Friday, June 20, 2008

Notes for the Weekend

After putting the finishing touches on a sweep over the Nationals with a 9-3 victory yesterday, the Twins have won five of their last six games and have moved back above the .500 mark to 37-36. They have rebounded nicely from a 2-8 stretch which nearly knocked them into third place in the division, and are very much hanging around in this race. They currently trail the White Sox by 4 1/2 games for the AL Central lead, though it's worth noting that the Tigers have won nine straight and are breathing down the Twins' necks.

This weekend, the Twins have a three-game set against the Diamondbacks, who started the season very hot but haven't won a series in June. Tonight's tilt will pit Scott Baker against Randy Johnson, one of the game's all-time great left-handers and a pitcher who has performed quite well against the Twins historically. If the Twins right-handed hitters can't start to reverse their brutal trends against southpaws, this could be a very tough game. Tomorrow's game will be attended by a smattering of citizens from the SBG community (including myself), as Mr. Ball Guy will be holding his annual convention with a picnic preceding the ballgame. Nick Blackburn will get the nod against Micah Owings in that game; it should be interesting to see how Blackburn holds up after having his last start skipped due to elbow soreness. Sunday presents another interesting match-up with Livan Hernandez going against Brandon Webb. On May 16, Hernandez was 6-1 with a 3.90 ERA and Webb was 9-0 with a 2.56 ERA; since that point, Hernandez has gone 1-3 with a 7.91 and Webb has gone 2-3 with a 4.54. Certainly Hernandez's drop-off has been far steeper, but both pitchers have cooled off after strong starts. Webb lasted just 3 1/3 innings while surrendering seven runs in his most recent outing, and has experienced decreased velocity as of late due to what he's suggested may be a dead arm period. Webb is a terrific pitcher, but it looks like the Twins might be catching him at the right time.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, and I look forward to seeing some of you tomorrow afternoon.