Yesterday afternoon’s game was a fun finish to an abysmal road trip, as the offense took out their frustrations after a week’s worth of being shut down. Unfortunately for me, and therefore for you, the game was on in the afternoon, and we were playing the White Sox … which means MLB.tv doesn’t allow me to watch it and I happen to not have cable at my office.* So I had to listen on the radio.
* Maybe I should bring this up with my boss.
I’d say the big story of this game is that Gardy changed the lineup in such a way that it emphasizes our best hitters and obviously improves our chances of scoring runs. The “stop giving away an out in front of Mauer/Morneau/Kubel” strategy paid early dividends, when Kubel’s base hit scored Mauer from second and moved Morneau to third with just one out, keeping a scoring chance in play for Cuddyer and Crede. They didn’t come through, but the new lineup configuration immediately increases the number of scoring chances, and we’ll come through on some of them.
We’ve been saying around here that our best possible lineup features Mauer batting second, with a top of the order of Span/Mauer/Morneau/Kubel, and Gardy finally went with it. Given that we know Gardenhire hates offensive production and benches players who hit well, and actively avoids things that might help us score more runs … is there any chance we stick with this lineup? Let’s see what the players think.
“I like that lineup,” said Cuddyer, who was 4-for-6 with four runs scored and three RBIs. “If we score 20 runs a night, heck yeah.”So Cuddyer’s all for it.
“I like scoring 20 runs,” Mauer added. “I don’t know, I think it worked today. If we keep scoring runs, I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes.”Mauer probably knows that any lineup would have worked really well the way everyone in the lineup was hitting all day, so there’s no need to go crazy. But since we’re the bloggingest blog of blogs, and blogs are best when they’re crazy, Mauer can stuff it because we’re going to get crazy.
But Gardenhire put a stop to the fun, saying the lineup will be different again Friday, crediting the bottom of the order with the bulk of the club’s success.Gardy is crediting the bottom of the order for our success in that game? Is it possible he’s unaware that Punto went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts in this game? And what did I say about avoiding things that improve our chances of scoring? Why in blazes are you changing the lineup that scored you 20 runs without even giving it another go? Oh, and I’ll point out two things:
- Tolbert isn’t going to start hitting more home runs now … please don’t move him back up in the order
- Morales had yet another great game, in the bottom of the order which was apparently the whole reason we scored runs today … but you sent his ass down to AAA in return. Way to reward performance, coach.
“Sure the big guys there are killers,” Gardenhire said, “but the guys at the bottom of the lineup got on the bases to load them up for those guys. The guys at the bottom did their job today.”Um, yes. Did their jobs. Tolbert’s job is to hit home runs, and he did that. For the first time in his career. Morales’s job is to get hits and then smile when he’s demoted when he does it. Punto’s job is to strike out every time* but really look like he’s trying.
* He didn’t really strike out every time. He reached on an error on which Betemit’s throw hit him in the back of the head. Did I mention that I didn’t get to watch this game? Argh!
Oh yeah, and remember when Cuddyer and Crede hit back to back home runs? Well, Morales made his only out of the game as the next batter, when he put the ball on the warning track. He just had an awesome game.
I had my quarterly review yesterday afternoon at 3:00 PM, and I left my desk with Denard Span coming to the plate in the 6th against Gobble. So … yes. I missed Mauer’s grand slam. I left with a 12-0 lead and returned with a 20-1 win. It was awesome. But I still would have preferred to be there for Mauer’s blast. He’s on pace for 47 homers this year, if he gets exactly 500 plate appearances. Wow.
But in order to win a game 20-1, you can’t just score runs. You also need some pitching. And since that’s been our problem lately, I think it’s worth mentioning. Blackburn looked great out there, and was removed after 7 IP having thrown just 82 pitches. Apparently they would have let him go for the shutout if the game had been closer … which doesn’t make sense until you realize that he’d been sitting in the dugout for a long time several times during the game while we batted around. So it’s no big deal.
Bigger deal? Bringing in the 8th inning setup guy, Mijares, with a 20 run lead. Then bringing in Nathan with a 19 run lead.* Are you joking? Can’t one of our crappier pitchers be trusted to hold onto a 20 run lead in the 8th and 9th? I mean, you trust them with a 1 or 2 run lead, but 20 is too dangerous?
* Oh, that run? It was unearned, and scored because Tolbert made an error. Those guys just keep doing their jobs.
How did Blackburn feel about his performance?
“The White Wox were just swinging at everything today, so it didn’t take too long to get three outs,” the Blackburn said.I like everything about this quote. I mean, I really like everything about this quote. Firstly, I’m going to go ahead and hope this wasn’t a typo, and that he did in fact call them “The White Wox,” and in support of that I’m going to start calling them that. Secondly, am I the only one who thinks he was insulting them? Because that would be awesome.
And finally, the quote was topped off by calling him “The Blackburn,” which is at least among the coolest modern baseball nicknames.
This win certainly makes the six game losing streak sting a little less. And I find myself amused that we finished off a 1-6 road trip with a +7 run differential. It felt bad while we were losing, but we actually weren’t doing that badly. Things just didn’t go our way for a while, and that can happen.
Hopefully the breaks start falling in our favor for a while, and hopefully the hits keep coming, and hopefully the lineup doesn’t change back to the “fuck scoring” configuration that Gardy prefers, and hopefully the other pitchers try to learn something from The Blackburn.
Let’s go get those Brewers!4 comments