Sporting one of the fullest and creepiest moustaches I have ever seen, Carl Pavano pitched the Twins to a series win yesterday afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies. Pavano went the distance, marking the second time he has done so this year. His line for the day included 1 run on 4 hits while walking none and striking out just 2. Pavano didn’t need many strikeouts as he claimed 14 of his 27 outs via ground balls.
Other than making him far less popular with the ladies, Pavano’s newfound facial hair has provided him with somewhat of a performance boost. Over his last 3 appearances vs. the Royals, Rockies and Phillies (the mustache first appeared prior to his outing against the Royals) Pavano is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 IP with 3 walks and 8 strikeouts.
This is exactly what the Twins pictured when they avoided arbitration by inking the Super Mario lookalike to a 1-year $7MM deal last offseason. A solid veteran presence who can pitch late into games, induce a lot of ground balls, and win 12-15 ballgames with an ERA below 4.00. One thing is for sure, with the rumors swirling around about Minnesota being a possible destination for Cliff Lee, I would be extremely comfortable with a postseason rotation that includes Liriano, Lee, Pavano and more than likely Baker.
I would fully support the idea of the entire Twins roster growing moustaches. If they have the same effect on everybody as they did on Pavano, the Twins may begin to resemble the 1927 Yankees in terms of their on-field performance (as those moustaches clearly wouldn’t fit the “clean cut” dress code of the pinstripes).
One area that I have failed to write about yet this season, and I feel is being overlooked is the success of the leftfielder for our beloved Twins. Delmon Young has “quietly” been putting up some monster numbers this year out of the 7 spot in the lineup. Outside of Justin Morneau, who is having an MVP caliber season, the argument can be made that Delmon Young has been the Twins’ second best hitter this season.
I am not trying to make a case that Delmon Young is somehow a better hitter than Joe Mauer, because we all know that would be ridiculous and asinine. But in terms of numbers, Young currently not only has a higher batting average than Mr. Mauer, but has also driven in more runs, while also clobbering nearly 3 times as many homeruns. Young’s statistics through .306/.343/.502 with 8 HR and 43 RBI, and those 43 RBIs are second on the Twins only to Justin Morneau’s 47.
Another area that has also been overlooked is the number of “clutch hits” that Young has this season. He has, on multiple occasions, delivered a big hit for the Twinkies at just the right time, with his latest coming on Saturday afternoon vs. the Phillies when he singled in the top of the 11th inning to give the Twins an 11-10 lead they would not relinquish.
Although I believe his decreased playing weight this season (Young lost 35 pounds in the offseason) has given more speed, quickness and flexibility, I fully believe that Young’s emergence in 2010 has mostly to do with his age. People forget that young is merely 24 years old and yet is already playing in his 5th major league season. Most players by age 24 are either just reaching the majors or beginning their 2nd or 3rd years.
People were way too quick in writing off Young as a “bust” based on his first two seasons with the Twins. He is just now developing the plate discipline and baseball IQ necessary to be a star in this league, and I don’t see his 2010 numbers as a fluke. I fully expect Young to be one of our better players for the remainder of the year, and to be a staple in left field for the Twins in years to come.
The Twins’ “stretch of aces” continues this week as they are set to face Yovani Gallardo Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee and Johan Santana Saturday in New York. This stretch of interleague road games comes to an end Sunday in New York before the Twins return home for a fun 7 game home stand when they will face the Tigers for 3 before welcoming the Tampa Bay Rays for 4.