The baseball game has been over for approximately one hour, and I’ve been unable to type anything regarding what I just witnessed. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced so many different feelings within a 3 hour and 14 minute period. I don’t even want to pull up stats.
The Twins struck first, scoring two runs in the top of the second. The first thought that went through my head was “Well, we had a six-run lead last night and blew that, so two runs is nothing.” Mood: cautious optimism.
Sure enough, in the bottom of the third, Seattle scored four runs, highlighted by a Raul Ibanez three-run homer. This guy is killing us, with 11 RBI in the two games that have been played. Mood: hoping for the unlikely.
The top of the 6th rolls around, with Jason Kubel leading off. On the sixth pitch of his at-bat, Kubel turned on an 85-mph fastball and unintentionally morphed the baseball into a weapon heading for beyond right field. Mood: proud, because my favorite player brings us within one run.
Bottom of the 6th, and Scott Baker takes the hill. To summarize the inning, Baker ends up loading the bases with one out and is removed in favor of Craig Breslow, who pitched in the previous game. A ground out and RBI single later, Breslow is gone with Jesse Crain jogging in from the bullpen. Five pitches and Crain gets the final out of the inning, and despite not pitching in the first game of the series, is done for the night. Mood: deflated, pessimistic; any chance at a victory was just squandered.
Fast forward to the 8th inning. Remember in yesterday’s post, how I said that the inning the Mariners scored ten runs in was literally the worst inning ever?
I retract that statement. The 8th inning of last night’s game takes the cake as the worst inning, ever. Justin Morneau doubles with one out, and yet again Jason Kubel turns white leather into a tooth-remover, hopefully not injuring any defenseless Washingtonian en route to his second homer of the night. A few batters later, Mike Lamb pinch-hits for Carlos Gomez. A questionable move at best, as Gomez has two hits in the game. After watching two fastballs come by outside of the strike zone, Lamb smokes the third consecutive fastball into right-center field to tie the game. Denard Span would strike out to end the threat, and inning. Mood: surprised the Twins could put together an inning like that.
Let’s transition into the bottom of the 8th, and what makes it the worst inning ever. An overused Matt Guerrier starts the inning by allowing two singles while recording just one out. He threw just five pitches but they were all mid-90′s fastballs. Bring on Joe Nathan, the self-proclaimed “door-closer“. At this point in the game, you have Brian Bass, who pitched in the last game, or Nathan as pitching options. FYI, Dennys Reyes is apparently sick with food poisoning and is out for an undetermined amount of time. It was an easy choice to go with Joe and hope he could get a quick double play since runners are on first and second and there’s an out already on the board. It took 12 pitches for things to get out of hand. A 5-pitch at-bat retired Adrian Beltre for the second out of the inning. 6 pitches into the next at-bat and the count is full. All of a sudden, the screen goes black and shakes a little bit. Color returns us to a screen showing the two team names and their respective records, with a picture of Safeco Field. Literally, the video feed cut out for viewers everywhere. The only thing we had was Dick Bremer‘s voice slightly cracking as he said “Poked to left field and DOWN for a hit, and Seattle has retaken the lead.” Mood: disbelief, shock, awe, anger, frustration, etc.
The 2-3-4 hitters are scheduled to hit in the top of the 9th. If anyone will win the game, it’s gotta be a combination of these guys. Nick Punto and Joe Mauer both strike out swinging. Great, our best hitter up in the clutchiest of situations. Morneau draws a walk to climactically bring up Kubel yet again. On a 2-2 pitch, Kubel goes opposite field on a 97-mph fastball for a double. Mood: believing the impossible might actually happen. Morneau was correctly held at third base. Folks, he’s easily the slowest runner on the team, and the ball was on its way in from the outfield when Morneau was touching third, so please don’t get upset that he wasn’t sent. For once in his life Scott Ullger made a wise decision. Delmon Young is intentionally walked to bring up Adam Everett. Another easy decision by Gardy is to pinch-hit for Everett. Who he chose could be questioned, as Mike Redmond saddled up in the batter’s box while rook Randy Ruiz saddled up on the bench. All we needed was a classic Redmond bloop single into right field and we would’ve retaken the lead, hopefully for good.
But it was not to be. Red Dog lined the third pitch into right field, an easy catch for the speedy Ichiro.
There’s a few things that can be learned from these first two games:
- Our bullpen is overworked and unreliable without Pat Neshek. Either the starters need to pitch above the 100 pitch mark or the team needs to make something happen. Call up Bobby Korecky, who was serviceable while pitching in the Majors earlier in the season, and ship Bass to whoever will take him. I’m convinced that Bass should staple a white flag to the inside of his hat so that whenever he takes the mound, the opposing team knows they can add a W to their season totals.
- Every starter in the rotation is vulnerable at any moment and nobody is a sure win anymore. It’s times like these that make a fan miss the Johan Santanas of the world.
- Joe Mauer pulls the ball to the second baseman way too much. Seriously, if you’re going to ground out, at least try hitting it to the 3B so you might be able to beat out the throw. Mauer is also 8th in all of baseball in double plays grounded into, a pretty awful stat for a number 3 hitter. This is where Gardy should be doing more hit-and-runs, or attempted steals, because chances are it’s either Span or Punto (formerly Gomez or Alexi Casilla) on first so you know they have some speed. Try something to help Mauer out.
- Lastly, I can reiterate my point that I do not believe Gardenhire is a capable manager. He throws Crain for five pitches but nothing more, not to mention he’s a huge fan of these 1-out appearances for pitchers. Seriously, who does he expect to pitch if the game goes into extra innings? It would’ve had to be a starting pitcher for crying out loud. Maybe you can’t pin that all on him, because he doesn’t have the power to sign another reliever. But he can manage the bullpen better than getting just one out from both Breslow and Crain.
Today’s game starts at 3:40 and I don’t know if I will be able to watch.
And oh yeah, the Tigers scored two runs in the top of the 14th to get an 8-6 lead over the White Sox. But, um, Chicago scored four runs in the bottom of the inning to win the game and get sole ownership of first place in the division.