It didn't have to end this way. Or maybe, more accurately, it didn't have to start the way it did. Somewhere between the end of spring training and arriving in Toronto I have to believe that the entire Twins roster was replaced by imposters, because I know for a fact that the Twins actually went through spring training. But what we saw tonight was a team that woke up at 2pm this afternoon in a panic, thinking "Oh crap baseball starts today and we haven't practised!" because they didn't attend spring training at all.
In the beginning it was just frustrating. Rajai Davis took Carl Pavano's second pitch and scorched it to short, and to his credit Alexi Casilla was able to backhand the ball going to his right. But Davis is fast, so Casilla popped up and wasn't able to fully plant himself before throwing. The ball skipped, and the weak throw allowed Davis to reach on an infield single.
It was a sign.
Before he even threw a pitch to the second batter, Pavano had Davis picked off. But Justin Morneau didn't run him far enough towards second base, and as a result Pavano wasn't as close to first as he should have been and Tsuyoshi Nishioka bizarrely double-clutched. Davis slid in, well safe under Pavano's late tag at first base. On the next pitch, or rather his first pitch, Yunel Escobar's weak grounder bled through into left field for a single.
Jose Bautista walked. Adam Lind was hit by a pitch. A couple of well-hit fly balls, the only two well-stroked balls of the inning, were caught for outs but cashed in for runs. Travis Snider's bouncing grounder saw Tsuyoshi Nishioka try a sliding backhand which would have ended the inning, but the ball bounced off the heel of his glove and into center field allowing another run to score. Carl Pavano was then called for a non-existant balk, but luckily that's one (non)mistake that didn't come back to haunt him.
And really, that's pretty much how the night went for the Twins. Give credit where it's due--Toronto bashed out some major hits, including a number of home runs. Bautista's was massive, as was Lind's. It's not like Pavano was making terrible pitches either. They maybe weren't perfect, but it's not like he left them belt high over the middle of the plate. Even Lind's homer, which was up, was up and in...he just turned on it. Which is the theme of the night.
Jeff Manship threw some good pitches but was unable to put hitters away quickly. Both he and Pavano suffered "worst case" appearances, where their lack of "stuff" was evident and the Jays made consistent contact.
On the plus side, apart from the fact that one game (no matter how terrible) does not a season make, Denard Span had a good game at the plate. Casilla was okay tonight, Kevin Slowey pitched well in relief and Morneau just missed a home run in his third plate appearance.
This was not the way anybody would have wanted the season to start, but there it is. It's over, it's done with, and we can move onto tomorrow...which should probably look a lot better than today whether the Twins win or not.
No studs or duds tonight, let's just move forward.