Simply put, the Twins just played too good to be beat this series. The Twins were led Wednesday by Justin Morneau’s & the bullpen’s stellar performance. The only noticeable blemish on the bullpen’s record today was Rob Mackowiak’s seventh inning homer off Brooklyn Center native Pat Neshek. That was the second hit allowed by Neshek & the first run he’s allowed.

Justin Morneau’s improvement has been dramatic to say the least. With the Twins leading 2-0 in the third, the Twins seemed on the verge of wasting a leadoff triple by Luis Castillo. Nick Punto hit a sharp grounder to second on the first pitch to him. Then Mike Redmond lined out to Jermaine Dye. In years past, Twins fans would’ve expected Morneau to get outclassed by a quality southpaw like Mark Buerhle. This year, we’ve come to expect positive things from Justin. Just like clockwork, he delivered a two-out, run-scoring single to left.

Unfortunately, Twins’ starter Carlos Silva couldn’t make that lead stick giving up three runs in the bottom of the fourth on Dye’s two-run HR & a run-scoring single by Joe Crede. Suddenly, Commiskey was rocking again & the hometown announcers were smelling a comeback to salvage something from the series.

That feeling didn’t last long. Redmond laced a one out double down the left field line before Buerhle got Michael Cuddyer. At this point, Buerhle & Ozzie Guillen combined to lose the game. With first base open, they chose to face Morneau instead of intentionally walking him. Justin made them pay on the first pitch, hitting a belt high fastball that caught too much of the plate almost 440 feet. BBTN’s John Kruk surmised that, had there not been a stiff wind blowing in from right field, Justin’s shot might’ve left the stadium entirely.

A startling statistic showed that the Twins’ 7-8-9 hitters hit .459 for the series. Another noteworthy statistic for today was that the Twins’ bullpen gave up 1 run on three hits today while striking out 5 hitters over 4 innings. For the series, the Twins’ bullpen gave up 3 runs on 7 hits with 8 K’s over 9 innings.

A good contrast of the teams came in the Chicago second & Twins third. Chicago started their second with back-to-back hits, leaving Konerko at third with no outs. Former Twins catcher A.J. Pierzinski bounced a grounder down the third base line that Nick Punto made a nice stab on. Konerko had committed a careless baserunning mistake by attempting to score. Punto’s throw to Redmond nailed Konerko by 20 feet. Konerko should’ve waited for the ball to clear the infield. Of course, the next Chicago hitter hit a long fly to left, which would’ve scored Konerko. With two out & runners on the corners, Mackowiak lined out to left.

Contrast that with how the Twins capitalized on Castillo’s leadoff triple. Yes, it took a two-out hit but they got the run home.

As you know, I’m an opinionated man. I’m ready to share another opinion with you & that’s this: This Twins team is good enough to win it all this season. This team’s got a ton of intangibles. They’ve got a deep, talented bullpen. Their defense is solid most of the time & spectacular the rest of the time. No hitter in their right mind wants to face Liriano & Santana. No pitcher in his right mind wants to face Mauer or Morneau. Cuddyer, Castillo, Bartlett, Punto and company are tough outs who’ve exceled at getting clutch hits the past 7 weeks.

There’s nothing in the NL that comes close to scaring me. The Tigers are the closest thing to a scary team in the AL other than the Twins.

The Yankees won tonight but that’s only because they didn’t have to face a quality bullpen. Instead, they erased a 4-2 deficit with a 4 run inning in the eighth against Texas’ setup man, only to fall behind 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth before getting a homer against Texas’ closer to win it in the top of the ninth. Had they faced the Twins, they would’ve gotten a heavy dose of Juan Rincon & Joe Nathan & they likely wouldn’t have scored in either inning.

I’ve also got to say that the Yankees’ defense is awful, with Giambi at first, ARod at third & with an aging outfield that covers about a third of the ground that the Twins outfield does. Nobody in their outfield has a reliable throwing arm, either.

Their pitching staff is mediocre at best when anyone other than Mike Mussina or Mariano Rivera is pitching. Randy Johnson’s been a dominant pitcher in the past but he’s having a mediocre year by every measure.

The Red Sox are a better team but only because they’ve got Josh Beckett & Curt Schilling in their rotation. They’re a nice team defensively but hardly the defensive team that the Tigers & Twins are. They’ve also got Jonathan Papelbon to close games for them. They don’t have much range in the infield or outfield, though, which costs you runs in the playoffs.

Twins fans should start making plans for watching baseball late into October. It’s that simple.

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