I'm sure many of us remember the old low-res, black and white scoreboard at the Metrodome. When opposing pitchers gave up a key walk to a Twins hitter, an animation would appear along with ominous music and "Walks Will Haunt". And it seemed like every time we saw that graphic, Kirby Puckett or Kent Hrbek would follow with a three-run homer. Last night in Tampa Bay, the Twins were the haunted, as Brian Duensing and five relievers combined to give up eight walks and two 3-run home runs to Rays hitters in a 6-4 loss. With the loss, the Twins fall to 59-48, a game and a half behind the Chicago White Sox, who split a double header yesterday against the Detroit Tigers.
Last night's game broke down into three key moments, I will provide more detail, studs and duds after the jump.
Moment the First
Brian Duensing was not sharp coming out of the gate, walking Carl Crawford and giving up sharp line drives to Evan Longoria (hit) and Willie Aybar (caught by Jason Kubel). This brought Sean Rodriguez to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second. After getting two strikes, Duensing hung a changeup and Rodriguez hit it over the center field fence. 3-1 Rays.
Moment the Second
After a second Joe Mauer RBI single brought the Twins to within a run, Drew Butera led off the top of the fifth with a bunt single (!) down the third base line. Denard Span followed with another bunt down the line, which Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach stumbled trying to pick up. Alexi Casilla laid down an excellent sacrifice bunt and almost beat the throw to first. Unfortunately, with runners on second and third and one out, this took the bat out of Joe Mauer's hands, and he was intentionally walked to load the bases. Which brought up Delmon Young, the subject of my article yesterday morning. Of course, Young made me look like a doofus, as he chased a fastball up and in and flew out weakly to B.J. Upton in short center field. Two outs. Jason Kubel ended the inning after a hard fought 10 pitch at bat by popping out weakly to third baseman Evan Longoria. An opportunity wasted.
Moment the Third
Drew Butera hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh to tie the game at three, and Duensing had settled down, holding the Rays scoreless for innings 2-6. But while statements were made before the game indicating that Duensing would not be held to a pitch count, Gardy decided that 92 pitches were enough and he brought in Matt Guerrier. Big mistake. Guerrier started the inning well enough, getting Jason Bartlett to ground out. Then Shaggy walked John Jaso and Matt Joyce to bring up B.J. Upton. After getting down 2-0 with two sliders down and away, Butera called for a fastball on the outer half. Guerrier threw a meatball up and on the inner half and B.J. Upton hit it about 30 rows up in the left field bleachers to put the Rays up 6-3.
The Twins would threaten in the ninth, scoring one, but Young stranded two grounding out o a very close play to end the game. At first, I thought he was safe, then I got upset when I heard the first base umpire was none other than Phil Cuzzi (he of the Joe Mauer "foul ball" at Yankee Stadium). But the replays showed the throw just barely beating Delmon to first.
- Drew Butera: 2-2, 2 R, RBI, HR. Contributed +1.83 runs offensively. Two major league home runs, both with his father Sal as a scout in the stands.
- Joe Mauer: 3-4, 3 RBI. Contributed +2.60 runs with three run scoring singles.
- Brian Duensing: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 SO. Didn't start the game well, but he righted the ship and put up five zeroes through six innings.
- Matt Guerrier: 0.1 IP, 3 ER, HR. Not a lot of confidence out there for Guerrier right now. Assuming he's healthy, Matt probably needs to be moved to a mop up relief role until he's right.
Danny Valencia: 0-4, SO. Danny did not look comfortable all night. When he made contact, he beat the ball into the third base side for an easy out.
- Delmon Young: 0-5, 7 LOB. Who said he was really good at driving in runs again? Although I did say a correction was probably in order.
- Matt Capps: 0.2 IP, H, 2 BB. Classic case of a closer coming in a non-save situation and blowing up. Another reason why the save is the most damaging statistic in baseball.