Pregame (11 games remaining)
Normally, with 11 games to play and sitting two and a half games behind the division leader, I'd say it was all but over. But even with three pivotal games next week against the White Sox, that gap between first and second place can't get too large. It's time for the Twins to win, because the margin for error has all but disappeared.
In the series and season finale, Scott Baker gets his 26th start of the season. It's been a good year for Scott, barring the time on the disabled list, and I'd like nothing more than to see him finish strong...and to drag his slumbering team along with him. He's throwing on just four days rest, thanks to Saturday's double-header, but he's riding a pretty good streak of five quality starts in his last seven. It'd be good to see him have a game where he's really on, because when Baker rolls he can strike out a hitter per inning and walk through innings without breaking a sweat. It's been a few weeks since we've seen Scott at his best.
Avoiding a sweep won't be easy for the Twins, as they're up against Cy Young candidate Cliff Lee, who just turned 30 at the end of August. He's had an enourmously successful campaign, throwing strikes and working efficiently to maximize his workload. With walk rates (1.20 BB/9) and home run rates (0.43 HR/9) at career lows, Lee is doing himeself plenty of favors. Most curious to me is the shift in what happens to his pitches after hitters make contact--for the first time in his major league career, he's inducing more ground balls than fly balls. Significantly so, as a matter of fact. So not only are his home run rates down, but there are fewer fly balls to measure that rate against. This Lee fellow is one tough customer this year.
|2008 - Scott Baker||9-4||25||25||0||0||0||0||153.2||146||61||61||18||39||123||3.57||1.20|
|2008 - Cliff Lee||22-2||29||29||4||2||0||0||210.0||195||59||55||10||28||157||2.36||1.06|