Safe On An Infield Grounder: The Trevor Plouffe Story
I've been meaning to do a running diary of a game this year, and as it's the last Monday of the season, this is my last chance. It's the Twins and the Royals, live from Target Field! Join us after the jump, as we fight off boredom for a few hours by making jokes about Brian Dinkelman's name.7:00 - Fox Sports logo, We Are Minnesota, FSN Twins intro, and all that. Dick Bremer says "100 losses" in his first sentence, so you know it's on his mind.
7:05 - Robby Incmikoski is joined by a kid from Sauk Rapids named Kirby Calvin Schmid, who is named after Kirby Puckett but presumably not Calvin Griffith, unless his parents are fans of cheapskatery and casual racism, which seems unlikely. The kid reads tonight's lineup. He sounds like he's going to finish the lineup by saying, "Please pay the money, they say they're serious!"
7:10 - The Twins take the field to a sitting non-ovation. I'm not sure anyone in the crowd is actually alive.
7:11 - Kevin Slowey strikes out Jarrod Dyson to begin the game. I wonder if Bert has his list of Slowey insults ready for when the hurler makes some mistakes. As I type, Melky Cabrera gets his 200th hit of the season, though it was a slow roller at Trevor Plouffe at shortstop and thus should count as maybe half a hit at best.
7:13 - Billy Butler lines his 533rd hit of the year against the Twins. I think that might be a record. Second and third for KC, and Eric Hosmer hits a sacrifice fly to right to score Cabrera. Must be nice to be able to score a run from third base. Never thought I'd be so jealous of the Royals. Slowey gets out of the inning as Salvador Perez flies to center.
7:18 - Ben Revere leads off the first for the Twins and chops a weak grounder to third. Mike Moustakas, playing about seventy feet from the plate, throws him out. I think there's a chance that some team eventually tries playing six infielders against Revere. It's not like he's going to burn you deep.
7:20 - After a Dinkelman fly to center, Michael Cuddyer manages to single off Felipe Paulino's shin and then off the second baseman's glove. I kind of expected that ball to disappear into a sinkhole in right field and go for a home run. Chris Parmelee takes advantage by striking out on three pitches. "He's up there ready to swing, and I like that," says Bert after strike one. Yeah, because taking too many pitches is really the problem the Twins are having. Bert just wants to go home early tonight, I think.
7:24 - Dick and Bert discuss how much the Twins would have liked for Slowey to pitch better so that they could trade him the heck out of town. Slowey retires the Royals in order to keep the game at 1-0 Kansas City.
7:29 - Paulino throws the same pitch three times and strikes out Danny Valencia. Valencia really looks like he would be happy to just leave and never come back. Plouffe follows him by swinging through a high slider. That's three strikeouts already for Paulino.
7:32 - Tosoni taps to second and we're through two innings already. Pretty sure I heard some cheering from the beat writers in the press box.
7:34 - We're back and the guys in the booth are presenting Bremer and Ron Coomer with their Regional Emmys. Bert resists the opportunity to say that it's Coomer's second Emmy at the major league level.
7:36 - Plouffe picks up a slow roller to short barehanded and still can't get Jarrod Dyson at first. If this were T-Ball, they'd be about to put an adult at shortstop to help poor little Trevor out. Dyson steals second. Cabrera lines out to Parmelee at first, whose snap throw to second can't double off Dyson. Plouffe tells the umpire that he's missed two calls in a row. I'm not sure Plouffe has the fielding ability to be telling umpires what their calls should be.
7:40 - Butler hits a routine fly to right that somehow carries all the way to the warning track, where Cuddyer has to leap to make the catch. Slowey's out of the inning with a bit of excitement.
7:41 - This Grand Casino commercial has bothered me all season. I'm about 99% certain that no single woman under the age of 60 has ever been successfully hit on at a Grand Casino poker table. False advertising!
7:43 - Luke Hughes floats a single between short and third. It must be disconcerting being on first base with Drew Butera up, knowing that your best-case scenario is to get to kick a second baseman in the leg on a takeout slide. Theirs not to question why; theirs but to do and die. Eight million Butera-wasted baserunners into the second-base breach.
7:44 - Butera ruins my Tennyson adaptation by striking out.
7:45 - Revere grounds to second but Alcides Escobar can't get the ball out of his glove to try to turn the double play. Paulino throws a pickoff attempt away. "Revere's going to run for awhile!" says Bremer in an excited tone of voice, just in time to cut to a shot of Revere rounding second lazily. Poor Dick can't remember what real excitement feels like, I bet. Dinkelman grounds out to end the inning. Still 1-0 KC at the end of three innings.
