Scary collision puts a damper on sweep
On a night when the Twins would normally be shaking hands to celebrate their second sweep of the season, they gathered in center field around Orlando Hudson and Denard Span, who were laying on the ground injured after colliding on the game-ending out.
With runners on second and third, two outs in a 6-3 game in the top of the ninth, Vladimir Guerrero hit a pop fly into shallow center field against Jon Rauch. Span raced in from his deep center field and Hudson raced out from second, both arriving at the ball at full speed simultaneously.
The point of contact appeared to be Hudson's glove to Span's groin. Somehow Span managed to hang onto the ball while landing hard on his back after flying 10 feet through the air. I might have dropped the ball when Hudson stuck his glove into my private space with the combined force of an R.A. Dickey knuckle ball.
Eventually, both players walked off the field with their teammates, No word as yet on the extent of Hudson's injury, but his left wrist appeared to bend way back on the play. TwinkieTown editors will update the board as soon as word comes in.
The collision put a damper on a nice night for the Twins in front of their second straight national TV audience, this time on ESPN. Jason Kubel was the hitting hero, twice getting RBIs against tough lefty relievers, after those relievers walked Michael Cuddyer to pitch to him. Joe Mauer, Span, Nick Punto and Delmon Young each had RBI in a balanced attack against most of the Ranger's bullpen.
Starter Derek Holland left the game in the second inning with a mysterious injury, forcing the Rangers to piece together a game with five relievers. Fortunately for the Twins, they came up a pitch or two short in several innings. Credit Twins hitters with a patient, opposite-field approach most of the night.
Twins pitchers, on the other hand, seemed in control, at least between the third and the ninth. Scott Baker improved to 5-4 on the year with the Win(TM), despite struggling through the first three innings. He was slinging the ball for the first 60 pitches and three frames. Credit him with making the adjustment and getting on top of the ball after that, requiring about half as many pitches for the next three innings. The end result was a Quality Start(TM).
Alex Burnett, Jose Mijares, and Matt Guerrier dominated the Rangers into the ninth, when Rauch did his best Eddie Guardado impression to turn it into a nail biter. Span's heroic catch saved the game for him, his 12th save in 14 chances this year. Studs and duds after the jump.
Jason Kubel: Rumor has it he can't hit lefties At least that's what Ron Washington thought before this game. He twice had Cuddyer walked unintentionally to pitch to Kubel with a lefty on the mound. Both times Kubel made him pay with solid RBI knocks.
Denard Span: Two hits, a walk, an RBI, a game-saving catch, and a well-deserved ice bag in his shorts for the plane ride out to Seattle.
Nick Punto: Little Nicky came up big in this game. 2-3 with a walk, and an RBI.
Scott Ullger: Another game, another embarrassing call from the third-base coaching box. This time, he sent Kubel from second on a screaming liner off the bat of Young to right fielder David Murphy. He was out by 10 feet, even though the throw was off line and weak. Instead of first and third and two outs, the Rangers are off the field. That's four plays when a guy's been thrown out by 10 feet or more to go along with eight times he held guys who would have scored easily. This year. Seriously, Gardy. Ullger stinks.
Jon Rauch: Exhibit A why the save is overrated. The other Twins relievers had the Rangers eating out of their hands. Rauch comes in and gives up a line single, long fly ball out, and a booming double that would have been out in almost every ballpark besides Target Field. To his credit, he got Ian Kinsler and Guerrero to pop out to end the game. But it should not be this nerve wracking.