Twins 9, Rangers 8: Mauer Comes Up Clutch

Joe Mauer is awesome, let's just leave it at that. But some shaky late inning Rangers defense had as much to do with the Twins victory as any base hit. After a rowdy first eight innings, where the Rangers slugged their way to an 8-7 lead and brought out their stud closer Naftali Feliz, it appeared the Twins were on their way to another loss last night in Arlington. After Danny Valencia grounded out to lead off the inning, Delmon Young singled up the middle to bring up Jim Thome, who smashed a long fly ball that just died in front of the wall in left field. But left fielder Josh Hamilton couldn't haul it in, giving the Twins runners at second and third with one out. Thome was given a gift double on the play, but it should have been an error on Hamilton. But no matter, Tsuyoshi Nishioka followed with a ground ball right up the middle, fielded by drawn-in shortstop Elvis Andrus, who thought about nailing Delmon Young at home plate, but instead bobbled the ball to allow the Twins to tie the game. Joe Mauer pinch hit for Drew Butera, and battled with Feliz, finally getting a 98 MPH fastball up in the zone that he could line to the gap in left center and put the Twins up 9-8.

But the Twins weren't out of the woods yet, as Joe Nathan came on for the save against the meat of the Rangers order. Josh Hamilton led off with a single, and after a Michael Young fielders choice and Nelson Cruz hit by a pitch (Brandon Inge style...appeared to get his jersey), the Rangers had runners on first and second with one out. That's when Nathan dug deep with an absolutely nasty 3-2 slider in the dirt to strike out Mitch Moreland, and then smoke past David Murphy to end the game. The Tigers beat the White Sox last night as well, so the Twins remain seven games back of first place. But they gained a game on Chicago and Cleveland, which is just about as important at this point in the season. Brian Duensing and Colby Lewis square off tonight in game three of the series, as the Twins hope to keep on winning and let the chips fall where they may.

Studs and duds after the jump.

Studs

  1. Joe Mauer: 1-1, Game Winning RBI.
  2. Joe Nathan: 1.0 IP, H, 2 SO. It's great to have Nathan back closing games, I can't see Capps ending this one strikeout-strikeout.
  3. Balanced Attack: Nine different players scored, and seven different players drove in runs last night. No one had more than two hits, or a home run, but any time you score nine runs the offense should get some credit.
  4. Glen Perkins: 1.0 IP, SO. Another 1-2-3 eighth inning from Perkins, ho-hum.

Duds

  1. Carl Pavano: 5.0 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO. Terrible line for Pavano, but after a five run fourth inning have came back out and posted a zero in the fifth, saving the bullpen a bit.

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