It's not so much that I don't care about yesterday's win - it's more that the next four games are extremely important in comparison. Consider: The Twins are 4-7 so far this season against Chicago, and thankfully they won't have to play them at U.S. Cellular field again. However, Minnesota only gets seven more opportunities to take full game chunks out of "pale" Sox' lead from this point forward. It starts tonight when Kevin Slowey (6-7, 4.41 ERA) faces off against Mark Buehrle (8-8, 3.56 ERA, and killed the Twins his last time out).
It figures to be a tough series for a few reasons:
- The Sox are sending lefties to the hill just about every night; our best hitters are left-handers
- Chicago is scoring an unbelievable 6.8 runs per game over their past 11 outings. They average 5.04 a game for the season, so we know the bats are hot.
- Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins and Livan each had pretty spotty outings last time they pitched.
- Jim Thome. The guy has a lifetime .315 batting average against Minnesota and hits a homer every 11.8 at-bats against the Twins. He ALWAYS gets his.
- The Twins' bullpen has been awful lately. Never good against an offensive powerhouse.
Other than all this, I'm pretty confident going into this pivotal series. To be honest, I'd feel a lot better if Liriano were up. Speaking of...
Francisco Liriano pitched yesterday, and I finally caught a radio broadcast! He pitched wonderfully through 5 2/3 innings before giving up a three-run dong to Scranton/Wilkes-Burre in the sixth. He finished with nine Ks and gave up four runs on eight hits overall. If you look at the box score, it really doesn't do him justice. He was in complete control for most of the day, but missed on some pitches and Scranton made him pay. I still say the kid is ready, and it looks as though the Twins need him now more than ever.
Other Minor League notes:
- My guy Jason Pridie smoked another home run for Rochester last night, his 12th of the season. He continues to be one of the favorites for a call-up this September. If not for the sub-.270 average, he'd get more press.
- After coming up big in his previous outing with a seven-inning, 8K performance, Cole Devries was swatted back to earth by Dunedin, who tagged him for eight hits and five runs in just five innings of work.
- Another Elizabethton pitcher is on the radar - Daniel Osterbrock. Despite some up-and-down outings (given up 6 and 4 runs before last night), he's managed to strike out 52 batters in 40 1/3 innings thus far. Last night, however, Osterbrock was downright filthy as he punched out 12 batters in a seven-inning stretch of shutout mastery. He'll likely be up in Beloit or Fort Myers next year.
That's all for now... thanks for reading!