What have we learned, then?
Allow me to summarize quickly: The Twins led 3-0 and 7-3, but Kevin Slowey gave up six runs and didn't even make it out of the second inning, Jeff Manship followed and didn't help much, and Randy Flores continues to be absolutely and totally useless. All of this combined to give the Royals, 63-92 coming into the game, ten runs. Though much has been made of the Twins' weak lineups lately, this one included six regular starters, and it combined to score more than enough runs to support any theoretical pitching staff that wasn't getting pounded like cheap veal by the Kansas City lineup.
So here's what we learned tonight:
- Kevin Slowey will not be starting any games in the postseason, unless several more Twins players are mysteriously injured by inanimate objects. Slowey may not even make the postseason roster at this point. He may have one more start to redeem himself, but he may have to throw a no-hitter to do so.
- The Twins front office was once so desperate for bullpen help that they called up the American League home office and said, "Give us anybody lefthanded who's available." And so they got a window-washer from Paducah, Kentucky named Randy Flores, who had never before seen a baseball game but was willing to try his (left) hand at it, and that is how Randy Flores has a job in major league baseball and you do not.
- Ron Gardenhire is not a wizard. I grant you that he may have sorcerer-like qualities, given that he has won another division title despite missing two of his three perennial All-Stars for the second half of the year, but even Professor Gardy cannot win with the team he currently has. (Also, as an aside, isn't 2009 even more impressive, looking back? The Twins got 1,544 plate appearances from Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert, Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, and Brian Buscher. Buscher led the pack with an 81 OPS+, and he had the fewest plate appearances of any of them. Only Harris hit better than .240. And somehow the team still won the division.)
- Jason Kubel drove in five runs, which was nice to see. Kubel doubled in two runs in the first, hit his 21st homer in the fourth, but unfortunately could not pitch, which is what the Twins really needed.
- The Yankees lost to Toronto. The Rays somehow got shut out by Baltimore. The Rangers somehow managed to allow seven runs to the hapless, impotent Mariners, and they lost too. So, even if the Twins aren't playing well, at least nobody else is either. Final standings: Tampa leads, the Yankees a half game back, the Twins another half game back of that, and the Rangers five games adrift of the Twins.
- Jason Repko, pinch running, was doubled off of first to end the game, when in true Puntovian style, he took off from first and chugged wildly around second base on a lazy pop fly to center. This is the point where I remind you that Repko is hitting .193 since August 1, and in that time has as many strikeouts (25) as he does trips to first base (17 hits, eight walks). Jason Repko will be on the postseason roster because Delmon Young is a terrible defensive left fielder and Jason Kubel runs like his legs hurt, and for no other reason we can fathom.
- Remember Philip Humber? He got the win for the Royals. Perhaps this tells you all you need to know about the game.
And now, I suggest you forget this game ever happened. In injury news, Joe Mauer probably won't play until the Twins head home this weekend to play Toronto. Jim Thome might go home early to rest his back and to sit in the Target Field whirlpool for a week. JJ Hardy already went home to have an MRI on his knee. If we're going to panic - and if the comment thread is an indication, we are - then let's at least panic about any combination of those three things.