Carl Pavano pitched one hell of a game. He went seven innings and allowed just the two runs, both in the seventh. Once again a pitcher is charged with a loss he doesn't deserve, but let's rewind for just one second.
Luke French, for most of the day, killed Twins hitters. With the exception of Denard Span it was like Minnesota loathed the idea of getting on base at all. At least until the top of the seventh, when Dick Bremer called a Michael Cuddyer home run on a 3-0 count. Bremer got it right, and Cuddles smashed it into the second deck in left field to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.
But like all good teams, sometimes the ass bats bite you, and they did today for the Twins. As a result, when the Mariners picked up a little luck in the seventh and plated a pair of runs, that was all it took.
Russell Branyan grounded out, to make it 14 consecutive Mariners retired by Pavstache, before Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman made it first and second on a bleeder and line drive respectively. The runners advanced on a ball that skipped straight up into the air off Drew Butera's glove, and then Franklin Gutierrez flared a dying quail into left field. Delmon Young, who took an over-and-in angle which was criticized, snagged the ball on a short hop as all runners advanced.
Not that it matters at this point, but had Delmon taken a more direct route and caught that ball, he wouldn't have been able to get the runner from third. He'd have had to make the throw from an awkward angle. But what this would have done, is kept Kotchman at second base. Instead, Kotchman moved up to third and then scored on Adam Moore's swinging bunt that trickled past the pitcher's mound. A three-year old might as well just have thrown a wiffle ball, because that's the kind of contact he made. But it was enough to score the run, enough to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead, and enough to charge Pavano with the loss.
Jesse Crain pitched another scoreless inning to keep it close, but a hard-hit Cuddyer grounder up the middle led to a game-ending double play. The Twins fail to take advantage of the White Sox loss to the Yankees, and the division lead remains 4.5 games.
Notes, studs and duds after the jump.
- Let's get it out of our system: Cuddy grounded into two double plays today. Infuriating, yes. But he hit the ball very well today.
- Cuddyer's 12th home run was a massive shot. And Bremer finally got one right. Good for him.
- This was pointed out in the game thread, but for those of you wondering why Cuddyer was hitting third today in the absence of Joe Mauer: .295/.417/.463 versus LHP this year.
- Also, let's keep the bitching about Gardy's getaway lineup to a minimum. Let's do the right thing here and blame the rest of a very capable offense for scoring one damn run against a mediocre starting pitcher and a terrible ballclub.
- Drew Butera made a couple of nice throws this afternoon. He caught Chone Figgins, but Franklin Gutierrez was safe by the skin of his teeth.
- Adam Moore also made a nice throw today, gunning down Denard Span trying to steal third. Span is now 19-for-24 in stolen base attempts (79%).
- Alexi Casilla stole his fifth base of the season while pinch running for J.J. Hardy in the eighth.
- Speaking of Hardy, I've decided he runs faster when chasing down pop flies than he does on the bases. He made a great catch early on today, sprinting into no-man's land between left field and third base to make a definite "out of zone" catch near the foul line.
- Of the 16 outs Pavano garnered from balls in play, 13 were ground ball outs.
- Pavano's record is now 15-10. Suffice it to say, he's pitched a lot better than that record this year.
- Jesse Crain has still only allowed one run since June 10.
Carl Pavano: You can't ask for much more than this from your starter.
Denard Span: Twice on-base, heads up advance to second on a wild pitch, unlucky on a great throw to get caught at third.
Michael Cuddyer: Good wood on the ball today, especially on that massive homer.
Jesse Crain: Automatic.
J.J. Hardy: Great defensive play, late rally starter in the 8th that was for nothing.
Luke French, Brandon League, David Aardsma: Curse you, baseball gods!