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The Bleacher Bums: August 19, 2007 Archive

Doubters beware

Posted at 10:01 PM on August 19, 2007 by Chris Dall

As I was driving home the other afternoon, KFAN afternoon host Dan Barreiro was opining that Johan Santana didn't seem to be pitching at the level of the past few season, and that while he still considered Santana a very good pitcher, he no longer considered him great, at least not this year. This was the day after Santana's 4-3 loss to the Mariners.

Barreiro's pronouncement may have been meant to get a rise out of listeners, but it was hardly a shocking pronouncement. Similar sentiments have been voiced on this blog. While his numbers aren't that far off from last year, Santana hasn't seemed as dominant, and his mere excellence hasn't been enough to offset the team's inability to score when he's on the mound (although it's hard to argue run support is making that much of a difference, since the Twins have averaged around 4-5 runs per game in his starts for the past few seasons, including his two Cy Young years). It's hard to pinpoint exactly what's been different, but Johan just hasn't seemed to be Johan this season.

Well maybe Johan was listening to Dan Barreiro that day, because today he reminded everyone of just how dominant he can be, striking out 17 and giving up only 2 hits in the Twins 1-0 win over Texas. The 17k's were the most ever recorded by a Twin, and the most recorded in an MLB game since May 16, 2004, when Milwaukee's Ben Sheets struck out 18 against Atlanta. It has to be considered one of the season's most dominant pitching performances.

It was almost enough to make you forget that the Twin scored 3 runs this weekend, one of which came on a wild pitch. Against a team with one of the worst pitching staffs in the league. Let's hope for the Twins fading playoff hopes that Johan has a few more games in him like this one, because the offense needs all the help it can get.

Minnesota (really, really) needs something to cheer about

Posted at 10:11 PM on August 19, 2007 by David Zingler

The summer of 2007 may be remembered as the “Summer of Prozac” in Minnesota history. We’ve had the I-35 W bridge collapse tragedy and now, the severe flooding in the southeastern part of our state. There’s also been drought, oppressive heat and much political discontent.

These are the times we need our pro sports teams to step up and do their jobs: provide an enjoyable distraction that gives us something to get excited about.

Unless you’re attached intravenously to the Purple Kool-Aid, you know that 2007 version of the Vikings aren’t likely to finish .500. The Timberwolves meanwhile, recently traded their only player that anyone cares about, the Wild is solid, but boring and the Lynx just finished with the WNBA’s worst record.

Has anyone studied the Vixens prospects for ’07?

That leaves us with the Twins and, at 62-61; they’ve only made matters worse. Even with their deficiencies, the local nine has underachieved this season. It’s popular to bash Nick Punto, Rondell White, MN/DOT and especially, Terry Ryan, but there are two men who could turn this season around: Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.

The M&M boys however, have taken a step backwards this season. Mauer has been a passive, injury prone .300 singles hitter and, while Morneau has good power numbers, his average is down nearly 40 points from his MVP season and he’s been anemic this month when his team has needed him most.

If the Twins are finally going to turn this season around it won’t be because of trade that Ryan makes, it will be on the backs of Morneau and Mauer.

Relax guys, there’s no pressure.

August 2007
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