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Series Preview - Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins

Hello. Matt here to preview yet another series for your edification and italicized convenience. Enjoy!

Series Notes

  • When not ordering him to sacrifice bunt with two outs and no runners on, Ron Gardenhire's facial hair spends its free time writing Hallmark cards, reforming from mustache to mutton chops, bobbing for apples, and reading Bride Magazine in preparation for that fateful day to come when it will be swooped off it's feet and whisked away to a land of love, protection, and comfort.
  • In Carl Crawford's last ten games he's hitting .350. This has helped to bring his batting average back up to .260, the highest it's been all year. Crawford's mind-bendingly bad April (he hit a Drew Butera-eque .155/.204/.227 - but more on Butera in a moment), a comeback from which was cut short by a month long injury, has stained his season stats almost beyond cleansing. It's possibly he could hit .430 for a month and a half and undo the damage entirely, but I think you'll agree it's in the realm of flying penguins. Sure, they have wings, but do they use them? Not really, no. Generally they're just fat little things that swim from rock to rock pooping white smoke screens to ward off followers. My point is twofold: 1. Don't worry about Carl Crawford's stats. He's the same All Star caliber player the Red Sox signed whether the graphic below his name says .240 or .260. And, 2) don't swim behind penguins.
  • After starting the season 17-36, the Twins have lessen their SQ (Suckiness Quotient*) by going 34-26 since June 1st. *Suckiness Quotient is computed by dividing some numbers then multiplying them by other numbers, unless numbers aren't available in which case letters, ancient symbols or spider monkeys will do. The results are then tabulated, written down and placed on the interior of my cat's litter box.
  • The Twins are one of five teams to play for states as opposed to cities. This is called padding the word count, adonchaknow?
  • The Twins have scored 443 runs, 171 runs less than the Major League leading Red Sox. They are 7-14 against the AL East and 51-63 overall. BUT! Their Pythagorean record is 46-68. See? Irrefutable proof bunting and mustaches can work.
  • The Red Sox record of 10-2 (.833) vs. the Yankees is their best record against any one team this season according to me. Yes, they're 3-0 (1.000) against Houston and 5-1 (.833) vs. Detroit, but whose counting don'tanswerthat? (Speaking of Houston, who wants to bet against Brad Mills finding himself back in the Red Sox organization next season?)
  • Joe Mauer has hit .286/.353/.337 with one home run so far this season, the diminished production much likely due to injuries which have limited him to just 36 games started behind the plate. His replacement, Drew Butera, has started 49 games for the Twins, hitting, if you can call it that, .172/.209/.264. Yes, Mauer's lessened offense has been a problem, but it's nothing compared to the problem that is starting Butera. Butera makes Mauer look like Jose Bautista. The Twins are second to last in all of Major League Baseball in fWAR from the catching position, yet they are spending the most money on the position. There's some small ball for you.
  • The Twins have been outscored by not five National League teams, not six National League teams, not seven, not eight, not nine, not ten, not eleven, no, wait, actually yes. Eleven. Despite having the benefit of the DH, the Twins have been outscored by eleven National League teams this season. See? It can't be all Drew Butera's fault. (It is all Drew Butera's fault.)
  • It's vaguely shocking, if indeed such a thing can exist, that in all the years we've been hearing about "small ball" I can't say I recall ever hearing anyone making it into a testicle joke. So, let me be the first to start that ball rolling down the hill.

Individual game notes after the jump!

Next Game

Boston Red Sox
@ Minnesota Twins

Monday, Aug 8, 2011, 7:10 PM EDT
Target Field

Tim Wakefield vs Scott Baker

Partly rainy, sun. Winds blowing verbal garbage from broadcast booth at 10-15 m.p.h. Garbage increasing as game progresses. Game time temperature around the stadium.

Complete Coverage >

Game One Notes

- It has been relentlessly pounded into your skulls so I apologize, but I'm contractually obligated to tell you Tim Wakefield has 199 career wins. How many does Derek Jeter have? Not a one. Suck on that, Jeter!

- Wakefield's career really has been an oddity in so many ways. Drafted as a first baseman, he ends up as a pitcher, and not just any pitcher but a knuckleballer. After experiencing amazing success with the Pirates, he falls on hard times and they cut him. He winds up pitching for the Red Sox. For seventeen years. You could have made some coin betting on that, assuming of course you weren't committed first.

- Baker is the rare Twins pitcher who strikes batters out. This strange and supposed "skill" is as out of place in the Twins clubhouse as family values are in New York City, Austin is in Texas, or salt is in beer.

Next Game

Boston Red Sox
@ Minnesota Twins

Tuesday, Aug 9, 2011, 8:10 PM EDT
Target Field

Erik Bedard vs Francisco Liriano

Rain. Unless you're indoors or living somewhere else. Wind gusts blowing hot dog wrappers from right to left field at 10-15 m.p.h. Game time temperature will be known at game time..

Complete Coverage >

Game Two Notes

- When not eating poutine and watching the NHL Network, Erik Bedard is a baseball pitcher.

- I can't wait until the time when Francisco Liriano leaves the Twins organization and we get to hear about all the crazy stuff they told him to do. His skillset is so anathema to the Twins organization that it reminds me of David Ortiz, who famously claimed the Twins wanted him to "hit like a little bitch." Anyway, I'm sure there's tons of goodies in that bag.

- Ron Gardenhire hereby requests you bunt. Sure, you're hitting .310 and it's a favorable platoon split, but we play the game the right way up here, OK?

Next Game

Boston Red Sox
@ Minnesota Twins

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2011, 8:10 PM EDT
Target Field

Jon Lester vs Nick Blackburn

Another perfect Minnesota summer day: rain. Winds blowing notes saying "outdoor stadium was a smart idea" from right to left field at 10-15 m.p.h. Game time temperature depends on how hot it is. Gonna be humid as balls though.

Complete Coverage >

Game Three Notes

- Jon Lester was a popular pre-season pick for the AL Cy Young award. He's had a fine if not Cy-worthy season so far, but with I estimate Lester if he stays healthy will get roughly nine more starts. Given that Felix Hernandez won the Cy last year with a 10-10 record, if Lester gets on a run there is still a slight chance to make good on those predictions. That said, it's going to be pretty difficult to catch Sabathia, Verlander, and Weaver.

- Nick Blackburn, as his name implies, is an expert magician. Need a quarter? Look! There was one behind your ear! He can balloon animal it up in this piece. Don't blink because the room will be filled with balloon wiener dogs, balloon birds with holes in their stomachs and oddly shaped balloon wiener giraffes. If you must know, they're an African sub-species. But all that pales when compared to Blackburn's signature trick: turning a batter into a run with one pitch.