7:49 - It starts to rain lightly at Target Field. I'm pretty sure a rain delay is the worst-case scenario tonight. There might actually be less than 100 people left in the stadium if the rain lasts more than ten minutes.
7:51 - Plouffe throws out a baserunner at first base. I'm expecting somebody's dad to run out on the field and give him a hug.
7:54 - Moustakas drills a double over Revere's head in center. I'm not sure I agree with Slowey's strategy of grooving belt-high fastballs to Moustakas. The KC third baseman fouled a couple off violently and then finally got the barrel on one. Lorenzo Cain lines to first to end the inning, so no harm done, I guess.
7:57 - Video clips of Joe Mauer talking about his pneumonia. He sounds terrible and looks like he needs to sleep for about a month. This is your reminder that anybody out there who criticizes Mauer for not playing through pneumonia is an idiot.
7:58 - Bert welcomes a newlywed couple from Minot to the booth, who are taking in a Twins game before leaving for the honeymoon. I can't tell you how hard I'm rooting for Bert to make an inappropriate honeymoon joke. Or a Minot-related honeymoon joke. GIVE ME SOMETHING, BERT.
8:00 - Paulino throws a couple of 97-mph fastballs that miss the plate, walking Parmelee with one out. The big righthander goes about 6'3", 270lbs, and he throws some gas. He could be good if he'd get rid of his horrible chinstrap beard that looks like it was drawn on with a marker. Valencia clouts a single to left to give the Twins first and second with one out.
8:04 - Plouffe strikes out. I wish somebody in the stadium still cared, so that they could boo him.
8:06 - Tosoni singles to center to tie the game at 1. Dick and Bert redefine "big hits" to include a game-tying single in the fourth inning by a minor-leaguer on a 98-loss team. Nice of them, really. Hughes strikes out to end the inning, but the Twins are on the board. Seven strikeouts for Paulino through four innings, though.
8:11 - There's no way that Johnny Giavotella isn't a refugee from another decade. Or it's a made-up name. I refuse to believe that Johnny Giavotella is the name of a baseball player in 2011. 1951, I would believe.
8:13 - Escobar singles to right as Bremer says that the Royals got him for his glove, and he'll "never be anything other than a ninth-place hitter for them." Escobar has a higher batting average than five guys in tonight's Twins lineup. Bremer ignores this irony.
8:15 - Butera throws out Escobar stealing to end the inning. Plouffe flips the ball to the second baseman, then realizes that was the third out and jogs off the field. This "Trevor Plouffe is nine years old" meme is picking up steam in my head. I'll bet he was thinking about ice cream!
8:18 - Tonight's MN State Lottery Winner's Circle Winner is a couple from my hometown. They brought a Circle Me Bert sign on wallpaper. Ortonville represent! This is also their first game since 1986. They waited twenty-five years, and now they have to sit here and watch the Red Wings play.
8:21 - Butera walks to lead off. They start him on a hit-and-run, but Revere pops out to short. Pretty sure somebody was having a little fun with Butera there. He would have been out by fifty feet if Revere had swung and missed.
8:23 - They did it again, this time with Dinkelman at the plate. There's a bet on in the Twins dugout. That's the only possibility here. Paulino has thrown over to check Butera about four times. Is this really happening? Dinkelman strikes out for the second out, so normality is restored, I guess.
8:26 - Cuddyer hooks a liner around the foul pole in left for a home run! That's 20 for Cuddyer this year. He really is the only bright spot of this year, or in this game. 3-1 Twins in the fifth.
8:28 - Now Parmelee doubles off the right-field wall. The Twins seem to be starting to get to Paulino a little; the big guy's thrown 88 pitches already and isn't out of the fifth yet. Valencia, though, pops out to first to end the threat.
8:34 - Cabrera grounds four feet to Plouffe's left. Plouffe goes to his left like he has thirty-pound weights in his shoes, tries to slide to make the pickup, then slips on the outfield grass and Cabrera is safe. Kansas City has six hits, and three of them have been ground balls to Plouffe. If he flung his glove down and cried, I wouldn't be surprised.
8:36 - Butler doubles to left-center to drive in a pinch runner. If Slowey flung his glove at Plouffe, I wouldn't be surprised.
8:39 - Perez flies to shallow center. Butler scores anyway, as Revere's throw hops about three times before reaching home plate. "You know about his arm," says Bremer in the middle of the play. That Ben Revere is in the major leagues despite not being able to bunt or throw the ball more than 100 feet in the air is a constant source of frustration to me. The Twins should send him to every instructional league they can find. And possibly to an arm doctor of some kind. Anyway, it's 3-3.
8:41 - Moustakas rips a liner to right that was still going up when it landed in the right-field seats. It's now 4-3 Kansas City in the sixth. Maybe Slowey can be a long reliever who starts the game and pitches five innings. It'd be so ironic! He'd love it!
