Solo shots from Danny Valencia and Jason Kubel helped push the Twins to a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. Scott Baker, for his part, had been great: five innings of one-run baseball off just two hits and a trio of walks, and he'd struck out seven. But back-to-back doubles in to lead off the bottom of the sixth by Stephen Drew and Chris Young chased Baker who, to be fair, was already at 109 pitches.
It was a quick hook and Baker had been throwing well, but considering pitch count restrictions you had to think that for the sixth he was living on borrowed time. Phil Dumatrait allowed Young to score as he continued to look mediocre on the mound, but Alex Burnett was able to come out and get the final two outs of the inning--stranding both of Dumatrait's runners with the Twins still leading 4-3.
Joe Nathan's perfect and impressive seventh gave way to the doomed eighth. Another hit from the Diamondback's Young sent Gardy to pull Nathan, who was replaced by Glen Perkins. Perkins threw five straight fastballs to Miguel Montero, who singled, and Perkins pulled up lame as he came off the mound. He's already on the disabled list, and Dusty Hughes has been recalled from Rochester.
But let's talk about that at another time. It's too early in the day to complain.
Anyway, Matt Capps went double (two runs), single, groundout (first out), single, mound visit, grand slam. Six runs in a flash, game dead in a flash. Denard Span would reach on an error in the top of the ninth, but the Twins fell well flat of any comeback.
I'm not blaming Gardy for how he managed his pitching staff in this game. I was alright with pulling Baker, and although I reallly don't have any faith in Dumatrait it's not like Gardy has a handful of good options to go to in the 'pen. I may have given Nathan a longer leash in the eighth, but then again Montero hits righties like Nathan much better than he hits lefties like Perkins and I like to see Gardy using a platoon advantage.
And Johnson's grand slam off Capps? Well, sometimes you're the bat and sometimes you're the ball. The Twins have been the ball a lot more often than they've been the bat this season thought, so this is just more frustration to heap onto the pile. Especially considering how well the Twins had played for most of the game and how terrible Arizona had played: five errors.
But that's baseball. This hasn't been the Twins' year so far, but hopefully this afternoon we can get back on the winning side.
Danny Valencia: 3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, .319 WPA
Denard Span: 1-for-4, BB, .145 WPA
Alex Burnett: 0.2 IP, .154 WPA
Matt Capps: 1 IP, 4 H, HR, 6 R (including 2 inherited runners), -.723 WPA
Trevor Plouffe: 0-for-5, 3 K, -.164 WPA
Phil Dumatrait: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, -.109 WPA