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Minnesota Twins Win AL Central: Five Reasons They Will Win The World Series

The Minnesota Twins were the first MLB team to punch their postseason ticket on Tuesday night after defeating the Cleveland Indians 6-4 at Target Field.

The Twins are currently a game back of the Yankees for the best record in baseball after their division clinching victory improved them to 91-60 on the year.

Minnesota clinched their second straight AL Central title, and they will be one of the top World Series contenders when the playoff get underway in October. 

Despite winning the division five times in the past decade, the Twins have been able to get over the playoff hump and into the World Series.

Here are five reasons why this will be the year the Twins get back to the World Series for the first time since 1991 and will ultimately win it.

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Felix Hernandez Struggles To Win Games, but He Should Win the Cy Young

There are many deserving pitchers for the Cy Young award in the American League this year, but there is one pitcher who has stood above the rest this season.

King Felix.

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez is the AL leader in innings pitched this season with 204.1 and strikeouts with 192. Felix has a 2.47 ERA this season, good for third in the AL and a WHIP of 1.11, tying him for third in the league.

Felix is the only pitcher in the league in the top five in all of these categories, and Felix has been absolutely outstanding as of late.

The hard-throwing Venezuelan has a minuscule ERA of 0.98 during the month of August as opponents have hit just .199 off of him.  The only problem Felix has had this month, is the same problem he’s had all season, he just hasn’t gotten the run support to win games.

Despite his dominance this month, Felix still managed to lose two of his five starts.

Felix has a marginal record of ten wins and ten losses this season thanks to the less-than-stellar run support the M’s offense has given him this year.

In the past, the three main pieces of criteria Cy Young voters used to determine who they would vote for was wins, ERA, and strikeouts.

Last season Kansas City Royals ace Zach Greinke may have set a new precedent when he won the award with only 16 wins, the fewest wins by an AL Cy Young winner since David Cone won while also a member of the Royals in 1994.

There are other good candidates for the award, such as Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano, Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia, Rangers Cliff Lee, and the Rays ace David Price. All of these guys pitch for contending teams, but none of them have been as effective as Felix this season.

Price is the closest to Felix in ERA, but he is still more than half a run back at 3.01, while Sabathia is the closest in innings pitched with 194.2, but he is still ten innings behind the King.

Liriano has 171 strikeouts this season, the closest of the other four contenders, but he is also still 21 Ks behind Hernandez.

Lee is the only one who is better than Felix in any major category besides wins and that is in WHIP. Lee has a very impressive WHIP of 1.00 on the season, due entirely to his remarkable control this season. Lee has thrown 179.2 innings this season and walked only 12 batters.

The 6’3″ lefthander was the Mariners best pitcher while he was on the team, better than even Felix, but the Cy Young race is a marathon and not a sprint.

Felix has been nearly untouchable since Lee was traded, while Lee has struggled to replicate the success he enjoyed in Seattle earlier in the season.

Felix has the numbers to prove that he is the American League’s best pitcher this season, and if he continues to pitch the way he has as of late he will end the season very close to Greinke’s 16 game win total from a season ago.

Wins are the only area that Hernandez is lacking when it comes to winning the award, but if the voters truly vote for the best pitcher, than King Felix has to be the choice.

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Johnny Damon: Detroit Tigers Star Can’t Go Home, He’s Already There

Johnny Damon was a larger than life figure in Boston after the Red Sox won their first World Series in 2004 after an 86-year drought.

On Tuesday, Damon declined an opportunity to return to Boston after the team claimed him on waivers from Detroit.

The Red Sox could use a spark, as they are six games behind the Rays and Yankees for first place in the AL East, and Damon seemed like a logical fit.

However, Damon is a much different player and person now than he was in 2004 while playing in Beantown.

In 2004 Damon was a bearded, long-haired member of the “idiots” while playing for the Red Sox, but he is now a clean-cut member of the Tigers youth movement. Damon batted .304 with 20 home runs for the Red Sox, but he is hitting .273 with seven home runs this season for the Tigers.

Damon set the pace for the Red Sox league-leading offense in 2004, leading the team with 189 hits and getting on base so that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz could drive him in.

Manny is gone and Ortiz is no longer the .300 hitter that came up clutch every time the team called on him.

Had Damon returned to Boston he would have encountered a much different team and atmosphere than the one he played for in 2004.

On Tuesday, Damon said “I love Detroit,” and he also said that he didn’t want to send a message to his Tigers teammates that he was giving up on their season by rejoining the Red Sox.

Realistically the Tigers’ season is over as they are nine games back of the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins.

Damon is 36 years old and says that he likes being a member of a young team that is working to get better.

You have to admire Damon for turning down the opportunity to return to the Red Sox and a team in a better position to make the playoffs. Instead, he chose to stay with a Tigers team he enjoys playing for, in a city he enjoys playing in.

Damon knows what kind of spotlight he would be under playing in Boston, and the spotlight is something Damon and his laid-back personality prefer to avoid.

