It used to be that this team prided itself on creating pressure on the basepaths for the other team. These days they seem content to bluff.
About two months ago, the White Sox came to the Dome and took two of three games. What surprised me about that series was that the Twins, against a catcher that they specifically dumped because they didn't trust his defense, refused to steal a base. In fact, they didn't try.
A month later, AJ came back to town, pissed everyone off, so the Twins ran crazy and embarassed the White Sox. Whereas the Twins promptly went to Oakland and faced a similarly weak-armed Jason Kendall - and refused to run. And they lost two of three.
And it happened AGAIN last night. Ninth inning, one out, Bartlett on first and Cuddyer at the plate. But what's really important is who was behind the plate, who was Greg Zaun, who has thrown out just 3 of 18 basestealers. He's been below average for most of the last three years.
So Bartlett takes a big lead, with one foot on the outfield grass. And he bluffed. And bluffed. And bluffed some more. And then Cuddyer hit into a double play started by the second baseman - who wouldn't have been there if Bartlett was stealing.
Listen, I know some think it's some sort of sabremetric mantra to play station-to-station baseball. It isn't, but some think it is. But every rule has its exception, and that exception is when you
1. are in a tie game and
2. have a solid base stealer at first base and
3. are facing a helluva bullpen and
4. have a noodle-armed catcher behind the plate..
...you man up, close your eyes and run like hell. And it doesn't have to happen just because the noodle-armed catcher spiked your first baseman.