good luck charm.  I ended up
finding fabulous seats for cheap for the game yesterday.  We were a mere
10 rows up in section 121.  For the price we paid, we should have been
sitting in the 3rd level (the area behind home plate).

I was a little nervous, to be honest, about going
to the game yesterday.  I didn’t want the Twins to lose (the sweep
was on the line, along with Kevin Slowey getting another win!
) and I
didn’t want to tarnish my record and have any games in the loss
column.  Thankfully the Twins took an early lead of 2-0 in the first, (which
for those who didn’t know, they are the first team since the 1971
Yankees to do so in 6 consecutive games
) and got off to a great
start.  The only runs that the Tigers scored were on home runs, and
there was only 2 players getting these home runs: Avila and Cabrera. 
Thankfully the Tigers had no base runners on, and thankfully Jon Rauch
was plagued by Avila as well when he faced him.

Overall, this series was good to sweep! It pushed
the Tigers to 3 1/2 games behind us and it made us look like a force to
be reckoned with!  I would’ve wrote about the game on Tuesday night (I
was at that one as well
), but the little bit of time I had before
the game yesterday afternoon didn’t allow for me to get anything
written!  I was very impressed with Nick Blackburn and his complete game
that he pitched.  Sure, I’d like to take back that home run he gave up (the
tying run in the 9th inning
), but hey, at least JJ Hardy pulled
through for us with not only a diving save (which lead to an out),
but also a great plate appearance, scoring the winning run on a wild
pitch.  I’m sure Detroit would like to have that game back.  It was
awful for them!

I am tired of seeing Kubel not be able to hit the
ball to save his life.  I know that FSN was calling his ONE HIT
good, but one hit does not make you a good player.  He got out both
times that the Twins had the bases loaded for him.  Last year, Kubel
would have knocked that ball out of the park and made the bases loaded
haunt the other team.  This year, it’s our version of Kryptonite, it
just kills us and the other team makes it out of the inning without any
more harm.  So far Target Field is like how the Metrodome was to Matt
Garza, he just can’t play the best there.  Which is sad, and I would
love to see change going forward.

I did find it funny that Nick Punto plays a Phil Collins song for his
at-bat music.  That man has some strange taste in music, that’s for
sure.  I guess it’s better than him playing “Satisfaction” by Benni
Benassi.  I guess hearing Phil Collins every time Punto is up to bat is
better than seeing Jon Rauch naked on the large video screen (mainly
his tattoos, but he’s at least 1/2 naked
).  The Twins’ twitter
person asked what people thought of the video, I responded. “It’s
gross.  I don’t want to see Rauch naked, or even partially.”

Being that the Twins WON the series on Tuesday night, and swept
yesterday, your beloved 3 Stars of
the Series:

3. Michael Cuddyer (his 3 run blast got him 3 more bags of
Skittles, he almost threw Cabrera out at first base, on what should’ve
been a single though Cabrera ran slowly, and Cuddy was all-around great
this series!
)
2. JJ Hardy (he went 2 for 4 in both games of the
series that he played, had the winning run on Tuesday and made some
outstanding defensive plays as well!
)
1. Denard Span (he was rocking Detroit and hitting at least
.500 in every game.  It was fun to watch him get on base every game!
)

Now, I present some more pictures from the game yesterday!  Enjoy:

Gracias, Ramos!

 Last night’s win was a well deserved win!  It was
great seeing Scott Baker pitch well and the players remembering how to
hit the ball and score runs (even with RISP!)  There’s been a lot
of mean comments made lately about Scott Baker, which I know he hasn’t
had the best outings so far, and he is our ace, but how do we know that
he isn’t seeing these dirty remarks about how he shouldn’t be our ace,
etc and that is what’s been causing him to be a slight head-case when
he’s pitching.  He’s been having a tendency to over think his pitches,
which results in the ball being left up over the plate.  Maybe after
this performance some people will cut him some slack.  I understand that
people have bad days and they really are a hit to confidence and
self-esteem.  I want Timmy to do better!  I want him to prove that he is
the ace of our staff and that he can indeed get the job done.

I did find it highly amusing (and kinda sad) that when J’Michael
Cuddyer hit his 3-run home run that after anxiously awaiting the balls
landing, the first thing that came out of my mouth was “SKITTLES!” (for
those who don’t know the background story behind Skittles…Katie last
year started promising Cuddy Skittles for every home run. At the last
baseball unplugged, she actually GAVE Cuddy Skittles.  This year, I’ve
helped her modify it slightly.  Cuddy gets Skittles (+1 for solo hr, +2
for 2-run, etc) for his home runs, but he loses 3 Skittles for every
strike out.
)  I think this either means I’m hoping Cuddy gets out of
the negative for Skittles, or that I hang out with Katie too much.  I
can’t decide!  I find this stat funny: Michael Cuddyer has hit all of
his home runs at home, and Justin Morneau has hit all of his on the road
so far this season!  We need Justin to start hitting some at home!  See
how far he can send the ball flying!

