Tonight is conflicting for a baseball and hockey fan. The Twins take on the White Sox at Chicago, while the Wild are trying to keep their marginal playoff hopes alive against Nashville at the X. The Twins have a much better chance at winning, but the Wild have more at stake. I guess I’ll be flipping back and forth between the games a lot tonight. Well, until someone starts losing, anyway.
Joe Crede is making his return to Chicago after signing with the Twins in the offseason. There’s supposed to be a pre-game tribute to him and everything. It’s probably going to be the first time in history that a Twin will be cheered at the Cell (uh, until he hits a home run off of Jose Contreras, that is). Tonight’s pitching matchup features knuckleballer R.A. Dickey squaring off against Jose Contreras. Dickey hasn’t had a great deal of success as a starter, but the weather in Chicago should be perfect for the knuckleball (about 41 degrees, though it is breezy). Jose Contreras hasn’t been very effective against the Twins in his career (.285/.345/.392 in 11 starts), but he has managed to shut down Justin Morneau, who’s only 2-for-26 with two strikeouts and a pair of walks against the big righty.
This also marks the first time the Twins have returned to the Cell since that horrible one-game
heartbreaker tiebreaker last year. The Twins lost that game 1-0, even though starter Nick Blackburn pitched the best game of his career (barring one mistake to, of course, Jim Thome). Our boys are extra-motivated to win this game, but especially Dickey, who wants to keep a job in the bullpen once Scott Baker returns (probably Wednesday, according to Gardy).
Meanwhile, the Wild are playing another must-win game against the Predators tonight at the X. Since they can’t seem to win two games in a row, and since they absolutely need this one, they will probably lose. Jacques Lemaire is going to pull Backs if the game is tied late in the third period, as the Wild are looking up at Nashville in the standings and can’t afford to go into overtime. Of course, none of this matters if either the Blues or the Ducks win tonight.
- Red Sox end Twinkies’ perfect Grapefruit League record
Today’s game against the Sox was actually a very close pitcher’s duel, well until Matt Guerrier came in to pitch the sixth that is. He promptly walked the first two batters he faced, and Julio Lugo reached on an error. Reigning MVP Dustin “The Jockey” Pedroia then drove in the first run on a sac fly. YOOOOUUUUK!!! hit the game-winning solo homer off of Craig Breslow in the seventh, but Breslow quickly regained his composure and didn’t allow another hit.
Besides those two notable exceptions, the Twins’ pitching was pretty impressive today. Kevin Slowey looked as though he’d been pitching all winter and was perfect in his two innings of work. He recorded only one strikeout, but it was a big one against David Ortiz. Glen Perkins pitched a shutout in his three innings of relief, allowing three hits but no walks and striking out two. Philip Humber was much better in his second relief appearance, only allowing one hit and no walks.
The Twins couldn’t muster much offense against the Sox, with Carlos Gomez recording the only hit through six innings (it was an infield hit, naturally). Justin Morneau was limited to a single, and Joe Crede still doesn’t look comfortable at the plate. I’m not too concerned about the lack of production from some of the Twins’ heavy hitters just yet, as it’s still very early in the spring. The closer it gets to Opening Day, however, the more anxious I will become.
“I just hope we can win a game”, indeed. The Wild aren’t technically out of the playoff picture just yet, but they might as well be. They lost another must-win game against Edmonton last night, and neither the goaltending nor the defense were particularly sharp. The
Mild Wild are currently in the midst of a six-game, ten-day road trip against Western Conference foes that will determine if they will even make the playoffs this year. Up next are some very difficult games against Vancouver (have I mentioned how much I hate the Canucks? Because I do) and San Jose. Good thing my Mom has decided against instituting a swear jar, although sports and my slow-as-molasses-in-Janurary internet connection are really the only things that make me use bad words. And that’s probably often enough to buy a new car.