Saturday, August 29, 2009

Twins Find a Starter Maybe and Pick-up Some Relief

Going into the first night of the three game stand with the Texas Ranger, it might feel like the Twins have been about 4.5 games behind Detroit for an eternity, and that can get a bit disheartening. After all, Twins fans have watched their team get fat in the last 10 games, playing and winning series against Baltimore and Kansas City, going 7-3, with two of those losses coming in lopsided defeats at the hands of The Texas Rangers in Texas.

But doubters be damned, because the Twins bumped their 10 game record to 8-2, moved a full game past Chicago, and hung tight with Detroit on the strength of Brian Duensing, who appears to be the left-handed starter that the Twins expected to have in Glen Perkins or Francisco Liriano. Not that Duesning could be mistaken for either of those guys--he relies on a low 90's fastball and a variety of junk pitches. They worked tonight (one major caveat--Duensing was throwing a curve ball for strikes that could have been, in the eyes of another umpire, not strikes at all) and the free-swinging Rangers swung and missed a lot.

Regardless, Duensing, despite being on very tight pitch counts for all three of his major league starts is now 2-1, with his most recent performance being his most impressive--3 2/3 innings of no-hit ball, finishing 7 innings giving up only 3 hits and 1 run, while striking out 8. It is quite possible that the Twins, once again, have reached down to their minor league squad/bullpen and found a guy who can win them games.

The Twins should also be noted for putting together a line-up, top to bottom that can hit. I couldn't say that a month ago. They started a line-up that has six hitters hitting .275 or higher, and only one hitting below .260--Alexi Casilla, who is just above the Mendoza Line, but a month ago was 40 points below it, so you know he's been raking lately.

In addition to winning on Friday, the Twins decided to make address some pretty obvious bullpen issues, by signing veteran bullpen guys Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay. Some Twins fans have already given up on this team that is 4.5 games behind Detroit, even though they have 8 games against said Tigers left to play; even though they have by my count some 22 games against sub .500 clubs left to play--it is clear that the Twins themselves haven't given up yet. It will be a fine last month of the season.

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