Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nightly Notes: Game #163

And so it ends. This season was both exhilarating and frustrating. In my opinion, the Twins dramatically outperformed expectations this season, thanks in large part to unbelievably timing hitting and, until recently, consistently good performances from their starters. Unfortunately, they couldn't quite make the push into the playoffs -- but I'm incredibly excited about next year. Here are some notes on tonight's season finale:

1.) Tonight isn't a night to blame anyone for the loss. Obviously, the hitters didn't get it done tonight -- but that was mostly because John Danks was fantastic tonight. He was much, much better than predicted (by anyone!), and he just beat the Twins hitters. There were individual approaches that I wasn't pleased with (Delmon Young swinging on the first pitch to start the 8th inning, for instance), but for the most part the Twins just got beat. There's not a lot you can do when the opposing pitcher throws a gem.

2.) Kudos to Nick Blackburn for defying expectations as well. This would have been Kevin Slowey's start but for the wrist injury, but Blackburn stepped up and delivered a great performance. Yeah, he threw a bad pitch to Thome that ended up leaving the yard, but one big mistake in 6+ innings of work is pretty commendable in the circumstances he faced today. Thanks for the effort, Nick.

3.) Perhaps the most interesting question tonight was whether Michael Cuddyer should have been sent home on Brendan Harris' short fly to center that resulted in an inning ending double play when Ken Griffey, Jr. nailed Cuddyer at the plate and A.J. hung onto the ball. Like the TBS announcers, I don't have a problem with sending Cuddyer in this situation. The Twins weren't doing anything at the plate, and Nick Punto was coming up next. The Twins had to be aggressive and take a chance. Of course, Gardy could have been really unconventional and put someone fast on 3rd as a pinch runner for Cuddyer -- but it was just the 5th inning, and Cuddyer was the only guy who had done anything good offensively against Danks. Talk about risk/reward. It's easy in hindsight to say that it was a mistake to send Cuddyer, or even not to get creative and pinch run for him, but at the time I think it was handled about as well as it could have been.

4.) Even though this thing didn't end the way I wanted it to, I have to acknowledge that this game was a blast to watch. There was tension in every inning, every at bat, every pitch. That's what a game like this is supposed to bring, and it delivered. You better believe I'm a Rays fan starting Thursday, though.

5.) Incidentally, there's been a lot of talk about whether the Twins got screwed over by the coin flip. While I think there are better ways to decide where to play a playoff game like this, I think it's pretty weak to complain about it. The Twins had a chance to make the playoffs by winning another game against the Royals in that final series. Unfortunately, they didn't get the job done and so fell into a position where the coin flip mattered.

That's about all I have the gumption to write tonight. I plan on enjoying the post-season, rooting for the Cubs and Rays and against the White Sox. I'll be back in the next day or so with a look at what faces the Twins in the post-season ahead, and plan on continuing regular posts as I have in each of the last few off-seasons. I hope you keep stopping by in the long, baseball-less months that lie ahead. Thanks to the Twins one last time for a season that was a lot of fun, even if it came up a bit short of where we fans hoped it would.



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