Last night's game was disappointing. Baker gave up 4 runs before I had finished dinner, Mauer clearly isn't in a groove, and the Twins missed a couple opportunities to tie the game, leading to yet another loss against those bastard Yankees.
Tonight the assignment is even tougher, having to face C.C. Sabathia. Let's not forget, though, that the Twins were not awful against C.C. in the 2010 playoffs: in 6 innings at Target Field, the portly lefty gave up 4 runs (3 earned), 1 HR, and walked 3. It was an effective, but by no means dominating, performance. The Twins tonight have the opportunity to make use of their revamped lineup against Sabathia, and I hope they do so. Here are a few keys to making the formidable fat foe uncomfortable.
1. I want to see Casilla/Span/Nishioka bunt. They all have the ability to do it effectively, and it should be done. It is well known that C.C. hates to leave the mound, unless he is chasing after a box of cereal that needs eating. I'm not saying these guys need to be bunting every time they bat, but should the situation present itself early in the game, it may distract Sabathia. Anything that gets this guy out of a groove is worth trying.
2. Michael Cuddyer. It's time for him to have a big game. He homered off of C.C. in ALDS game 1 last year, he sat last night, and he purchased those shirts for his teammates reading: "WIN" one one side, and "Don't be denied" on the other. Time to start driving in some runs and hitting the ball with authority.
3. Pitch inside. There's no denying that Baker's start was disappointing. Here's where I'm going to give him a slight pass, though: I was hoping that 1 Yankee player would hit the dust last night. I'm not saying I wanted Baker to hit a guy (or if he did hit someone, I of course wouldn't want him to go headhunting or anything like that), but it's time that Twins pitchers started owning the inner half of the plate against these patient Yankees hitters. Sure enough, Baker came inside on Teixeira, but it was a slider that hit his foot. I would not advise plunking the hitter that bats in front of a man with over 600 career HRs. Next batter, Baker had the right idea again, buzzing A-Rod with a fastball up and in. It showed ownership of the plate and demonstrated that Rodriguez, and the rest of the lineup, couldn't expect to stand in the batter's box all night waiting for belt high fastballs down the middle. It was the pitch that followed that was the problem, namely, the one that Rodriguez promptly deposited into the left field bleachers. My suggestion tonight is that Brian Duensing do the same thing, sort of. Establish the inner part of the plate by backing hitters off early in the game. I do not, however, suggest hitting anyone batting in front of A-Rod.
Statistically, there's no denying that tonight's matchup doesn't present the best chance for the Twins. If this is going to be a competitive team, however, this is a game that they need to steal from the Yankees. Let's be doormats no longer.