Twins time to bring it on (all or nothing)
Can Solange pitch?
Despite failing to complete a sweep of the O's on Wednesday, the Twins Tuesday victory gave the boys their first five-game win streak of the season, saving them the embarrassment of potentially becoming just the sixth Twins club in their nearly 50-year history to not string together five straight. A Wednesday capper would no doubt have been a sweet cherry placed atop the streak as both Detroit and Chicago fell. Like the Twins, Detroit was idle Thursday; Chicago beat Boston 9-5 to snap a four-game losing streak.
Entering tonight's three game set with Texas, the Twins -- despite being a game under. 500 -- are still very much in the Central hunt with 35 games left to play. A modest 4 ½ games separate the Twins from the division-leading Tigers, against whom we still play seven games before the season is out.
While "polar" is oft-attached to our Bread Basket for meteorological purposes, the '09 Twins are adding a summer definition to the forecast. August serves as an apt example.
Offensively, the boys left the Orioles series with the American League's third-best August team average and on-base percentage, and fourth most runs scored. Of our 10 lineup regulars (Crede and his popcorn back excluded), seven ballers enter today with higher batting averages than they held at the closure of July. Among the three whose averages dropped, both Jason Kubel and Orlando Cabrera lost a whopping one-hundredth of a point. Morneau and his ear infection went from .305 on July 31 down to .295.
But the club's starting pitching has been about as dependable as Lindsay Lohan working as Secretary of Agriculture for the Columbian government. The Twins' staff ERA stands at 5.07 for the season, bad for 12th in the A.L.
Sad - Armando Gabino (one MLB start) and Brian Duensing (one MLB win) really aren't the names you want to see on your scorecard come a Pennant race. Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins are (perhaps mercifully) banged up and have left few supporters praying for their return to the rotation. Carl Pavano has hurled some respectable innings in his brief Twins tenure, but he's still sporting a 5.20 ERA and a
pedestrian 52 percent quality start clip on the season. Nick Blackburn was going swimmingly for a spell, but apparently got spooked out by a roman candle or something back on Independence Day: dude hasn't won since 7/10, and in the time since his ERA has risen from 3.06 to 4.29. Monday is the last day that players can be added to a club's postseason roster, so it will be most interesting to see if the suits make a move here.
The only real dependable line of starting defense has been Scotty Baker, who, after starting out 2-6, has begun to earn the $15.25 million extension he signed in March. Baker is now 12-7 and has won four games this month; he'll get one final August start on Sunday to close out the Rangers series.
Scheduling remains a major positive for the boys: Wild Card-wishing Texas is no pushover, although we'd rather be playing them than facing either the Rays or Yankees, clubs awaiting Detroit and the Chi Sox this weekend, respectively. Next week, the slumping, second place White Sox will be here for three; post the great gravity of that series, the Twins get four consecutive series against sub-.500 teams in the forms of: Cleveland, Toronto, Oakland and then Cleveland again.
For some, that first NFL Sunday can't come soon enough. But if the Twins can get any kind of consistent starting pitching over the next six weeks, the Dome may not have seen the last of postseason baseball.
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