Friday, July 29, 2005

Al Leiter 115 Johan Santana 94 (pitch count 7/27/05)...thats no misprint, 40 year old left handed zombie Al Leiter was allowed by the Twins offense to stagger around blindly and get off 115 pitches. Santana had thrown 94 pitches through 7 shutout innings but Ron Gardenhire had seen enough. So accustomed to winning games in Yankee Stadium he had become, that even on a 90 degree July night in the Bronx he felt safe. It was 6-0 Twins and Gardy only needed to get 6 more outs against the 2 rich 2 B convicted of murderers row. So he told Santana to stay on the bench denying every pitchers dream of throwing a shut out against the Evil Empire at Yankee Stadium. Exit dream...Enter Nightmare...Enter Bullpen.... Gardenhire lost his grip on the game faster than the tying run came to the plate. The Twins came within a fraction of witnessing (not Gardy he couldnt watch) a game tying home run by Bernie Williams. Bernie was batting left handed of course in a left handed hitters ballpark while our left handed Cy Young award winner was sitting in the corner of the dugout. Santana's night was finished because he threw 94 pitches and Gardenhire needed to call on him to pitch again in 5 or 6 more days.....

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Party Is Over ! After a 1 game suspension, Ron Gardenhire returned to the Twins and immediately put his stamp back on our team by reminding us that he still believes Matthew LeCroy and Terry Mulholland should have prominent roles on this team by once again inserting Lecroy into the middle of our batting order and allowing Mulholland to pitch in key situations. Let me quickly sum up Gardenhire's pitching logic....Joe Mays is taken out on friday night at Detroit down 8 - 3 and in comes Mulholland to mop up....1 inning later the Twins rally to make it a 8 - 6....Game On right ?...Here comes Crain or Romero right ? Wrong ! Gardenhire lets Mulholland throw another inning of batting practice until its 12 - 6 then decides to bring Jesse Crain into the game that is now out of reach. Am I missing something here? Is Gardy missing something ? (like a chromosome).......Meanwhile, Lecroy's at-bats come at the expense of a slumping Lew Ford. Gardy lets Hunter and Jones dig themselves out of protracted slumps but wont allow Lew the same consideration....Uh Oh !....another flashback coming!....2004 post season playoffs...Twins are up 1 game to zero at Yankee Stadium...Lew Ford our 2004 catalyst...our ignitor...our spark plug...has some bad at-bats in our game 1 victory so what does Gardy do ? He has one of his infamous "hunches" and benches Lew Ford for game 2 and inserts Jason Kubel who to this date has 60 career major league at-bats. Gardenhire rolls snake eyes and Kubel is o-for as he walks to the plate in the 8th inning of a tie game to face Mariano Rivera with what would have been the winning run (the yankees wont score again til the 12th inning) on 3rd base and only 1 out. Everyone, and i mean everyone in Twins Territory waited for Kubel to be called back to the dugout ! we have a chance to go up 2 games to zero in a 5 game series....its yankee stadium...Rivera is on the mound...batting is a kid with 60 major league at-bats (yes i had to bring that up again!)....The rest is history, Kubel strikes out on 3 pitches, the second out is made and that winning run stays at 3rd base allowing the yankees to go on to win in extra innings and steal the series back from the Twins. Once again the playoff tide had turned courtesy of the Gardenworm.

