Live Blog of the Big One!

I apologize for my long absence (sickness, business, and busy-ness are to blame). But this game really is the big one for the Twins right now. I’ll be here with comments for the rest of the game (I had class that lasted until the beginning of the third inning).

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Top of the Ninth – Jenks has a bone to pick with Gomez and Span; they were responsible for his blown save on Thursday. Kubel pinch hits for Gomez, though. Swisher is also in at first. Kubel. strikes. out. I swear to God, White Sox, if you win tonight, I will root against you for the whole playoff period. Here is Span, who weakly grounds to first. It comes down to Casilla… and that’s it. The Twins lose, and the season is over.

Bottom of the Eighth – Mijares is still in here; he should get a chance to go the whole inning unless he does badly. It does look like Nathan will come in if Mijares needs help. He hasn’t needed it so far, inducing a grounder from Cabrera. Here is Wise. On a 1-2 count, he pops out in shallow center to Punto. Here comes Joe Nathan to finish this. Does anyone find the “Na, Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye” chant rather repulsive? It is not only bad “manners,” it just gives people a reason to hate the Sox. That’s all I’ll say. Heeeeeere’s Twitchy! Let’s see if he can keep the deficit at 1. Well, he gives up a single to Dye, and here’s Thome. Nathan has good numbers against Thome, but let’s take nothing for granted. Nathan finishes Thome on a fly ball to Gomez. Last ups are next.

Top of the Eighth – Mijares has shown why he will take Reyes’ place as the chubby, Latino lefty out of the pen next year. Young skies it to right for a fly out. Danks is still out there, so lets see if the Twins can do ANYTHING against him. Lets see Harris do something, anything. Harris manages to get a hit; just the Twins’ second. It was a little roller that really surprised me when it got past Uribe. It looks like Matt Tolbert is pinch-running for Harris here, so Punto comes up to move Tolbert over. It looks like Tolbert is going to be expected to run here; but Danks has shown a remarkably good move to first. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Punto get a nice extra-base hit here, but instead, he hits into a double play, which means that if the Twins want a chance here, it will be against Bobby Jenks, and I don’t like our chances. Likely, Kubel will pinch-hit for Gomez, but it is still not an ideal situation.

Bottom of the Seventh – I suppose I should give Danks a little credit. The Twins’ bats haven’t been sharp recently, but he is making them look bad. Hopefully Mauer and Morneau get one more shot to punish some White Sox pitcher. Well, here is Blackburn; he’ll have to face Thome, Konerko and Griffey Jr. We are seeing the Sox pitching coach on the phone, so hopefully we’ll see some reliever next inning; at this point, anything is better than (effing) Danks. Blackburn makes his first bad mistake of the night, and Thome punishes him for it; the solo home run makes it 1-0, Sox. By the way, that wasn’t a home run, that was a bomb. I am guessing something like 430 feet. The announcers say someone is up in the Twins’ pen; Mijares and Crain. Konerko grounds to Casilla. Despite the homer, Blackburn pitched VERY well, who would have thought that he could get into the seventh with one run? Before now, I would have taken it. Griffey gets a double, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a pitching change; well, here’s a pinch hitter (it looks like this is Anderson, subbing for Griffey). Gardy makes the smart move, issuing an intentional pass to Ramirez. I am expecting to see Mijares to pitch to Pierzynski. Yep, here he comes. So, here’s the final line on Blackburn: 6 1/3 innings pitched, 1 run on four hits, three walks and three strikeouts. Not really a fan of the move to take Blackburn out here, but I suppose it might be a good idea, what with the dominance Mijares has shown. Just switched to the “M” hat to match the Twins, fyi. I would love to see MIjares go hard inside here, if he plunks Pierzynski, is it really a bad thing? Mijares is really slowing down the game, Betancourt-style. Pierzynski grounds out to Morneau, and here comes Uribe, who is hitting VERY well with runners in scoring position. Uribe hits it hard and gives me a stroke, but Young tracks it down for the out. Blackburn: 89 pitches. Mijares, 7 pitches through 2/3.

Top of the Seventh – Why. the. hell. did Mauer bunt? He’s the batting champ (maybe, with the way this game is going), he shouldn’t give up like this. Morneau needs to do something here if he wants MVP. And he barely ticked it right back up the middle. Let’s see if Cuddy can continue the failure. Yes, yes, he can. Danks: 92 pitches. We’ll probably see more of him in the eighth, after he only took five pitches to retire the side in the Seventh.

Before the Seventh – Let me emphasize; I haven’t seen Blackburn either be this aggressive or have his sinker moving so much in a very long time. He is dominant right now, and the Sox have a whole two soft hits in the game so far.

Bottom of the Sixth – Cabrera showed bunt three times, then got a foul on what could generously be called a swinging bunt, then lined out to Morneau at first, made a very nice play. I have actually turned the sound off on TBS, and am enjoying the game much more now. Wise grounds to Morneau, and a quick two outs. Dye then pops out to Mauer in foul ground, and Blackburn has his third 1-2-3 inning. Man, does he look good. Blackburn: 72 pitches through six.

Middle of the Sixth – This is apparently the first time a tiebreaker game has been scoreless through five innings. Both starters have been really good.

