Minnesota Twins: After the Boys of Summer Are Gone...
Here lie your 2010 Minnesota Twins. April 5, 2010-October 9, 2010.
In a game that seemed inevitable, the Twins once again were swept out of the playoffs by the New York Yankees. This is the 12th straight home playoff loss for a franchise which used to flourish come October. The second longest such streak in history. Behind only the Boston Red Sox from 1980-1995 which lost 14 straight. I myself was at Target Field for both home games in the playoffs (and every playoff game since 2004). The atmosphere was great, and the crowd was optimistic for our chances against Derek Jeter and the hated Yanks. This was supposed to be our year. We were no longer the "little Twinks" who beat you with small ball and luck. We were a team sporting a new stadium, two MVP's in the lineup and a former All-Star batting ninth. We had three, count them three closers in our bullpen with over 20 saves on the year. We had Jim Thome who hits baseballs farther then Happy Gilmore could hit a drive. We were primed for the postseason...
That's until we got a look at those sexy pinstripes. As Christopher Walken so neatly put it in Catch Me if you Can: "Do you know why the Yankees always win the World Series? It's because the other team can't stop looking at the pinstripes." And I think that's what is happening here. The Twins were the best team in baseball since June turned over to July. Mauer had hit .379, Thome was putting dents in the flag pole in right field and the "Pavstache" was making girls drool all over the country. The Twins ran away from the White Sox and clinched the division earlier then any other team in baseball. And none of it made a difference once the Yankees showed up to Target Field last Wednesday.
Game 1 was the pivotal game here. Liriano was pitching great through five innings and had a 3-0 lead (thank you Michael Cuddyer). Then the wheels fell off. After giving up two runs already in the sixth, there were two men on for Curtis Granderson. Gardy decided to let Liriano pitch to Granderson. A triple later and the score was 4-3. I don't blame Gardy to leave Liriano in at that point. Granderson was atrocious against lefties all season (to the tune of .234 on the season). Mijares could have come in and gotten him out, but I'm siding with Gardy on this one. Liriano is your best pitcher and best bet to get Granderson.
The game was lost in the next half inning however. The Twins loaded the bases and actually scored a run with a bases loaded walk. The next batter was retired, and the Twins left three men on base (a recurring theme in the three games). Of course, Crain comes in and leaves a hanging slider to Tex and the game is 6-4. Once No. 42 came trotting out the pen for the Yanks, game over.
Game 2 was a must win for the Twins. I wont spend much time on this because it is a week ago already. Pettitte was great. Berkman was great. Twins once again had no clutch hitting. And shockingly they lose 5-2. Ho hum. Better luck next year. Twins were not going to waltz into Yankee Stadium and win two games, then come home and win Game 5. And they didn't. After a 6-1 loss to Phil Hughes, the season, which had such high hopes, was over.
Over the next week or so, I will go over what I think the Twins should do with their impending free agents, and who they might be able to acquire in free agency or through trades. This will be an interesting offseason, and the 2011 team will look quite different then the inaugural Target Field team.
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