This is getting old, really fast. I understand that every summer campaign is a time bomb, and that eventually the fuse runs out for everyone save one club. But it's how the Twins continue to drop games that's frustrating. The next logical sentence is: well, if the Twins were a better team they'd be winning games like this.
"Better team" breaks down into "better players", and the front office has done an admirable job of bringing in veterans at close to zero cost. But you still need to play the games, and you still need to find a way to win.
You couldn't have asked more from Michael Cuddyer. He nearly homered in his first at-bat, pulling it just foul down the left field line, before knocking one over Curtis Granderson's head for a double in the second inning. Mike Redmond would plate him. In the fourth Cuddyer launched another one Granderson's way, but this one left the yard, hitting about four feet above the fence. Delmon Young followed that shot with one of his own, number four on the year, that made Cuddyer's home run look small. Young absolutely destroyed the pitch from Jarrod Washburn, and had it landed about 15 feet lower would have been an exact replica of the previous pitch. Cuddyer and Young each took a ball low in the zone, stuffed them in a rocket launcher, lit a cigar, laughed maniacally and lit the fuse. That's a deep center field.
By now you know Scott Baker managed to squander that lead in about 10 minutes. In the bottom of that inning, Marcus Thames led off with a solo shot before the Tigers fought back with three consecutives singles. A double by Gerald Laird tied the game, and within seconds the Twins were down 4-3.
It was hard, because right from the start of the game you could see that Baker wasn't hitting his spots. His fastballs were tailing in on right-handed hitters, his breaking balls were up, and you could tell that two things were going to happen: the Tigers were going to start hitting lots of foul balls, and balls were going to start landing for hits if not home runs. Baker survived the first three innings unscathed through sheer grit and determination (and maybe a little luck...think Denard Span's diving catch in center field and Alexi Casilla diving to his left), but after Detroit pegged him in the fourth it was only a matter of time before their depth charges blew him out of the water.
Miguel Cabrera's two-run homer in the fifth with one out was the knock out punch. Or hit. The Twins would leave him in just long enough to give up another hit before lifting him for Bobby Keppel. Keppel pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, the first time he's kept the opposition off the board in five appearances. In fact, over his last nine appearances he's only managed to do that twice. Since July 20 (nine appearances, 11 innings) his ERA is a boggling 10.64. Yes, that includes today's pristine outing.
Casilla would show up again later in the contest, tripling in the sixth to score a pair and bring the Twins to within one. Cuddyer's single in the seventh would tie it until Matt Guerrier collapsed in the heat (metaphorically, mind you). Those two runs were the killer, as Cuddyer's Superman alter-ego could only hit one more solo homer in the top of the ninth to bring the game to its final score.
It was a hot one in Detroit today. The heat index was 99, if not higher as the sun reached its most ferocious, and it's hard to blame any one person for how it affected them. But in the end a loss is a loss.
On days like this, the guys who have it all worked out (like our Cuddles) should be allowed to invoke the ghost runner clause. That way, after he hits a double he can just turn to the ump and say "Ghost Runner!", and go hit again. The ghost runner advances in proportion to however many bases the hitter picks up. Easy.
Stars of the Game
#3: Mike Redmond (3-for-4, R, RBI, .114 WPA)
#2: Alexi Casilla (2-for-3, 3B, 2 RBI, excellent diving stop, .214 WPA)
#1: Michael Cuddyer (4-for-5, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .343 WPA)
#1: Scott Baker