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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Minnesota Momentum and ESPN SportsCenter Coverage

Is tonight the night where Francisco Liriano puts it together?
CC Sabathia is down. In two starts this season, he has 0 decisions. In 12 innings pitched, he's given up 16 hits, 9 earned runs, 2 home runs and 5 walks, while striking out 15. His ERA in this brief stretch is 6.75. Clearly, he's looking to rebound against the Twins tonight, and for good reason: in his last 9 starts against Minnesota (including the postseason), Sabathia is 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA. So, although the Twins have the momentum going into tonight -- thanks to great games by Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Alexi Casilla, and a solid outing by Carl Pavano -- Sabathia has the momentum in the historical sense. Tonight's game, featuring lefties Sabathia and Francisco Liriano, could be very good, or it could be rough: both are capable of shutting down offenses, but both have been very hittable thus far.

As I wrote last year, I think it is possible for this team to have success off of Sabathia. I still would love to see a couple bunts (for base hits) in the first few innings tonight. Between Sabathia's bulk, and the fact that neither Alex Rodriguez nor Mark Teixeira is fleet of foot, bunting would be a great way to upset Sabathia early on. Anything that gets him off of his routine is a positive, in my book. Second, Liriano needs to bust a few Yankee hitters inside. Last night, Pavano pitched well, but you could see the Yankees waiting for those pitches that were on the outer half of the plate, without any fear that Pavano would instead go inside and upstairs to "give them a different view of the ball," so to speak. Liriano, with better velocity than Pavano, can do just that. It could be a great game tonight, like a 2-1 or 3-2 contest, if Liriano and Sabathia are both "on." Judging from past performances this season, though, my guess is that one or both are going to struggle. Hopefully it's Sabathia.

Finally, I want to formally thank ESPN's SportsCenter for their wonderful coverage of last night's Twins-Yankees game. This game featured, among other things, a gigantic Justin Morneau home run to the deepest part of Yankee Stadium, 3 hits from Joe Mauer, including hard-hit doubles down both lines, and a solid RBI single in the first inning by Josh Willingham to give the Twins an early lead. Of all those plays, SportsCenter's coverage after the game showed one of the Mauer doubles (and Alexi Casilla's nice play up the middle). They spent most of the time -- like 80% -- focusing on Derek Jeter's leadoff 351 ft. home run, Curtis Granderson's shot immediately thereafter, and -- get this -- a Jeter infield single. An infield single. A meaningless infield single in a game the Yankees lost by a considerable margin.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but seriously: we have Morneau trying to come back, against some pretty significant odds, to resurrect what was once a great career, and they don't even show his home run. We have Willingham, who has hit in every single game this season, and they don't show the line drive that he ripped to open up the scoring for the Twins. And there were a handful of other plays during the game that constituted Twins highlights in my opinion, but were, of course, left on the cutting room floor. I'm very, very glad I got to see Jeter leg out that single to shortstop. Thanks, as always, ESPN, for the fair and balanced coverage. And I really, really look forward to watching the Red Sox-Rangers on ESPN's Wednesday night baseball, and the Yankees-Red Sox on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.


  1. I was irked, too, by the Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter highlights. The only clip of Casilla's defense was in the Web Gem segment, it was never shown in game highlights (but as you mentioned, that would have meant leaving out footage of Jeter's infield single). And even in their segment showing "all" of the day's home runs, I didn't see Morneau's. Of course both Jeter's and Grandersons were shown. Then again, it's ESPN, so I'm not sure why we'd expect anything else. I'm a little surprised they bother to mention the Yankees' opponent when it's not the Red Sox.

    1. Yes, I had forgotten about ESPN's failure to include Morneau's home run in their segment that purportedly shows all home runs. His was actually meaningful -- giving us a 2 run lead in the last few innings of the game. And, I'll just add, it was hit about 100 feet further than Jeter's, which would not have even made the warning track at Target Field.