There's just something about the old place that I'll miss when the Twins move next year.
Not the way the seats don't face home plate.
Not the roof blinding opponents and occasionally Twins' rookies.
Not even the way the concourses make me wonder if the place was designed by Soviet architects.
No, what I'll miss most about the Dome is that the White Sox simply can't seem to win there.
In both game one and game two of this key series*, the White Sox's defense killed their pitchers, giving up two unearned runs in the first game and three or more earned runs in the second after defensive miscues prolonged innings**.
*I refuse to call any series in July a "must-win series", there's just too much time left in the season, but let's not kid ourselves, losing this series at home after the horrid road trip could easily have sent the Twins into a tailspin.
**This ought to show why errors are one of the dumbest stats in the world. Scott Podsednik's missed catch and Chris Getz's inexplicable break toward second base were huge defensive miscues that cost the Sox dearly, but neither were errors in the traditional sense of the term.
Game three sealed the theme of this series: contributions from unlikely sources.
Over the course of the three games, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, and the Twins DHs (Jason Kubel and Joe Crede) went a combined 4-for-31 (.129), 2R, 2RBI. If that was all you knew about these three games, you'd probably be betting the Twins were the ones who got swept.
A big part of the reason they didn't get swept was the play of the bottom of the order. Carlos Gomez, Nick Punto, and Alexi Casilla, all of whom have been maligned badly so far this season by frustrated fans combined to go 6-for-24 (.250), 5R, 4 RBI, meaning those three drove in one-third of the runs the Twins scored in the entire series.
Getting clutch contributions from the bottom of the order hitters was one of the hallmarks of last year's team and if the 2009 squad can start to produce anywhere close to the level they did in the last three games, the Twins will be a much better team, whether or not the front office makes a deal.
That said, counting on those three to make a consistent effort is a shaky strategy at best. The Twins were very fortunate they showed up when they did, and the middle three won't always disappear the way they did in this series, but still, adding another hitter or two wouldn't be a bad thing at all.
The other major reason the Twins pulled off this sweep was their pitching, both starters and relievers.
The Twins got only one non-Quality Start, and that was from emergency starter Brian Duensing, added to the rotation at the last second. Even Duensing gave the Twins a good start, he just lacked the requisite six innings for his start to be officially considered quality.
Nevertheless, the Twins starters in this series (Duensing, Baker, and Perkins) went 18 innings and gave up just six runs, which was few enough to keep the Twins in every one of the games.
If anyone performed uncharacteristically well, it was the bullpen. Only Bobby Keppel pitched in a game that wasn't close, and Keppel was the only one to give up a run. Joe Nathan converted three straight saves, Jose Mijares and Jesse Crain won games in relief, and Matt Guerrier locked down the eighth twice without surrendering so much as a hit.
This series should serve as a cautionary tale for the Twins. They had almost everything clicking: the also-rans of their lineup, the starters, and the bullpen, yet won the three games by just a combined four runs.