Monday September 20, 2004







Good Monday Morning Everyone! I hope you had a good weekend.


You see the title of today's posting, "The Clincher", you may assume it is in reference to tonight's Twins/White Sox game in which, if the Twins win, they will clinch the AL Central Division title. And yes, I certainly hope that is the case. But really, all the Twins need to do is win one of the three games in this series and the title is theirs.


No, The Clincher is in reference to the American League Cy Young Award, something I feel Johan Santana should have officially clinched with his performance yesterday. Of course, I thought that he was the leading candidate despite quality seasons from Boston's Curt Schilling and Oakland's Mark Mulder. But Mulder has really struggled in the second half. Pedro gave up eight runs in five innings yesterday. Schilling does have one more win than Johan, but I'm not even going to re-run all of the other pitching categories where Johan has a distinct advantage!


I have on a couple of occasions asked what makes an Ace, and who the Twins Ace is. All along, I have noted that Santana is probably the better pitcher, with the better stuff, but that Radke's composure and the fact that he has been there and done it for so long made me decide that Brad Radke was the team's Ace.


That all changed while watching Santana pitch to the Baltimore Orioles yesterday. Coming into the game, the Twins had been shelled the first two games of the series. The Orioles had scored at least 11 runs both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Saturday, Brad Radke lasted just three innings, throwing 76 pitches and allowing three runs before leaving because he did not feel well.


One of the things that people define "Ace" with is a guy who, when the team needs a win, gets the win. Sunday, the Twins didn't really need the win, but obviously the team would prefer to go into Chicago on a positive note. I can't imagine a more positive note... Yesterday was as dominant a pitching performance as I have seen. Here are the basic numbers:

                                IP     H    R    ER    BB    SO

Johan Santana     8.0     7     0       0       0      14

Incredible. Impressive. Amazing... Enough superlatives? The 14 strikeouts was his career high. He completely shutdown and baffled a hot Orioles team!  His scoreless inning streak increased to 30 (way more impressive than JC Romero's streak). It was his fourth straight start in which he didn't allow a run. It was his 12th consecutive start where he got a win. (Remember when he was 7-6?)


Here are his impressive season statistics (with Curt Schilling's below):

                            GS         IP    W    L     ERA    WHIP    OpAvg    BB      K       K/9

Johan Santana   31   217.0     19    6      2.65        0.92         .194       49    254    10.53

Curt Schilling     30   212.2     20    6      3.40        1.10         .249       30    183      7.78

But just for fun, let's dive into Johan's pitching performance yesterday. I have done this before with both Radke and Santana. I charted each of his 103 pitches and noted the type of pitch, whether it was a ball or strike and what the speed of the pitch was. Again, the speed of the pitch comes from what showed on Fox Sports Net. Here are just some interesting things to note from the game.


Of the 103 pitches that Santana threw, 80 of them (78%) were strikes. 67% is generally considered good. I don't know if I've seen this impressive a percentage before.


Here is a breakdown of the type of pitch that Santana threw, and the average speed of those pitches.

Fastball - 57 (55.3%)

Change Up - 21 (20.4%)

Curveball/Slider - 25 (24.3%)

Here are the number of pitches he threw each inning and the type of pitch:

1st inning  - 13 pitches (7 fastball, 3 curveball, 3 changeup)

2nd inning - 13 pitches (7 fastball, 4 curveball, 2 changeup)

3rd inning - 14 pitches (8 fastball, 2 curveball, 4 changeup)

4th inning - 12 pitches (5 fastball, 4 curveball, 3 changeup)

5th inning - 15 pitches (10 fastball, 2 curveball, 3 changeup)

6th inning - 11 pitches (6 fastball, 2 curveball, 3 changeup)

7th inning - 15 pitches (9 fastball, 4 curveball, 2 changeup)

8th inning - 10 pitches (5 fastball, 4 curveball, 1 changeup)

Total - 103 pitches (57 fastball, 25 curveball, 21 changeup)

It was interesting to me that Santana seemed to be stronger as the game went on. His best, most dominant inning may have been when he struck out the side on 10 pitches in the 8th inning. Santana was consistent with his fastball throughout, but check out the velocity of the pitches he threw by inning (Note - please recall that I did not differentiate between a curveball and a slider. I think Santana threw more sliders late in the game):

