So, that eighth inning was just a train wreck. The Twins had tied the game at two in the top of the third, and then at four in the top of the sixth, and in spite of an early exit by Scott Diamond it looked like the Twins would hang in this one. Jared Burton even retired Josh Hamilton, the first batter of the inning. Then it all went [insert body part here] up.
A couple of doubles, two errors, an intentional walk, an infield hit, and some other painful moments later, the Rangers had scored six runs. Let's leave that mess right there.
Rallying with two outs in the ninth and down by six is never an easy proposition, but Trevor Plouffe, Jamey Carroll and Pedro Florimon loaded the bases for Denard Span. Span may have reached on an infield single but the ball caromed away, allowing another runner to score. Joe Nathan came on then to face Ben Revere, and with Joe Mauer on deck dealt Revere nothing but fastballs. Revere worked a full count but eventually flied out to left to end it.
There were ample opportunities to score for both sides. The Rangers definitely cashed in, but the Twins left runners in scoring position in the first, third, fifth, sixth (left the bases loaded), seventh and, yes, the ninth. They were 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position, and it showed.
Oh. Wait. Did something else happen in this game? Right, it did!
With a runner on second and a 3-0 count to Joe Mauer in the third inning, Roy Oswalt threw a fastball that hit Mauer right between the shoulder blades. You could tell Mauer wasn't happy, and with good reason. Owalt doesn't miss in that fashion; it was most definitely done on purpose. Maybe he didn't mean to throw quite so high, but it was a pretty weak maneuver. Home plate umpire Wally Bell called out no warnings.
So when Scott Diamond threw at Josh Hamilton, and missed, Bell ejected both Diamond and, of course, Ron Gardenhire once Gardy came out to argue the point. It's hard to blame Bell for wanting to keep control, because there's no doubt in my mind that Diamond was throwing back at Texas. If the Rangers and Oswalt are content to blatantly disrespect Mauer in that way, you can bet that the favor will be returned. But Diamond missed, leaving Bell the perfect chance to issue his warnings. Instead he went a little power happy.
I suppose I'm not really down on Wally Bell for his decision. I get it. The sour taste in my mouth mostly comes from Oswalt pulling his cheap stunt and, essentially, getting away with an obvious bean ball that got a little high.
We'll see if the Twins choose to respond tomorrow.