First off, I highly recommend reading Joe Christensen’s article on Torii Hunter‘s grand slam ball from yesterday’s 6-1 win, and also about some people heckling Joe Nathan. It’s a nice story and kind of funny, too.

Now, about the game. Things were pretty tense with manager Ron Gardenhire getting tossed for arguing with an umpire. The strike zone was a little erratic but Ron really got mad when Michael Cuddyer struck out swinging and was pursued by the umpire for giving him a dirty look. Umpires aren’t supposed to do that, but I hope there was another reason for getting ejected. According to Bert he was “protecting” his guys, but I’m sure nobody will know why Gardy was in the umpire’s face and what he was yelling at him for. As soon as he was tossed he got a phone call from Terry Ryan saying that pitcher Ramon Ortiz had been traded to the Rockies. It was for a minor league infielder named Matt Macri. Coincidentally enough, Macri was originally drafted by the Twins in 2001 but decided to not sign and instead return to college, where he played shortstop, among other infield positions, for Notre Dame. He’s played third base and second base in the minors and seems like he really could play any of those three positions. As a 25-year old in AA this season he hit .298 with 11 homers and 33 RBI in 79 games played. He had 23 doubles and 20 walks with 58 strikeouts for an on-base percentage of .349. A lot of Rockies fans are upset that the trade happened, but with a few injuries to starting pitchers, Colorado had interest in Ortiz. Ortiz, who gave up a combined 65 home runs in 63 starts between 2005-2006, might have a tough time pitching in the notorious hitter’s park Coors Field. He definitely was not worth the money that Terry Ryan paid for him (although he showed promise from his April starts), he never spoke publicly about his demotion to the bullpen and the mop-up role. He seems like a good guy who likes to play baseball and still showed enthusiasm pitching when we were down by 6 or 8 runs in the late innings of a game. Hopefully he pitches decent over there in the National League.

 

 

Ok, at the start of that paragraph I said now about the game. Turns out that was mostly about Ramon Ortiz.

 

Really now, about the game. Scott Baker continued his recent streak of pitching well (minus that hiccup in his last start) by going 6 and 2/3 innings and allowing just 1 run. He allowed 8 hits and 2 walks, but struck out 7 and had a double play, an outfield assist, and a caught stealing from his defense (to be fair and tell the whole story, there were also 2 successful stolen bases from the Mariners). The only run he gave up was on a solo homer, an inning-and-a-half after Rondell White gave the Twins a 1-0 lead with his first homer of the year. Despite his .192 batting average and .222 OBP this month, he’s driven in 5 runs in just 7 games played during August.

Pat Neshek finished out the 7th inning and pitched a hitless 8th, getting his 7th win of the season. It was in the top of the 8th that Nick Punto successfully bunted a runner to second (according to Gardenhire, he’s been working on it) and Joe Mauer was intentionally walked to get to Hunter, 0-3 to that point in the game. Torii delivered with a single to give the Twins a 2-1 lead but wasn’t finished. After Joe was intentionally walked again, this time loading the bases, Torii jacked his 9th career grand slam to blow the game open. The ball was caught by Nathan, who was warming up in the bullpen at the time. He promptly gave it to Torii, who was excited to get it back, because it put him behind only Harmon Killebrew, with 10, on the Twins’ all-time grand slam list.

 

Things weren’t all smiles during the game though, as Jason Bartlett got an injured leg in the 6th after hitting a single (he was 2-for-3). It’s a tough injury for the team because Bartlett was hitting .308 so far this month and had adapted nicely to the number 2 spot in the batting order. He was replaced by Punto and I believe Gardenhire said on the post-game show that it was a hamstring injury, but don’t quote me. I do know for sure that he said it will require time on the DL and a move will be made tomorrow (an off day for the team) to bring up an infielder, probably Matt Tolbert. There’s also a roster spot open, one previously occupied by Ortiz, and on Friday the team will know if Jason Kubel will need DL time. Call-up possibilities are outfielder Lew Ford, the aforementioned Tolbert, 1B/LF Garrett Jones, and maybe even starter Kevin Slowey. We’ll just have to wait and see.

 

The team is traveling home and will face the Rangers starting tomorrow. Carlos Silva will open up the series for us. I will do a post tomorrow morning that talks about some rumors surrounding the team, as far as contracts and other stuff is concerned.

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