Angels and Royals combine to go 4-2 against Tigers, White Sox.
All three teams in the AL Central streaking toward October faultered this weekend, allowing the Twins yet another chance to write off a streak of bad games. In their last 16 games the Twins are 8-8, with the new culprit becoming a lackluster offense that can't support solid pitching. This weekend against the Bronx Bombers, the Minnesota bats were again absent, although the pitching wasn't necessarily doing anyone any favors either.  Saturday's win was nice, but Friday's and Sunday's games gave the impression of a behemoth animal smothering the breath from its prey. Getting out of jams early with runners on base quickly turns into getting out of innings after damage has been done; four of these innings in a game, where you're giving up 2 or 3 runs or even just 1 run a time, will suffocate you.
One of the worst parts about losses like these to the Yankees, is that inevitably you hear the defense of Yeah, well, it's tough to win against a lineup of All Stars. As much merit as the argument has, it makes me sick that it even has to be said. Overpaid mercenaries or AAA players in Major League uniforms, you have to win. Baseball allows George Steinbrenner the right to pay for the quality of players he puts in uniform, and all he's doing is taking advantage of the opportunity. Steinbrenner wants to win, and he does what is in his power to ensure he has the best chance of fielding the best team in baseball. It's good business, it's bad for baseball, and it's a damn shame you can utter those two phrases in the same sentence.
Sunday's defeat came at the feet of a Yankee rookie pitcher, Darrell Rasner. He threw 7 innings for the Nationals in 2005, but now finds himself earning his stripes on baseball's biggest stage. On that stage Sunday afternoon, he silenced the game's hottest team over the last twelve weeks, spreading four hits over six innings. After allowing Yankee Killer Torii Hunter to round the bases on his 23rd home run of the year, he shut the impotent Minnesota offense down. His offense picked him up and did the rest, including two homers by future Hall of Famer Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez had four bombs in the three-game series.
On Saturday I mentioned how if Chicago or the Twins could simply play to their abilities over the next couple of weeks, the weaker team could be easily left by the side of the road. This weekend the Twins escaped another chance for the White Sox to start to pull away, as they dropped two of three to the Royals. These gifts certainly come in handy, but both the Twins and the White Sox are too good for both teams to continue to drop games they should be winning.
If the Twins continue to be unable to put together complete games on either side of the ball, that sense of suffocation will begin to grow stronger. Gifts, such as the White Sox lifting the pillow just enough to allow you to breathe, should not be what keeps you alive. Starting Monday, the Twins have three games in Tampa Bay before welcoming the Tigers to town for four games, and learning to breathe again against the Devil Rays will go a long way in getting us ready to face the division leaders. Losing another series, especially to another one of the weaker teams in baseball, should not happen to a contending team.
You know what I think? It's just sleep apnea. Wake up, Minnesota Twins. It's time to go to work.