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False start

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Well, Javier Vazquez blew his chance in what was a big game for the Sox. The Great and Powerful Oz tried to downplay the series opener in Minnesota before it began, which itself was a strange occurrence, but maybe who had an inkling of what would happen. The Sox were beaten 9-3, and amazingly it was not even as close as that ugly score would indicate.

The Sox blew some chances against Scott Baker, a pitcher in whose games against the Sox this year the Twins have gone 2-0. Junior hit into a run-scoring double play in the 2nd inning and hit a two-run HR in the 9th long after this one was over. Other than that, the Sox loaded the bases in the 5th with nothing gained. Yet, it was definitely Vazquez who threw the game away, leaving everything over the plate. He's a strike-zone pitcher, and that may not be a good match-up to begin with against a contact team like the Twins, but Vazquez seemed to bring nothing extra to this one, no ability to deceive or find a higher speed gear when he needed it.

Seeing all the Piranhas' lefties attack Vazquez, I was yearning for southpaw John Danks to have a start somewhere on this series, but that won't happen. The Sox do have reliable lefty Mark Buehrle going tonight, but he's just 1-2 against Minnesota this year (It also was Buehrle who once famously spotted the Piranhas a 7-run 1st inning lead in a game the Sox later won 9-7). Nick Blackburn goes for the Twinkies, and is 1-2 vs. our Sox.

The Cubs started well against mighty Johan Santana last night, scoring two runs early, but they eventually lost 6-2 in a game the Mets needed to win. I was hoping for a surprise victory against Santana, which could have further demoralized the Mets, which is exactly how I would like them to be if the Cubs end up facing them in the division series next week. That can still be accomplished if the Cubs win the next two.

Much chatter today on sports talk radio about how Piniella will handle the Milwaukee series. He had earlier said the Cubs owe it to the league to play out their schedule with vigor, but the starting rotation for the division series remains up in the air. If the Lou Crew takes a soft route against the Brew Crew, it could set the course for a potential NLCS match-up against the Brewers, both an exciting and scary thought.

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