In the top of the first inning, Alfonso Soriano hit a screaming liner over Josh Willingham's head. Willingham gave chase. With two outs and a runner on third base, a good catch would have snuffed the Cubs rally and sent Minnesota hitters to the dish with a 0-0 score. Instead the ball bounced out of his outstretched glove, resulting in a Soriano double and an early 1-0 deficit.
Having the game's deciding moment just 12 pitches into the game is a bit disappointing. Particularly since, following Reed Johnson's leadoff single, Starlin Castro and David DeJesus struck out on three pitches each.
With the exception of a third inning walk, Liriano retired every single batter he faced between the top of the first and the beginning of the sixth inning. His offense was unable to cash in on either of the runner-in-scoring-position situations until that point, putting on the pressure. And the sixth inning is when it all just got away from him.
Johnson singled again to lead things off before the young Starlin Castro doubled, placing runners on second and third with nobody out. Liriano had been exceptionally efficient to this point, but after back-to-back six-pitch at-bats it was that quintessential moment that we've come to expect in every single one of his starts. His back was to the wall, and he needed to make some big pitches to limit the damage.
He did the job right away, getting DeJesus to ground out. The run scored, but at that point you trade an out for the second run of the game. Soriano was intentionally walked to set up the double play, but Liriano struck out Baker on four pitches for the second out of the inning. Drew Butera made a great block on a slider in the dirt on the 0-2 pitch, but Baker held off of that one.
That's when the inning turned big. On an 0-1 count to Joe Mather a fastball got away from Butera, allowing Castro to score from second. Three sliders later it was still 1-2 when Mather magically got hold of one that was down and in, somehow chopping it down the third base line and inside the bag for a double.
Trevor Plouffe was thrown out at home in the seventh. Willingham scored on a Ryan Doumit sac fly in the ninth, and Jamey Carroll came through with a double to give us the final score of 8-2. Denard Span nearly made it 8-4 on a double down the left field line, but it was foul by inches.
Losing like this today was definitely disappointing, but overall the team has been playing much better over the last couple of weeks. I'll take a series victory, and I'll definitely take 9 of 12, every time.