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A championship team? Now maybe they are

Posted on: May 16, 2010 6:23 pm
 
NEW YORK -- The Twins, a rival scout said Sunday morning, are "a championship club."

And now maybe they are.

Did they prove that with one shocking swing of Jason Kubel's bat? Of course not.

But as long as the Twins kept losing every single game they played in New York, how could we take them seriously as a team that could walk into Yankee Stadium in October and win?

That, after all, is what the Twins need to be.

With a payroll approaching $100 million, with maybe the best player in baseball signed to a long-term contract, with an improved and deeper roster, this needs to be a team that can win a championship.

And not just a team that can win the American League Central.

This needs to be a team we can take seriously in October. And not a team we quickly dismiss because . . . well, because they hadn't won a game in New York since Johan Santana was pitching for them (and didn't beat the Yankees once last year, in New York or at home).

One win in May, even one win as dramatic as Sunday's, doesn't change all that. But one win in May, especially one win as dramatic as Sunday's, on a Kubel grand slam off Mariano Rivera, changes the story.

"It's not showing that we can beat them," manager Ron Gardenhire said, after the 6-3 Twins win. "It's just getting rid of that [talk of never winning in New York]. That stuff can build."

So even though the Twins lost yet another series in the Bronx (they last won one in May 2001), the story today is about their improbable win Sunday.

It's about how Rivera walked in a run for just the fourth time in his career (and the first time in five years), about how Rivera allowed just the second grand slam he's given up in 15-plus years as a late-inning reliever (and the first in eight years).

It's about how Rivera finally suffered another blown save at home, his first since 2007 after a record-tying string of 51 that he converted.

It's about the Twins as winners.

Beating Rivera doesn't make you a champion. Bill Selby's slam gave the 2002 Indians one of their 74 wins that year, and Charlie Manuel had been fired a few days earlier. The back-to-back home runs that Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria hit off Rivera last May were long-forgotten by October, when the Rays were at home and the Yankees were winning it all.

The Twins, as Gardenhire pointed out, have a ways to go before they can guarantee another playoff series in New York (as do the Yankees).

"There's too many great teams in the league to focus on one team," Gardenhire said. "The Tigers, the White Sox -- our division is hard enough."

That's fine, but we already believed that the Twins were capable of winning the Central. They already believed that, too.

This team is talented enough (and has a high enough payroll) to shoot higher than that.

This could be a championship team.

But as long as they kept losing every game to the Yankees, it was hard to seriously believe that.

*****

Some Rivera grand-slam trivia:

-- Rivera gave up two slams in 1995, one when he was a starter (to Geronimo Berroa) and the other when he was pitching in long relief (to Bobby Bonilla). He became a full-time reliever the following year, and the only slam he'd allowed since then was Selby's walkoff, in 2002.

-- Jim Thome, whose bases-loaded walk set up Kubel's slam, was also on base for Selby's slam. Rivera intentionally walked Thome, then struck out Travis Fryman before facing Selby.

-- Gardenhire said that Kubel is the type of hitter who could have a chance against Rivera, because of a "short, quick swing" that could allow him to get to Rivera's cutter. Kubel was 2 for 5 against Rivera in their previous regular-season meetings, but with no extra-base hits. He 2 for 8, including playoff meetings, with four strikeouts.

Category: MLB
Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:22 pm
 

A championship team? Now maybe they are




Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 15, 2012 12:57 am
 

A championship team? Now maybe they are




Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 24, 2011 1:53 am
 

A championship team? Now maybe they are




Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:02 pm
 

A championship team? Now maybe they are




Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 4, 2011 1:21 am
 

A championship team? Now maybe they are




Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 7:51 pm
 

A championship team? Now maybe they are

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Tomly
Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 22, 2011 12:04 pm
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Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:15 am
 

A championship team? Now maybe they are

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Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: May 17, 2010 5:02 pm
 

A championship team? Now maybe they are

The Twins have an interesting team. Even with losing their closer for the entire year, it has had small effect on them. Their offense is pretty good from top to botton. Their major concern is their starting pitching. To have any chance at all, Liriano has to become the pitcher he was for the half a year that he pitched before his arm surgery. They have 3 number three starting pitchers, but not a legitimate number two. Liriano has to become a number one for them to be for real. He has pitched some really good games, but a couple of poor ones also. Perhaps they can trade for one, a Peavy, Sheets, etc. as the season moves on. I see very little competion for them inside their division, so they have plenty of time. The twins have won before, and know how to win. A long way to go yet in the season.





Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: May 17, 2010 4:48 pm
 

A championship team? Now maybe they are

Yes the yanks beat us in the postseason and they have beat us many times in a row so id say one win is a big for the confidence. A note to add, the yanks did beat us last playoffs but we were missing one of our best players and one of the best players in all of baseball in Justin M. Plus we lost slowey as well liriano not being to his form yet. This is a completly different year if we stay healthy.


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