The Thursday Takeaway
The Twins have had a rough season, to put it mildly. They have lost 24 more games than they have won. The month of August concluded with a 13-game losing streak. Baseball has been a source of pain, a festering wound that hasn’t been made better by the promise of a vibrant and youthful future.
Thursday was the beginning of a new month. Perhaps the Twins felt refreshed. Perhaps the injection of young energy of September call-ups helped, or maybe it was the fact that they were playing in one of only four games that would take place on Thursday, with the Padres and Braves already putting on a messy display of baseball in the afternoon (more on that later).
Somehow, some way, things came together to allow the Twins to do something that they hadn’t done since the middle of August.
They won a baseball game.
The odds were stacked against them from the beginning. On the mound for the visiting White Sox was Jose Quintana, who has been nothing short of great this year.
Minnesota’s big hit came from a symbolic source, too. It was Byron Buxton who gave the Twins a dinger deep into the night.
The former top prospect in all of baseball had scuffled to a microscopic .206 TAv in his stints with the big club this year. Buxton has done naught but struggle since reaching the majors. A turnaround from him would make the future look that much better for the Twins.
Thursday’s game doesn’t change the fact that the Twins will finish with one of the worst records in baseball, and will miss the playoffs yet again. It did, however, end an awful losing streak.
Progress. Or something.
Quick Hits From Thursday
The Mets deployed a lineup without Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera being involved on Thursday. Cespedes and Cabrera were given days off to rest sore legs. Walker announced that his season was over because of back surgery. Kelly Johnson hit third.
Yes, they lost.
It was mostly because of Christian Yelich, who has quietly become one of the best hitters in the game. He went 3-for-4 with a homer. Want some oppo power, in addition to hitting for average?
You got it, buddy.
Matt Kemp did this, and the Braves won.
You see, they were playing the Padres, who are also not good. San Diego started Jarred Cosart, who hasn’t gotten much positive press since his prospect days. He allowed seven earned runs in less than five innings. Despite a nice little comeback in the ninth, the Padres still fell short.
That was the second misplayed ball of the day for Kemp, the other being a failed diving grab that turned a likely single into a triple. Kemp did those things, and the Braves won.
Let’s talk about Addison Russell. He will more than likely finish his season with more than 20 home runs, and plays a sterling shortstop. He is 22.
What Russell provides for the team is yet another above-average player, and one who can hit in the lower third of a lineup while still being a threat. Russell has also shown a knack for coming through in the clutch this year. He did that once again on Thursday night.
Russell slapped a humpback liner into left field to put the Cubs ahead for good, and to hand a loss to a Giants club that is sorely in need of all the wins it can get.
Addison Russell is not the best Cub, nor is he the second-best or third-best Cub. He’s simply one of the most important Cubs, and one who is not nearly through with getting better at what he does.
Defensive Play of the Day
Yelich can hit, sure. But he can also pick it. He did it in center field this time, too.
What to Watch on Friday
It’s rivalry day in for six franchises in the playoff hunt. We’ll lead off at 7 EST in Queens, where The Mighty Thor will cast lightning at the Nationals. Washington will look to A.J. Cole to keep the resurgent Mets in order. Sources can’t confirm whether or not Cole is prepared to deal with a Norse god.
At 8, we head deep into the heart of Texas for the beginning of a sure-to-be-fun series between the Rangers and Astros. What will undoubtedly come to be known as The Carlos Gomez Revenge Series starts with a meeting between Doug Fister and A.J. Griffin. This may be the first time that the WYNTK has featured two games with starters named A.J.
Then, at 8:15, the Tigers will try to remind the Royals that it’s Detroit who deserves the second Wild Card spot. The Royals will retort with Danny Duffy, who has somehow worked his way into the Cy Young discussion. The Tigers will merely shrug and hand the ball to Anibal Sanchez, who is decidedly not in the Cy Young discussion, unless we’re talking about Hacking Mass.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now