Hello Twins fans! Not the best night for baseball, as it overcast, gloomy and a little chilly. Crowd is looking a little sparse here, just a few minutes before first pitch. Lots of open seats. Wonder what the deal is? I thought this place would be packed. Looks only 2/3 full. Weekday and the weather? Who knows. But playing the Sox, basically for the division, should be a big deal and it doesn’t look that way tonight. Looks like a game back at the Dome against the Royals.
It’ll be tough to top last night’s theatrics with Jim Thome blasting a two-run bullet to the plaza to win the game in the 10th, which was greatly covered by my fellow examiner. Thome provided the first walk-off homer in Target Field history. It was Thome’s 12th walkoff homer in his career, tying the Major league record shared by Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle and a little known guy by the name of Babe Ruth. Wow. Good company eh? Is Thome a hall-of-famer? He is hurt by the era he played in, but he has never been linked to the juice. Just good ‘ol fashioned bacon and eggs.
Tonight we got the Cisco Kid, aka Francisco Liriano (11-7, 3.26 era), facing off against the White Sox starter, Gavin Floyd (8-9, 3.70 era) in a few minutes.
7:09 – Twins take the field to the familiar strains of “Cheer for the Minnesota Twins”. Now the place is starting to fill. Still not full. Do the Sox have any fight or heart in them after last night’s KO in the 10th? It’ll be a heart test for them tonight against Frankie.
7:12 – Juan Pierre does what a guy like him has to do to stick around for as long as he has. Hustle his butt off. He beats Cuddyer’s throw to Frankie to start a threat here in the first.
7:15 – Liriano responds by striking out Alexei Ramirez with a great slider. Lookin’ sharp.
7:20 – Liriano has it going on. Striking out Konerko to end the inning with a wicked slider again. When he is on like this and can be mentally tough to get out of jams like last week’s start against the Sox when he got out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the fifth…he is one of the five most talented pitchers in baseball. On pure talent and stuff…I’d put Frankie, David Price, Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson and Adam Wainwright up there.
7:25 – Denard starts off with a double to left-center, then O-dog bunts him over to third to bring up Mauer. Textbook Twins.
7:28 – Captain Sideburns doubles in Span…sweet swing down the right-field line. Ted Williams finish to the swing. 1-0 Twins.
7:30 – Cuddy knocks in Mauer with a single. 2-0 Twins.
7:35 – Thome strikes out to end the inning.
Quick stats tangent…
- Jason Kubel is tied for major league lead with 19 RBI in the month of August
- Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier have combined to throw 15.1 scoreless innings vs. the Sox this year
- Since making his debut on June 3, Danny Valencia ranks third among rookies in the AL with 53 hits and is tied for the lead with 13 doubles…his .333 batting average in that time is second in majors among rookies with at least 150 at-bats.
7:43 – Before the game I was telling a buddy about Andruw Jones and how much of a shame that he got fat and lazy over the last half decade and wasted away that Willie Mays talent. He was blasting balls out of here in batting practice…making it look easy. To easy. Effortless. Mark Kotsay was struggling to even hit the damn ball and Jones was looking like he was going to get the mail. Maybe his BP was a harbinger for things to come as he just blasted a three-run homer off Liriano after Frankie had yielded some walks. First homer off Liriano in 96.1 innings, which is the second longest streak in Twins history (Bert Blyleven, aka I like Farts, went 99 innings in 1974-75 without allowing a homer). Liriano gave up two homers in late May in the same game and that was it for the season. Until now. Sox 3-2.
7:51 – Liriano finally gets out of the inning with a strikeout of Alexei Ramirez. Disconcerting inning by Liriano. Getting ball too over the plate to Jones and losing his control, which will always be his achilles heel I’m afraid.
8:00 – Liriano starts off with trouble in the third, with a lead-off double by Alex Rios. Get that ball down Frankie!
8:08 – Liriano wiggles out of a jam again. With two runners on, he strikes out Andruw Jones to end the inning. Good show of mental toughness, now he just needs to keep that ball down the rest of the game and locate that fastball.
8:10 – Span starts off the bottom of the third with a sharp single to center, getting the Twins into business with the heart of their order coming up. Floyd is having the same problems as Frankie. Not locating his fastball well enough.
8:13 – Mauer laces a seeing eye single between 1B Paul Konerko and 2B Gordon Beckham. Getting Span over to third. Kubel comes up and lashes a hit down the right field line, scoring Span, but he gets easily thrown out at second after Jones gets a great bounce in right to gun him down. Cuddy meekly grounds out to end the threat. 3-3 after three.
8:17 – Three words. T. Shirt. Cannon. There is nothing more American than the t-shirt cannon.
8:21 – Liriano has a 1-2-3 inning, as we head into the bottom of the fourth.
8:29 – Delmon gets a walk, but Floyd snuffs out the Twins chances with strikeouts of Thome, Valencia and a fly out to right by Hardy to end the inning.
8:43 – Frankie is having a tough night. Ramirez doubled. Rios knocks him in with a single. 4-3 Sox. Runners on first and third with one out and the hated A.J. at bat. A.J. grounds into a fielder’s choice, scoring Quentin. 5-3 Sox. Then the genius gets picked off. End of inning.
