Saturday, May 13, 2006

Game 34: Knock me down, it’s [probably] all in vain (23-11)

So the Twins built up a four-game series in the Hump as their do-or-die. This is probably true for them, mired (until yesterday) 8 1/2 games down in mid-May. They sent Johan Santana to the mound against Jon Garland, and it turned out to be a 10-1 mismatch. Garland got hammered for the fourth time in seven starts and, as the Tribune points out, since his 8-0 start, he's been back to being Average Jon. Sadly, this makes the off-season long-term contract look pretty unfortunate; of course, with what Kris Benson types are making, and given it's a long season, things could get better. Consider, ultimately, that what matters is the White Sox record in games he's started (3-4). Add to this the fact that yesterday was the "get-used-to" game of 2006 for the extraterrestial Metrodome, and the fact that no team was going to get to Johan Santana the way he was dealing, and this one just goes in the "sure loss" category. I don't care how good you are, games where you spot start for your de facto #1 starter (Wednesday) against a defending division champion, and games where you face the real AL Cy Young award winner (Colon's selection last season was bizarre) are not games you'll win without extraordinary effort.

After the skunking, Minnesota has gained a game and now stands 7 1/2 back. The real story here is that the Twins have almost caught the suddenly flailing Indians, who dropped a game to the Tigers last night. It's still too early to start rooting against the Tigers in these intradivisional games, just a bit -- the Indians are still far more dangerous in the long run.

With Contreras on the mend, the White Sox facing three somewhat more favorable matchups (any matchup with a Minny pitcher not named "Johan Santana" is more favorable), and bullpen geezer Jeff Nelson making a return to live games in Charlotte, these last two games still feel like aberrations.

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