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.
The Twins haven't played well the last couple of years in Toronto. Justin Morneau has struggled and the team has seemed to get a case of the yips, even though the Jays haven't been a strike-fear opponent in the same manner as other top AL teams.
So what happens? Morneau goes deep twice, others line up with some timely hits and the bullpen throws four scoreless to bail out another substandard start by Kevin Slowey, whose recent work is the subject of this excellent TwinsCentric analysis.
In contrast, the Jays at the plate looked like John Daly doing his grip it-and-rip it routine. That worked fine against Slowey, who was having trouble with location and pitch selection. But Alex Burnett kept them under control for two innings and Matt Guerrier pitched an excellent eighth before Jesse Crain mopped up the ninth.
By the way, the Burnett decision at the start of the season -- promoting him when Clay Condrey (remember him?) came up sore -- has proven to be a wise decision. Is there a similar substitute in the minors if the Twins decide to risk putting Crain through waivers?
The joy of watching Monday's victory was seeing the Twins pick up each other. Jason Kubel didn't hit a second straight grand slam in the first inning, instead hitting a checked-swing grounder to end the first with the bases loaded. And then Delmon Young comes up to start the second and nails a pitch into the seats.
The game-breaking fourth inning was entirely the result of a two-out rally -- four straight hits bringing home the first two runs and then Lyle Overbay's pathetic first-base play -- a dropped catch and wild throw on the same ridiculous play -- allowing the other two to score when Michael Cuddyer's grounder should have ended the inning. Even on that play, Morneau's hustle -- a decision to go for third when Overbay dropped the ball -- set up the second error/final run.
And then there was the bullpen. Even Crain.
One interesting thing about the Jays: Much has been made on their 23-17 start in the AL East. Fact is they have played only nine games against the Yankees/Rays/Red Sox cartel and they have a 2-7 record in those games. They also got swept by the Angels in a three-game series. They haven't played the Tigers and they're 0-1 against the Twins.
Anyone else suspect their flaws will be exposed over time?
Day game today -- and then, if you're near your computer tonight, you can listen to Rochester take on Washington's amazing prospect Stephen Strasburg by going to our minor-league page and following the Red Wings webcast links. The webcast starts at 5:50 p.m.
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