Detroit is the perfect city for Damon to play in. He is on a contending team that doesn’t face nearly as much pressure and scrutiny as the Red Sox do each and every day.

Damon has decided to stay a member of the Tigers for at least the remainder of this season, and has said that he would like to finish his playing career in Detroit. Damon should be a solid player for at least a few more years as the Tigers continue to develop their young talent.

Red Sox Nation took a big hit on Tuesday when Damon spurned them to stay in Detroit.

Boston needed Johnny Damon, but Johnny Damon didn’t need Boston.

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Ryan Howard Ejection Wasn’t Worth It

Ryan Howard cost the Philadelphia Phillies a game they desperately needed last night in the NL East playoff chase.

The Phillies are 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the division. With the Braves losing last night, the Phillies had an opportunity to make up a game on the division leaders.

Instead, Ryan Howard was ejected in the 14th inning while arguing a check swing that resulted in his fifth strikeout of the night.

The Phillies went on to lose to the Houston Astros 4-2 in 16 innings.

Howard struggled mightily all night at the plate. He went 0-7 on top of his five strikeout performance.

It was his seventh and final at-bat that proved to be his worst one of the night as he was ejected.

With Howard’s ejection, left fielder Raul Ibanez had to move to first. The Phillies had no players left on the bench after the incident prompting Manager Charlie Manuel to insert pitcher Roy Oswalt into left field.

Oswalt, hitting .150 on the season proved to be the final out of the game as he grounded out to third with the game tying run on first. The Astros took advantage of the Phillies’ situation by intentionally walking Chase Utley after Placido Polanco had also walked.

That brought Oswalt to the plate and effectively ended all hope to Philadelphia’s chances.

Ryan Howard should have been smarter in this situation and kept his cool knowing that the Phillies could not afford to lose a player. As soon as third base umpire Scott Barry said Howard did not check his swing Howard became enraged and the Phillies chances of winning the game went down in flames.

Even though Howard was having a rough night at the plate, Phillies fans would have much rather seen his eighth at-bat of the night with a chance to win the game, than to see Oswalt’s first at-bat of the night with very little chance to even tie the game.

The Phillies have won the division the last three years. They have come on strong at the end of the each season to do so.

This year looks to be no different as the Phillies have gone 14-7 in the month of August. Games like this won’t help their cause.

There is no guarantee that the Phillies would have went on to win this game, but Howard would have given them their best chance win. Howard has spent enough time out of the Phillies lineup this season. He needs to do everything he can to stay in it for the rest of the season.

Howard was not the sole reason the Phillies lost the game. They were unable to capitalize on the momentum they gained after Jimmy Rollins tied the game with a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth.

The Phillies were playing at home against an inferior opponent and still couldn’t score enough runs in 16 innings to come away with the victory.

This was a game that Philadelphia needed to win and one that could come back to haunt them at the end of the season.

Ryan Howard needs to be the leader that he was paid to be. He needs to get the Phillies back on track if they are going to win the division for the fourth straight season.


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Why Me? The 10 Best Starting Pitchers With a Losing Record This Season

Not everyone can be a winner.

These ten pitchers have found this out the hard way this season. Despite pitching very well for their teams this season they each have a losing record.

These ten pitchers have suffered from a lack of run support, poor defense behind them, and a case of bad luck.

Three of the pitchers on this list pitch for teams that are last place in their divisions, two play for teams that are still in the playoff hunt, and one pitcher on this list is actually on a first place team.

These ten pitchers have combined for eight all star selections, two NLCS MVP’s, a World Series MVP, a Cy Young, and a perfect game. Clearly losing can happen to anyone, but these ten pitchers have pitched better than most and don’t have the wins to show for it.

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The Seattle Mariners Should Have Fired Their Players, Not Their Coaches

The Seattle Mariners are owners of the third worst record in baseball this season, and typically when a team performs as badly as the Mariners have this season, someone has to pay for it.

In the case of the Mariners, the wrong people have paid for it. After turning the Mariners around from a 101 loss team in 2008 to an 85 win team in 2009, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and his coaching staff were fired Monday.

Wakamatsu went from Coach of the Year candidate to unemployed all in the span of less than a year, while his bunch of under-performing players continue to keep their jobs and pick up their paychecks.

The Mariners have been by far the worst hitting team in baseball this season. They have scored 390 runs this season, worst in the league and 26 less than the Pirates. The Mariners are hitting .235 as a team, also the worst in the league and seven points worse than, you guessed it the Pirates.

To call the Mariners offense pathetic this season would be an understatement. Ichiro is the only Mariner that is hitting above .255 this season, while Chone Figgins, who has been far below his career average this year, has climbed all the way into second with a whopping average of .253.

It’s okay though because the Mariners hitters swing for power and not average right?  


The Mariners have the fewest home runs in baseball this season with only 67 all year. The Major League leader in home runs this season is Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista who has 36 home runs, more than half of the Mariners total as a team.

