17 Drab Innings…Then A Walkabout
Though I was a bit crushed that I had to work at night on the day of the Twins’ home opener against the Seattle Mariners, I taped the game and watched it later in the evening. Gee, that was worth it. First, this guy…
…”King” Felix Hernandez, completely shuts down our bats. Even in the sparse situations we scraped together that could have produced runs, Felix would always get out of the jam either via a strike out (usually Michael Cuddyer, who whiffed three times) or a double play (Justin Morneau). This was especially frustrating due to the fact that it wasted a pretty decent effort from our mound man..
Sure, Francisco Liriano gave up three dingers, but one came after a glaring error from Alexi Casilla. All told, he pitched very well and just didn’t get any offensive support.
So, I went to bed hoping that the next day’s matchup (which I would be watching on TV…or so I thought) would produce a much better result. The next morning, however, I was informed that my grandparents (who live in the Metro area suberbs…Fridley, to be exact) had received four free tickets from a Target store promotion and were wondering if my brother and I wanted to go with them?! Stupid question, as we headed out the door right away!
Game #2 of 162 proved to be much more exciting than the previous one…and perhaps the next 160! Of course, it didn’t start out so great, as our guy…
…Nick Blackburn found himself down 4-0 after just four innings. RBI hits from Denard Span and Cuddyer (he was basically either whiffing badly or driving in runs all game) brought the Twins to within one run for the middle innings, but Luis Ayala surrendered another Mariner run in the top of the ninth. Thus, new Seattle closer Brandon Morrow was summoned to the Dome mound with a 5-3. That’s when things started to get interesting:
Morrow got two quick outs in Joe Crede and Delmon Young, but Carlos Gomez put together a surprisingly good at-bat (he would have K’d on four pitches last season in that spot) and drew a walk. Jason Kubel was called on to pinch-hit for Jose Morales (who had struck out in all three previous at-bats), and Kubel used patience to his advantage to coax another base-on-balls.
Then, with the Jumbotron at the Dome flashing the “Walks Will Haunt” graphic, Morrow walked a third straight batter (Brian Buscher) and was pulled in favor of Miguel Batista. By this time the lineup had turned over again, so Span The Man stepped in and hit a high chopper that Adrian Beltre couldn’t will down into his glove fast enough, making the score 5-4.
This brought Alexi Casilla to the plate, and my flashback started…the last time I was at the Metrodome, Lexi singled to center field with the bases loaded against the Chicago White Sox to complete the late-season sweep. This time, Casilla again ripped the first pitch he saw into center, plating both the tying and winning runs…
Though this wasn’t the greatest run-differential the Twins have ever come back from, it still has to go down in team history as one of the great late-inning victories due to the fact that all the action transpired with two outs. When Buscher slide across the plate and was mobbed by his teammates, what was left of the 23,700 announced crowd was in a bedlam!
Man, I think I need to starting getting to more of these games…whenever I’m there, something crazy seems to happen.
Preview (1-1, 2nd, 0.5 GB CWS): Kevin Slowey (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Carlos Silva (0-0, 0.00). Though Silva is gone from “Fatboy” to “Slim” over the off-season, he still lives and dies by the sinker. If “on” he can be maddening. If not, he WILL get pounded.