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Series Preview #39 : D-backs @ Twins

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Warriors who fight valiantly are esteemed regardless of the result.

Baseball Opening Ceremony at Tokyo Dome
Baseball Opening Ceremony at Tokyo Dome
Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

TWO INNINGS, TWO NEW TWINS, and TWO TEAMS SAILING FAR

On the internet, I watched two innings of the Twins playing the Tigers. The replays showed me that pitches that nearly touched the imaginary white line at the top of the zone were hit hard by the Twins. The Twins waited on high pitches and were rewarded with five hits, including two home runs by Rosario and Kepler. Their best hitters are Miguel Sano, Brian Dozier, and Eddie Rosario. Pitch calling, especially to those hitters, will be important.

The Twins’ pitching is in transition. They added two new starters to their core of Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson, and Jose Berrios. In June, Dietrich Enns was acquired from the Yankees. He was promoted to the Majors. After his first start, the Twins manager said he would start again this week. Then he went on the disabled list with shoulder strain. In July, Bartolo Colon was acquired from the Braves. What about their other eight starters? Three starters are on the disabled list, three starters were released or traded away, and two starters were promoted and then optioned back to the minors.

The Twins have used 18 bullpen pitchers this season. They traded away their closer, Brandon Kintzler. Two pitches are handling the closer duties – Matt Belisle and Taylor Rogers.

Looking at the SB Nation website for the Twins, Twinkie Town, I got the impression that they had given up on this season and were focused on next season. Last week’s 6 game winning streak changed everything because the Twins are strongly contending for an American League wild card spot.

The Twins and the D-backs are sailing toward the treasure of the postseason. The winner of this series will add strong winds in their sails. Therefore, this series will be hard fought with all hands on deck and no quarter given.

Pitching Matchups

Friday. Zack Godley(158 ERA+, 9.2 SO/9, 2.9 BB/9) vs Ervin Santana (135 ERA+, 7.2 SO/9, 2.9 BB/9)

Zack Godley is an the D-backs second ace! In his last four games, he allowed 5 earned runs in 25.1 innings pitched against tough teams (Cardinals, Cubs(twice), and Dodgers). In the second game against the Cubs, he recorded 4 strikeouts in one inning - the second pitcher in team history to accomplish that feat.

In the last four games, Ervin Santana has allowed 10 earned runs in 26.2 innings pitched. What is remarkable is that Santana has pitched 5 complete games this season. Nevertheless, my pick is the D-backs and Zack Godley for the win.

Saturday. Zack Greinke (155 ERA+, 10.1 SO/9, 1.9 BB/9) vs Jose Berrios (104 ERA+, 8.0 SO/9, 2.7 BB/9)

Zack Greinke’s season strikeout rate of 10.1 SO/9 is elite. In August, it is 11.6. He is at the top of his game!

On 14 August, Ryan Spaeder tweeted that “Zack Greinke is the second pitcher in D-backs franchise history with at least 9 K & 3 GIDP in a single game (Brandon Webb, Sept 21, 2005).” I was unable to confirm that statistic.

On 14 August, Greinke struck out 9 batters and two batters grounded into double plays (Alex Bregman and Yulu Gurriel). With only 2 GIDPs, it seems the 14 August game did not reach the record. Baseball Reference game logs show the closest Zack Greinke got to the record was 8 strikeouts and 3 GDPs pitching against the Tigers in May of 2009. Record or no record, that’s great pitching by Zack Greinke.

Jose Berrios will be pitching for the Twins. First, the bad news. Berrios hit 1 or 2 batters in 9 of his 17 starts. Second, the good news. Berrios’s earned run average has gotten higher every month. May was 2.7, June was 3.2, July was 5.8, and August is 7.0. My pick is the D-backs and Grienke for the win.

Sunday. To Be Announced vs Bartolo Colon (106 ERA+, 4.7 SO/9, 1.7 BB/9)

Anthony Banda was optioned to Reno to “fine-tune” his pitching. Banda is 20 years younger than Bartolo Colon. Other than that fact, it would have been an amazing matchup not because differences between them, but instead because of the similarities!

In an interview during spring training, Anthony Banda said he loves going after hitters. He attributed his success to preparation, staying healthy, and his quick pace on the mound that keeps hitters off-balance.

In an interview in 2015, Bartolo Colon said he loves the game (similar to Banda’s love of going after hitters), and he attributed his success to hard work in the off-season (similar to Banda’s attributing success to preparation). Bartolo Colon’s first year in the Majors was 1997. Ten years later, he is achieving success with an ERA at his career average. It would be correct for me to attribute part of his success to staying healthy (similar to Banda).

Baseball Prospectus shows that this season, Banda and Colon pitch at nearly the exact same pace. With bases empty, Banda’s pace is 16.34 seconds and Colon’s pace is 16.58 seconds. With runners on base, Banda’s pace is 25.10 seconds and Colon’s pace is 25.23 seconds.

