Mariners 4, Twins 3 – Tragedy hangs over the home finale

The Moment: When I woke up this morning, I turned on the television and literally gasped when I saw the news. Miami Marlins pitcher was dead, killed far too young in a boating accident off of Miami Beach at age 24. The most impactful moment was the moment of silence before the game when the energetic, well liked ace was remembered. I’ll admit that I am very shaken up by this news, and quite saddened, as is the rest of The Rhino and Compass team. So terrible.

On the field, Jesus Sucre hit his first home run of the season, and it put the Mariners ahead by 1 run, a lead Seattle would not relinquish.

The Hero: The light hitting Sucre had the clutch home run, and didn’t really screw much up in his other appearances, collecting one more hit.

The Condolences: Hector Santiago is out here blowing leads, like he just wants to save the bullpen the humiliation.

The Soundtrack: Blues at Sunrise: Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Seems fully appropriate on a night like tonight.

The Story: Both teams hung a Fernandez #16 jersey in their respective dugouts in an homage to the fallen Jose Fernandez today, and perhaps our of deference to the young man who clearly loved baseball more than most of us can embrace anything, they played a hell of a game.

Both teams were dialed in with this game. The bullpens on each side ensure that a game that saw both starters get chased in the 6th inning ended close, and kept fans engaged. Alex Wimmers and Ryan Pressley combined to strike out 4 and allow only one hit while a trio of Mariners struck out the same and didn’t allow a single hit.

The Twins had a good game from Robbie Grossman who had 3 hits, and Max Kepler, who hit the last Twins’ homer at Target Field this season. Nelson Cruz hit two home runs, but still didn’t manage to earn “The Moment” or “The Hero” because of Jesus Sucre’s timing. Juan Centeno drove in Robbie Grossman for the final run at Target Field this season, a statement that so perfectly encapsulates this season.

Despite how torturous this season was, let Jose Fernandez’ passing remind you what a joy baseball is. Enjoy these last few games. Enjoy life. RIP, Jose.

Twins 3, Mariners 2 – Twins trying to wrap this up quickly

The Moment: It was a 3-2 game, and there was nobody out in the top of the 9th. Miguel Sano had just botched a grounder from Nelson Cruz, and he TOTALLY REDEEMED HIMSELF with a pretty slick 5-3 double play. 

The Hero: Nelson Cruz hit a two run blast to tie the game also put the Mariners in a very good position to at least tie and perhaps even win the game with his error inducing hit in the 9th. Let’s revisit that phrase “hit a two run blast” and revise it to “launched a baseball into the sun.”

The Condolences: Kyle Seager was the poor soul who hit batted after Cruz, effectively ending the Mariners’ chances at victory.

The Soundtrack: Pony – Ginuwine: Victory music.

The Story: The Twins had only three hits in this affair, but two of them were solo home runs from Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano. The last run was scored on a Logan Schafer fielder’s, earning his first RBI of the season.

The real surprise was Tyler Duffey, of course, who went 7 innings and scattered 4 hits. One of those hits was scattered into the third deck by Nelson Cruz, but hey, who’s counting? Taylor Rogers and Brandon Kintzler were effective in relief, which is nice to finally say.

There was a good atmosphere for the final weekend of the season. The game lasting a mere 2 hours and the Twins popping a couple home runs will do that. With a tight win at home in a thoroughly enjoyable affair, it seems like the Twins have at least a little bit of momentum heading into the offseason.

Mariners 10, Twins 1 – Mailing it in

The Moment: I think the actual moment this game turned was around game 5 of the season when they lost again, and it set the pace for the entire year. Boiled down to these 9 innings, though, it was when Robinson Cano singled in the first run of the game.

Microcosm of the season: The scary thing is, Robbie Grossman might be the only player still trying out there.

The Hero: James Paxton is a pretty good young pitcher, but the Twins sure did help his confidence. 9ks and 5 hits over 7 innings.

The Condolences: After a torrid late summer for Brian Dozier, he has now gone hitless in his last two games. Fun!

The Soundtrack: Dream On – Aerosmith – I for one am dreaming of October 3rd.

The Story: Kyle Gibson was fine, working 5 innings and allowing only 2 runs, but the offense, well that was atrocious. As I noted, they had only 5 hits, while the Mariners had many more. Robinson Cano had 4, for Pete’s sake.

I will say, though, a highlight of the season was the one run that the Twins did earn. It came on an RBI single fro Kennys Vargas, which was only possible because Miguel Sano had a stand up triple.

The Twins are always going to struggle if they keep waiting for Miguel Sano stand up triples. Maybe that’s the problem this year?

