Posts Tagged ‘Joe Mauer’

Twins Continue To Improve, Sign Orlando Hudson

February 5, 2010

Going into the offseason, everyone knew the Minnesota Twins needed an upgrade at three of the four infield positions. The Twins were set with Justin Morneau at first, but needed to improve at second, short, and third in order to get to the next level.

Back in November, the Twins stole JJ Hardy from the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez to upgrade their shortstop position and yesterday they upgraded at second base.

Hudson is an upgrade at second for the Twins

According to Joe Christensen of the Minnesota Star Tribune, the Twins have signed second baseman Orlando Hudson to a one-year, $5 million contract. The deal has no incentives and no option for 2011.

Hudson is a clear upgrade over last year’s starting second baseman Nick Punto. Here are their stats from last year:

Hudson: .283/.357/.417 with nine home runs in 146 games.

Punto: .228/.337/.284 with one home runs in 125 games.

Punto is a nice little player, who does a lot of things right. He is a guy that every team should have on their ball club. But he shouldn’t be starting for a team that has World Series aspirations.

Hudson will certainly lengthen the Twins’ lineup. Here is a possible Minnesota lineup against right-handed pitching:

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Orlando Hudson, 2B

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Jason Kubel, LF

6. Michael Cuddyer, RF

7. Jim Thome, DH

8. JJ Hardy, SS

9. Brendan Harris, 3B

That is one stacked lineup. These are no longer your father’s punch-and-Judy Twins’ lineup. This lineup can flat-out rake.

Of course against lefties, the Twins can go with Delmon Young in left and put Kubel back at DH. That’s still a pretty good lineup.

With the additions of Hudson, Hardy, Thome, and with their above average rotation and solid bullpen, I believe the Twins are the clear favorites in the American League Central.

Their closest competition in the Central will come from the Chicago White Sox. But with a suspect lineup and very mediocre defense, I am not sure the White Sox have what it takes to overtake the Twins in the division.

Now that the Twins have added Hardy and Hudson, don’t look for them to sign a third baseman as well. I think the Twins are done spending this offseason.

They will most likely go with Harris at third in 2010. Punto and Matt Tolbert could see some time at third as well.

Hudson will be entering his eighth year in the major leagues and has a career .282 average with 77 home runs, 50 stolen bases, 50 triples, and a .778 OPS with the Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Starting Nine: American League Central

January 12, 2010

Yesterday, I took at the starting nine position players for each American League East team. Today, I will cover the starting nine position players for each American League Central team.

Remember, these lineups are as of today. Obviously these will change as the offseason continues. I will update these lineups as the season approaches.

Here are the starting lineups for each American League Central team:

Minnesota Twins

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Joe Mauer, C

3. Justin Morneau, 1B

4. Michael Cuddyer, RF

5. Jason Kubel, DH

6. Delmon Young, LF

7. J.J. Hardy, SS

8. Brendan Harris, 3B

9. Nick Punto, 2B

Quick Take – The Twins have as good a one through five as anyone in baseball. They desperately need a third and second baseman. Orlando Hudson would be a nice addition.

Chicago White Sox

1. Juan Pierre, LF

2. Gordon Beckham, 2B

3. Carlos Quentin, RF

4. Paul Konerko, 1B

5. Alex Rios, CF

6. Alexei Ramirez, SS

7. A.J. Pierzynski, C

8. Mark Teahen, 3B

9. Mark Kotsay, DH

Quick Take – Perhaps there is no lineup that is harder to put together than the White Sox’s. This lineup could go in nine different directions. They need a DH and bringing back Jim Thome would make sense.

Detroit Tigers

1. Austin Jackson, CF

2. Carlos Guillen, DH

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Magglio Ordonez, RF

5. Brandon Inge, 3B

6. Ryan Raburn, LF

7. Gerald Laird, C

8. Adam Everett, SS

9. Scott Sizemore, 2B

Quick Take – Another hard lineup to put together. Jackson and Sizemore could flip-flop in the order. I don’t see a reason to ever pitch to Cabrera.

Kansas City Royals

1. Scott Podsednik, CF

2. David DeJesus, LF

3. Billy Butler, 1B

4. Jose Guillen, RF

5. Alex Gordon, 3B

6. Alberto Callaspo, 2B

7. Josh Fields, DH

8. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

9. Jason Kendall, C

Quick Take – This lineup is going to have a hard time scoring runs. This year might be make or break for Gordon.

