Never at any point did I think this game was in doubt. At least, prior to the top of the ninth inning. Because up until that point the game had been all Twins.
Danny Valencia and Michael Cuddyer had big games. They both got involved early, with Valencia's run-scoring single in the first putting the Twins up 1-0 before they went back-to-back in the third inning. Cuddyer took a Chris Narveson changeup, and Valencia a fastball, deep to almost the exact same spot. It put the Twins up 3-0, and with Carl Pavano on cruise control it was only a matter of time.
The Twins scored four more in the fourth. Not all balls were particularly well-struck, but with two outs Alexi Casilla doubled, kicking off a stretch where six consecutive Twins reached base. Cuddyer, Valencia, Luke Hughes and Jason Repko picked up for consecutive RBI singles, leaving the score 7-0 after four.
In the fifth the Brewers would get their first run back. It seemed harmless enough. Yuniesky Betancourt had singled, and then tried to advance to second on a deep fly ball to center field. Ben Revere made a strong throw, and replays would show that Casilla tagged Betancourt on both legs, but probably because of Betancourt's awkward stop-start-hop slide, second base umpire Mike Estabrook missed both tags and called him safe. Actually, Estabrook called him out...and then changed his mind. Jonathan Lucroy would later single and score Betancourt.
Fast forward to the ninth inning with the Twins leading 7-4. Matt Capps was about to completely implode upon himself, and it was evident from the beginning. The Brewers singled three times in a row to lead off the frame, closing the game to 7-5, when Rick Anderson came out for a little chat. For a moment it looked like Capps was going to respond, getting Craig Counsell and Rickie Weeks to pop out and fly out respectively.
With two outs, the Twins still led by two even though the Brewers had runners on first and second.
But Nyjer Morgan, the next batter, stroked a double on the first pitch he saw. Cuddyer jumped at the wall but didn't quite get it right, so the ball bounced off the wall and both runners scored to tie the game. Pinch hitter George Kotteras went to two strikes, but he would get a hit, too. Morgan scored, and that would be our final score.
Capps was terrible, let's get that straight. He threw nothing but fastballs and sliders. True, he rarely goes with his changeup, but Capps isn't Mariano Rivera so it's hard for him to have consistent success with just two pitches. Now, Morgan's double came off a ball right at the bottom of the zone, and the Kotteras single came on a ball the was burning the black on the outside part of the plate, so sure. There was some bad luck involved.
But bad luck doesn't allow four runs in an inning. It all comes down to Capps and his inability to make a pitch when the Twins needed him to. Sometimes the opponent beats you. Sometimes you beat yourself. On Saturday night, for Matt Capps, it was a combination of both.
The play in the fifth with Betancourt incorrectly being called safe, it's really neither here nor there. Sure, it mattered, but the Twins had the rest of the game to put the Brewers away, including that fifth inning. It wasn't pre-ordained that Lucroy would get a single, just like it wasn't pre-ordained that the Brewers would score all those runs late. The Twins just didn't get the job done.
Matt Capps, Mike Estabrook