The Ace Makers

class=img_thumbleft> For the third game in a row, the Twins proceeded to take another very human pitcher and make him appear like future Cy Young winner. I don't know if this is a part of some kind of program to restore the self-esteem of opposing pitchers, but it seems to work wonders on these guys. Tonight the papier mache hero was one Fausto Carmona. Considering his first name, one might assume that he sold his soul for tonight's 5-3 victory, were this not becoming a regular occurrence.

Last year, Fausto was up and down like a yo-yo, being a starter, a closer, and a starter again when he blew three saves. This year, he's lost two and came into the game with a 6.97 ERA. The Cleveland Indians rotation was undoubtedly set awhile ago, but we had to feel confident with Carmona versus Santana, right?

Wrong. Again, the Twins hacked and hacked and hacked away, allowing young Mr. Carmona to throw but 81 pitches through 7 frames, running the count fatter in that last 2/3 inning (when he gave up 15--his second highest total of the night). Young Fausto looked great out there, giving up only two runs, both in the fourth, and having the confident look of a man in complete control. Our ace, Johan Santana, seemed merely human, fraught by a bug, perhaps, or suffering from some acute melancholy. Perhaps he's musing too much about his performance in his advertisement for the team, or wondering if there's more to life than just baseball. Whatever the reason, he seemed merely human this evening, and now has his second home loss in as many games after going almost two seasons without one.

What is going on with these Twins? Hell if I know. They're playing like my old softball club, lunging at bad pitches and then, in Torii's case, stretching hits into easy outs at second. With two outs in the second, Torii laced a single to center, a bit of movement on it, not an easy play to be sure. But Torii, who tried this successfully last night, was out by city mile. "It's not worth it if they catch him half the time," grumbled a colleague. He's right.

As for the rest of the Twins, there were a number of baffling plays: With the Tribe's Victor Martinez on third, Trot Nixon sent a bounding ball to Alexi Casilla. Martinez didn't wait, but bolted for home. The problem was that Casilla waited, slapping the ball in his glove once, then twice, before throwing home and allowing the run to score and every other Indian to stand safely on their bag.

The Twins didn't strand too many runners, but then again they're not getting on base. Only one Twin ran the count full on against Carmona, and the rest saw no more than four per at-bat through the first three innings.

Add to this Torii's mistake, Johan's two hit batsmen, Nick Punto's continued insistence on diving headlong into first (successfully, though I'm still not convinced that that is any faster; I am convinced that it is more conducive to injury), and the Twins look more like a team interested in empty posturing than winning games.

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