Things are looking up for the Twinkies through two innings at Minneapolis’ Target Field.
Minnesota ace Francisco Liriano struck out Yankees leadoff man Derek Jeter to open the first inning,
then promptly retired Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira on balls that did
not get out of the infield.
CC Sabathia escaped a Denard Span single with a little damage control in the bottom of the frame, accepting a free out on a sacrifice bunt by Orlando Hudson and then fanning All-Star catcher Joe Mauer before inducing a groundball against Delmon Young.
With two outs in the top of the second, Liriano walked Marcus Thames and allowed a soft single to Jorge Posada. But Curtis Granderson, he of the .228/.341/.447 regular-season batting line with runners in scoring position, was quickly retired on a liner to first base.
Sabathia nailed Jim Thome in the bicep to lead off the bottom of the second inning, which injected a little energy into the Target Field crowd. That energy turned to pandemonium just three pitches later as Michael Cuddyer launched a monstrous two-run blast to straightaway center field, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.
Let’s get a weather update out of the way for those who still believe that Minnesota is covered in snow 90% of the year and does not participate in the season called autumn. The temperature at game time was 63 degrees with no blizzards in sight, and even warmer temperatures are on tap for Game 2. Target Field is rocking because, for now at least, the home team is winning.
Thursday is September 1, which means rosters expand. As a result, the Nationals plan to promote pitcher Mat Latos to the major league roster, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Latos had an opt-out clause for Monday, but after discussing the matter with the team, he agreed to stay at Triple-A Syracuse until Thursday.
Latos, 28, put up a 4.62 ERA over 11 starts with the White Sox before being released in mid-June. Nearly two weeks later, he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals.
In the Nationals’ minor league system, Latos has made three starts for the club’s Gulf Coast League team as well as three for Syracuse. In aggregate, the right-hander has yielded six runs (four earned) on 20 hits and 10 walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Latos will likely pitch out of a long relief role for the Nationals and can be used as starting rotation insurance as well.
Mark Buehrle hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in professional baseball since last October. Still, the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind having some insurance, so manager John Gibbons recently texted Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September,” Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports.
Buehrle’s response? He texted back a picture of a lake. Sounds like he’s not interested in making a return, at least this year.
Last year, at the age of 36, Buehrle went 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA with a 91/33 K/BB ratio in 198 2/3 innings while leading the league with four complete games. He fell 1 1/3 innings shy of a 15th consecutive 200-inning season. There are many worse ways to end a career.