It's a good thing I'm not terribly supersticious, I'd never see another full Twins game this year.
I wouldn't call it ironic, because kicking the living crap out of the Ranger bullpen isn't unheard of or even unexpected, but the Twins didn't get to Sidney Ponson as early as I thought they would. Ponson went five and a third, allowing five runs (just one earned), but he'd been surprisingly effective through five innings. In the sixth, holding a 5-2 lead, things came unravelled.
Once he was staked to his lead, Ponson changed tactics and began to go after Twins hitters, not being afraid to throw over the plate instead of trying to get them to bite on fastballs dancing on the outside of the zone. In the sixth inning this tactic began to backfire, and in the end forced Texas to put the fate of their game into their suspect relief corps.
Brendan Harris led off the Minnesota sixth, and again it looked like Ponson was approaching Twins hitters aggressively. Three of his four pitches were right over the heart of the plate, and on a 2-1 count, Harris took Ponson's offering to center field for a double.
Still in control, Ponson attacked Mauer will three consecutive fastballs. Joe took the first two for balls before taking his third pitch back to the pitcher. Ponson threw the ball away, Harris scored, and when the dust settled Joe Mauer was standing on second base. 5-3 Rangers, but Ponson was shaken.
After Justin Morneau grounded out to first base, Michael Cuddyer reached base when Texas third baseman Ramon Vasquez was unable to come up clean on the ground ball. With only one out and runners on first and second, it was Jason Kubel who chased Ponson. His hard-hit liner to right scored Mauer from third.
Jamie Wright came on in relief, and quickly walked Delmon Young on five pitches. The bases were loaded for Mike Lamb, who's had one of the roughest starts of any Twin so far this spring. Lamb came through with a sacrifice fly, and the game was tied as Cuddyer crossed home plate. It was the best inning I've been able to watch so far this year, and was an awesome way to wake up this morning, not gonna lie.
Another three-run inning in the seventh gave the Twins a healthy lead late, but it was Michael Cuddyer's three-run homer in the top of the eighth that put the nail in the proverbial coffin. Following a 10-pitch plate appearance for Morneau, Cuddyer took Scott Feldman's first pitch and deposited it over the left field fence. It capped 10 unanswered runs by the Minnesota offense.
Craig Monroe's start in center field didn't cost the Twins any runs in the end, and likely helped the offense in the absence of Carlos Gomez. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI double, giving the Twins their first lead at 1-0. I wouldn't want to pull that job more than a handful of times all season, but if it has to happen on a limited occasion, well...it's not going to alter the fortunes of the team one way or the other.
That was a great win for the Twins. Let's shoot for a series victory this afternoon!