What a night again for Wilson Ramos.  He’s gonna win the fans over
quickly at this rate.  It’s really good to see him have another good
night at the plate.  Now, I’m sorry, but I do understand why he was sent
down to Triple-A Rochester at the end of Spring Training.  This kid should
be hitting and playing every day.  He’s too good to have sit on a bench
and only play once a week (maybe).  I think what we all should
do (along with the Twins) is enjoy Ramos while he is here.  Once
Joe returns to the line-up, I’m guessing that he’ll return to
Rochester.  I think Ramos is going to make his case to become some very
good trade bait for the Twins in the future.

Well today, I want to send out a Happy
Birthday to Kevin Slowey
!  Hopefully his team can pull
out a win for him, and the clouds and rain can stay away for the game
tonight.  Here’s hoping for no thunderstorms during game time (for
partially selfish reasons too, since I’ll be at the game tonight
).

Gardy Has A Man-Crush

I think I’m going to get this sweatshirt for Gardy
since he seems to have man crushes on a few different players.
(sweatshirt on Zazzle). 
It’s pretty obvious who he tends to favor and who sits in his doghouse
frequently.  It’s like watching Jacques Lamaire coach the Wild again and
knowing the guy who gets the 5 minutes of ice time, or frequently is
the scratched player (even when they are a top prospect).  It’s
also kind of frustrating at times.

So I really loved watching Wilson Ramos’ performance in yesterday’s
game! It was clear that he’s an overall better player than Drew Butera,
but to play fair, I think it’s also kind of a blow to Drew that Gardy
said that Ramos will be the “starting” catcher while Joe is out.  (Which
by the way, if Gardy says Joe is “week to week”, why aren’t they
putting him on the DL? It’s killing my fantasy team too!
)  I think
it could potentially make Drew lose even more confidence than he already
has (having poor at-bats and a low average).  I think Gardy
needs to trust in some of the decisions he makes, and back them up. 
Don’t get me wrong, I think at this point Ramos is a better starter, I
mean how can anyone really argue the day he had yesterday in his first
MLB start.  He didn’t look like a 22-year old and a rookie at that.  He
looked like a professional and if he was nervous, he sure didn’t show
it.  I however am not going to base my like/dislike (I’m Swiss right
now, aka neutral
) on one games’ performance.  I think you need to
consider overall, and roll with that.

I wish I would’ve been able to catch Saturday’s game (even though the
Twins lost
), but I unfortunately had to work.  Work’s been busy, so
that’s why the blog has been a bit dim this past week.  I promise to
try and be better from now on.

I think the Twins did alright on Friday night.  Sure, Kevin Slowey had a
meltdown and had a hard time getting through 5 innings.  I think he’s
been doing a little too many hanging out with Scott Baker.  Scott Baker
needs to up his game.  I still love him, and I feel bad that he’s had
such rough outings, but I think it’s more of a mental thing than a not
being able to pitch good thing.  It was great seeing Justin go deep in
the first inning, I always enjoy those kind of starts.

Saturday’s game was disappointing to watch ESPN update the score on my
phone, only to see Matty G squander our 2-run lead and then the Twins
ultimately lose in extra innings.  Boys, this is not like hockey.  There
are no points for losing in extra innings.  If there were, we’d have
more than a 1/2 game lead over Detroit.  How the hell did they get so
close to us in the standings?!

Sunday’s game, well I missed the top half of the first inning, and I
missed Orlando Hudson getting a 2-run jack.  Yesterday was the day of me
missing every home run that the Twins hit.  I ran to get gas for my
car, and in the meanwhile, I missed Thome and Delmon’s blasts!  I wished
I would have been able to see all of them, but I’ll survive missing
them.  I’m just glad that the Twins won, Liriano was decent in his
outing, and Jesse Crain (Crain-wreck) didn’t screw us over big time.

I’m happy the Twins are back home for a good long week +.  I’ll be at
the game 3 of the 9 game home stand.  It should be fun seeing the boys in
person again.  They’ve been away too long.

One thing I am a little miffed about, the Pat Neshek situation.  If Pat
hadn’t told the Twins that his finger still hurt, Dick Bremer said he
would have been on his way to Triple-A Rochester.  They want to demote
Pat Neshek, but yet when Mijares, Crain suck, they get a pat on the butt
and another chance to blow things.  Pat Neshek has one bad outing (in
all his times out this year
) and he gets threatened to be demoted. 
Sure I understand that they needed room for Wilson Ramos since Joe is
listed as day-to-day, but they had other options.  They aren’t in need
of the extra bench player for reasons like inter-league play.  They
don’t go to a NL teams place until June 18th.  There seems to be enough
bench options to part with one while Joe is out…and if Joe is out for a
couple weeks, putting him on the DL would solve another problem.  Maybe
we need to start another one of those “Pitch In For Pat” Campaigns…

Okay, almost forgot the 3 Stars of
the Cleveland Series:

3. Delmon Young (yes he
didn’t play in ever game either, but yesterday I think he showed us
what he really is capable of!  I like it!
)
2. Wilson Ramos (the
rookie only had one game to get on the list, and he deserved it.  Let’s
hope he keeps this up!
)
1. Orlando Hudson (he
was a power house and had 3 good nights at the plate.
)