Tagged: Minnesota Twins

It’s Over

After an improbable comeback and an appearance in the
playoffs, the season for the Minnesota Twins has come to an end. There will be
no long playoff run, no more Metrodome magic, and no World Series title. The
off-season begins immediately, and what had been a great run has come to a
sudden halt.

It’s not time to think back about what could’ve been, and
it’s not time to recount the missed opportunities in the American League
Divisional Series. There is no changing what has happened, and time can be
better spent.

It’s instead time to remember the final memories made under
the Teflon roof this past season. From historic moments to deadline deals to
great moments and great games, the 2009 campaign was a memorable one – with or
without playoff success.

There were the franchise firsts and the baseball firsts;
there were the deadline deals; there were great games; there was an improbable
comeback; there was a final Metrodome playoff game; there was time to remember
the 28 seasons under the roof; and for the fifth time, there was a celebration
for the American League Central.

They say history is always changing, but who could have
thought the Twins would be rewriting so much of it in one season. From Joe
Nathan’s new team record of 47 saves, to multiple team firsts, the past season
was a historic one in Minnesota. For the first time since 1987, the Twins had four
players with 25 or more homeruns in a single season; and for the first time in
franchise history, four players collected at least 90 RBI.

Team history was changing, but the Twins didn’t stop there,
they also rewrote baseball’s history book. Before the team did it last week, no
team in the history of the game had ever overcome a three-game deficit with
four games remaining. And before Joe Mauer hit .365 as a catcher this season, the
highest single-season batting average for a catcher was .3617.

Some have criticized Bill Smith in his short tenure as the
team’s general manager, but his mid-season moves played a huge role in the
final months. Where would the team be without Carl Pavano, Orlando Cabrera, Ron
Mahay and Jon Rauch? Maybe the playoffs would have still become a reality, but
there is no denying that those four players were major factors.

The acquired players helped the team overcome many
difficulties, and without Joe Crede, Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey and Justin
Morneau, the Twins finished the season with a 17-4 run to overcome a seven-game
deficit in four weeks.

The comeback in itself was historic, but the team made one
more mark in the Metrodome’s history with it’s first ever tiebreaker game. The
extra-inning victory was home to the largest ever regular-season Metrodome
crowd, and it assured one more playoff game indoors with one final divisional

From the incredible comeback to the many incredible moments
in game 163, the final season at the Dome was a memorable one. The ending was
not enjoyable, but the moments that got the Twins to that point were. While
an era in team history comes to a close, the memories and historic moments will
forever remain.

And We’ll See You, Tomorrow Night!

One season after missing the playoffs by one run and one game, the Minnesota Twins came out on the other end with a 6-5, 12th inning victory in a one-game playoff with the Detroit Tigers. After more than four and a half hours, the Twins became the American League Central Division champions for the first time since the 2006 season.

The emotional roller coaster began in the third inning when the Tigers took a three-run lead, and continued the rest of the way with miraculous escapes from jams and big hits. Fans screamed louder than they have in some time, waved their “Championship Drive” Homer Hankys, and hoped that someway, somehow, the Twins could avoid a second straight tiebreaker loss and win another division behind manager Ron Gardenhire.
They did.
With no Justin Morneau, no Kevin Slowey, no Glen Perkins, and little Francisco Liriano, the Minnesota Twins completed a historic comeback. Down seven games almost four weeks ago to the date, without one of the best hitters in baseball, and different starting pitchers, the Twins rallied back. For the first time in baseball history, a team came back from a three-game deficit in four games to win the division. 
As unlikely as it seemed last Thursday night, is how real it has become. Overcoming odds is nothing new for the Minnesota Twins, but even this latest effort is hard to fathom. 
There was the huge double-play behind Joe Nathan, the huge strikeouts from Jon Rauch, Ron Mahay, and Bobby Keppel, and the strong effort from the once demoted Jesse Crain. There was the homerun by Jason Kubel, the unbelievable homerun by Orlando Cabrera, and the game-winning single by Alexi Casilla and run by Carlos Gomez. And finally, there was the celebration for the team’s fifth Central Division title.
Where would the Twins be without Carl Pavano, Rauch, Mahay and Cabrera? Where would they be if they hadn’t been in front of a regular season Metrodome record, 54,088 fans? That question thankfully needs no answer, with one of the greatest baseball games in recent memory, The Minnesota Twins are going to the playoffs.

It Begins Now

Literally the season starts in April, but figuratively, for the Twins at least, their trip through Cleveland and Detroit marks the beginning of the ‘real season’. For the first four months of the year, the Twins have managed to play .500 ball and stick within two games of the lead in the American League Central; now the team will focus on divisional opponents for the final two months in an attempt to play meaningful games in October.

