Seriously folks, if the crowd can walk in it, it's not a bunker.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Brian Duensing. I don't think anyone is exactly shocked or anything since Duensing has looked like a very good pitcher since he was called up last year, but it was awfully nice to see him put up a 3-hit shutout so soon after joining the rotation. I wouldn't expect this out of him regularly (his BABIP and strand rate are pretty much unsustainable), but he's shown himself to be a good middle-of-the-rotation type who throws strikes and induced groundballs - so he's your typical Twins pitcher. He'll get knocked around some, and he doesn't miss a ton of bats, but he's much better than Nick Blackburn, even if that isn't really saying much. So now they can just cut Blackie - except, of course, for the $13 million they owe him over the next three years. Awesome contract.
2. Kevin Slowey. I suppose if I'm going to highlight Duensing here I should throw some props at Slowey as well since he just went out and threw 7 innings of no-hit ball on Sunday. I guess I'm just much more impressed with Duensing's outing because we've seen this brilliance from Slowey before, and he can't ever sustain it - maybe Duensing can. And I'm fine with Slowey getting pulled after 7 innings even though he had a no-hitter going. It was a 1-0 game, and at this point in the pennant race winning the game is more important than getting Slowey some personal glory. Additionally, he was over 100 pitches already and they just had to skip a start of his due to a sore elbow, no sense in risking re-injury. I disagree with just about every game decision Gardy makes, but I'm with him on this one.
3. The PGA Championship. Now that was one fantastic tournament. Sure, there were parts that sucked pretty bad: Nick Watney's collapse (more on this later), Dustin Johnson's ridiculous penalty that knocked him out of the playoff, Bubba Watson's dumb decision that lost him in the playoff, and the fact that Martin Kaymer won despite a bogey on the last hole. Overall though, this was great. There were 10-20 different golfers that could have ended up winning on Sunday with just a couple of different shots so there was drama all the way to the end, and any tournament that ends up with a playoff is a good one. Perhaps the best was the way the course played (outside of sand traps that aren't sand traps, right Dustin?). There were opportunities to make shots and grab birdies, but there were also plenty of ways you could screw yourself with a poor shot or poor decision. Unlike some of the other majors that are set up where par is a major achievement, this course was set up with the perfect combination of risk/reward. Just a fantastic tournament and a great, great venue. Hard to believe it was in that shithole of a state, Wisconsin.
4. R.A. Dickey. You ready for this one? R.A. Dickey threw a 1-hit shutout on Friday. Yes, R.A. Dickey. And not against some crap team, but against the Phillies. You want to know why he's good all of a sudden? He's basically given up on everything else and is only throwing knuckleballs. He used to throw the knuckler about 2/3rds of the time, but this year he's thrown it 83.7%. He's also given up on throwing a curve, slider, or change, because his fastball makes up the 16.3% of his pitches. The results of this change have been an increase in ground balls and fewer of the fly balls going over the fence, mainly due to getting batters to chase more pitches out of the zone. So, yeah. That'll do it.
5. Cole Aldrich. My sources tell me that Cole was in town this weekend. My same sources also tell me he's a pretty nice guy.
1. This Justin Morneau situation. I won't even say Justin Morneau sucks any more, just that this whole situation sucks. Supposedly he's getting better, but still can't make it through an entire day without showing symptoms, and as such was unable to travel with the team to Chicago because apparently airplane travel makes people who have had recent concussion's heads explode like that dude in scanners. Instead, he stayed home and didn't get better, and is still unable to play. In fact, he's unable to play so hard that there is officially no longer a time table for his return, which is causing all kinds of speculation that he won't be back this year. Which would suck pretty bad. This team might win the division without him, but they aren't going any farther. So if he can make it through the day I say the get him in the lineup. If he's walking around at home after the game and keeps bumping into things because he's all dizzy, well, I'm sure he can afford to replace whatever knick-knacks and porcelain dolls he breaks. The team needs his bat, because he's not a pitch man.
2. Nick Watney. As I mentioned above, Nick Watney had a pretty epic collapse on Sunday. After shooting the first three rounds all in the 60s, and being the only player to do so, Watney went into the final round with a 3 shot lead, only to double bogey the first hole to cough that up, tripled seven, followed that up with back to back bogeys, and then after a par tossed up another double, this time on a par 5. Suffice it to say, it wasn't a good round. That sucks too, because Watney has been one of my favorites and the reason is he seems to always be cool, always keep it together no matter what, so I was more that a bit surprised he went off the deep end here and ended up shooting an 81 to end up in 18th place. I guess he's like every other golfer (other than Tiger and Louis Oosthuizen) and can't handle the pressure of being the leader after 54 holes. Sucks, man.
3. Memphis basketball. Do you guys remember a few weeks ago when I talked about how Will Barton, Memphis's #1 recruit for this year and #11 on the Rivals150, wasn't going to be playing this year due to academic issues? Well it seems that isn't the only issue the Tigers are going to have to deal with this year. It also turns out that neither Chris Crawford (#72 Rivals) nor fellow freshman Hippolyte Tsafack have been cleared by the NCAA to play yet. Finally, it turns out Jelan Kendrick (#15) didn't travel with the team on their Bahamas trip this weekend, dealing with "personal issues" and their are now rumors that he might not rejoin the team. So Memphis had one of the best recruiting classes this year, but nobody can play. I guess Pastner didn't learn enough tricks from Coach Cal. Of course, they still have Joe Jackson (#18) and Tarik Black (#54), so I think they'll be just fine. Unfortunately.
4. Tim Lincecum. It's not like he's been awful this whole season, and his numbers are ok overall (2nd in strike outs, 3.62 ERA) but after dominating to start the year he is fading and fading hard, and was knocked out in the fourth inning Sunday against the Padres. And this follows up his last start when he didn't make it out of the fifth. I'm not exactly sure what's going on, but this Giant team is winning with their pitching, and even though Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner are all very good, Lincecum is obviously the most important member of that staff, and they aren't going anywhere if he doesn't get it together. This could just be a blip, but he's lost a full MPH off his fastball from last year and is 3 off from 2 years ago, and his curveball seems to have lost some of its effectiveness. Stay tuned. Or don't, it's just the stupid NL after all.
5. J.J. Putz. When your closer is Bobby Jenks you're pretty much screwed. And since Jenks has been little more than a fat batting-practice pitcher they turned to J.J. Putz. Putz had been lights out as a set-up guy all year, and was a dynamite closer a few years ago when he was with Seattle. Seems like it would make sense that he'd be pretty good closer for the Sox, right? Wrong. First on Saturday night he came into the game against Detroit in the top of the ninth with the Sox up 2-1, gave up a 2-run homer to Alex Avila, and walked away with the loss. Then, Sunday afternoon, he came into the game in the top of the 8th, the Sox leading 7-6. A single, triple, and error by Andruw Jones later and the Sox were down 9-7 and on their way to their sixth lost in their last 8 games. Awesome.
Also Happy Birthday to The Bear. Way to be born, douchebag!