Five Questions: Twinkie Town's Jesse Lund

The Tigers venture into the Metrodome for a pivotal three-game series with the Twins (and judging from some of our commenters, it could be The End of Western Civilization).  So we're playing "Five Questions" with Jesse Lund, our SB Nation broham from Twinkie Town to learn some more heading into this series.

These will be the last three games the Tigers play at the Metrodome.  After this, nine of the Twins' remaining 12 games will be played on the road.  The final three games of that trip will be played in Detroit.  Can the Tigers put some distance between themselves and their closest competitor, or will the AL Central race become uncomfortably close? 

I also answered some questions about the Tigers for Jesse, which you can read here.

Bless You Boys:  The Twins have played surprisingly well since Justin Morneau was shut down for the season?  Who has stepped their game to make up for Morneau's absence?  Had that already been happening with Morneau slumping so badly because of his back?  Or was it just playing Cleveland?

Twinkie Town:  It seems like it's one of two things on any given night.  Either the top of the order steps up and the 1-5 hitters combine for 11 hits, or else Span and Mauer manage to pick up hits after a miracle occurs and somebody from the bottom of the order gets on base. 

Truthfully, Nick Punto has been a beast recently.  .345/.424/.448  going back to August 16.  He's right on track to forcing the Twins to keep up their end of that contract they signed him to last winter, and earning his spot on the 2010 roster.  It's been great for the team but I know a lot of fans think it's counter-productive.  I just think his forearms get bigger every week.  Otherwise I think Cuddyer is under-rated.

BYB:  The Tigers have seen a little bit of Brian Duensing in two relief appearances this season.  But he's put up some impressive numbers as a starter in his last five games.  Has he been a surprise and what can Tigers fans expect to see from him on Friday night?

TT:  He's been a terrific surprise.  Obviously been brilliantly effective for a rotation in shambles, with a 1.74 ERA since being dropped into the rotation five starts ago.  Brian's a contact-inducing pitcher who's tallied a few strikeouts (lots more swings and misses than I anticipated), mainly because he's been doing a good job of locating his pitches. 

Some of it is smoke and mirrors at this point, and a lot of people are going to call him "just another Minnesota fourth starter pitching above his head," but he's doing himself all his own favors.  Not a lot of hits, not a lot of walks and consistently hitting the black of the plate--very common sense stuff that everyone has seen before--and the biggest thing is that in this stretch, he hasn't allowed a home run.  Honestly, I didn't expect this from him, but he's been a life saver.

BYB:  Delmon Young got off to a slow start and didn't seem to be a factor in the Twins' lineup, but he really kicked into gear around June.  Yet he's cooled off in September.  What made the difference for him when he turned it around, and has he gotten away from that in recent weeks?

TT:  All of Delmon's offensive value comes from his raw hitting ability.  I know, roll the eyes, there's that word "raw" paired with Delmon Young again, but it's true.  Nobody in this organization is going to stem the tide of his aggressive nature at the plate, and power pitchers are just going to blow him away; cue roll over and induce another patented double play grounder.  If he can match up against non-power pitchers on a consistent basis, he'll murder the ball.

So basically, it's a pretty simple equation, and it's one that will toy with people until Delmon can either figure it out or get platooned properly:  the good streaks are the result of a hot streak, the result of facing the right type of pitcher, luck, and/or a combination of all three.  Lots of talent.  Zero discipline or discretion.

BYB:  If Joe Mauer did not win the AL MVP award, who do you think would be the next most worthy candidate?

TT:  Not Derek Jeter?  Actually I take that back, that's just my anti-Yankee venom.  Jeter has had a great season [Harold Baines], and if it couldn't Joe Mauer, which it f*****g better be because this contest isn't even close, then Jeter would be a fine choice.  But because Mauer actually deserves the award (unlike his Canadian buddy who won it a couple years back to the consternation of many a Jeter fan and baseball fan), if the Yankee captain gets it, it's for all the wrong reasons.  So, if not Mauer?  Miguel Cabrera, Jason Bartlett or Kevin Youkilis.  In that order.

BYB:  Are you at all disappointed about losing the home field advantage that the Metrodome provides after this season?  Or are you more excited about a new ballpark with all the shiny features that other teams around the league enjoy?

TT:  I'm looking forward to Target Field!  It's gorgeous.  The Dome field advantage thing existed, I don't argue that, but I will argue the point that the Twins will suffer by moving out of it.  If the Twins reaped the benefits of a quick turf, so did the opposition.  One thing I will concede will be the color of the teflon roof; playing there 81 times a year will allow a guy to get used to picking up the ball more than a team that visits nine or ten times.  Or fewer.

In general, the Twins are an athletic team, and a talented one, especially on the offensive side of the ball.  Which sounds bizarre to say.  But I think they're structured so that a move to a real field won't hurt.

# # #

Thanks once again to Jeff Jesse for setting this exchange up and taking the time to answer our questions.  Check out Twinkie Town this weekend to get the opposing view on this series.  They also have an account on Twitter, if you'd like to follow them that way.

What are your thoughts about this weekend's series?  Would you be happy if the Tigers won one game, or do they really need to win two to make you feel comfortable?  This can be kind of an open thread leading up to tonight's game, as well.

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