One month ago, this is how Hawk Harrelson saw the AL Central race at the end of the regular season.
“This race, to me, is going to come down to the last 22 games of the season; that’s why we’re going to win the division,” Harrelson said.
“The last 22 games of the season, Minnesota has 12 on the road and 10 at home,” said Harrelson, a former all-star outfielder with Boston. “The last 22 games of the season, we’ve got six on the road and 16 at home.
“It’s going to be a tight race all the way down, and we’re going to win it in the last three weeks of the season.”
Fifteen hours after Jim Thome’s homer provided the only run in a 12-inning victory to extend the Minnesota Twins’ AL Central lead to six, Lucas Harrell will take the mound in a must-win game this afternoon.
Harrell already picked up an ugly-peripherals-good-results emergency victory earlier this season. Usually these things don’t happen twice.
I don’t think this is how Hawk imagined it taking place.
Out of morbid curiosity, let’s see if I can figure out what exactly Ozzie Guillen meant by his last Thome defense.
”I don’t know about the organization,” Guillen said Wednesday when asked if he was feeling the heat. ”Myself, I know he’s going to hit.
”Maybe the fans do. Maybe the media does. I really don’t pay attention to that. I don’t. He had big hits for a lot of people. He had big hits for us.
Ozzie knew Thome still could hit, and was unsure about whether other groups knew as well. This is a great defense for answering complaints about one-dimensionality after re-signing Thome, by the way.
”If it’s not Thome, then it’s going to be [Justin] Morneau. Jim is playing just because Morneau is not there. And I’m glad for Jimmy. Believe me, I’m very happy for him. He proved to people he could still play. I never said we thought he couldn’t play anymore. All those people can say whatever they want to say. I keep my head up. I go by what we think, what we feel was better for the ballclub.”
Whether it’s Thome or Morneau, the Sox would be helpless. The Twins are going to run away with the division. But Thome has proved to people what Guillen already knew, and he’s happy that he’s done it.
‘We’re not in second place right now because of Jimmy,” Guillen said. ”We’re in second place right now because Minnesota plays good, and we have had two very bad months. We played good without Jimmy, and we played bad without Jimmy. That’s the way it is.
”They can say, ‘Blame it on Ozzie.’ Why not? I’ll take the blame. Believe me, if the Minnesota Twins win, it’s a team effort. It’s not just Jim Thome. Did Jim help? Yes, he did, a lot. I’m glad for him.
Guillen says the Sox aren’t in second place because of Thome’s play, but because Minnesota, for whom Thome is playing well, plays well. And also because the Sox had two very bad months, due in large part to not having enough offense, while Thome was providing enough offense to another club in the division.
If the Minnesota Twins win, it’s a team effort. And you can blame Ozzie, because Minnesota was helped a lot by Thome’s play.
”That ballclub, if you look at spring training, if you look at the starting rotation … who are those guys? The second baseman [Orlando Hudson] was looking for a job all over the place. The shortstop, everybody goes, ‘[J.J.] Hardy who?’ Those guys are playing well for them.”
Orlando Hudson also could have been on the White Sox with Thome. Also, anybody who says “Hardy who?” should not be in charge of player personnel, even if he’s projecting it on other people.
Anyway, I was right the first time. That could not be distilled into anything useful.