Friday, July 22, 2005

I'll be damned....The Twins finally bust loose with the offense yall have been expecting all year naturally Ron Gardenhire was nowhere near the dugout on this momentous occasion (serving a 1 game suspension)....can we banish Gardenhire to the press box for the rest of the season if for no other reason than to prevent him from batting Lecroy 4th or even worse playing him at 1st base....We wont see Lecroy at 1st ever again you say? Oh yeah? rumors are circulating that he might send Justin Morneau down - We are soon heading to Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, both built for left handed power hitters and Gardy is seriously considering getting rid of our only legitimate left handed bomber (incidentally one of my alltime favorite Gardenhire memories occured during Morneau's first season in the bigs when he damaged the Miller Park scoreboard with a vicious homerun and Gardy sent him back to the minors a few days later apparently not interested in helping out a franchise which hasnt had a 30 homer guy for almost 2 decades) please tell me he's just trying to light a fire under Morneau but the last time he pissed away a left handed power source it was someone named David Ortiz and he rationalized it by saying he had to get this kid Lecroy some at-bats.....Ok enough with the Matt Lecroy bashing (after all he single handedly buried the myth that white guys couldnt dance...dont believe me ? check out the Twins locker room pennant clinching celebrations 2002-2004) because while we are busy talking about how Yankee Stadium is built for lefties it reminds me of how Gardy buzz killed the 2003 post season against the bronx bombers and their arsenal of left handed hitters. Gardenhire, still feeling guilty about leaving Kyle Lohse out of the 2002 post season rotation(although he didnt see any problem with scheduling Rick Reed to pitch game 2 and a potential game 6 against the Angels in the ALCS) , commits himself to a 3 man rotation versus the Yankees of Radke (R) Santana (L) and Lohse (R) while leaving Kenny Rogers(L) and Eric Milton(L) on the bench....Good Lord did the man soak up anything from sitting next to Tom Kelly for a decade? T.K. set up opposing managers like a chess master while Gardenhire was apparently busy in the corner of the dugout playing with his pawn !

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I had a terrible dream last night that Gardenhire had gotten so disoriented by our tailspin that he accidently penciled in Matthew LeCroy to bat cleanup......Good Lord that was no dream! How many of us would have Lecroy batting 4th on our softball team? the answer - none - why? because pitchers usually hit in softball and since the man brings no defensive ability to the table(need proof? the Twins thought Corky Miller was a better catcher) he would only be a situational pinch hitter off the bench. Just like i was under the impression that when old man Mulholland made the team he had one role - to be an inning eater during a blow out. Hang on, I just had yet another flashback....June 10th 2005 - after rolling over an empty bottle of bourbon i wake up around midnight and the Twins interleague game from Dodger stadium is on the radio and i hear Mulholland's name and drift comfortably back to sleep assured that the game is out of reach one way or the other. The sobering box score in the next day's St. Paul Daily Disappointment tells me that he started the bottom of the ninth inning in a tie game broken seconds later when a Mulholland soft toss was pulverized into the bleachers injurying several Dodger fans surprisingly still attending the game.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Desperation has set desperate ? Gardy has decided to start playing his "hunches" again. Rearranging his lineup on a daily basis spittin seeds at the dugout wall in a feeble effort to see what sticks as we sink closer to .500. Gardy and his "hunches"! Flashback postseason 2002 - Bobby Kielty and Dustan Mohr both solid defensively and who have platooned the entire season in right field are benched in favor of rookie infielder Michael Cuddyer (a shortstop and 3rd baseman his entire life until 2002) Reminder - the Twins did not get to the playoffs with great pitching or offense, they did it with defense. Game 2 ALCS - "MLB pitcher" Rick Reed (does a scab receive union benefits once retired?) is serving up his usual 5 + innings of batting practice and cant get the help he so sorely needs when our rookie infielder playing right hesitates on a flyball (not that Cuddyer can be blamed for the Metrodome's dim backdrop and filthy white roof which can temporarily paralyze anyone but the fact is Kielty and Mohr had dealt with it all season until Gardenhire decided his right fielder of the future needed to be baptized in October rather than the following April) letting it drop in front of him allowing the Angels to score critical runs helping them to tie the series and steal home field advantage from the Twins. Meanwhile Bobby Kielty sits on the bench reminiscing about his back to back game winning homeruns against the blacksox on the eve of the postseason while Dustan Mohr ponders all his extra base robbing sliding catches and both come to the same conclusion that Tom Kelly's decision to retire will haunt this franchise when it looks back on what it could have had!