Last night, with a chance to move into first place in the AL Central division, the Twins got a fantastic start from kid phenom Francisco Liriano (7 IP, 1 ER). Yet, as has become so typical on the road for the Twins this season, somehow the game slipped away again in the later innings.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Twins were up 2-1 thanks to a Denard Span two-run homer in the fifth. After the wonderful Cisco Kid outing, followed by a perfect inning from Matt Guerrier, I was confident that Joe Nathan (as usual) would be able to close the door. Yet, something strange happened…Nathan lost control of his pitches. Bobby Crosby singled to left, Emil Brown was hit by a pitch, and then Ryan Sweeney laid down a sacrifice…which ended up closing the game.
Nathan picked up the sacrifice and, realizing he had no play at first base, wheeled and fired to third, where the ball got by Brendan Harris and rolled all the way down the line, allowing the tying and winning runs to score. Replay showed that the ball bounced off Harris’s glove, but the throw WAS off line, so the responsibility is shared. Officially, Nathan was given a throwing error.
-Give Nathan a mulligan on this one, as he is normally dominant.
-One thing I can’t understand about the official scoring in that ninth inning: Nathan put both runners on, and they scored on his error, yet he is not charged with any earned runs. Doesn’t that strike anyone as odd?!
Preview: (76-60, 2nd, 0.5 GB CWS): Scott Baker (7-4, 3.75) vs. Greg Smith (6-13, 3.90). A spilt can still salvage this series and (perhaps) move the Twins into first place!