Tigers 4, Twins 2 – The Twins can’t tame the Tigers

The Moment: After Byron Buxton homered to tie things up, the Twins gave up all pretenses of effort and Erick Aybar grounded up the middle to score the go ahead run. It would be enough because the Twins are done caring.

Microcosm of the season: Late edition

The Hero: It’s always easy when the go ahead run shows up late in the game. Erick Aybar drove in the game winner, and for good measure, he scored an insurance run.

The Condolences: Ervin Santana has come around in my book. He’s somehow managed to be a stable pitcher in an unstable rotation. Shame that this may ultimately be his last appearance at Target Field in a Twins uniform, if the new GM is into selling assets at their peak value.

The Soundtrack: Superstitious – Stevie Wonder. Sometimes I wonder is Stevie Wonder is as great as he is made out to be. Yes, he is.

The Story:

A dog sits in the heavy rains from Tropical Storm Erin on San Antonio's south side Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007. Erin's remnants soaked rain-weary Texas, snarling rush-hour traffic and killing at least one person. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Jerry Lara) ** MAGS OUT, NO SALES, SAN ANTONIO OUT **

Tigers 9, Twins 2 – Twins need another rain delay

The Moment: After 3 scoreless innings were scrubbed last night, the Tigers and Twins were tied after 6 more innings. Justin Upton, in the 7th inning of today’s first game, hit a solo homerun, breaking a tie that had been 9 innings in the making.

Microcosm of the season.

The Hero: Upton’s home run heroics solidly tipped the balance towards the Tigers.

The Condolences: Max “rally killer” Kepler, they call him.

The Soundtrack: Back to Black – Amy Winehouse – If you remove an L this is the perfect song for a double header. Also, if you remove an L, this double header is a bit more enjoyable.

The Story: If anyone out there was theorizing that the Twins aren’t winning because they get nervous in front of big crowds, I think we can say confidenttly that THAT isn’t the case.

To be fair, this was a surprise game in the middle of the day on a Thursday. It didn’t help that it was between the worst team in baseball and a mediocre team likely to miss the playoffs as well.

There were a couple of good things that happened for the Twins. Brian Dozier homered again. Pat Dean was solid in his five innings of work. It was making a hard charge towards a 2 hour game, but then the 7th inning happened. It wasn’t all bad!

Like, 99% bad, but not all bad!

Tigers 8, Twins 1 – Twins have 3 hits, use 4 pitchers

The Moment: The fact that Cameron Maybi’s early triple was enough to tilt the balance in this game, it almost seems rude that the Tigers just kept scoring, doesn’t it? This hit scored the first run and set the Tigers up for a second. 

The Hero: Matt Boyd, a pitcher who is not particularly noted for his pitching excellence, struck out 7 and scattered 3 hits over 8 innings. The Twins made him look like a Cy Young candidate.

The Condolences: Hector Santiago just did his thing, man. 6 runs in 5 1/3 is pretty much par for the course.

The Soundtrack: Getting a CBS Sports update as we speak.

The Story: At this point, most fans watching the Twins are hoping for one of two things: See something fun, and hope the game wraps up in a timely manner. Obviously, the game wasn’t fun, as sit was over pretty early, but it was over before 10! That’s what happens when one team only has 3 hits.

The good things out of the game for the Twins were few and far between, but there were a couple. Byron Buxton had an impressive diving catch late in the game, long after it was decided. Nice to see that effort. Robbie Grossman had a home run, which is cool. Kurt Suzuki was the DH, which is not good on any level.

The Twins bullpen did their job too. Pat Light struck out the side and Tommy Milone had a scoreless inning. Michael Tonkin wasn’t as successful, thanks to Miguel Cabrera. The game was fairly short, which is kind of a relief, but the rest of the season is now short as well. It’s weird, but I know I’m going to miss this smoldering mess by October 6th.

Mets 3, Twins 2 – Swept

The Moment: The magic number for this entire series has been 3. All it takes s three runs to beat the Twins, and the Mets have hit just that every game of the series. Reaching the magic number, then, was the moment that everything was turned around. TJ Rivera hit a solo home run to reach that total. 

The Hero: While none of his productivity actually factored into anything like “runs”, Robbie Grossman’s 4-4 afternoon was enough to make him the hero of the game. Of course, the rest of the team combined had only 4 hits.

The Condolences: While Grossman was good, it was all for naught as Kyle Gibson almost didn’t make it out of the first inning. That and the rest of the team sucked.

The Soundtrack: BBC 5 All night. I am keeping up to date on the world outside of US Bank stadium tonight.

The Story: The Mets WERE in the World Series last year. Remember that before you really feel down about this series. Remember also that it’s September and the Twins are long eliminated from playoff contention.

The Twins got some pretty decent work out of their rotation for the entire series. After all, the Mets only scored 3 points a game. Ervin Santana continued his run of form, but more encouragingly, Jose Berrios and Gibson today recovered enough to deliver it to the bullpen with the game still in the balance.