8:42 - Grounder deep in the hole to short. Plouffe's throw is too late to get Cain. That's four infield hits to Plouffe. Jim Hoey is warming up, hopefully to play shortstop.
8:48 - Giavotella singles up the middle, and that's the end of the night for, and probably the end of the Twins career of, Kevin Slowey. He leaves the team as he played: without the lead.
8:52 - Escobar singles off of Hoey to put the Royals up 5-3. Twenty minutes ago, this game was going fast and the Twins were leading by two. Escobar steals second without a throw. Amazingly, Plouffe throws Dyson out at first to end the inning. Pretty sure the shorstop's 2-for-6 now.
8:57 - Plouffe hits a grounder in the hole, but then is shocked as Escobar comes up with the ball and makes a strong throw to first. It's nice to see that there's one real shortstop in the game. I cannot describe just how much loathing I have for Plouffe right now. Tosoni strikes out and Hughes flies out to end the sixth.
9:04 - Hoey sets the Royals down in order in the seventh. I don't have any details because I was busy thinking horrible thoughts about Plouffe.
9:06 - Tim Collins is in to pitch for KC. If you don't know who Collins is, he's the Royals lefty who is about 5'3" and yet somehow still throws hard. If he was 6'9" and had the same motion he might throw 115mph.
9:09 - Butera pops up behind third, and Moustakas makes one of the best foul-pop catches you'll see. He had to climb on the tarp and flop belly-first onto the first row of the seats, but he caught the ball. That was really pretty cool. The Twins go down in order, possibly dazzled by Moustakas actually giving effort in this game.
9:15 - Perez leads off for the Royals with a single off of Hoey. I had forgotten how much Hoey looks like Vincent Van Gogh. Unfortunately I've been at this for a couple of hours and I can't think of a single good joke for this. I'm afraid you'll have to write your own Plouffe-ear-cutting-off jokes. Moustakas grounds to first, moving Perez over, and Cain follows with a single to right to give Kansas City runners on the corners with one out.
9:21 - Giavotella drives in the sixth KC run with a sacrifice fly. I miss the days when the Royals were guaranteed to hit into a double play in that situation. Escobar scalds a one-hopper to Plouffe, who goes to second to get the out. 3-for-7 for Plouffe. Give that main a raise! Two and a third for Hoey, which isn't that bad, I guess.
9:27 - Kelvin Herrera is in for the Royals, and gets Cuddyer and Parmelee to fly out.
9:32 - Valencia grounds out to Escobar at short, and you can feel the Twins just going quietly into the night. Here is where I remind you that 100 losses is really not more or less meaningful than 99 losses; it's just a rounder number. There's nothing special about loss #100. Winning 63 instead of 62 will not improve this year.
9:34 - Phil Dumatrait comes in for the Twins to pitch the ninth. There are long periods of silence in the broadcast. I think Dick and Bert have run out of things to say. Or are taking nips off of flasks in between pitches. Dumatrait walks Dyson, then throws a slider four feet outside that Butera can't get a glove on. Hooray incompetence!
9:39 - With first base open, the Twins intentionally walk Butler. I guess it's nice to know that Gardy's still paying attention. If I was him, I would have gone back to the clubhouse and tossed in a DVD by now.
9:41 - Dumatrait saws off Hosmer and the broken bat sails almost straight backward into the high-roller seats. If you can't give me the win, at least give me the simple schadenfreude of watching a bat hit a rich person. That's all I ask.
9:43 - Dyson and Butera execute a double steal. Butera throws to third, missing out on the speedy Dyson, while Butler chugs into second base at two miles an hour. Billy Butler has now stolen a base and scored from third on a 175-foot pop fly. I want to cry.
9:45 - Perez singles in Dyson. Anyone left in this ballpark must enjoy watching other people get hurt. It's 7-3 Royals as we go to the bottom of the ninth.
9:49 - Aaron Crow is in to close things out for Kansas City. Plouffe grounds out to third to start the inning. If you haven't figured it out by now, he's your dud for tonight's game.
9:53 - Tosoni walks. After not knowing the entire night who was up next, I realize why: Other than Revere in the leadoff spot, Cuddyer hitting third, and Butera hitting ninth, you could put these guys in any order and it'd make the same amount of sense (and runs): none. Hughes strikes out.
9:55 - Assigned to keep the game alive is Matt Tolbert, pinch-hitting for Butera. That is probably the most depressing sentence I've ever written.
9:56 - Tolbert flies to right. Mercifully, it is over.
FINAL: KANSAS CITY 7, MINNESOTA 3
I remember now why I haven't done a running diary yet this year.