One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (Theme to "Those Darn Twins!")
The good news about this weekend's series with the Oakland A's is that our pitching staff, ranked fourth in the league, gave up only seven runs in three games.
The bad news is that we faced the best staff in the league, and scored only five runs, losing two of three.
The good news is that Kevin Slowey, up from Rochester, New York and looking very much like some kind of meditative cowboy, threw, in his major league debut, six strong innings and gave up but a run.
The bad news is that that gutsy performance didn't give him a win. It took the Twins ten damned innings to squeeze out a victory, and credit went to Pat Neshek.
The good news is that, in game two, Carlos Silva threw a complete-game gem, giving up but a run and scattering five hits.
The bad news is that, once again, we couldn't score. Not even a run, so Silva got caught in the tangled web of defeat. Which really, really sucks.
The good news is that in the third game Johan Santana took the mound and... oh for God's sake, it's obvious where I'm going with this. Our ace wasn't pretty, gave up four runs (and an equal number of walks!), and we scored two. You do the math.
There's an old saw in baseball that says that "good pitching beats good hitting", and that's generally true. Unfortunately, the Twins proved that there's often times when an adage must be expanded. Here, it was "good hitting beats bad hitting if the pitching's roughly the same." So it went this weekend in the cavernous home of the Oakland Athletics. Twenty-three stranded runners this weekend, five fucking runs. You can't win anything that way, in the majors, the minors, or an after-work beer-and-burgers league. Oh, it's not as if the Athletics were dominating--far from it. Their hitters looked fairly creaky, after all, not scoring much themselves. Do either one of these teams want to make the playoffs this year? They sure aren't acting like it.
God damn, this was a teeth-gnashing weekend. Pitching duels are great, but both parties looked like shit when guys got on. Yesterday's matinee and we had guys on third with one out twice in the early goings, and we failed to score. (Even worse is the fact that it was the meat of the order that did the flailing--Morneau grounded into a dp in the first, and Cuddyer struck out and Hunter popped up in the third).
When Cuddyer struck out again with guys on second and third in the sixth, I remembered Gardy saying, quite a few days ago, that Joe Mauer would certainly return at some point during the last Chicago series. Obviously, that didn't happen. What's going on with this guy? Then I was reminded of the heckler at the Dome, wailing for Joe Mauer, wondering where his savior was hiding. We could have used him this weekend--Mauer, that is, though the heckler might have helped, too.