Top of the Sixth – Here is Punto, Gomez, and Span. Punto has a decent little fly ball, but straight to Wise in left field. His cut looked very good, but overall he just got a little too much on it. Gomez hits a nice, easy fly ball to Griffey. The TBS announcers really are dreadful. I am just dreading having to listen to them all the way through to the Big Show (I have only this much (holds fingers a quarter inch apart) desire to watch the NLCS, so it’ll be all TBS throught he ALCS). Span works a five-pitch walk; I would love to see him steal here. Danks doesn’t have a great slide-step, and AJ’s arm is not so hot. Danks has now thrown to first 12 times in the game, so we should add that to his pitch count for an accurate number. Span doesn’t seem to have a real desire to steal, though I would love to see it. He is cutting it real close diving back to first, though. Then he had the base stolen, but Casilla fouled it off. Well, Casilla strikes out, but Span and Danks had a fun cat-and-mouse game going there for a while. Danks: 87 pitches, if you want to add the pickoff throws, we’ll call it 100. He will likely have at most another inning.

Bottom of the Fifth – Ramirez gets jammed and hits a little come-backer to the mound as the announcers really try to get more adoration for the Sox’ mediocre (and old) center fielder (who has a weak, but accurate, arm). Is it just me, or is the lauded “Black Out” at the cell less effective than the White Out at Penn this weekend? AJ goes down on a called third strike. Can I say again that Blackburn looks REALLY good? Uribe has an easy pop-up to Casilla, and he finishes the inning with a very, very nice 62 pitches, 41 for strikes. He has thrown essentially nothing but strikes since the third, when he had 40 pitches, but only 26 for strikes. I haven’t seen Blackburn look this good since he dominated in June and July. The extra day of rest really shows.

Top of the Fifth – Cuddy is not looking all that great, but what did we expect. I think I need to continue to trash the Twins, because whenever I do, the Twins do something good, such as the double Cuddy just got. Wow, Delmon Young sucks. Let’s see if that works. I do wish the TBS announcers would get over the fact that the Twins weren’t expected to be here, and shouldn’t be here with a lot of the power numbers they put up. Really. Had no idea. Thanks. Delmon Young tood three huge cuts and managed to get one of them in play, just deep enough. Harris comes up with one out and Cuddy on third, and gets two strikes off the bat; then AJ tried to fake Cuddy into running home on a ball in the dirt; it didn’t work. Harris gets a nice bit of fail in on a shallow fly ball, and Cuddy made an ill-advised attempt to tag and score; it was not close. Danks pitch count through five innings: 72. (The Twins need to pick it up if they want him gone after the sixth or during the seventh).

Before the Fifth – ED drug count: Viagra, 3, Cialis 1.

Bottom of the Fourth – TBS announcers are terrible. Just for the record. Blackburn looks really good, and as soon as I write this, Dye gets a single to left. Thome is much like a slug whilst running, so you better believe the double play is in order. Blackburn needs to keep from going too far up and over the plate; if he elevates a fastball, the White Sox will elevate it right out of the park. A lot of people I talked to tonight think it’s a matter of when the Sox hit a homer, not if; lets hope “Blackie” proves them wrong. Thome strikes out on a full count check swing, and the crowd is not pleased. Konerko ground into what should have been a DP, but he elevated the throw, and Morneau barely saved it from going into the stands (yes it was that high). Then Griffey popped out to Harris in foul territory. Blackburn’s pitch count after four innings: 53.

Top of the Fourth – Casilla flew out on the first pitch, so quickly that TBS was barely able to cut to the game in tim to get the catch on film. Danks seems to be getting a lot of calls, especially low, that Blackburn isn’t getting. McClellan is my second least favorite umpire, after Brian Runge, and he takes forever to call the pitches. What were the odds, coming into tonight, that Mauer would strike out in his first two at-bats? Painful. Oh, well, he needs to go 0-7 to lose the batting title. Then Morneau pops out foul and Uribe handed him a big bucket of fail. Pitch count for Danks through Four: 59.

Break before Fourth inning – This is looking like a pitching duel, but don’t let it fool you. Either of these clubs could break out at any second. Blackburn looks really sharp right now; he has given up a couple walks and a hit, but he is right on the corners. Danks looks good too, but he is burning pitches; the Twins seem to know that they really have to get through him to have a good chance at this game. Shall we keep a tally of ED drug commercials during this game? So far, we have: Viagra, 2, Cialis, 1.

Bottom of the Third – Blackburn is looking pretty good so far; I haven’t seen life on his sinker like this since maybe mid-July. Harris really has a very strong arm; I wish we would have seen him at second base (or third) more often, although I really like Buscher. Wow, two quick outs, while I was typing that. Uribe grounded slowly to Harris and Cabrera grounded slowly to Punto. Then Blackburn forced Wise to pop out to Harris in foul territory. Blackburn pitch count through three: 40.

Top of the Third – So far, so good. Blackburn has done alright, although there was a hairy moment in the bottom of the 2nd, when Blackburn managed to walk Thome and Ramirez, but was able to strike out Griffey and got AJ to ground out. Harris had a great month of September, but he didn’t have a great at-bat here tonight. Punto tried to bunt, and, since it is Punto, it went foul. Surprise! The TBS announcers are really a whole new level of awful. Punto actually is having a really good at-bat, having gotten to a full count and then fouling off four pitches before working a walk. Great 10-pitch at-bat. The Key for the Twins tonight is to work Danks to a high pitch count early, since Ozzie really only has two, maybe three relievers he can trust: Linbrink (maybe), Thornton (maybe), and Jenks. Punto really danced off first base, really messing with Jenks’ mind (five throws so far). A throw to first is almost as good as a throw home as far as the pitch count goes. The Sox are really bad at throwing runners out at second, so let’s see what happens. Gomez golfed into a pop-up, so Span needs a big extra-base hit. Span really is second to Mauer for best eye on the Twins. He worked a walk in the first inning, then took two close pitches this time up. Oh, well, Span hits a slow bouncer right to first base (literally, Konerko was standing on the bag when he fielded it). Danks’ pitch count: 50 through three innings.

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