When It Rains, It Pours (27-18)
Dear Ken Macha,
Since I last wrote to you, Ken, there’s been a bit of a cloud hanging over the team. First, Rickie Weeks’ wrist injury sidelined our perpetually on the brink — and finally turning the corner — second basemen for the rest of the season, dealing a significant blow to our offense. Then, J.J. Hardy became a prime candidate for a backiotomy. All of a sudden, the marginal reserve players that you thought would be sharing the bench with you all summer long are actually needed in the field, leaving you all alone with Willie Randolph and your handy Palm Pilot 1000. To top it all off, Doug Melvin traded away our beloved Tony Gwynn, Jr. for an outfielder named Jody.
It was unfortunate that this wave of injuries occured during a particularly rough road trip through St. Louis, Houston and Minnesota. What started out so promising in St. Louis slowly devolved into an exercise of extreme torment in the TerrorMetrodome. If it’s any consolation, Ken, the Twins scored 20 runs against the White Sox the day before the Crew served up 11 to them. Considering Twins’ phenom Joe Mauer is making Ryan Braun’s hot streak from a few weeks ago look mediocre in comparison, holding them to 6 runs the next two games surely was a moral victory if there ever was one. Nonetheless, you were swept in particularly ugly fashion.
Fortunately, the week that was did provide a few rays of sunshine. Mat Gamel was recently called up from Nashville and in his first start provided an impressive 3-run home run and made an amazing play at third. Sure, he followed up that play by making an error on a more routine ground ball, living up to his legend as the second coming of Ryan Braun. Even though he cooled off a bit during the Twins series, his presence on the team gives the Miller Park sound crew a reason to play “Camel Walk” every time he walks. In fact, there hasn’t been a more appropriately related song for a player since the little known “Rixey Jig,” named for Cincinnati Red’s pitcher Eppa Rixey’s provocative (for the 1920’s) strikeout dance*.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the recent losing streak was the poor performance of our usually potent pitchers. Two thirds (10) of the team’s victories (15) in May have been in games where our pitching allowed 3 runs or fewer. This takes pressure off the offense, which tends to push too hard when it’s behind early in games. While it’s unreasonable to assume we’re always going to get a quality start from our starting pitchers, it’s important to realize how beneficial our pitching has been so far this year. Injuries are going to happen, nonetheless — just look at Rickie and JJ — so it’s important that we have adequate pitching depth throughout the season. That’s why going after Jake Peavy or Matt Cain before the trading deadline might be a good idea.
As you know, Ken, it’s a long season filled with the occasional thunderstorm like you dealt with last week. Good teams recognize the ebb and flow of the season and prepare themselves ahead of time. Maybe you’ll avoid a deluge later in the season, but chances are good that the rain will come again and it probably won’t be in the form of an injury to Jeff Suppan (as much as some of us might hope).
There’s five games left in May, which means you have the ability to save fans up to $20 off the price of loge tickets for the series against the Rockies in June. That’s an extra $20 for beer, Ken, which, as you’ve probably seen on Inside Edition, is the way to most of your fans’ black-out drunk hearts.
* – Eppa Rixey’s strikeout dance was not provocative and was not named the “Rixey Jig”