The Mariners are 12th in baseball in pitching this season, yet pitching coach Rick Adair was fired along with Wakamatsu. Pitching has not been the Mariners problem this season, and if the Mariners had even a decent offense this season they would have been in playoff contention right now.

Mariners fans had hopes for the postseason this year after the team acquired pitching ace Cliff Lee during the offseason, but those hopes quickly faded once Mariners fans saw the team step in the batters box this season.

The Mariners brought in players such as Casey Kotchman and Milton Bradley, who the Seattle front office hoped would add more depth and production to the offense. Both players have struggled this season and Bradley was even placed on the restricted list for 13 days in May so he could seek help for his emotional outbursts.

Jack Wilson has always been one of the best defensive shortstops in the league, but he has also been one of the worst hitting shortstops in the league. The Mariners have focused so much on becoming the strongest defensive team in baseball the past few seasons that they forgot they still have to score runs to win.

It is a wonder that Jose Lopez is still on the team after the season he has had. Lopez hit .272 with 25 home runs last season for the Mariners, and because of that he started out this season as the Mariners cleanup hitter. Lopez is currently hitting .240 with six home runs, not exactly the stats of your typical four hitter.

Lopez has also made numerous mistakes in the field and on the bases, perhaps none bigger than in a game a few weeks ago where he was on first base in the ninth inning of a tied game. Lopez’ run did not matter, as the winning run was on second, yet Lopez decided to take off on a line drive to right field and ended up getting doubled off at first to end the inning. The Mariners went on to lose the game in typical Mariners fashion this season.

Lopez is just one cog of the disaster that is the Mariners this season, he needs to go and so do many other players from this team.

Wakamatsu has the perception of a very laid back manager, which was good last season for a team that was trying to come together in the clubhouse, but was bad this season for a team that has not been winning.

Wakamatsu never had a chance this season once the Mariners stopped hitting and started losing, it’s a shame that he had to go, especially when others deserved to go more.



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The MVP at Every Position in MLB This Season

With two months left in the season lets take a look at who has been the most valuable at their respective positions.

The most valuable player at each position is not necessarily the player with the most home runs or highest batting average, but the player who has meant the most to his team this season.

Hitting, fielding, and team success were all key in determining who has been the most valuable to their teams this season.

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Seattle Mariners Ship Cliff Lee To Texas Rangers For Boatload of Prospects

The Mariners have traded Cliff Lee and injured reliever Mark Lowe for Justin Smoak and three minor leaguers. The minor leaguers are AA pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke and AA second baseman Matt Lawson.

The Mariners had no choice but to trade Lee after falling well behind in the AL West, and seem to have pulled off a deal that will help the team not only now, but in the future.

Smoak has been the Rangers starting first baseman for a good part of the season and in 235 at bats is hitting .209 with eight homeruns and 34 RBI. Smoak’s numbers aren’t very impressive so far this season, but he is still young, at only 23, and has a lot of potential.

Smoak was the Rangers first round selection in 2008, and is an athletic player who switch hits, and has the ability to hit for power. He gives the Mariners something they have been severely lacking in their lineup, a potential power threat.

Smoak has the ability to develop into a potential number five hitter and was ranked by Baseball America as the number two prospect in the Rangers farm system before the season began, behind only Neftali Feliz.

Smoak was rated as the best hitter for average, best power hitter, and best strike-zone discipline out of all Rangers prospects.

The Mariners also received another former first round selection by adding Beavan.

Beavan was the Rangers first round pick in 2007, and has the potential to be a solid middle of the rotation starter in Seattle.

Beavan was rated as the pitcher with the best command in the Rangers farm system and has only walked 12 batters in 110 innings in AA so far this season. He is a big kid, 6’7″ and 250 pounds, and he is only 21 years old.

Lueke is a pitcher out of the bullpen that could eventually see time in Seattle, with a fastball that is in the mid 90’s and tops out at 97. Lueke has struck out 62 batters in 38.1 innings this year between LoA and AA ball.

The final piece coming to Seattle is second baseman Matt Lawson, a AA prospect who is hitting .277 with seven homeruns and 34 RBI. Lawson has been solid in the field with only six errors on the season and could be a solid utility player for the Mariners down the line.

The Mariners had been rumored to be in talks with the Yankees to receive top prospect Jesus Montero earlier in the day but that deal fell apart based on the other pieces coming Seattle’s way.

The Mariners did a great job using the leverage they gained through talks with the Yankees to get other teams to step up to the plate and make a legitimate offer for Lee. The Rangers finally decided to part with Smoak, which is what Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik had been waiting for all along.

The Mariners got a potential power bat for years to come with good athletic ability for a first baseman, and a pitcher in Beavan who could potentially be in the Mariners rotation for a long time. Prospects are prospects, so you never know, but the Mariners did a great job getting some guys that have the tools to succeed at the Major League level.

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