Posted at 9:06 PM on September 30, 2008
by David Zingler
The Twins began play on March 31 in the midst of a blizzard with Livan Hernandez on the mound. Now, after 6 months and 163 games, the season is over. 21 position players had a plate appearance for the team, including Howie Clark and Ryan Jorgenson. 19 hurlers took the hill for the squad; Brian Bass and Philip Humber were among them.
We saw Carlos Gomez start fast, struggle all summer and finish strong, the return of Francisco Liriano and Eddie Guaradado and said farewell to Juan Rincon. Denard Span burst onto the scene and gave the Twins an honest-to-god leadoff hitter, while nobody proved capable of filling the vacuum at third base.
Bill Smith's first free agent class - Hernandez, Mike Lamb and Adam Everett - were invisible, Craig Monroe provided us with a few memorable moments before his untimely exit and Delmon Young disappointed but showed promise.
The M&M boys continued their ascent to superstardom, Jason Kubel finally had his breakout year and Michael Cuddyer spent a majority of the season in the training room. Scott Baker stepped up and became an ace; Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins and Nick Blackburn proved themselves to be solid big league pitchers.
Joe Nathan remained an elite closer and justified his contract extension, Pat Neshek's injury left a hole that couldn't be filled, Craig Breslow and Joe Mijares came out of nowhere and the rest of the bullpen didn't come through.
The 2008 season was as memorable as it was unlikely, it's too bad it had to end today, but the best is yet to come.
(Photo by Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
Posted at 1:52 PM on September 30, 2008
by Chris Dall
Whatever happens tonight in Chicago, be it blowout or nail-biter, the one-game playoff between the Twins and the White Sox should be a memorable affair. The game will mark the first time either team has been in this situation before, and it's only the seventh one-game playoff since MLB expanded it's playoff format in 1969. And with the Chicago crowd already being whipped to a frenzy by our old friend A.J. Pierzynski, and Ozzie Guillen trying to get inside Nick Blackburn's head, this game has all the makings of a classic.
Here are some of the higlights from previous one-game playoffs:
2007, Colorado vs. San Diego
This one was a doozy. After an amazing run that saw them win 14 of their last 15 games, the Rockies scored 3 runs in the 9th against San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman to tie the score at 8. They eventually won the game in 13 innings on a controversial play at the plate, and continued their great run all the way to the World Series.
1999, New York vs, Cincinnati
This might have been the last good September memory for the Mets. Down by two games in the Wild Card race, New York won it's last three games of the season to force a playoff with the Reds in Cincinnati. Al Leiter threw a 2-hit shutout to lead the Mets to a 5-0 win.
1998, Chicago vs. San Francisco
It's never been easy for the Cubs, and this one was no different. The Cubs led 5-0 going into the 9th, but then gave up a run and had to face a bases-loaded situation with Barry Bonds at the plate. Fortunately for Cubs fans, Bonds only hit a sacrifice fly, and the Cubs went on to win 5-3
1980, Los Angeles vs. Houston
This game was unique in that it came on the heels of a three game series between the two teams. LA entered the final weekend of the season down three to the Astros in the NL West, then proceeded to sweep them. Alas, the Dodgers couldn't take that 4th game and lost in a blowout, 7-1.
1978, New York vs. Boston
The game that made Bucky "bleepin" Dent a marked man throughout New England. The Yankees had trailed the Red Sox by thirteen games in July, then caught up to them in mid-September, and the teams ended up with 99-63 records. Light-hitting Dent's three-run shot over the Green Monster in the 7th inning put the Yankees in the lead for good, and to this day remains seared in the brains of any Red Sox fan over the age of 35. Don't ever mention his name in the greater Boston area.
So there you have it. Let's hope White Sox fans will be muttering about Nick "freakin" Punto all day tomorrow.