Frank: The Minnesota Twins are down to one more game, a tiebreaker against the
White Sox -- the very same team we swept last week – tonight at US Cellular Field in Chicago. The winner of the game dons the American League Central Division crown and heads to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the playoffs, beginning Thursday. The Twins have a good shot at winning, because the opposing pitcher will be John Danks. In the three starts he’s had against us in Chicago this year, his ERA is 8.78. Nick Blackburn, who beat the White Sox just last week, will start for the Twins. I asked Bert about the sweep last week:
Against the Chicago White Sox last week, the Twins earned a huge three-game sweep, showing a different style of offense in each game. Tuesday night we bashed an uncharacteristic three home runs during a 9-3 blowout. Wednesday night we went back to small ball with nine hits, all singles, sacrificing and running the bases to pick up the win thanks to two run-scoring groundouts. The last game was between the two, no home runs but four doubles and three triples, showing off our speed and sacrificing twice (once on a squeeze play). All that to say that there are many ways to score runs, and the Twins are still the third best team in the league in pushing men across the plate. Which style is most fitting for the Twins? Which will we need most to advance in the playoffs?
Bert: If the Twins get into the post season they will go in as the team that got them there and that is to bunch some bunts, swinging singles and extra base hits together, maybe without the long ball. There are only three players that hit 10 or more home runs throughout the season, Morneau (23), Kubel (20) and Young (10). In post season they will try to drive their opponents crazy with all the running they are capable of doing on the bases. Let's hope these opponents have the opportunity to watch this Twins team run, bunt and steal bases with some big hits in between.
Frank: Joe Mauer gets a lot of attention, deservedly so, for being the best hitting catcher in the game. But he receives very little credit for the defensive side of his game. He is the league leader in fielding percentage and fewest passed balls – catchable pitches that slip by the catcher -- and very close to the league lead in games caught and fewest stolen bases allowed. In addition, pitchers always say that he calls a great game, and he's a very calming influence on our young pitchers. So, as he closes in on another batting title, what is the chance of him winning a Gold Glove Award someday? How do you feel about how he handles the pitching staff?
Bert: Now that Ivan Rodriquez, once the Tigers catcher and now the Yankees catcher, is a free agent and might be out of the American League, maybe Joe will get votes for his ability behind the plate. He and Mike Redmond have done a great job of handling the five young starters the Twins have had in their rotation throughout the season. Joe is one of those catchers that do a great job of calling the game, blocking balls in the dirt and if given the opportunity can stop the running game of the opponent. That is what a Rawlings Gold Glove winner is all about, and winning batting titles will help too...
Frank: As we approach October, at least two things leap to mind. Playoff baseball, for one; another is Halloween! As for baseball, Reggie Jackson was known as Mr. October, because of his excellence during the playoffs. Do the Twins have a Mr. October? Who is it? Now for Halloween, did you ever go trick-or-treating as a kid in California like we did in the Midwest? If so, what was your favorite costume? I remember going as a baseball player a couple times. Did you do that as a kid? Ever been to a haunted house?
Bert: Reggie Jackson became known as Mr. October because of the home runs and big hits he got in post season. The Twins would love it if Justin Morneau could become their Mr. October. Time will tell who will be put into the position to come through at the right time. Maybe even Nick Punto or Denard Span could be the Twins’ Mr. October!
Halloween was always one of the funniest nights for me as a kid growing up in Southern California. I have four sisters and two brothers, and all of us used to go out with our pillowcases to get them full before we returned home. As soon as the sun went down, we were off and running. I never dressed up in a costume. A mask is all I needed. If a certain house was giving out really good candy we would double back and hit that house about three or four times. We would change masks and act like we had never been to the house before. Once we got home with our full pillowcases my dad would have us all put our candy on the floor in the family room and he would take the best treats out and say these were his. After the first year of him doing this, we would hide the good candy outside before we came home, and we would get it later that night. I don't think my dad ever knew we did this. Boy, did we treat him....
Frank: Lovingly? With respect? Okay, maybe neither. Now we switch back to baseball.
Let’s hope that the White Sox sing a somber “Bye Bye Blackburn” tonight!