Electric Broom: Twins sweep Sox

"I might take a sleeping pill tonight. And a glass of vodka. Twenty-seven innings and we only had one good one. We wasted 26 innings in this town."

-Ozzie Guillen, Chi Sox manager, to ESPN.com, late in the evening of Sept. 25th, 2008

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

-Hunter S. Thompson

Pandemonium in downtown Minneapolis last night as the Twins clawed back from a 6-1, 4th inning deficit to beat the Chi Sox 7-6 in the bottom of the 10th. Second baseman Alexi Casilla -- after striking out with the potential winning-run on third in the bottom of the 8th -- brought the Dome crowd of nearly 44,000 to a collective roar after knocking in Nick Punto from third for the winning score. Crazy. To see the video of the ensuing celebration, please click here. To see the box, please click here.

Casilla wasn’t alone in his heroism last night, as Carlos Gomez had a crazy game with two triples and 9 total bases. Denard Span went 3-4 with 3 RBI, including an 8th inning triple of his own that plated Gomez for the tying run. The Twins bullpen, after holding the Sox scoreless for the final four innings of Wednesday night’s set, came back Thursday to throw up zeroes for 6.1 innings after starter Kevin Slowey was lost to injury. Prior to taking a ball to the right wrist, and before surrendering 6 runs (4 earned) in a disgusting 4th, Slowey had retired the first 10 batters he faced. Ensuing X-rays showed no broken bones.

I had the pleasure of experiencing the closure of this electric three days from a choice seat four rows above the Chi Sox dugout. Turning my eyes from the celebration for a moment, the Sox, in two words, looked: beautifully defeated. Their mood stood a distant cry from their jubilant 4th, an inning low-lighted for the Bread Basket with A.J. Pierzynski’s primal scream after notching Chicago’s 6th run. It would prove to be Chicago’s last.

The boys now face the final three games of season against Kansas City in Minneapolis, holding a ½ game lead in the Central. Chicago hosts three on the South Side against Cleveland (winners of 7 of their last 10), including a Sunday set versus Cy Young favorite Cliff Lee. In addition, Chicago remains one game in arrears, via a mid-September rainout against Detroit. Should that contest be necessary to the standings, it would be played on Monday, the 29th.

Yet, should the boys sweep the Royals, that would force the White Sox to win all three against the Indians, and the makeup game against the Tigers. Given the leviathan degree of raw emotion and adrenaline exercised last night, the Twins, in my opinion, will need a stellar showing from Francisco Liriano this eve. Furthermore, given the 10+ innings of bullpen usage over the last two days, Liriano is no doubt being looked upon to go 7 strong. Kyle Davies (8-7, 4.21 ERA) goes for K.C. tonight. He’s 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA against Minnesota this year. Here’s how our probable have hit him:

Twins regulars vs. Davies Mauer: 2-5 Morneau: 1-4 Cuddy: never faced Punto: 1-4 Kubel: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI Young: 1-4 Gomez: 1-3 Buscher: 0-2, I BB Span: 1-5 Casilla: 2-3

Lastly, there are two other storylines that should be watched closely over this final weekend: Joe Mauer’s run at a second A.L. batting crown, and Justin Morneau’s chase for a second MVP. What stands in the way of either (or both) achievement is a pesky, over-achieving shrimp from Boston, second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Here are some numbers to consider:

Mauer vs. Pedroia

Mauer stands at .330, Pedroia is at .325. Texas’ loveable Milton Bradley is at .324. Between the leaders, Mauer is 172-522, with 82 walks. Pedroia is 211-649 with 50 walks. Mauer will no doubt play in all three games this weekend, while I’d expect Pedroia to play in just 2, as the Red Sox seem assured of a Wild Card slot and not the East title. As a guess, I’ll put Mauer at 4-11 with 2 walks against K.C., which would keep him at .330; I’ll put Pedroia at 3-9 with a walk for two games against the Yanks, placing him at .325. “Two-time batting champ,” has such a sweeter ring than “Former . . .”.

Morneau versus Pedroia

A great toss-up as both have had stellar seasons with bat and glove. Pedroia has cemented Boston’s return to the postseason while Morneau looks to do so. Justin will surely receive more attention this weekend given the weight of our games. In truth, either would be a deserving choice. For kicks: here’s how the two compare employing the Ekstrand Power Index I introduced in a recent post:

Morneau: 3.71 Pedroia: 3.52

Enjoy the weekend, get your blood pressure checked at that fun machine Snyders has, and please check back for updates. Great time to be a ball fan.

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