Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Southside Baseball

Nicole and I went down to the Cell last night for the first of a three game series: Sox vs Mariners. Its the first time all season the M's have been in town, thus my first time this year I've had a chance to see the M's live. As is often the case, Seattle lost badly: 13-5. When the M's played the Cubs last year in interleauge, we saw a number of Seattle fans at Wrigley. Not too many at the Cell last night--no doubt the difference being last year we were only a few games out of first, this year we're one of the worst in the league.

Going into the game I had tempered my expectations. With our season long finished, you need to start watching baseball for other reasons than just winning. I was interested in seeing our call-ups from Tacoma, Jeff Clement and Vlad Balentein, who both have notable power swings but are only batting in the low .200s. Both actually did pretty well tonight with Clement going 3-4 and Vlad ripping a double down the right field line to drive in two. Ichiro did his thang, putting down some blooper singles and running out an infield grounder for a single. Beltre went 0-5, continuing to under-impress us with his offense--but making a great leaping grab to rob Paul Konerko of a screaming line drive. I'm still waiting for Beltre to be the offenseive contribution he has the potential to be-- but the guy can play great 3b. The Mariners racked up 15 hits, but the power and the timing was missing leaving us only scoring 5 runs. The lead changed twice in the game, but pitching and infield defense did not come through for us. Yunieski Betancourt let no less than three easy grounders get by him for hits (Jose Lopez looked a little lame at second base also). At one time Yuni was considered one of the best defensive short stops in the league. I don't think its an overstatement to say that he is now among the worst. And Finally, the suckfest of the night was Jarrod Washburn. After pitching way above his talent level in June and July, he's come back down to earth-- giving up seven hits, two homers, and eight runs in 4 1/3 innings. To be fair, the White Sox havethe AL's best offense in a homer-happy park; but Washburn is still one of the least likeable people in the M's organization for his on-the-field hackery and his consistent shifting of blame to other players. We know now that the Twins had claimed him on waivers late last week, but the deal fell through. Congratulations Twins fans-- you dodged a bullet on that one.

Nicole wore her Twins cap and rooted for the Sox to lose-- but surprisingly she got less crap from the southsiders than I did for wearing my Mariner's cap. Though the AL central has remained tight most of the season, I'm putting my money that the Sox will end up on top. Right now Chicago has twice as big a run differential as Minnesota, and although Minnesota has a solid young team, the White Sox have a well built team that leads the league in home runs and slugging percentage while having a solid pitching staff on the other side of the ball. What is most exciting about the AL Central is that there is a very real possibility that if both the Twins and Sox play well-- and if the Rays continue to dominate the AL East-- for the first time in years we might have playoffs without the Yankees and the Red Sox. While it will pain my Minnesotan friends to hear this, I'm rooting for both the White Sox and the Twins to do well in order to put the overpaid/overhyped teams of the NE out of the playoffs. If both teams play well in these last six weeks, one will win the division and the other has a chance to knock Boston out of the wild card spot.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy your baseball comments, Matt. As you know I am a huge Twins fan. I echo your observations in regard to the AL Central. The Twins start a long road trip later this week that may make or break their chances for the post season. They go to the west coast to play the Angels, Mariners, and A's, then to Toronto for a series with the Jays. I know the odds are in the Chisox favor, but I never count the Twins and their never say die attitude out.

Go! Twins

Lefdawg said...

Go Diamondbacks!

Oh, wait...I forgot where my friends live these days...I'm glad you do these updates on the Twins/Cubs/Sox b/c even though Jared and I are devout fans of the Diamondbacks(we listen/watch all their games), we don't keep up with how all the teams are doing in either the NL or AL.

Hope you both are doing well!