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Here We Go Again

Twins return to first place by half a game.

Sure, Thursday night's game was great and, really, is the kind of game I anticipate seeing between the Twins and Angels.  But I'm sure as hell not about to bring up issues with a 9-0 rout.  The Halos are one of the American League's (and baseball's) best teams, and with the Twins in a dead heat with the South Siders in the hunt for the pennant every win is big.  These last two have meant just a little bit more, and because Minnesota is actually on the road while logging these wins, it's a great weekend for optimism.

Glen Perkins came up huge for the second time in three starts, and separate from the game it would be nice to see him get back on a streak where quality starts can again become the rule instead of the exception.  Back to Friday night, for how well he's been hit this season it means a lot to see a guy step up and be the man his team needs him to be.  Perkins was freezing hitters, getting their knees to buckle two or three times through the course of the game, and that's not something we're accustomed to seeing from him.  His changeup was a virtual mirror of his fastball, but dropped an average of about nine inches lower than the fastball, ensuring some necessary deception.  About 20 feet from the plate, the off-speed pitch could start to drop off the table:



Like one of our community members mentioned yesterday, I think it was Adam Peterson, having Perk as a number five starter isn't a bad thing.  He may not be pitching quite as well as his 3.90 ERA suggests, but that hasn't stopped him from having a pretty good year.  Most importantly last night, he managed to keep the dangerous Angels away from an inconsistent bullpen by logging eight solid innings.

His offensive support was extensive.  Delmon Young had another one of his easy-swing home runs to center field, and Denard Span continues to be a major catalyst in making things happen all over the field.  Every starter collected a hit except Alexi Casilla, and just like Thursday's game both teams were stingy with the free passes--the Twins didn't collect one.

The last time Span didn't reach base via a walk or a hit was August 1.  In fact, in his last 15 games he's hitting .385/.452/.538.  If the Twins win the division crown this summer, Denard's name will need to be added to a long list of contenders for the team's Most Valuable Player.  He uses his speed on the bases (11/15 stolen bases) and in the field, and he's still improving in both areas.  It's hard to imagine the Twins being this good without Span's significant contributions.

Young, by contrast, won't be garnering any MVP votes, but he's been a big part of the offense this month.  Last night's bomb was his fourth in August alone, and so in spite of just hitting .250/.307/.456 on the month the power is starting to come around.  No, he's not selective (he swings at 39% of balls outside the strike zone) and sometimes it feels like walks are kryptonite, but Young is starting to show signs that all the promise wasn't for nothing.  His eight homers since June 7th put him just one behind Justin Morneau, good enough for third on the team in that span (Jason Kubel has 11).  And, in spite of a slower August in terms of hits, Young's still hitting .310/.346/.467 since May 30.  Considering what he can do versus what he can't do, that's not bad for a 22-year old.

And of course I can't ignore the fact that, once again, your Minnesota Twins are in first place in the AL Central.  Forgive the bravado, but I think that's exactly where this team deserves to be.  I do believe the 2008 Twins will be the division champions, and with the way they're playing right now that's a hard point to argue.  Players have picked each other up when they've slumped, and for a team that back in March would have been considered fortunate to finish the season at 81-81 this year's campaign is proving to be one hell of a ride.

Three cheers for Tony_O, whose monster show on a Friday night proves that to the victors go the spoils:

Name # of Posts
Tony_O 78
33MorneauMVP 69
Alexi Casilla All-Star 42
DedicatedFollowerOfFashion 25
caluofmn 12
.mnqwerd 9
Beerbear 7
Hoya 7
Adam Peterson 6
natetheskate 2
ianmader 1
Neil 1
MagikLair 1
Johnny Safron 1

Stars of the Game

#3  Delmon Young  (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 2-out RBI)
#2  Denard Span  (3-for-5, HR, 4 RBI, R, OF assist DP, 3 2-out RBI)
#1  Glen Perkins  (8 IP, 5 H, 3 K, 2 BB, 0 R)