In the first half of the season, the Twins played only 29 of their total 72 divisional games. The second half schedule consists of 43 divisional games, and beginning with the team’s stop in Cleveland, 40 of 58 remaining games will be played in the Midwest against the Central.
The first half of the season wasn’t easy for the Twins as they played one of the top five toughest schedules in baseball. They completed all scheduled games with the Yankees and Red Sox while their foes, Chicago and Detroit, did not. 
The second half of the season is statistically easier, and with Cleveland’s recent fire sale, things could be easier than what other teams will face in August and September. No team will roll over however, and many players are out to prove they belong – thus the team will need to play well despite an easier opponents winning percentage.
Up to the start of a week long road trip, the remaining schedules for Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota are as follows:
Minnesota – 10
Kansas City – 9
Tampa Bay – 7
Cleveland – 6
Chicago – 6
Boston – 4
Toronto – 4
Baltimore – 3
Seattle – 3
Oakland – 3
Los Angeles – 3
Boston – 8
Minnesota – 6
Los Angeles – 6
Seattle – 6
Kansas City – 6
Detroit – 6
Cleveland – 6
Oakland – 5
Baltimore – 3
New York – 3
Cubs – 1
Cleveland – 12
Kansas City – 12
Detroit – 10
Chicago – 6
Texas – 7
Toronto – 4
Baltimore- 3
Oakland – 3
While the Tigers and White Sox each have 11 remaining games against the American League East powers (Boston, New York, Tampa Bay), the Twins have completed that portion of the schedule. That section alone could help the Twins as the Tigers have a .385 winning percentage against the East this season.
The Twins have positioned themselves well for the final two months, and consistency against their own division in the next eight weeks could help the Twins to a division title. Nothing will be given to them however, and while the Indians and Royals have struggled and take up nearly half of the remaining schedule, the Twins must be prepared for a new season, one that starts now.

Deadline Aftermath

Heading into the trade deadline, all eyes were on the big market teams: the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and others. All the talk was about Roy Halladay and what his destination would be. In the end, Halladay would stay put and the Yankees were inactive in any big moves.

The big markets for the most part stayed put (with the exception of the Red Sox acquiring Victor Martinez), and the division that currently has three teams making a run at the playoffs, the American League Central, made the moves.
The first big move came when the Detroit Tigers unexpectedly jumped in and acquired Jarrod Washburn from the Seattle Mariners. Washburn will be gone at the end of the season, but for the final two months, the move has a chance of bolstering an already pretty good rotation.
Hours later the Twins countered with a move of their own; they sent a minor league shortstop, Tyler Ladendorf, to Oakland and brought in shortstop Orlando Cabrera with hope that the middle infield in Minneapolis will see more production. 
As the deadline passed, it seemed as though the Tigers and Twins were the only contenders in the Central to make major moves. Reports then began rolling out with word that for a second time, the White Sox had traded for pitcher Jake Peavy.
The deal was soon finalized and Peavy will indeed be in Chicago. Whether or not Peavy will help the team this season however is questionable. Peavy has been on the disabled list since the first week of June, won’t be back before the first week of September, and may not pitch again this season.
While the Cleveland Indians scrapped their team and looked to the future by trading Ben Francisco, Ryan Garko, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez, the Tigers, Twins and White Sox each took shots at bolstering their rosters for the final two months of the season.
Only time tell who exactly made the biggest move, but for now at least it seems as though the Twins and Tigers, with Peavy’s current injury, made the biggest impact on the 2009 season.

Just One Game?

With a long six-month, 162 game schedule, it’s easy to shrug off a blown game or a tough loss. The next day the team can head back to the field and make it easier to forget. Nonetheless, the bad loss or blown game did happen and it does count in the standings when the season ends in the fall.

Last season the Minnesota Twins missed the playoffs by one game, and an extra game added onto the long schedule at that. The reason for missing out by one lone game can be attributed to many different moments, but overall it was the 14-game road trip at the end of August that has been blamed.
In that two week span, a trip that that put the Twins in Oakland, Los Angeles, Seattle and Toronto before they returned to their home comfort zone, the Twins struggled to close out games. They went 5-9, and the losses were late-game, blown leads that devastated the club with a month remaining.
The Twins blew five saves (three by Nathan) to account for nine of the losses, and all nine losses came by two runs or less. The trip out west by no means ended the team’s season, but for a team that missed the postseason by one game, in the 163rd game of the season, it was an easy scapegoat. 
After a tough loss like the one in Oakland on Monday, arguably the most difficult loss to swallow thus far, it’s easy to say, “it’s just one game.” That taken literally is true, but if there is one team and one fan base that can attest to the fact that each game counts, it’s the Minnesota Twins. 
The feeling last season when the Twins starred up at the scoreboard after a 1-0 loss in one extra game, that placed them one game back in the standings, is unforgettable. Players sitting in the dugout wondering where it went wrong, and fans watching at home looking for a reason why it got to that point was gut-wrenching. 
No player, no coach, no organization, and no fan wants to be in that situation. The Twins have faced it once, and know what one game can do. One game shouldn’t make anybody lose hope, but one game cannot be shaken off, and if there is anybody who should know it, it’s Minnesota.