The Twins are now coming home for one last home stand. Go out there and enjoy the heck out of the team and Target Field. It’s better to have bad baseball than no baseball at all.

Twins trade deadlines won’t be as interesting as hoped

Very early in the hiring process, it sounded as though the Twins would be interested in someone like Alex Anthopoulos for a new leadership position, whether that was president or general manager. He has since withdrawn himself from consideration, but some different names have risen to the forefont.

The two names I have heard get the most play are Jason McLeod of the Cubs and JJ Picollo of the Royals. Without getting too deep into the individuals, there are a couple of things that they both have in common. This should give you some idea what direction the Twins seem like they are headed towards.

Both got their start as scouts, or in the scouting department of their team. They moved up through the player development ranks, and are now maintaining assistant GM or scouting director roles.with their respective teams.

They have a long track record of making fantastic draft choices, which I think the Twins would appreciate, given their status at the top of the draft for next year. Not only that, but look at the two teams they are coming from. They are keeping that talented core on their respective roster.

I think that’s the big desire for a new GM from me. Leverage the talent on the roster. If there is a player you can cultivate into a long time contributor, you keep him and develop him. Development has been a deficiency for the Twins for the last 6 years, at least. They are also members of teams that have been willing to Go For It, making trades to acquire the final piece of a puzzle, which was a particularly vexing problem in the 2000s. Failing that, both teams, the Royals and Cubs, have been ok making deals to acquire talent for the future when they were falling out of contention.

I guess the Pohlads are going to be conservative and develop a winner methodically, through talent development and briefly punctuated with a move on the trade market.. It’s a proven strategy, and is likely to be the smart move, if they pull it off. It’s proven, bbut not nearly as exciting on July 31st.

Mets 3, Twins 2 (12 innings) – First Colon, then Granderson

The Moment: The game was neck and neck through most of the game. Really the whole game. It took a walk off home run from Curtis Granderson to really decide anything.

The Hero: Curtis Granderson, in the 11th, tied the game back up after the Mets fell behind. The next inning, he hit the walk off homer. I’ve never seen a higher single game WPA. It was .768, which is f*#ing nuts.

The Condolences: The Relieving Ryans and Brandon Kintzler combined for a WPA of -1.130. Those two alone were bad enough to lose the entire game on their own! Ryan O’Rourke literally lost the game, giving up the second Granderson bomb.

The Soundtrack: Summer Breeze – Seals and Crofts – The summer breeze was blowing out in New York tonight.

The Story: Ervin Santana and Seth Lugo (definitely an automatically generated name on the 7th season of franchise mode) held their opponents in check. The Mets couldn’t score off of Santana, and the Twins only got the one run off of Lugo. It was the late innings, from the 8th inning on, that got extremely interesting.

It all started when Yoenes Cespedes drove in the game tying run in the bottom of the 8th with a single. It went to extra frames without much for additional intrigue. Byron Buxton made it intriguing, though, in the 11th, when he put the Twins in front with a solo homer. Curtis Granderson re-tied it in the bottom of the frame with a solo shot of his own. The Mets then had the bases loaded, but Brandon Kintzler got out of it.

Good thing, because Granderson was up again in the 12th. Ryan O’Rourke had one batter, and Granderson hit another homer. He now has 28 on the season. New Twins strategy: Get a whole bunch of old guys.

Mets 3, Twins 0 -More proof that fat players are the best players

The Moment: When one team doesn’t score, you can usually figure out pretty quickly what the biggest play of the game was. Jose Reyes hit a solo homer off of Jose Berrios to put the Mets in front. Their 1-0 lead was insurmountable.

The Hero: Bartolo Colon is still out there, gang. He completely dominated the Twins, scattering 3 hits and striking out 6

The Condolences: Jorge Polanco went 1-4 but the times he was retired, there were runners on, including that time early on when he ground into a double play.

The Soundtrack: Nothing on You – BOB. Kind of on the nose again.

The Story: The Twins were in Queens, in the shadow of LaGuardia airport, probably rattled by the fact that it appeared there was a 747 right there on the mound, waiting to fire 84mph fastballs their way.

Bartolo Colon gets a lot of attention, because he is a bloated 42 year old, but also because he is performing very well this season. He also finally had his first career home run this season, despite appearing to have the body of Babe Ruth.

Speaking of pitchers swinging the stick, though, one of the three hits off of Colon belonged to Jose Berrios. He is now batting 1.000 for his career at the plate. Maybe this is what all the hype was about with Berrios. His bat. He did bring his ERA under 9 though!

Maybe Berros should try to pack on about 150 lbs. Worked for Colon.