The way it looks now the Twins need a “W” tonight in Houston against the Astros if they are going to win their best of five American League Division Series. After losing Game 1 yesterday, the Twins can’t fall behind 2-0 in the series.
Those who think Minnesota can run off three straight against the defending World Champion Astros may also like Robert Kennedy’s chances in the 2024 presidential race.
It’s up to Pablo Lopez and the bullpen to control the Astros tonight, limiting Houston to a run or two while the Twins’ offense sends three or four runners across the plate. Otherwise, Minnesota has to win Games 3 and 4 in Minneapolis Tuesday and Wednesday, plus Friday back in Houston.
Lopez likes pressure and he’s got it tonight after studying the Astro hitters yesterday in their 6-4 win. In Game 1 of the Wild Card series last Wednesday, he came through while pitching 5 and two-thirds innings and giving up one run to the Blue Jays. He delivered on the big stage in helping the Twins end their 18-game postseason losing streak.
Lopez’s goal tonight needs to be pitching beyond five innings. If he does, that means he’s sharp and his performance eases the toil on the bullpen. Yesterday the Twins used four relievers against the experienced Astros who are in the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season.
That bullpen, the fourth hardest throwing in the American League during the regular season, gave up three runs yesterday but none in the two game Wild Card sweep of the Blue Jays. Included in the results were four innings of no runs in relief of Sonny Gray in Game 2 of the Wild Card series last Thursday.
Gray and Lopez are two prime time starters that are the envy of many MLB teams. Ideally, when Gray, who pitched five shutout innings against the Blue Jays, goes to the mound Tuesday at Target Field he will be pitching to put his team ahead 2-1 in the ALDS series.
One of the more curious moments in the Twins’ postseason came last Wednesday in Royce Lewis’ third time at bat. After homering in his first two plate appearances, Lewis faced a three balls and no strikes count, but wasn’t “green lighted” to swing away on the next pitch.
Likely driven by analytics and perhaps scripted for all Twins hitters before the game started, Lewis apparently was instructed by third base coach Tommy Watkins and manager Rocco Baldelli to take the next pitch, a called strike.
When the Gophers sold out their home game against Michigan Saturday night it was the first time since 2019 that Minnesota has twice filled its stadium in the same season. The Gophers also sold out their 2023 opener against Nebraska.
The 52-10 beat down by No. 2 ranked Michigan was a reminder of the talent gap between the Gophers and the best teams in college football. Minnesota at 3-3 will be challenged to win six games and qualify for a bowl game.
This week’s bye week ideally is an opportunity to have linebacker Cody Lindenberg, who hasn’t played all season, and running back Darius Taylor, out for the last two games, back in the lineup and recovered from injuries. Their return would help but nothing is more vital than improvement by the offensive line and quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis who has been a disappointment including last night with two interceptions returned for scores by the Wolverines.
Vikings superstar receiver Justin Jefferson goes into today’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Chiefs leading the NFL in receiving yards with 543.
What’s the over-under for Patrick Mahomes TV commercials today in the Chiefs-Vikings game? Six.
How about the over-under for mentions of the Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce romance? Same. Six.
Since the beginning of the 2022 season, Mahomes leads the NFL with 49 touchdown passes. Viking QB Kirk Cousins is third with 40.
A broadcast crew that critics consider the best in the land covers today’s game for CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and Tracy Wolfson.
Minnesota icon Dick Jonckowski has a special birthday October 22. “I will be 80,” he said. “Jeez cripes, I can’t believe it.”
The “Polish Eagle” wants everyone to know he is still available for public speaking and emcee duties. He is inviting friends and fans to stop by Mancini’s Char House on the evenings of October 14 and 20 when he will be joining the Midas Touch band and playing his trombone kazoo. Best news from the “Eagle” is being 13 months cancer free.
Longtime local horse racing supporter Steve Erban emailed a reminder that Minnesota owners have thoroughbreds who will be competing in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships next month at Santa Anita Park. Those horses are Zandon, owned by Jeff Drown from the St. Cloud area, and Zozos, owned by Barry and Joni Butzow from Eden Prairie.
Zandon will run in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 4, and televised by NBC with a post time of 5:40 p.m. Zozos will also run November 4, competing in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Classic, with FanDuel televising and a 1:30 p.m. post time.
Both thoroughbreds competed in the 2022 Kentucky Derby and are coming off recent wins. Zandon won the Woodward Stakes at Belmont, while Zozos triumphed at the Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Erban and wife Dorothy, along with Drown and the Butzows, are longtime owners of race horses at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. “Canterbury Park is a first-class Minnesota horse racing facility that could become one of the country’s premier summer race tracks with a higher purse structure,” Erban said via email. “It’s time the Minnesota State Legislature recognizes the need for a higher purse structure for the Minnesota horse racing industry. Minnesota, why not have the best?”Comments Welcome