Joe Nathan and the offense gave it an interesting spin, but in the end everyone got it done.
Esteban German looks like he's high. All the time. He did manage to collect one hit on the night, and it happened to be the only hit that scored damage to Johan and the Twins, but the way he dropped the bat...y'know, like he was hot shit...he had to have been high.
Hey, when you're 28, and when you're having your first worthwhile season as a big-leaguer, then dammit...you've earned the right to drop it like it's hot!
Beyond my annoyance of Esteban German, this game had bits and pieces that looked all too familiar for us Twins fans this season. Johan Santana pitched a great game. Nice plays were made defensively. The offense struggled early, before mounting a comeback to win the game. Joe Nathan shut the door in the ninth...in nail-biting fashion. And Mike Redmond got dirty.
I'm not even going to call the fact that Detroit also won tonight unfortunate. Frankly, the Twins are fortunate to be in the position they're in, even though they've earned every scathing inch. To me, the Twins are making the playoffs, and when I think about where we were the first third of the season that's enough for me. Everything else...homefield advantage, first-round opponent, winning the AL Central...it's all gravy. Of course I want the pennant and the advantage of playing under the home roof, but I'm thrilled regardless. Maybe I'm just easy to please.
Barring the hit he surrendered to German, Santana looked sharp tonight. He chose the route of pitch economy rather than strikeout pitcher extraordinaire, and as usual, it worked to his advantage. Still retiring five on strikes through eight innings of work, Santana mixed the slider with his fastball and a gorgeous change to keep the Royals off balance. Johan on the mound is watching art in motion.
Lew Ford, for the first time in ages and possibly for the last time in a Twins uniform, did something positive on the offensive side of the ball. With the Twins trailing 2-0, he took a 1-2 pitch from Odalis Perez and rainbowed it over the left-center field wall. Ford's fourth jack of the season cut the Royals' lead in half.
In the bottom of the sixth the Twins mounted another rally, where Torii Hunter collected his 96th RBI of 2006 on a sacrifice fly that scored Redmond from third. Unfortunately the Twins wouldn't get Johan the winning run quite yet, as Ford and Jason Bartlett couldn't come through with the bases loaded.
It was the bottom of the eighth when the Twins would finally get that push to surge past the Royals and get Santana enough runs to seal a victory. With runners on first and second with nobody out, Luis Rodriguez was asked to pinch-hit for Phil Nevin. Initially asked to bunt, a passed ball allowed the runners to move up to second and third. Suicide squeeze or run on contact?
Neither. In typical Royals fashion, a second consecutive pitch went wild, and both runners advanced. Unfortunately the ball bounced off the wall right back to Kansas City catcher Paul Phillips, who was able to make the relay to home in time to catch Morneau in an awkward slide into the plate. The game was still tied with Hunter advancing to third.
Now, with a runner on third with one out, Rodriguez took a called strike and then fouled off a pitch before taking a huge cut. He laced the ball deep to center field, which was more than enough distance needed to score Hunter from third base. The sacrifice was made...but the bunt had become a sac fly. Rodriguez was able to adjust his strategy in the middle of his at-bat and got the job done. Pretty good for a guy who doesn't get to play too often.
That's win 94. Unbefrickinleavable.
Esteban German is a bitch.