We're heading into the home stretch of the season, things are getting stressful, and the Twins are a game into maybe the most important series in the last five years. Here are some notes and observations before tonight's Berrios-Sabathia duel.
- Three separate Jaime Garcia moments made me want to put my fist through a wall last night: The first being when I realized the Twins lineup is so inconsistent they're somehow making him look like Corey Kluber. The second was when I realized the Twins wouldn't have had to face him if they had held on to him. I then remembered he's been terrible in New York which briefly gave me some solace before I realized that means it makes even less sense that he would be pitching so well tonight, ultimately leading to moment number three.
- In all seriousness, the biggest reason for Garcia's success last night was getting strike one. Of the 20 batters he faced last night, he got a first pitch strike twelve times. It's really difficult to consistently hit from behind, and that's what the Twins were doing last night. Getting ahead allowed Garcia to then expand the strike zone with two strikes, something he used to exploit the youth and lack of experience of Rosario and Buxton multiple times last night. In the second inning, Polanco jumped on a first pitch fastball and ripped it to right for a double. The Twins need to do more of that tonight if Sabathia comes out as aggressive as Garcia.
- Long standing belief I've had: Under no circumstances should Joe Mauer strike out looking. If Mauer doesn't swing at a pitch with two strikes, it probably wasn't a strike. Umpires should call games with this in mind.
- One thing I wasn't expecting to happen was the Yankees to run like crazy. I know Santana is notorious for having a slow delivery but Gardner and Ellsbury even stole off of Duffy and Hildenberger. More on this in a second.
- Gardner and Ellsbury were on a combined six times last night. Of course they're the two guys who can do the biggest damage on the basepaths for the Yankees. It's especially frustrating considering the Twins' staff did a pretty good job with the scariest part of the lineup. Judge had the homer in the first inning but he went hitless for the rest of the game. Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius both went 0-for-4.
- The best part about this weeks' slate of games is that the Angels are playing the Indians. It's plausible that the Twins could lose two of three without messing up their playoff chances too badly.
- These Twins are so weird and unpredictable I wouldn't be surprised if they put up 20 runs tonight. I also wouldn't be surprised if they got no-hit.
- Prediction: I think the good Berrios shows up tonight and the bats rebound at least a little bit. Dozier picks up his 31st homer in a 5-1 victory.