"Here it is,
Charlie Brown Minnesota Twins. Here's the football baseball, kick hit it!" - Lucy Seattle Mariners
The Mariners gave the Twins their opportunities. Erik Bedard's control came and went, much like Charlie Brown's dignity, and (still like the bald-headed try-hard) Minnesota failed to punch it home when it counted.
A lot of this one has to be laid at the feet of Kevin Slowey. Three home runs in four-and-two-thirds, all after I'd made a point to bring up the fact that Slowey'd been pretty good recently at keeping the ball in the yard. Woops. To his credit they were all solo shots, which limited the damage. Russell Branyan's mammoth shot in the first came on Kevin's ninth consecutive fastball which, if you read the game thread, I called. Not that I'm proud of it, but the man has a big swing. You could see it coming.
The shame was that the other two home runs came off Jose Lopez (who was hitting .227/.267/.353 coming into the game) and Jamie Burke (who had two home runs in his career coming into the game). It was unfortunate because home plate umpire CB Bucknor was consistently giving the pitcher the outside corner of the plate...and then some. Kevin clearly didn't have his best stuff tonight, but I thought he'd take advantage of what was being given. He has strikeout capability and enough pitches to keep hitters off balance, but tonight it didn't happen.
For his part, Bedard got himself out of trouble as much as the Twins helped him get out of it. On a few occasions he found himself in three-ball counts, only to fight back and get the out. He only allowed four hits over his five innings, but because of the inconsistent control racked up the pitches; he also walked four. The only time he caved was in the top of the fifth, when he allowed the Twins to knot the game at two.
Denard Span had walked to lead off the inning before Joe Mauer doubled. Franklin Gutierrez cut the ball off and fed the ball back into play quickly, keeping Span at third. Justin Morneau grounded out to the right side and Joe Crede flied out to Ichiro Suzuki, sacrificing the out for Mauer's run, and a game that had looked shaky from the outset had turned around.
The comeback was short-lived. Lopez and Burke homered before the frame was over, and for all the base runners the Twins managed in the later innings, none would score. Four Seattle relievers combined for four scoreless innings, and Minnesota's road woes continue. It doesn't seem like it should be so, but the Mariners are a better team.
Minnesota left 12 men on base, and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Stars of the Game
#3: Luis Ayala (0.1 IP, 0 H, .020 WPA; Ayala's out with the bases loaded in the eighth kept the Twins within two runs.)
#2: R.A. Dickey (2.1 IP, H, BB, 3 K, 0 R, .065 WPA; Once again, Dickey shows hit mettle. Since the beginning of May he's pitched 21.1 innings with 13 strikeouts, just 17 hits allowed and only four runs.)
#1: Denard Span (2-for-4, R, BB, .073 WPA; Span set up the big hitters, one of few bright spots offensively.)
Tears for You
#1: Alexi Casilla (0-for-3, BB, K, 5 LOB, -.114 WPA; Alexi just didn't look good today, just overmatched.)
#2: Kevin Slowey (4.2 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 HR, 2 K, 2 BB, -.246 WPA; Everyone has a bad night.)
#3: Jason Kubel (0-for-4, BB, 3 LOB, -.105 WPA; Big bitter coming up in big situations, wasn't able to come through.)