State of the Season: Take Pride in Being Warriors

The D-backs are headed to the post season. For sure, it is not yet locked up. The challenge and uncertainty are fought with talents and fires within each warrior. Warriors who fight valiantly are esteemed regardless of the result. I confidently say, “D-backs, take pride in being warriors!”

Mental Habit of the Series: Strengthen Your Fire Chakra

What is a Fire Chakra?

Archie Bradley demonstrated Fire Chakra on 8 August. After three outs against the Dodgers, he pumped his first and screamed, “This is our house!” What a strong demonstration of his Fire Chakra! It is the source of personal power, warrior energy, and transformation energy. Due to its location near the navel, it is linked to metabolism and digestion. If my Fire Chakra is strong, I am self-confident, I have a strong sense of purpose, and I am self-motivated. I see these traits in the best baseball players!

How can I strengthen my Fire Chakra?

Last week in my yoga class, Minsoo Pata taught me ways to strengthen my Fire Chakra. I am grateful to have such a gifted teacher.

Perhaps the easiest way to strengthen my Fire Chakra is breath of fire (Bhastrika pranayama). It can be done before my workout and/or yoga poses. It can be done sitting in a chair, or sitting on a yoga mat. Please read the cautions and note that breath of fire should only be done with a qualified instructor.

1. Relax. Think about breathing from your stomach/diaphragm while attempting to keep your chest and shoulders motionless.

2. Fully fill your stomach/diaphragm with air.

3. Breath out through your nose for half a second, then immediately breath in for half a second. Repeat this one-second cycle 10 times. Breath of fire is awesome!

4. Breath normally for 30 seconds.

Several times, Minsoo asked me to repeat steps 2 through 4, with an increased number of breath cycles. My stomach muscles felt warmth. Although I was skeptical, my experience convinced me that breath of fire heated up my Fire Chakra.

Another way to strengthen my Fire Chakra is the boat pose (Navasana). When I did it, I was joyful at how long I could stay balanced.

boat pose
boat pose

Then Minsoo asked me to do the next step – rotate onto one hip while holding my legs in the air.

pose on hip
pose on hip

Then I re-centered into the boat pose. Then I rotated onto the other hip.

pose on other hip
pose on other hip

After repeating these steps many times, my muscles were exhausted. I was happy that my Fire Chakra was glowing! When I glanced at Minsoo she was smiling. Perhaps if I wasn’t so exhausted I would have asked, “What kind of smile is that?”

Reiki Masters have a process (combined mental attitudes and physical actions) that taps a universal good energy and focuses its’ flow through a person. That flow washes away noise energy while balancing energies in the Chakras. Although there is more to it that I have not learned, that is the general idea. I talked with an advanced Reiki student. After realizing I understood very little, I heard two things. What works for each person may be different. Improving balance in all the Chakras would do more good than an intense effort on the Fire Chakra. Did she tactfully say my Chakras are far from perfect? Who knows? Consider yourself blessed if a Reiki Master agrees to strengthen your Fire Chakra.

Sound. There are four ways that sound can improve your Fire Chakra.

a) Vowel sound. One sound to balance the Fire Chakra is the vowel sound of Oh. This method is based on ancient traditions from ancient Egyptians, Hebrew, Islamic, Tibetan, Japanese and Native American.

b) Spoken mantra sound. The bija mantra sound of raam is said to balance and align the Fire Chakra. Dr. Deepak Chopra made people aware of this mantra.

c) Singing bowls. For 5000 years, singing bowls have been used in Nepal and Tibet to heal people. Perhaps there is a bowl that has just the right frequencies to balance the Fire Chakra.

d) Harmonic sounds & binaural beats. In 1952, German scientist Winifried Otto Schumann discovered that the earth has a natural electromagnetic pulse of 7.83 Hz. Harmonic resonances of that pulse are called Schumann resonances. Later, it was discovered that playing slightly different tones into each ear changed brainwave patterns. Progressing binaural beats along the Schumann Resonances can have a “profoundly calming and balancing effect on the Chakras.”

Colors. Yellow and Gold are the colors of the Fire Chakra. Not understanding the logic, I looked deeper. I discovered two amazing facts about my body.

1) My DNA emits light photons (called bio-photons), that pass though cell membranes. Some of these light photons exit the body, but they are too few to be seen. Could these light photons impact my health?

2) Part of sunlight (infa-red wavelengths) penetrates through the skin to the subcutaneous parts of the body. Could infa-red light that penetrates my skin impact my health?

Because of those two amazing facts, I am open to the possibility that there are some wavelengths of light that could make my Fire Chakra healthier. Nevertheless, these wavelengths remain to be discovered by scientists. Perhaps when people live on Mars, and artificial light is more important than sunlight, the Martians will discover amazing things about specific wavelengths of light.

In summary, we talked about five ways to strengthen your Fire Chakra. I practiced breath of fire and boat pose. We talked about the Reiki Master process. We talked about sound. Finally, we talked about the possibility that specific wavelengths of light can strengthen your Fire Chakra. The mental habit of the series is strengthen your Fire Chakra.