An amazing game that lasted seven innings, it was as frustrating as it was fun.
Every time the Twins took the lead, the Royals would come right back. Every time the Royals took the lead, the Twins would come right back. Well, every time except once.
One of the reasons baseball is such a great game is because somebody has to win. There are no ties, and no matter what happens each and every game has that same finality. Saturday night was, truly enough, a game that neither team really deserved to win. Sadly for the Twins, not only did they not deserve to win, but they actually didn't.
* In the first inning, with runners on first and second and one out, Justin Morneau struck out. Alexi Casilla, who was stealing third on the pitch, was cut down. It really wasn't even that close.
* Fast-forward to bottom of the sixth, and it happened again. This time, two men on and again one away, Casilla flew out to David DeJesus in left field. With Joe Mauer and his hot bat on deck, Nick Punto still tried to tag up and advance to third base. It was a close play, but DeJesus' relay to Mike Aviles was a good one, and Aviles' turned a nice one to Alberto Callaspo at third. Callaspo applied the tag to Punto's right knee just before his foot touched the bag.
* Why was Brian Buscher playing at first base? Morneau just had a day off. If it was imperative to give Buscher some plate appearances, Joe Crede and his wife just had baby Chase, meaning he was exhausted. Start him at third base. Or if he played because Jason Kubel was scratched due to flu-like symptoms, then why shift your starting first baseman to designated hitter? Either DH Buscher, or DH Young or Cuddyer and put Denard Span in the outfield. Bench guys need playing time, but when you're forcing the issue by playing guys at secondary positions you're asking for trouble. Buscher was unable to scoop a throw by Punto once, but the Twins were lucky enough to keep the Royals off the board.
* With two away in the bottom of the seventh, Crede laced a nice single to the right-center field gap. Jose Guillen cut it off in plenty of time and threw it in. Imagine your surprise when Crede was trying to take second. He was out by a mile. Honestly, a mile.
* In the top of the eighth, Jose Mijares came on with one out. After inducing a DeJesus ground out where Callaspo advanced to third base, he induced a Miguel Olivo routine grounder to Casilla's left. Casilla bobbled the ball and Callaspo scored; the 6-6 tie was broken.
* Buscher leads off the bottom of the tenth with a double; two feet from going over the fence to end the game. He was stranded on third.
* The entire top half of the eleventh inning.
Kansas City clearly had mistakes of their own. A poor throw by Aviles at short. Coco Crisp's inability to make a routine throw that led to a Twins run. Wild pitches by Juan Cruz, Ron Mahay and Joakim Soria. And, just like the Twins, an inability to keep runs off the board. But in the end they took advantage of a rough outing by Craig Breslow (3 BB, 0.1 IP).
By juxtoposition, the Twins had their bright spots. Joe Mauer can, and will, hit anything. His ninja-style shoe-string single in the first was impressive, as was his rip to the right-center field gap when Brian Bannister tried to come inside in a situation that was a bit too predictable. Delmon Young and Crede hit the ball hard.
It was a rough night by a pair of mediocre teams. The difference between them was that somebody had to win, and on Saturday it was the Royals who pulled it off. A lot of it seems to do with attitude; in years past, if the Twins had repeatedly pulled ahead or came back, at some point Kansas City would have simply folded. This time they didn't, and it's a sign of change for the boys in Royal blue.
Rubber match kicks off in a few hours, be sure to show your support. Minnesota is still the better team, but they need to play like it.
Stars of the Game
#3: Joe Mauer (4-for-6, RBI)
#2: Michael Cuddyer (2-for-4, 3 R, HR, RBI)
#1: Delmon Young (3-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI)