Now for the bad news, which will take a bit more than one sentence to describe. On Wednesday the Yankees made like bullies, calmly taking the Twins’ lunch money yet again as they swept a makeshift double header. Just a day later, though, things don’t look quite as good.
Problem number one is that this team suddenly can’t score any runs. Derek Jeter led off the game with a single, then dashed to third on Mark Teixeira’s single two batters later. You could make the argument that even though we were only ten minutes into the action, this was the biggest moment of the game. With Javier Vazquez on the mound, a pitcher who has been, shall we say, less than dominant this year, it was probably important to get off to a quick start. It didn’t even need to be a big inning; just a 1-0 lead would have done wonders. And with Alex Rodríguez coming up with runners at first and third and only one out, even a lazy sac fly would do. Instead, A-Rod tapped weakly to short and produced a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
When presented with the exact same scenario in the bottom half of the inning — first and third and one out — Justin Morneau did his job and lofted a fly ball to centerfield, easily scoring Orlando Hudson to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.
The game was essentially over right then and there, but since they played eight more innings, I’ll give you the highlights — or lowlights, as the case may be. The first thing you need to know is that Javy Vazquez was awful, as you might guess from this line: 5.2 IP, 8H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2K. The second thing you need to know is that he was actually worse than that. Included in those eight hits were four doubles, a triple, and a home run, and there wasn’t a cheapie in the bunch. It seemed like every ball the Twins hit off Vazquez was a rocket, even the outs. As shaky as his confidence already seemed to be, it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from this.
Jason Kubel, who had already driven in a run with a second-inning double, led off the sixth inning with a monstrous home run to right, stretching the Minnesota lead to 5-2. Vazquez lasted another two batters, but he was a dead man walking at that point. Joe Girardi brought in Chan Ho Park with two outs, and was just as effective as you might think, giving up a harmless single before closing out the sixth but then starting the seventh by walking Joe Mauer and giving up a single to Morneau before Girardi lifted him for Damaso Marte. Marte got his man (Jim Thome), and Girardi brought in our old friend Chad Gaudin with two on and one out, hoping to keep the game close.
It didn’t work. After Michael Cuddyer struck out, That Man Kubel came up and rocked a home run into the Land of Pork Chops on Sticks. 8-2, Twins.
So now that it’s all said and done, I’m left with three burning questions, and I’d appreciate some answers.
1. Why is that when I watch televised games from Target Field, it still looks like the games are being played indoors?
2. When will the Yankees start scoring runs again?
3. Exactly how many beers does it take to convince someone that it would be a good idea to sneak up and take a bite out of a pork chop in Kim Jones’s hand while she is using it as a prop during a live shot?
As we wrap this up, let’s end with something positive. Take a look at the next sixteen games:
4 games vs. Cleveland (17-28)
3 games vs. Baltimore (15-33)
3 games @ Toronto (27-22)
3 games @ Baltimore (15-33)
3 games vs. Houston (16-31)