Cleveland Indians

1. Azdrubal Cabrera, SS

2. Michael Brantley, LF

3. Grady Sizemore, CF

4. Shin-Soo Choo, RF

5. Travis Hafner, DH

6. Jhonny Peralta, 3B

7. Matt LaPorta, 1B

8. Lou Marson, C

9. Luis Valbuena, 2B

Quick Take – I like putting Brantley in the two-hole because of the speed and high OBP ability he showed in the minors. Sizemore moves down to the three-hole and takes on the role of a run producer.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at the American League West.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

What Each MLB Team Should Be Thankful For

November 26, 2009

For me, Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. It’s one of the few times of the year when all bets are off when it comes to food. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Thanksgiving is also the time of year where we give thanks to what we have in life. It’s no different for all 30 teams of Major League Baseball. Each team has something they can be thankful for.

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies should be thankful that they have one of the best GM’s in the game in Ruben Amaro Jr. A GM who doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves.

Atlanta Braves: The Braves should be thankful the Minor League Player of the Year, Jason Heyward is on his way. The kid looks like a star.

Florida Marlins: The Marlins should be thankful they are getting a new stadium in 2012. Maybe then they can keep their young stars like Josh Johnson

New York Mets: The Mets should be thankful that 2009 is finally coming to an end. 2010 can’t be much worse.

Washington Nationals: The Nationals should be thankful that new GM Mike Rizzo has more of a clue than former GM Jim Bowden

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals should be thankful for the fact that they get to watch the best player in the game on a day in and day out basis.

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs should be thankful that after so many years of being labeled “lovable losers,” they are finally dedicated to winning. Whether or not they are making the right moves to win is another story.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers should be thankful that they have an owner in Mark Attanasio, who runs a small market team, but has a big market mentality.

Cincinnati Reds: The Reds should be thankful that Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, and Joey Votto are young stars, who should provide a solid foundation for the future.

Houston Astros: The Astros should be thankful that Wandy Rodriguez established himself as a solid No. 2 starter in 2009.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates should be thankful for the fact that GM Neal Huntington has the team moving in the right direction. The Pirates are making the right moves to compete in the future.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers should be thankful for Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, who appear to be the foundation of the Dodgers’ offense for years to come.

Colorado Rockies: The Rockies should be thankful that they have one of the best and exciting young teams in baseball. The Rockies have finally figured out how to win in Colorado.

The Giants should be thankful for Lincecum

San Francisco Giants: The Giants should be thankful for being able to watch Tim Lincecum every five days. His unique delivery continues to amaze fans and baffle hitters.

San Diego Padres: The Padres should be thankful that it appears that they will not be trading star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks should be thankful that Brandon Webb is making progress and looks to be healthy in 2010.

AL East

New York Yankees: The Yankees should be thankful that they are the Yankees. No other team in professional sports has the advantage they have.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox should be thankful for their minor-league system, which allows them to trade for players like Victor Martinez and potentially Roy Halladay or Miguel Cabrera.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays should be thankful that they have the most athletic team in baseball and after so many years of losing, they have a winner in Tampa.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays should be thankful for the fact they got to watch Roy Halladay pitch in a Blue Jays’ uniform for the last 12 years. He will go down as the best player in franchise history.

Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles should be thankful for that after so many years of not having a clue, they are moving in the right direction. Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, and Nick Markakis provide a solid foundation for the future.

AL Central

Minnesota Twins: The Twins should be thankful for Joe Mauer. When it is all said and done, I believe he will go down as the greatest catcher of all time.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers should be thankful for Mike Ilitch. Despite a ravaged economy in Detroit, Ilitch does his best to put a winner on the field in the Motor City.

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox should be thankful for employing Ozzie Guillen. His press conferences have provided baseball fans with hours of comedy. Oh yeah, the guy is a pretty good manager.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals should be thankful that there is only more year left in the Jose Guillen era in Kansas City.

