Wednesday's biggest story in baseball was umpire Jim Joyce's blown call in Detroit that robbed Armando Gallaraga of a perfect game. Maybe it was just a bad night for the umpires, as an (admittedly much, much closer) blown call by second-base umpire Dale Scott gave the Mariners the 2-1 extra-inning victory over the Twins.
Allow me to set the scene: two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, Ryan Langerhans on second base, Josh Wilson on first base for Seattle. Ichiro Suzuki at the plate for the M's; Jose Mijares on the mound for the Twins. Mijares got Suzuki to hit the ball on the ground; Matt Tolbert went to his right to make the stop, then flipped the ball to J.J. Hardy at second base for the force. Wilson was out, but Scott made the safe call - and in the time the flip took to make, Langerhans had rounded third and scored far ahead of Hardy's throw to the plate. It was Seattle's first extra-inning win in seven tries on the year.
Cliff Lee pitched eight strong innings for Seattle, giving up just five hits and striking out eight. One hit, however, was enough to give Lee the no-decision. Michael Cuddyer provided the only Twins run, hitting a seventh-inning home run off of Cliff Lee, who had previously gone over 50 innings this season without allowing a home run. (This fact was mentioned about ten seconds before the homer by Dick Bremer, who spent a fair amount of time thereafter attempting to further jinx the Mariners.)
Kevin Slowey pitched probably his best game of the year, finishing seven innings and allowing just one run. Perhaps the most encouraging inning was the seventh, when Slowey put runners on first and second to start the inning, but quickly worked out of the jam by inducing a double-play grounder and a foul pop-up to end the inning.
Minnesota had a chance in the ninth inning to take the lead, as Joe Mauer walked and went to second on a passed ball, then moved to third on a ground-out. Cuddyer nearly was the hero, as he hit a screaming line drive, but it was right at the shortstop, and Jason Kubel flied out to end the inning. Cuddyer and Kubel also had chances in the fourth, with Mauer on third and Morneau on second, but Cuddyer struck out and Kubel grounded out to end that threat as well.
All in all, between umpires Joyce and Scott, in only one day, baseball has likely convinced a large number of fans that it may be time to consider expanding instant replay.
- Slowey had probably the best night of any Twin, needing 98 pitches to complete seven innings, something he's struggled with.
- ALERT: Jesse Crain pitched another 1-2-3 inning. In his last six innings, he's allowed two baserunners and struck out six. On behalf of everyone: WHAAAA?
- Tough night for Jason Kubel; 0-4, and left a lot of ducks on the pond when there weren't many out there to begin with.
- I think I'll refrain from putting Cuddyer on this list, as a game-tying home run helps ease the pain of the two failures.
As Stu noted below, lots of team news today, including the news that Cuddyer will be on bereavement leave due to the death of his father-in-law. Danny Valencia has been called up to fill his spot on the roster, and in the same week that he was described as "Nick Punto, but without any of those things that make Punto a useful player." The move leaves the Twins without a backup outfielder, not even Alexi Casilla, who's having arthroscopic surgery on his elbow and will miss a couple of months.