                           Fastball              Curveball            Changeup

1st inning -            91.7                       81.3                      77.3

2nd inning -           90.6                       78.5                      77.0

3rd inning -            91.6                       80.0                      79.3

4th inning -            92.4                       82.8                      76.7

5th inning -            92.6                       82.0                      77.3

6th inning -            92.5                       85.0                      77.7

7th inning -            92.9                       80.5                      83.5

8th inning -            93.0                       84.3                      79.0      

Did Santana alter the pitches he threw each time through the batting order? The O's had four hits the first time through the order. They had just one the second time through and two hits the third time through the order. Santana struck out the top two hitters in the Orioles lineup, Brian Roberts and Tim Raines, in their 4th plate appearances.

Time Through Order     FB    FB%    CB    CB%   CU    CU%   Total Pitches

1st                                    19   57.6%      8    24.2%     6    18.2%               33

2nd                                   18   52.9%      7    20.6%     9    26.5%              34

3rd                                    16   55.2%      8    23.5%     5    14.7%              29

4th (2 batters)                  4    57.1%      2    28.6%     1    14.3%                7

So what does this show? In my opinion, it shows absolutely nothing. Putting all of this together, it really just verifies the fact that Santana is willing to throw any pitch at any time. He will throw the fastball a little more than half the time, and the rest of the time, he picks between the curveball and changeup, and all three pitches are incredible.


Santana was so dominant yesterday. He only had one 3 ball count. Actually, he had just three 2 ball counts the whole game. Just again to illustrate how unpredictable Santana is, take a look at the pitches he threw on each count:

               FB         CB         CU

0-0          17          10            2    

0-1          12           5             2

0-2           7            2             6

1-0           4            1             2

1-1           8            2             1

1-2           8            2             7

2-1           1            0             0

2-2           0            2             0

3-2           0            1             0

It is interesting to me to see that Santana does seem to throw more breaking balls with two strikes. Of the 14 strikeouts, seven came with the changeup, four with a curveball and three with the fastball. So, what is his strikeout pitch? Any of the three!


OK, I could throw all kinds of numbers at you to show how good Mr. Santana was yesterday, but to summarize Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball, much less the American League. If he does not win the Cy Young Award, it will be a travesty and a mockery, a traveshamockery!


Santana also got some help from a couple of fellow Venezuelans! Luis Rivas and his new toenails was back and started at second base for the first time in a month! In his first at bat, in his first swing, Rivas drilled a long homer into the left field bleachers to give the Twins a 1-0 lead after three innings. In the bottom of the sixth, Henry Blanco hit a long home run to increase the lead to 2-0. Any offense from Blanco is a bonus because of the job he does behind the plate, especially with Johan Santana on the mound. Santana got double the lead after seven when Michael Restovich connected on a low pitch from Bruce Chen and deposited it deep into the seats in left centerfield.


Overall, just a fun game for the Twins and their fans. Bert Blyleven and Dick Bremer were correct, however, when they noted that people watching on TV could not have felt the energy that was present in the Metrodome every time Santana got two strikes on a hitter. That may be true, and if it is, I would like that feeling because just watching in my living room, I had chills!


Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, or Johan Santana's Cy Young candidacy? E-mail me.



Twins In Chicago


You would hope that the White Sox will at least show up to play this week in Chicago. We know that last week, when they came into Metrodome, they were arrogant and full of smack talk. They whimpered out of the Dome after getting swept, but of course, they were not silent. I know that the Twins will be ready for this series. Will the White Sox?


Again, one Twins win will clinch the division for the Twins!


Here are the pitching matchups:

Monday - 7:05 - Carlos Silva (12-8, 4.33, 1.43, .310) vs Mark Buehrle (14-9, 3.98, 1.30, .281)

Tuesday - 7:05 - Kyle Lohse (8-11, 5.29, 1.62, .306) vs Jon Garland (10-11, 4.99, 1.39, .271)

Wednesday - 7:05 - Terry Mulholland (5-9, 5.11, 1.60, .326) vs Jason Grilli (2-1, 6.75, 1.75, .316)



Friday night, Shannon Stewart tripped over the bullpen mound and did not play the rest of the weekend. Later in the same game, Torii Hunter dove in centerfield and hurt himself and did not play the rest of the weekend. In their place, Lew Ford shifted to center and Michael Restovich put on a defensive show in left.