Cleveland Indians: The Indians should be thankful that Grady Sizemore, Carlos Santana, Azdrubal Cabrera, Matt LaPorta, and Shin-Soo Choo provide hope for the future.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angles should be thankful for that they have one of the best run organizations in baseball. The job Arte Moreno and Mike Scioscia have done in Anaheim has been impressive.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners should be thankful for the fact that if they make a couple of solid moves this offseason, they could win the AL West in 2010.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers should be thankful for GM Jon Daniels. His trades and drafting over the last four years have the Rangers poised to make a run at the AL West crown in 2010.

Oakland A’s: The A’s should be thankful for Andrew Bailey. The 2009 AL Rookie of the Year and a great year and should anchor the backend of the A’s bullpen for years to come–or at least until Billy Beane trades him.

I would like to give thanks to all my readers for taking the time out of their days to read my blog. For that, I am truly grateful.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO EVERYONE AND THEIR FAMILIES!!!

Joe Mauer Wins AL MVP; Was There Any Doubt?

November 23, 2009

My preseason AL MVP pick: Grady Sizemore

AL MVP winner: Joe Mauer

Two nights before the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, I had the opportunity to hang out with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Joe Nathan at an pre-All-Star Game party at a bar in New York City.

It was by far and away one of the coolest nights of life. How often does someone have drinks with an MVP? Little did I know I was hanging out with two MVP’s that night.

Me and Joe Mauer at the All-Star Game party

Today, Mauer followed in Morneau’s footsteps by winning the American League MVP award.

Mauer, who led the AL in avg. (.365), OBP (.444), and slugging percentage (.587) received 27 out of 28 first-place votes to become not only the second Minnesota Twin to win the award since 2006, but he also became just the second catcher in the last 33 years (Thurman Munson) to win the award.

Ivan Rodriguez won the award with the Texas Rangers in 1999.

Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees finished second and third in the voting. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers was the only other player to receive a first-place vote.

Really?

Someone voted for Cabrera? Voting for Cabrera for the AL MVP is just as egregious as Keith Law leaving Chris Carpenter off the NL Cy Young ballot.

I am going to bet a good amount of money the idiot who voted for Cabrera was the same idiot who voted for Justin Verlander for the AL Cy Young.

But back to Mauer.

When it’s all said and done, I believe Mauer will go down in baseball history as the greatest catcher of all time. I really believe he is that good.

For a catcher to win three out of the last four batting titles is truly amazing. It’s a feat that doesn’t get talked about enough. Just like with Roy Halladay having more complete games than 27 teams in baseball.

15 years from now, we are going to look back at these feats and go “Wow, he really did that?”

And for any Yankee fan who thinks that Jeter or Teixeira got robbed–just be quiet. Seriously, I don’t want to hear it.

Mauer was the best player in the American League this year.

There was no doubt about it.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

American League Hands Out Some Gold Gloves

November 10, 2009

Not only ’tis the season for surgeries, trades, and free agency, but ’tis the season for handing out some hardware.

Baseball handed out its first set of postseason awards today. The American Gold Glove winners were announced today.

gold glove award

The Gold Glove award

Let’s take a look at who won an American League Gold Glove in 2009…

C. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins – .996 fielding percentage, 26 percent caught stealing percentage

1B. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees – .997 fielding percentage, -1.4 UZR

2B. Placido Polanco, Detroit Tigers – .997 fielding percentage, 11.4 UZR

SS. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees – .986 fielding percentage, 4.8 UZR

3B. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays – .970 fielding percentage, 18.5 UZR

OF. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners – .988 fielding percentage, 10.5 UZR

OF. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles – .996 fielding percentage, -4.7 UZR

OF. Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – .997 fielding percentage, -1.4 UZR

P. Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox – .982 fielding percentage

I think baseball did a good job with these selections. Believe it or not, the one selection you could really argue is Ichiro. Nelson Cruz (.990 fielding percentage, 11.6 UZR) or JD Drew (.992 fielding percentage, 10.5 UZR) would have been better selections as a right fielder.

Here is the one problem I do have with the Gold Glove awards. Why does baseball treat all the outfielders as one position? It doesn’t matter what position you play in the outfield, you are considered an “outfielder.”

Every year, either two center fielders win a Gold Glove, or two right fielders win, etc…

Why doesn’t baseball pick one left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder? Does that make too much sense?

