|Lifted from Carl Skanberg's Smells Like Mascot blog.|
For about a week after the Manny Ramirez trade, the White Sox made some Twins fans sweat. Then the South Siders' seven-game winning streak gave way to a three-game slide in Detroit, and now the Twins hold a six-game lead. Cue the Hawk Harrelson cockiness.
Here's what a magic number of 17 means when the two teams involved have 22 games left to play:
If the Twins go 11-11 the rest of the way, the White Sox have to go 17-5 just to get to a Game 163.
Mathematically, it's not over; but the path is getting mighty dark for the team in black.
The hulking Twin in the above cartoon is suggestive of Jim Thome, whose presence on the Minnesota roster rankles many of the White Sox faithful and is, I think, somewhat misinterpreted. From my reading of the Internets, the general assumption is that Thome is playing every day in the absence of Justin Morneau.
The truth is that it's rare to see him in the lineup four days in a row, and such a stretch is almost always followed by a couple days (or more) in which he is limited to pinch-hit duties at most.
I underestimated Ron Gardenhire's ability to handle the roster issues presented by a player limited to part-time DH duties. Thome enters today's play with 297 plate appearances, and that seems to be both a burden that he can sustain physically and a level keeps him fresh and productive while not screwing up other players' at-bats.
This is less easily done that one might think. Ozzie Guillen didn't think he could do it; that was part of why he argued against bringing Thome back.
Those three losses this week at Detroit all came at the hands of right-handed pitchers. Chicago scored a total of five runs in those games. It's no wonder there is disgruntlement among the fan base about the Thome decision.
One reason the Twins have thrived with a roster slot given to such a limited player is that Michael Cuddyer is a Swiss Army knife. The man has started 61 games at first base, 60 in right field, 14 at third base, one each at second base and center field. He's great at none, passable at each.
Mark Teahen was (is) supposed to fill a similar role for the White Sox (and provide some left-handed punch). But he not only hasn't hit, his defense has been atrocious enough to inspire this mocking flow chart. Quite amusing -- to a Twins fan.