Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.
Went to a college football game Saturday night (Macalester 24, Cornell 20) and DVR'd the Twins game. Between the 6 p.m. kickoff, rain delay and fast forwarding between innings and most pitches, I caught up in real time by the 10th inning.
Here's what I liked:
*Nick Blackburn looks to be gettingh his mojo back. That's two earned runs in 23 2/3 innings over his last three starts. Here's hoping that what comes and goes for Blackburn sticks around for a while. The way the playoffs are booked, the Twins will almost certainly use four starters. As of today that wouilkd be some ordering of Blackburn, Duensing, Liriano and Pavano, with Baker and Slowey on the outside (Read: loong relief).
*Jim Thome continues to mash huge taters. Glad he didn't reach base in his previous at-bat, when he would have likely been lifted for a pinch runner.
*I want to believe that Matt Guerrier with adequate rest over the next few weeks will be a vital part of the postseason. That was a sweet rescue of Randy Flores in the 11th inning.
*Flores has faced eight left-handed batters with the Twins and they have an .875 on-base percentage against him. It's like the second darn coming of Carmen (The Great) Cali. For the entire season, lefties have an .893 OPS against Flores. By comparison, Joe Mauer's OPS is .866.
Stay healthy, Jose Mijares. Get healthy, Brian Fuentes.
Here's my 12-man playoff pitching staff, right now and health permitting: Blackburn, Duensing, Liriano, Pavano, Baker, Slowey, Capps, Fuentes, Mijares, Rauch, Crain, Guerrier. (You can keep the jersey, Randy.)
The rest of the roster: Cuddyer, Hudson, Hardy, Valencia, Casilla, Mauer, Butera, Thome, Young, Span, Kubel, Repko and a trip to the Waffle House for the last spot. (That means Punto or Tolbert.) I'll leave it to someone else to take a big ol' stand over that roster spot because if the biggest question facing the Twins is how to fill the 25th position on a playoff roster, then times are good indeed.
If some of you want to have a big fight over Punto v. Tolbert, I'm going to be the hockey linesman and stand off to the side until someone gets bloody.
That being said, I'd love to take Morales for the last spot. But with the need to pinch run for Thome in late-game situations, the Twins are going to need an extra infielder/outfielder rather than a third catcher/pinch hitter.
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