Liriano is supposedly confident after his no-hitter, but the Twins still suck
So much for that.
Francisco Liriano's no hitter last Tuesday was, in the minds of many, the champagne bottle smashing against the hull of the good ship Turnaround. Despite the fact that our boys squeaked out that victory, 1-0, things were surely looking up, yes?
It sure seemed that way when we took the next two games. Especially Friday night, when new kid on the block, Trevor Plouffe, once the Twins first round draft pick, smashed a home run on his first at-bat, leading the Twins to a 9-2 victory over a resurgent Red Sox!
Yeah, well, that was then, this is now. The Red Sox took two of three thus far. The Twins big "winning streaks" have run to a gaudy three games. Take away that 9-2 victory, and we're averaging 2.25 runs per game.
I have played on winless softball teams with players who have no right calling themselves sighted who have scored more runs.
There's always a bright side to this type of shitty play, but you're not getting it from me this rainy Monday morning. I turn you to this morning's column by Sid Hartman, whose effervescent prose seems to be the result of moony optimism or the work of a man sucking on nitrous oxide.
Fans who have tickets to Tuesday's game at Target Field get a chance to see Twins lefthander Francisco Liriano have a chance to perform a real miracle and match what Johnny Vander Meer did for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938, when he was the only major leaguer ever to pitch back-to-back no-hitters.
Now I grant you that I'm a bit bitchy this morning, and that old Sid does go on to worry a bit about Liriano's, er, abilities, since the dude's got an ERA in excess of 15.00 at home. A perfect game wouldn't reduce that number to anything respectable.
But lazy writers always drool over the prospect of a Johnny Vander Meer redux. Seriously, every time someone tosses a no-no, the wags wonder if it'll happen the next time, you know, "just like Johnny Vander Meer did" all those years ago.
Sid goes on to contradict himself as usual, suggesting that Liriano ignored pitching coach Rick Anderson's advice, then (and this is in the same paragraph) did follow Anderson's advice before tossing the no-no.
Anderson wanted our man to throw more fastballs, but apparently not more strikes, since the Sox walked six fucking times that game. But, Sid notes, Francisco's feeling pretty snappy after tossing a no-hitter. That's some scoop.
But that was then, this is now: Trevor Plouffe was a bright spot on the weekend, with his home run and his .300 average so far. But the injuries remain, and now we're beginning to see that even if the Twins weren't fielding half of a AAA club, they'd still suck.
Carl Pavano? 2-4, 6.64 ERA, and no strikeouts in his last two games (which has never happened to him before.)
Justin Morneau? .202/.269./.293 with one home run.
Michael Cuddyer? .241/.303/.348 with three homers. Better, but still stinky.
Thome? .214/.333/.375, two round-trippers.
That's a solid core of talent from last season's division winning, Yankee-capitulating club. Only Kubel, Span, and a not-so-terrible Danny Valencia are showing any form.
The point to this bitter entry is that it's going to take a lot more than a terribly sloppy no-hitter for this club to rebound. Cleveland's looking great, but even when they're inevitable collapse occurs, well, shit, the Tigers are still in the way. Don't forget, their ace, Justin Verlander, just threw a no-hitter, and they're starting to hit on all cylinders, too.
Around the horn:
What to do with Joe Department: The always insightful and intelligent Nick Nelson, over at the Strib's TwinsCentric blog makes a compelling argument that Joe Mauer's days as a catcher are, or should be, numbered.
He's a braver man than I Department: The Kansas City's Star's baseball blogger, Lee Judge, groused the other day that the Royals' Wilson Betemit should have leaned in and taken a hit to force in a run in a tie game.
Nothing strange about that: bloggers, reporters, scribes, and the doughy press sit in the stands or the press box and make physical demands of the men on the field all the time. We can do that because a) we're not making even 1/10,000 of the money and b) because we like to whine like that.
Not Lee Judge! This guy is apparently on the good side of the team, so the man took batting practice, and then proceeded to put himself in Betemit's place, taking an 81 mph slider, precisely the same pitch Wilson avoided. "I said it, and I ought to have the guts to do it."
You stand alone in that sentiment, Lee, but I applaud you just the same.
Your blogger will never, ever do this.
Thing is, someone screwed up and accidentally (or not) fired a 91 mph heater into the old man's back. Nice.
Also, don't forget that Betemit didn't take the hit.
Unfortunately, I can't drop the video in this entry, but you can see it in its brutal entirety right here.
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