When Delmon Young swung in the first inning last night, it made the kind of sound Twins fans have been waiting for since the beginning of last season — that sweet-sounding thwack that carries back to the seats behind home plate while the baseball carries long and without question over the wall in left-center. The standing ovation Delmon received after giving the Twins that 5-0 lead was the sort of noise that filled the Metrodome in 1987 and ’91, the kind of pounding that the heart loves and the ear (after a while) needs relief from.
Nothing reached that level again, although the Dome was a merry place as the Twins took their 10-0 lead in the fourth inning and an increasingly nervous one as the bullpen set out to remind us of Luis Ayala, Sean Henn, Philip Humber and the others who came and went during the more troubling days of 2009. The crowd was divided between those who were there for the baseball and those who came to say there were there for the final weekend of baseball at the Dome. The latter group were the ones who were filing out of the Metrodome while the Royals pulled uncomfortably closer.
And the scoreboard watching was a game of who-could-see-it-change first. Ms. Baseball and I listened in the car to Scott Podsednik go deep to lead off the White Sox-Detroit game and, in our section, it was a race to overhear who would be the first to call out as the Mighty Whiteys (our term-of-affection for the weekend) added to their lead.
Will the Twins’ best personnel move of this season be that the White Sox made that trade for Jake Peavy?
The task gets tougher today. Nick Blackburn of three days of rest vs. Zack Greinke, who will be trying to nail down the Cy Young Award. You can work hard to pull out numbers that can give you hope — Greinke is 2-9 pitching on artificial turf and 5-7 pitching in Domes, with similarly medicore statistics across the board in those environments. Blackburn has been at his best (a 3.18 ERA) pitching in day games.
But finding those numbers is pretty much like fishing for carp from the dock, hardly an exercise worth pursuing. Greinke has been masterful on a consistent basis and Blackburn has been maddening in his inconsistency, although the 3 earned runs given up in his last 3 starts gives good reason for hope. Best practice today isto throw out the past and let the weekend do its magic.
This is also a day to put aside what happens if the Twins manage to pull off this thing and become the first team since divisional play started 40 years ago to win a division title after trailing by 3 games with only 4 left to play. Let’s bag the “all-this-to-play-the-Yankees” sentiment.
The Twins just need to take it one mountain at a time.