The National League Gold Glove winners will be announced tomorrow.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Yankees Sweep Twins, Advance To ALCS

October 12, 2009

If you are a New York Yankees fan, you have to start feeling like there is a lot of late 90’s magic going on with this team. When I say magic, I am not talking the clutch hitting from Alex Rodriguez or the brilliant pitching by Andy Pettitte.

I am talking the egregious umpiring that always benefits the Yankees (Joe Mauer call in Game Two), teams and players making bonehead plays they would normally not make (Nick Punto last night), and even when the Yankees make a bad play, it somehow works out in their favor (Robinson Cano misplay leads to an out last night).

Those were staples of the Yankee teams in their glory years from 1996-2000.

Pettitte was great last night

Pettitte was great last night

The Yankees lost that magic starting with the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, they got some of that magic back in a big way against the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees beat the Twins last 4-1 to sweep the Twins 3-0 in their best-of-five American League Division Series and advance to their first ALCS since 2004. The Yankees used some great pitching, timely homeruns, and some just brutal baserunning by the Twins to get by the Twins in this series.

What was amazing about this series, was that every single time the Twins would take the lead, the Yankees would come back to either tie the game or take the lead the very next inning. It was unbelievable.

Last night was such a perfect example of what I am talking about.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a Joe Mauer single off of Pettitte, who was brilliant in this game. The very next inning, Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit solo homeruns and just like that, the Yankees have a 2-1 lead.

I even wrote on my Twitter page that the Yankees have the Twins right where they want them being down 1-0. The tragedy of that, is that Carl Pavano was pitching the game of his life before those two homeruns.

That was the best I have ever seen Pavano look. For six innings he completely controled the game. There is no doubt in my mind he earned a multi-year deal with his performance last night.

Even down 2-1, the Twins had their chances in this game. In the bottom of the seventh, Yankees manager Joe Girardi took out Pettitte for reasons only know to himself and replaced him with Mr. Mediocre himself–Joba Chamberlain.

Chamberlain proceeds to give up a double to Delmon Young and the Twins had a runner on second with just one out. Chamberlain got Brendan Harris out on a hard grounder to third and then struckout Jose Morales to end the inning.

Do the Twins not have anyone else that can DH besides Morales? This guy stinks. Every time I see him play, he doesn’t seem even close to getting a hit.

In the bottom of the eighth is when the you know what really hit the fan for the Twins. Punto led off the inning with a double off of the suddenly shaky Phil Hughes.

The next batter Denard Span hit a chopper up the middle. Derek Jeter got to the ball and didn’t throw to first because he knew he couldn’t get Span. Punto, not picking up his third base coach thought the ball went up the middle and decided to head home.

Punto realized the ball didn’t go into the outfield halfway between home and third, Jeter threw the ball home to Posada, and Posada threw out Punto trying to go back to third.

I really thought at that point Ron Gardenhire was going to punch Punto when he got back to the dugout. He had that look on his face.

After that play, the game was essentially over.

I can’t believe how many bad baserunning plays the Twins made in this series. And this was the supposedly the more fundamentally sound team coming into this series. It really was inexcusable.

Now the Yankees will move on to play their arch nemesis in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Game One of the ALCS will be on Friday.

Yankees Steal Game Two From Twins

October 10, 2009

The Minnesota Twins begged the New York Yankees to win Game Two of their American League Division Series last night at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees took them up on their offer.

The Yankees beat the Twins last night 4-3 in 11 innings on a walk-off homerun by Mark Teixeira to give the Bronx Bombers a two games to none advantage in their best-of-five series.

It’s very rare that the game-winning homerun isn’t the biggest story of the game. But in this game Teixeira’s homerun wasn’t even close to being the biggest story of this game. The biggest story of this game was how the Twins just imploded in every facet of the game.

I am starting to wonder if the Twins and St Louis Cardinals have a bet going on to see who can be more inept during the playoffs.

First, let’s start with Carlos Gomez’s awful awful baserunning in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Delmon Young on second, and Gomez on first, Matt Tolbert lined a single to right-centerfield.

As Young was attempting to score, Gomez rounded second, slipped, and was tagged out before Young touched home plate. The fact that Gomez slipped wasn’t the bad play–it could happen to anyone.

The blunder Gomez made was that when he slipped and was caught in no man’s land, he should have gotten in a run-down to ensure that Young would score. It was a horrible play that cost the Twins an ever so valuable run.

