Yankhilles Heel?

Categories: Twins

"Show me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man." --old Jesuit saying.

Only seven games, you tell yourself. Only seven games, and they're 4-3, still a winning record, bunched together in the middle of the Central Division, which means nothing so damned early. After all, it's April, and the season's long. You watch as the Yankees, the New York Yankees, who we fought to a draw last year (thus breaking what seemed like a curse) and this year we're already down by two in a year-long six game set. Not only that, we get blasted, 10-1 tonight, a football score of 18-3 over the pair of contests. You look at your scorecard and stare in utter disbelief. We still can't beat the Yankees? Worse, are we seeing portents of trouble? However you want to spin this thing, it still looks bad.

As if prompted by Twingo Night at the Dome, the visiting Yankees seemed to take to heart the idea that they ought to give the fans something to scratch onto their silly cards, more than just the usual defensive plays. As they did last night against Ponson, the Yankees went after Boof right away, and the results were similar. Derek Jeter did his part, sending a hard single into right (1b for you Twingo fans) and, two batters later, Alex Rodriguez, as if to shut up the loudmouths here and at home, blasted a 423 foot home run into left field (that's HR2 for your card).

Andy Pettitte wore his Mr. October crown in April, gazing at the Twins with that classic glare (and his eternal five o'clock shadow which makes him look like The Barber), one of the finest stare-downs in all of baseball history. Pettitte worked the Twins like they were rubes, and scattered four hits and a walk. None of which the Twins could do anything with apart from stand on base once in awhile. After the triumph in Baltimore, the Twins have hit a lousy .158 with runners in scoring position, and tonight went 1-3 (and that one came on Jason Kubel's pinch-hit single to score Justin Morneau to bring the Twins within six--that's cold comfort.) Overall, the team's well below the Mendoza line, .163 in these last four games.

Should I be worried that these four games were against good teams?

Oh, boy. You could sense early that it was going to be a long night, whether or not the Yankees started their usual fireworks, which eventually they unleashed with unrivaled joy. Still, though the Boof gave up another run in the second, when Melky Cabrera singled home Robinson Cano, the pitcher seemed in control enough to make the game close. Theoretically into a groove, Boof sailed through the next two innings without allowing a baserunner.

Since I've already mentioned that the score was a dismal 10-1, you know disaster looms around the next corner. Every Yankee reached base tonight at least once. They scored ten runs for God's sake. But it didn't matter if the Yankees hadn't pulled those seven more runs out of their collective hats, because the Twins, once again, were rotten at the plate. The only ones hitting with any consistency on the Twins are batters three through six, and even that's a stretch. Torii's up to his old tricks, swinging wildly at lousy pitches while staring at good ones, followed by that shocked pirouette when the ump raises his fist. I've only taken in four games at the Dome and I swear I've seen at least five of these goofy lunges.

So do we have half a team? A chunk of decent hitters in Mauer, Morneau and Cuddyer, one great starting pitcher and incredible relievers? Look: Boof was nearly as bad as Sidney Ponson yesterday, going but 4 1/3 innings and giving up six earned runs. The heralded piranhas haven't hit the weight of their batting gloves, and have been fumbling the ball to boot (Bartlett had yet another error this game (his fourth this season!) and Punto made a pair of lousy plays in the ninth, at one point trying to barehand Jeter's high chopper and fumbling it--Jeter would go on to score in the Yankees three run ninth). The relievers once again were amazing, giving up three hits and striking out four.

Of course, I am ignoring the suddenly destructive Dennys Reyes, who came in to the ninth inning and gave up three runs on four hits and a ball. Without Reyes, the bullpen's numbers would be mind boggling, so I choose to pretend he doesn't exist.

The Twins took three from Baltimore and looked just great, like the championship team everyone's thinking they could become. They split a cold-shortened series against Chicago, and still seemed like they were ready for a year-long fight. But the Yankees are hurting, their starting pitching looking miserable and Hideki Matsui on the mend. So we have to make them go and look like champions? Sigh.

If at the end of seventy games we're looking at a 40-30 record, I won't complain. But we won't get a steady diet of Orioles and Devil Rays. Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago will be our meat this year, and Santana's not pitching more than 35 games or so. I hope this team at seven games is not the team of a whole season, but we'll see.


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