As you saw above, Luis Rivas made his return to the lineup on Sunday. Corey Koskie made his return on Saturday and hit a home run. Justin Morneau sat out Sunday's game. His wrist still hurts from being hit by CC Sabathia a month ago.


Joe Mauer will travel to Cleveland this week to get a doctor's opinion. This is a doctor that had told him not to  play more this year earlier. They are getting an OK from him, they hope. If they get it, Mauer could be activated to hit only the last week or so of the season. It also sound like Nick Punto could play a couple of games after he is eligible to come off the 60 day DL on September 26th.




Barry Bonds doesn't get pitched to, and we know why. He hits a lot of homers. Friday night, he hit his 700th career homer. Like so many that he has hit in recent years, he took a pitch the opposite way. He joins just Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755) with 700 homers. Saturday, he hit home run number 701. To illustrate just how good Barry Bonds is, I point to Lee Sinnis' RCAA (Runs Created Above Average) stat. Through Saturday, here are the leaders in the National League this season:

1    Barry Bonds          144
2    Jim Edmonds          80
3    Todd Helton            68
T4   J.D. Drew               67
T4   Albert Pujols          67
6    Lance Berkman       63
T7   Bobby Abreu          59
T7   Adrian Beltre          59
9    Scott Rolen             58
10   Adam Dunn            48

In other words, he is head and shoulders better than anyone in that league. To further illustrate how good Bonds is, and how much better the hitters have been in the NL than the AL, here are the leaders in the American League:

1    Travis Hafner         52
2    Ichiro Suzuki         49
3    Melvin Mora           48
4    Manny Ramirez         45
5    Gary Sheffield        43
6    Vladimir Guerrero     42
7    David Ortiz           39
8    Hideki Matsui         37
T9   Erubiel Durazo        36
T9   Carlos Guillen        36
T9   Alex Rodriguez        36

Yes, Mr. Bonds is good. I really think that in the National League, they should have the Barry Bonds Award, and then a new award for MVP (Non-Bonds division)... and give that to the Dodgers' Adrian Beltre.


Twins fans, if you are curious how the Twins rank in RCAA, here is their list:

Lew Ford                 20
Shannon Stewart      11
Joe Mauer                8
Justin Morneau         7
Corey Koskie           5
Augie Ojeda             3
Pat Borders             2
Jason Kubel             0
Jose Offerman          0
Terry Tiffee               0
Jason Bartlett          -1
Alex Prieto              -2
Michael Restovich    -2
Nick Punto              -3
Rob Bowen             -4
Michael Cuddyer      -5
Matthew LeCroy       -6
Michael Ryan          -6
Torii Hunter             -7
Doug Mientkiewicz   -11
Luis Rivas               -15
Jacque Jones          -16
Cristian Guzman     -21
Henry Blanco         -30

I shouldn't, but will, point out that Blanco's -30 ranks dead last in the American League while Cristian Guzman ranks 5th from last.




Over the weekend, I got caught up on some shows that I will be watching all year. I watched both episodes of Joey over again. Then I watched the premiere of The Apprentice 2 (a week plus late) and then last weeks. I also watched the premiere of Survivor. All will be great!

 Any other new shows I should be watching? Maybe shows that I should steer clear of? E-mail me.



As promised, I will make my Vikings/Eagles prediction today. But before I do that, I have to try to sound smart and express some other thoughts on the game.


The Vikings will be playing without Moe Williams and Jim Kleinsasser tonight. May not seem like a big deal, but it could be. Williams gets tough yards, but I also think that Onterrio Smith can handle those carries himself. Also I think that Mewelde Moore is fully capable of being the backup and contributing. I actually think that the Vikings are a better team when Kleinsasser is on the field. Unfortunately, that continues to be a problem. He gets hurt all the time. But his blocking more than anything will be missed.


The questions, however, for the Vikings is if their defense can make huge strides from a really weak opening week performance. You may assume that I think that the defensive backs need to play better if they're going to contain Terrell Owens, but I really don't. I think that the key is for the defensive line to show up. Kevin Williams and Keneche Udeze need to play better. Chris Hovan just needs to do something. I have never had any expectations of him, but if he wants to keep playing, he better show up. He has been terrible. The D-Line needs to first try to contain Brian Westbrook on the run. The linebackers will be huge in this too. But they will be more important if the line does get pressure on Donovan McNabb because obviously, he will run at any time. They also need to watch Westbrook coming out of the backfield. If the Vikings can do those things, the defensive backs will be able to control Owens and the other Eagles receivers.


