I don't even remember why I'm crying, I just woke up in a stupor with seven boxes of empty tissues next to the couch and lots of crust in my eyes.
Over the last 30 days, the Cleveland Indians have gone 11-15. Detroit, in the same span, is 9-20. You'd think that with a team ERA of 3.94 for those exact same 30 days, the Twins would have found a way to make up some ground on both teams.
Sadly the Twins are 11-16 in that stretch, meaning they've actually LOST 1/2 game to the Indians. They've picked up three games on the Tigers of course, but anything more than a misery of an offense would have been able to make up significantly more ground. This is the span of games Minnesota needed; both teams in front of the Twins have been stumbling. The Twins haven't capitalized.
It looks like this season's AL Central Division winner will once again win by default, as the Twins did last year. Down the stretch last fall the Twins won by sucking less than the contenders and still needed help from the Royals, while this summer the winner will be the team with enough footing to crawl over the backs of the two teams who collapsed first for the last time.
Yogi moment. It felt good.
Here's how the AL Central's contenders fared this past month offensively, with American League ranks in parenthesis:
Team Avg Obp Slg R HR
Cleveland .242 (14) .305 (13) .361 (14) 100 (13) 21 (10)
Detroit .279 (6) .326 (8) .432 (6) 147 (5) 30 (4)
Minnesota .247 (13) .304 (14) .363 (13) 81 (14) 16 (13-t)
Here's proof that home runs don't necessarily win you games...I guess. Cleveland has hit five more bombs (significant when you take into account the Twins only launched 16 total), which aided in their scoring 19 more runs, and still their overall offensive lines aren't any better than Minnesota's. The 19 runs yielded no more wins. The Tigers managed one home run per day and won less than a third of their games, although this has more to do with their lack of pitching.
Which takes us to the second half of the story:
Team ERA WHIP K/9 BB/K Avg
Cleveland 3.46 (2) 1.22 (2) 6.28 (9) 2.69 (4) .254 (3)
Detroit 6.16 (14) 1.66 (14) 7.45 (4) 1.77 (12) .303 (14)
Minnesota 3.94 (4) 1.24 (3-t) 7.66 (2) 2.99 (2) .263 (4)
As great as Minnesota's pitching has been, Cleveland has allowed an entire half run less per game; unearned runs didn't change things much. Just as shocking as the two lethargic offenses in the first table is the absolute mess that has passed for pitching in Detroit. Arguably a Top-5 American League offense, wasted. Two Top-5 pitching staffs, neutralized. As strong as most of us thought the AL Central would turn out to be in 2007, none of the three teams over .500 are anything resembling a complete squad that could make a run in October. If any of these three teams decide to win 13 of 16, or play like they're capable of playing, or just mount any sort of a legitimate run at ALL, they could probably walk away with the division.
We all know what the Twins need. Hell, averaging 4 runs per game instead of the 3 we've paced over the last 30 days would have put us in a much better position to strike with the summer winding down. Garza's performance on Monday night wasn't anything to write home about, but bad starts are going to happen from time to time. Besides, I have a feeling those boxes of Kleenex next to the couch aren't about an occasional sub-par start from a pitcher.
I'm going to wipe the crust from my eyes and snap out of my stupor. Ass-bats are welcome to do the same at any time.