Nathan imploded last night

Nathan imploded last night

Second, there was the Twins pitching. I am not talking about Nick Blackburn because he was outstanding last night. I am talking about the Joe Nathan implosion that took place in the ninth.

The Twins had that game won. Up 3-1 going into the ninth and with Joe Nathan on the mound, you have to win that game. Nathan had a meltdown that would have made Trevor Hoffman proud.

Now facing Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Hideki Matsui in hopes of closing out a game is no easy task. But if you are supposed to be one of the best closers in the game, you have to get it down with a two run lead.

Nathan allowed a leadoff single to Teixeira and then came the Rodriguez AB. Nathan and Mauer’s approach to Arod made no sense. Nathan fell behind the count 3-0 and it looked like they were pitching around him.

At 3-0 to Arod, the battle is lost. I know it is a cardinal sin to put the winning run on base, but in that spot you have to do it. Nathan then proceeds to throw such a get-me-over fastball, that I am a surprised Arod didn’t come out of his shoes.

Okay, now the count is 3-1. At this point, you throw a cutter or something soft away and hope that you can use Arod’s aggressiveness against him. Maybe he will roll one over to short or foul it off to get the count to 3-2.

So what does Nathan decide to do? He throws a flat, mediocre fastball right down the middle of the plate.

Boom! Homerun and the game is tied at three.

Nathan had another meltdown again in the 10th when tried to pick off Brett Gardner at second base. Nathan threw the ball into centerfield and the Yankees had a runner on third with just one out.

After a Derek Jeter intentional walk, Nathan got Johnny Damon to line weakly to Orlando Cabrera. For some reason Gardner forgot to freeze on the linedrive and got doubled up. It was a terrible baserunning play by Gardner.

Third and finally for the Twins, there situational hitting was horrific in this game. The Twins left 17 men on base last night. 17!!! The icing on the cake was in the 11th inning.

The Twins had bases loaded and noboby out and DIDN’T SCORE! Young lined out to Teixeira, Gomez ground into a force out, and Brendan Harris flied out to center.

After watching his pathetic AB in that frame, I have come to the conclusion that Gomez is maybe the worst player in baseball. He has no skills outside of running. He would make for a perfect wide receiver on the Oakland Raiders.

Of course the biggest story of the top of the 11th besides the Twins not scoring was the inexcusable missed call by leftfield umpire Phil Cuzzi. Joe Mauer fit a flyball down the leftfield line that dropped about three feet in fair territory, but was called foul.

Mauer would have had a ground-rule double.

However, this was not the reason the Twins lost the game. You got the feeling that even if the Twins scored five runs in that inning, the Yankees would have scored six in the next.

The Twins did everything they could to give this game away. Now, their season is all but over.

Game Three is Sunday at 7:07 ET.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

New York Yankees Roll, Win Game One

October 8, 2009

Everything went according to plan for the New York Yankees in Game One of their American League Division series against the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees got six and two-thirds solid innings from CC Sabathia, they used the long ball to their advantage like they have been all year, and even got Alex Rodriguez to contribute in their 7-2 victory over the Twins.

Believe it or not, the Twins actually had a 2-0 lead in this game heading into the third inning. They got a clutch two-out hit from Michael Cuddyer and then Joe Mauer scored on a passed ball by Jorge Posada to make it 2-0.

I’ll just say this–Posada was awful defensively in this game. Could a catcher look anymore clueless behind the plate than Posada did last night? Jose Molina is so much better than him defensively it’s ridiculous.

Matsui went yard last night

Matsui went yard last night

But after the Twins took that 2-0 lead, the Yankees came right back to tie the game on a Derek Jeter two-run homerun. As soon as Jeter hit that HR, you kind of felt that the Yankees would win this game.

Hideki Matsui broke the game open with a two-run HR in the fifth off of Francisco Liriano and the rest was history. What the heck happened to Liriano? He is the only pitcher I can think of, who has gotten worse after Tommy John surgery.

I think the Twins will be much, much more competitive for the rest of this series. Ron Gardenhire said his club was “gassed” before the start of Game One. It’s usually not a good sign when your manager says that before a game.

The day off today should serve the Twins well. They should finally be able to get some sleep, regroup, and like I said, be much better throughout this series.

Game Two is Friday at 6:07 ET.