Another quick stats tangent
- The Twins have won eight consecutive games at Target Field to improve to 37-20 at home this season
- The last time the Twins won at least eight straight at home was an 8-game streak from April 19-May 9, 2008
- The Twins are 20-6 in their last 26 games against the Southsiders, dating back to last May, with a home record of 12-4
The Twins are going to have to summon some more magic with the way tonight’s game is going…
8:54 – Mauer crushes a line drive to left field and it just barely makes it out at 353 feet, hitting the top of the padding…crowd goes wild. 5-4 Sox. Mauer gets his eighth of the year.
8:57 – Twins threat is over. Jeff Manship enters the game for Twins. Liriano goes only five innings, with five earned runs, with six hits, four walks and five k’s. 106 pitches and only 68 strikes in five innings. Wish I could take back what I wrote earlier. Sheesh.
9:00 – Hardy makes a fantastic play deep in the hole at short to nab Andruw Jones. He has impressed more this year with his glove, than with his stick.
9:05 – Manship gets off to a good start with the play by Hardy, a fly-out by Vizquel to right, and a strikeout of the best young player the Sox have, Gordon Beckham.
9:08 – Cuddy rips a double that brushes the chalk down the left field line to start off the sixth…then some yutz tries to get himself a souvenir and ruins what could have been a triple, with the carom it might have had down the line. Are baseballs really that special? What the hell goes through people’s heads? Hope he got the boot.
9:11 – Thome walks, putting two on, with no outs. Time for Delmon to make something happen.
9:13 – Delmon smashes a double just past Vizquel’s glove at third, scoring Cuddy and putting ‘ol man Thome at third. 5-5 game. It is a real treat to watch Thome run. Looks like he really needs to drop a deuce…every time he sputters around the bases.
9:15 – Valenica meekly grounds to short and Ramirez tries to get Thome at home…not even close. It was too slow of a roller to try it, when smart play was to go to first. Everyone’s safe. 6-5 Twins!
9:17 – Valencia hits a screamer to left, missing a homer by a few feet. Pierre makes nice grab…Delmon is easily allowed to come home on the sacrifice hit. 7-5 Twins.
9:20 – Floyd is finished after allowing Span to walk, putting two runners on with one out. Floyd’s final line is 5.1 innings, with 10 hits allowed, 7 runs (4 er) with 5 k’s and 3 walks. The Sox bring in their 2010 first round pick (the first from class to make it), lefty Chris Sale.
9:26 – Sale makes a memory by striking out the baby jesus, aka Mauer. Getting two k’s for the two batters he faced. Kid has a wicked arm motion. Looks really hard to hit. He got 19 k’s in only 10+ innings in the minors. We’ll see what happens up in “The Show”. Looking good so far…
9:33 – Manship is out after Pierre reaches on a sweet drag bunt in between Manship and Valenica. Enter Jesse Crain to face Alex Rios.
9:40 – Crain gets Rios to fly out to right and gets Konerko flailing at a pitch in the dirt for the strikeout to end the inning. Twins still up 7-5.
9:46 – Twins back in business in the bottom half of the seventh. Kubel walks to lead off the inning and Cuddy gets a single through Vizquel and Ramirez on the left side of the infield. Two on, with no outs…and Paul Bunyan, aka Jimmy Thome at the plate.
9:48 – Mighty Jimmy goes down at the plate with a strikeout. Sale out, Scott Linebrink in. This game is dragging on and on. All these dang pitching changes really kills the flow of a baseball game. Maybe Doctor Emmett Brown can rescue me and take me to Ebbets Field or Crosley Park…somewhere were a game is under three hours.
9:53 – Inning over, Linebrink gets them out of a jam and keeps game going. What started out as a dreary, overcast night (along with Liriano’s hijinks) has turned into a beautiful night with a Twins victory looming on the horizon if Crain and Capps can hold on.
10:01 – A weak A.J. sucks chant begins here near the press box…sparks A..J to meekly ground into a double play. A.J. does suck though doesn’t he? Surprised he is still kicking the tires here in the bigs. He has the look of a future minor league manager in some small town in Illinois in some independent league. Always reminding his players about his career and “the show”. While his players snipe at him behind his back. A.J. reminds me of some creep who’d hit on your wife behind your back at the bar. Drinking Miller High Life and smoking parliaments.
10:08 – Game is creeping along here in the bottom of the eighth. Two outs, but O-dog just got to first on hustle, with Captain sideburns coming to the plate with his T.I. blasting in the background. Funny to picture Mauer bumping T.I. in his Escalade. I pictured Mauer more as a Kenny Chesney guy…or Coldplay. Maybe T.I. gets his mind right. He bashes a single to center, putting runners on first and third with Kubel stepping to the plate.
10:13 – Kubel grounds out to end the threat. Onto the ninth and another shot at redemption for Matt Capps for last night’s debacle.
10:21 – Capps puts a scare into everything, allowing a run, then allowing the tying run to get to second…but he gets Alex Rios to ground out to Cuddy and Capps gets that big behind over there in time to cover the bag and retire Rios to end the game. 7-6 Twins win!
It’s a Joe Mauer and Cuddy night. Mauer goes 4-5, with two runs scored and two RBI’s to boost his average to .335. Cuddyer goes 3-4 with one RBI and one run. Clutch hitting performance all-around from the Twins hitters, who kept clawing back after Liriano coughed up the lead. Kept grinding and grinding against Floyd to gut out the 7-6 Twins win. Crain and Manship were crucial to the effort as they combine to pitch three innings, with only two hits allowed.