It's playoff time in the NHL, which means that a hot goaltender is often enough to make a Stanley Cup run. Occasionally, you get a goaltender who's red hot but has trouble playing the puck; this used to happen to Patrick Roy every spring, and it's happening a little bit to Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak right now.
For the opposing team, the strategy for dealing with such a goaltender is fairly simple: keep on dumping the puck in, make the goaltender come out of the net to play it, and wait until he screws up and falls to pieces.
This is much the same strategy that the Twins used on Monday night at Rogers Center, with Lyle Overbay at first for Toronto playing the role of the shaky goaltender. Faced with an early 2-1 deficit, courtesy of a Jose Bautista home run, Minnesota hit on a simple solution - just hit the ball to Overbay, and watch him fall to pieces.
Overbay played matador on an early Jason Kubel single, but the fourth inning was truly his masterpiece. Allow us to recap:
- With two out, Denard Span doubled to right, basically directly through Overbay at first.
- Span scored on an Orlando Hudson single, then Hudson went to third on a Joe Mauer single.
- Justin Morneau singled to right, again by hitting it almost directly underneath Overbay, who at this point appeared to need a scoop shovel or a sheet of plywood to knock anything down.
- Michael Cuddyer grounded to third, allowing Overbay to pull off his true accomplishment: first, he dropped the throw, allowing Mauer to score and Cuddyer to reach. Then, as Morneau attempted to go to third, Overbay threw wildly up the left field line, allowing Morneau to score. Two errors on the same play, four less-than-graceful plays in the span of ten minutes, and three runs in that shouldn't have scored. Masterful.
Now, we've reached the fourth or fifth graf here without me mentioning Morneau's two home runs, which is shameful, of course. The big first baseman went 3-4 with the two dingers, drew a walk, and drove in four runs. Delmon Young also went deep for the Twins, his fourth of the season.
Kevin Slowey once again struggled through just five innings, giving up eight hits and throwing 97 pitches (plus an "automatic ball" called because he went to his mouth, then forgot to wipe his hand before again touching the baseball.) The mound hero was probably Alex Burnett in this one; the righty pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh, finishing the job that Slowey couldn't.
Plus, Jesse Crain pitched a scoreless inning, so it's a nice day all around for the Canadians on the Twins roster. STAND ON GUARD, FELLAS!
3. Alex Burnett
Took the ball in 6-3 game that was still in doubt and got it to the back half of the bullpen. By this point it was 8-3 and less doubtful the Twins would win, but that doesn't make Burnett's innings less important.
2. Joe Mauer
Three singles and scored a pair of runs. For Mauer, this qualifies as "not bad."
1. Justin Morneau
O CANADA INDEED (/bad headline writer)