The Twins have been playing pretty poorly since clinching last week. Ron Gardenhire has noticed, and had this to say after last night’s loss to the Royals:
“Not a good game for our ballclub,” he said. “We didn’t pitch worth a
crap. We haven’t pitched worth a crap this whole trip. It’s not
acceptable. You have to do better. You can’t lose the edge.”
“We lollygag the ball around the infield. We lollygag our way down to first. We lollygag in and out of the dugout,” Gardenhire did not add, but totally should have.
I don’t know how you keep a team sharp when there’s two weeks between clinching and the first playoff game. Maybe Gardenhire doesn’t either, given that his team has had to play 163 games to make into the postseason last year and only won the division by a single game the previous time they made the playoffs in 2006. But he’s been here before. The Twins won the Central by 13.5 games in 2002 and comfortably again in 2004.
Overall, however, I have to think that health — as opposed to how well you do in mostly meaningless games against the Royals in the last week of the season — is most important to a playoff team this time of the year. My guess: the Twins will be just fine.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.