One last side note to this game. Major League Baseball really needs to end their relationship with TBS. Their coverage of baseball is awful.

How many times did they show Jay Z and Kate Hudson in this game? It seemed like 100 times. We get it TBS–there are stars in New York. It’s nothing new.

Uma Thurman and Julia Roberts live around the corner from me–big deal.

I want to watch baseball. I don’t want to see Craig Sager in his purple clown suits, I don’t want to see David Aldridge (a basketball guy) doing baseball interviews, and I don’t want to Jay Z and Kate Hudson every five minutes.

I just want to watch baseball.

Twins And Tigers Remind Us All What Is Great About Baseball

October 7, 2009

When people ask me what was the greatest baseball game I ever saw, I always say it was Game Six of the 1986 National League Championship Series between the New York Mets and the Houston Astros.

The Mets won that game 7-6 in 16 innings to advance to the World Series. It was a game that was filled with so much drama, passion, and intensity that you could feel it with every pitch through the television set.

It was one of those rare sporting events that was so great, you know you were watching a classic as it unfolded and you would never forget where you were that day.

Nathan played in an all-time game last night

Nathan played in an all-time game last night

Yesterday, the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers gave everyone one of those games.

The Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings in a one-game playoff to clinch the American League Central title. For four-hours and thirty-seven minutes last night there were no salaries, no free agency, no arbitration, and no steroids.

Last night it was about two teams playing their guts out and leaving everything on field. The Twins and Tigers not only captured the 58,088 screaming fans in the Metrodome, but they captured millions watching at home.

They captured four friends, who weren’t Twins or Tigers fan, but were so into the game that they were texting back and forth on practically every situation that occurred. We all knew we were watching one of the best games we ever saw.

They even captured non-baseball fans like the girl sitting next to me at the bar last night. I could tell she didn’t know the difference between a curveball or a beachball, but she was taken in by game. “I can’t believe they got out that” she said referring to Joe Nathan getting out of a first and third jam with one out in the ninth.

There will always be people out there who say athletes — and in particular baseball players don’t care because they get paid so much.

Tell that to Tigers’ 3B Brandon Inge, who played the majority of the second-half on a knee so bad, he will require surgery at the end of the year.

Tell that to Fernando Rodney, who gave everything he had for three innings last night when he is only used to pitching one and deserved a better fate.

Tell that to catchers Gerald Laird and Joe Mauer, who after catching nearly 400 combined pitches, were blocking balls in the dirt in the 11th and 12th innings so textbook that you could show them to any kid who wants to become a catcher.

Tell that to Orlando Cabrera, a guy, who for some reason goes from team to team and all he does is win.

Tell that to Jim Leyland and Ron Gardenhire, two of the class acts in baseball, who managed last night’s game like a father would manage his son in a Little League game.

Were there mistakes in this game? Sure there were. Alexi Casilla not tagging up properly in the bottom of the 10th. Ryan Raburn’s unnecessary attempt at a diving catch, which led to a Michael Cuddyer triple in the bottom of the 10th. Miguel Cabrera not running hard from the get-go on Inge’s chopper to second in the 11th.

In any sporting event — especially one that goes into extra innings,  you can question a play in the game or a player’s actions. However, that doesn’t take away from how great the overall game was.

The Twins and Tigers gave us a show that captivated baseball.

For four-hours and thirty-seven minutes, the Twins and Tigers reminded us all what is great about America’s National Pastime.

10 Things We Learned About Baseball In September

October 1, 2009

The best season of the year is here kids — Spring. Crisp air, leaves turning, temperatures in the 60’s (unless you live in Detroit, then they are in the 30’s) and of course pennant race baseball.

Are we going to get the classic pennant race that goes down to the last day of the season like we saw in 2007 and 2008? Probably not. But the NL Wild Card race between the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies and the AL Central race between the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins gave us plenty to be excited about.

September was a great month for baseball fans. Here are the top-10 things we learned about baseball in September…

10. Ichiro can flat-out hit. On September 13th, Ichiro became the first player in major league history to record 200 hits nine straight seasons.

Ichiro is easily in the top-five of the best pure hitters that I have ever seen (last 25 years). He is right up there with Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Edgar Martinez, and Paul Molitor.

Ichiro is unquestionably a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The only question that remains is when it is all said and done, is Ichiro the greatest hitter of all-time?

