Well, I've been absent from blogging for a few days in a row for no reason other than laziness. To get back in the swing of things, I wanted to just jot down some thoughts from the last few days.
==>Since I've started actually watching the games, I've noticed something that has nothing to do with the game play itself: how opposing announcers talk about Joe Mauer. When I'm watching road games (and thus listening to the opposing team's announcers), the announcers consistently gush about Mauer, as they should. But beyond that, they seem to always speak with trepidation any time Mauer is coming up. If he's coming up fourth in an inning, they'll start talking about how important it is to go 1-2-3 as soon as the inning starts; if he's due up third, they'll talk about how vital it is to get the first two guys out; if he's leading off, they'll talk about how important it is that he's batting with no one on base. To know that he's putting the opposing so much on edge every time he comes up is pretty cool.
==>I enjoy watching interleague play for two reasons. The first one is obvious: I get to watch teams I don't see. The second, however, may be a reason other people dislike it: I love watching pitchers hit. Now, normally, they look pretty bad, and no Twins pitcher has a hit yet, but that doesn't take away from the excitement. If someone hits a double, it certainly is cause for happiness, but an extra base hit for a pitcher would result in total exuberance. And what if they hit a home run? Of course, those are very unlikely--but that's what makes it so exciting when it does happen.
On a related note, the more I think about, the sillier I think it is that pitchers hit year round in the NL. It's cool to watch a few times a year, but to have guys you're paying millions of dollars (to pitch) to be chancing getting hit by a pitch or pulling a groin or jamming something in a slide just seems to be tempting fate.
==>Two roster moves were made since I last posted: Jesse Crain was sent to AAA following his most recent implosion in order to make room for returning starter Glen Perkins. Jason Pridie was called up from AAA for his second cup of coffee to replace Denard Span, who was placed on the Disabled List. Pridie likely won't be up very long, but hopefully he'll be able to notch his first career hit (he was 0-4 in his brief stint last year).
==>Speaking of Perkins, he had a solid return outing on Tuesday night against the Pirates. He threw six innings of two-run ball and thus picked up a quality start. In addition, he struck out four against just one walk.
==>Why is Jose Morales with the Twins if he is not going to play at all? I can understand it if they want to get him some playing time over Mike Redmond, but obviously don't want to get rid of Redmond; that's not the case though. He seems to literally be nothing more than insurance for days when Joe Mauer is DHing. I know it would have been helpful once (when Redmond was ejected) and almost helpful another time (when Redmond got hit on the hand and looked like he might have to leave), but it is really a very rare situation, and it's not worth taking up a roster spot for that possibility.
==>After Mauer's 4-4 showing to start the series with the Pirates, he had a double in four at bats Wednesday before sitting out today's game. His average is now at .425 (58-160). What that means is that he could go 0 for his next sixty-seven and still be hitting over .300. It also means he could go 0-30 and 0-34 and still be leading the Majors and the AL, respectively, in batting average (assuming of course that the leaders stay where they are). And I recently learned that he also technically leads the batting title race despite the fact that he doesn't qualify yet.
==>The Twins took 2 of 3 from the Pirates, but they are going to have to take more advantage of their opportunities against teams not as bad as Pittsburgh if they expect to keep winning. Consider this: in game 1, they hit into 5 double plays (and had a runner thrown out at home) and still scored 8 runs. In game 2, they had 1 hit in 10 at bats with runners in scoring position, but followed that up by hitting even worse with RISP in game 3 (1-11). And Michael Cuddyer got thrown out again at home plate on an infield grounder.
==>And last, but most definitely not least, I wanted to bring up Nick Blackburn's sparkling outing earlier today. He came within one out of a complete game shutout, but still managed to go the distance, give up one run, and allow only six hits. He's now pitched six straight quality starts, and has gone at least seven innings in all but one of them. In that span he's lowered his ERA from 3.83 to 3.09, despite only having more strikeouts than walks in two of the six outings. Total, he walked 11 with just 16 strikeouts, but, as he's done all year, was very successful. I don't know if he can keep it up with this smoke and mirrors approach, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.