(I’ll be on MPR with Gary Eichten talking Twins at noon today. We’re at 91.1 FM and www.mpr.org for the webcast.)
I’m glad that Nick Blackburn is pitching because, between his excellent tie-breaker pitching last season and his gems against the Tigers in Game 1 of last Tuesday’s doubleheader (which seems like a month ago) and against Zack Greinke on Saturday, he is my big-game choice. In his last four starts, he’s given up only 5 runs in 27 1/3 innings and let barely put than one man on base per inning (28 in that stretch). Whatever his mid-season struggles were, he seems to have dealt them and I’m glad he’s the choice.
This is such a crazy series in that the Twins basically were in no realistic position to compete well in Game 1 without an extraordinary effort, which didn’t happen. Now, against the team with the best record in baseball and a stranglehold over them during the past few years, the Twins have to win three out of four.
Twins chances: slim and some.
There are so many words in motion about this game, that I want to make one suggestion and then get out:
I want Carlos Gomez in center field tonight.
There’s lot of ground to cover in the Yankee Stadium outfield, especially from left-center to right-center, and we’ve seen several balls in recent games that may have been caught if Denard Span was in right field instead of center. (There’s less ground than the old Yankee Stadium, but still a lot.) During Gardy’s late-game defensive moves, Span has made two catches — one against Detroit and one against Kansas City — that were beyond what Kubel would have made. (Kubel is a workmanlike outfielder; Span is an excellent corner outfielder.)
And the Jose Morales of the last couple of weeks isn’t hitting like the Jose Morales whom many people wanted to see replace Mike Redmond earlier this season. Morales was so overmatched against Rick Porcello on Tuesday that Gardy lifted him after two at-bats, and I don’t think that bodes well for a prime-time appearance in Yankee Stadium. In addition his 4-for-29 in the last couple of weeks, Morales has only two extra-base hits (doubles) since being recalled in September and given significant DH time. (Both of those doubles came in one game against Cleveland.) This just isn’t his time.
I’ve been telling people who wondered about the Young-Span-Kubel outfield as a daily event that it’s been worth giving up the offense to get Morales or Harris in the lineup at DH.
Now, it’s different. Big outfield, big game … and the potential for a fly ball or a line drive that may call for one of the biggest defensive plays of the season.