Saturday, July 21, 2018

More of the same

The Twins opened the unoffical "second half" Friday night with a game that echoed far too many games from before the break: Fall behind early, rally in the ninth, fall short.

There is a sportswriting trope, born of our desire for a narriative, that the conclusion (of a game, a series, a season) matter more than the beginning. I heard it again this week on MLB Radio while driving around the state this week for family events -- Team X has to fortify itself for September, when the games matter. Team Y needs a better back end of the bullpen because the ninth inning is so important. The great Bill James observed years ago that a team that loses a close pennant race from behind has a better reputation than the team that loses from ahead. The first made a gallant run. The second choked,

But every game the Twins lost in May counts against their record just as much as this one in July did, and equally with the games they will assuredly lose in September. The Twins scored three runs in the ninth; each one counted for just that, one. They didn't get extra credit for scoring late.

So when somebody says -- actual Paul Molitor quote per the Pioneer Press coming up -- something like: “It was nice to see us make a run there. You try to keep pushing until the game is over,” identify it as false positivity. It was yet another one-run loss. The Twins are 5-17 in one-run games. If they were just playing .500 ball in those games, they'd be right there with Cleveland.

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