Prediction - Vikings 34, Eagles 23


What do you think about tonight's game or the Vikings in general? E-mail me.



Apparently we aren't as "expert" as we'd like to think. We just don't have a real feel for who is good and who isn't. It is showing in our picks and no one had less than three wrong and most had five or six. Last week's winner, Jeremy Kovash  13-3 last week and is sitting at 6-9 this week. That illustrates just how topsy-turvy this week really was. Here are the standings through the first 15 games of the weekend:



Week 2 Total            
Name Site


L Win% W L Win %
Mike Brasel Fantasy FB Guru 12 3 80.00% 24 7 77.42%
Aaron Gleeman Aaron's BB Blog 10 5 66.67% 22 9 70.97%
Ryan Maus Twins Chatter 10 5 66.67% 22 9 70.97%
David Bergner Baseball Savant 10 5 66.67% 21 10 67.74%
Michael Labuda ChiSox Daily 10 5 66.67% 19 12 61.29%
Seth Stohs 10 5 66.67% 18 13 58.06%
Vic Quick KDUH-TV Sports 9 6 60.00% 19 12 61.29%
Melissa Olson 9 6 60.00% 17 14 54.84%
David Bloom Ya Gotta Believe 8 7 53.33% 18 13 58.06%
Ben Jacobs Hardball Times 7 8 46.67% 17 14 54.84%
Jeremy Kovash Wolf Lake Mgr 6 9 40.00% 19 12 61.29%
John Bonnes The Twins Geek 6 9 40.00% 13 18 41.94%


And here are the picks we all made. Those is Red are incorrect picks.

  Seth Stohs Melissa Olson Ben Jacobs Aaron Gleeman John Bonnes Ryan Maus Hardball Times Aaron's BB Blog Twins Geek Twins Chatter
San Francisco @ New Orleans Saints 49ers Saints Saints 49ers Saints
Washington @ NY Giants Redskins Giants Redskins Redskins Redskins Giants
Denver @ Jacksonville Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Jaguars
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore Ravens Steelers Ravens Ravens Steelers Ravens
St. Louis @ Atlanta Rams Falcons Rams Falcons Rams Rams
Houston @ Detroit Lions Lions Texans Lions Lions Texans
Chicago @ Green Bay Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers
Indianapolis @ Tennessee Colts Colts Titans Colts Titans Colts
Carolina @ Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Panthers
Seattle @ Tampa Bay Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Buccs Seahawks Seahawks
Cleveland @ Dallas Cowboys Browns Browns Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys
Buffalo @ Oakland Raiders Raiders Raiders Raiders Raiders Bills
New England @ Arizona Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots
NY Jets @ San Diego Jets Jets Jets Jets Chargers Chargers
Miami @ Cincinnati Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals
Minnesota @ Eagles Vikings Vikings Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles
  Michael Labuda David Bergner David Bloom Vic Quick Mike Brasel Jeremy Kovash
  ChiSox Daily Baseball Savant Ya Gotta Believe KDUH-Sports Fantasy FB Guru Wolf Lake Mgr
San Francisco @ New Orleans Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints
Washington @ NY Giants Redskins Redskins Redskins Redskins Redskins Redskins
Denver @ Jacksonville Jaguars Broncos Broncos Broncos Jaguars Broncos
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore Ravens Ravens Steelers Ravens Ravens Ravens
St. Louis @ Atlanta Falcons Rams Rams Falcons  Falcons Rams
Houston @ Detroit Texans Lions Lions Lions Lions Texans
Chicago @ Green Bay Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers
Indianapolis @ Tennessee Colts Colts Colts Titans Colts Colts
Carolina @ Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs
Seattle @ Tampa Bay Buccs Seahawks Seahawks Buccs Seahawks Seahawks
Cleveland @ Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Browns Cowboys Cowboys Browns
Buffalo @ Oakland Raiders Raiders Raiders Raiders Raiders Raiders
New England @ Arizona Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots
NY Jets @ San Diego Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Chargers
Miami @ Cincinnati Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Dolphins
Minnesota @ Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles



Thanks to everyone who stops by this site! Have a wonderful Monday and  a great week!! If you have any questions or comments on anything, send me an e-mail.

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