Speaking guys who get base hits…

9. Chris Coghlan is hitting his way to NL ROY.Guess who lead baseball in hits in September? Derek Jeter? Nope. Ichiro? Nope. Joe Mauer? Nope. It was Florida Marlins rookie Chris Coghlan.

Coghlan had 47 hits in September with a .382 avg. and a .925 OPS. Coghlan is making a strong push for NL Rookie of the Year.

While Ichiro and Coghlan can hit the baseball…

Reynolds is strikeout king once again

Reynolds is strikeout king once again

8. Mark Reynolds has a hard time making contact. Arizona Diamondbacks 3B Mark Reynolds broke his own record for strikeouts in a single season when he struck out three times against the San Francisco Giants giving him 205 K’s.

Reynolds’ previous mark for strikeouts was 204, which he set last season.

I, for one, thought this was no big deal. Reynolds is having a phenomenal season. Reynolds has 44 homeruns, 101 RBI, 24 SB’s, a .552 slugging percentage, and a .902 OPS.

Reynolds plays on the Diamondbacks, who are having a terrible season. But not as bad as this team…

7. The Washington Nationals will have the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft. The Nationals will finish the 2009 season with the worst record in baseball. There reward? They will have the first pick in the 2010 draft.

All signs point to Bryce Harper being the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

The Nationals fired manager Manny Acta earlier in the season. These two teams fired their managers in September…

6. Cecil Cooper and Eric Wedge were handed their walking papers. The Houston Astros fired Cooper with 13 games left in the regular season. When Cooper was fired by the Astros, the Astros were in fourth place and 16.5 games behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals.

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians fired Wedge with just six games to go. Wedge was 560-568 with one playoff appearance in seven seasons with the Indians. Wedge will finish out the season with the Indians, but him and his staff will not be retained after the season ends.

Staying with Central Division news…

5. The Chicago Cubs suspend Milton Bradley. Is it me or did everyone on the planet see this coming except for Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry? Bradley has been awful with the Cubs in 2009.

The Cubs suspended Bradley because of negative comments he made about the fans in Chicago.

Despite having a .378 OBP, Bradley only hit .257 and had a pathetic .397 slugging percentage.

So much for adding some left-handed pop to the lineup.

While the Cubs floundered in 2009…

4. The Atlanta Braves surged in September. Somebody forget to tell the Braves they were out of it in September. In a 19-game stretch they went 15-4 and pulled within two games of the Wild Card leading Rockies.

Many Braves fans envisioned the Braves doing to the Rockies what the Rockies did to the San Diego Padres in 2007. However, the Braves playoff chances are on life support after losing back-to-back games against the Marlins.

On the subject of playoff races…

The Twins missed Morneau in September

The Twins missed Morneau in September

3. The AL Central race heated up. Despite losing MVP candidate Justin Morneau, the Twins have been able to hang with the Tigers neck and neck throughout September.

The Twins entered this weeks HUGE four-game series just two games behind the Tigers. After winning the first game in 10 innings 3-2, the Twins have dropped two in a row to the Tigers — putting their season on life support.

The Tigers can clinch the AL Central crown with a win today over the Twins.

If the Tigers win the AL Central, they will have to face these two in the first-round of the playoffs…

2. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano each record 200 hits. With over 200 hits apiece, Jeter and Cano became the first middle infield duo to each collect 200 hits in a season.

I am not surprised this has never been done before considering that I would say before 1995 — shortstops and second baseman weren’t considered offensive players. Sure you had your Eddie Collins’, Roberto Alomar’s, Charlie Gehringer’s, and Cal Ripken’s of the world, but they were rarely paired up with anyone who could hit.

That is what made Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker so special for their era. They were two middle infielders who could hit and field.

Speaking of Yankees, the No.1 thing we learned about baseball in September was…

Jeter is headed to the playoffs yet again

Jeter is headed to the playoffs yet again

1. Six teams punched their ticket to October. The New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies will all be battling it out for a World Series title.

I thought last year’s playoff matchups were pretty easy to predict. This year? The way the matchups are shaping up, I have no clue who is going to win.

Here is what I do know. When I write my October recap, we will have a World Series champion and all the questions we have had since March will be answered.

I will be writing my first-round preview with predictions next Tuesday.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg