That was a fun game: Twins 4, Blue Jays 1
Come in after the break to catch the recap, as I don't want to take any attention away from Adam's morning post.
As Carl Pavano turned in a gem of a performance, it was easy to think that this might just be another wasted effort. Roy Halladay was on form with the exception of a pitch or two, and for the first (and largest) portion of the game he mowed through Twins hitters. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau both fell victim to Doc and his strikeout machine, and when the Jays finally connected for a run in the bottom of the fifth it didn't look good.
Then Orlando Cabrera connected on a Halladay offering inside, and as the ball sailed over the fence to tie the game at one it was suddenly a new ballgame. It's amazing how deceptive a one-run lead can be; with Halladay cruising the way he was, one run looked like it should have been enough. It was O-Cab's second homer since joining the Twins, with whom he's batting a meager .254/.280/.370. Suffice it to say, he picked a good time to contribute last night.
Halladay did pitch a complete game, by the way. He's good.
The support, albeit just the one run, seemed to breathe new life into Pavano. He came back strong in the bottom of the sixth and seventh, picking up three of his five strikeouts over those two innings and sitting the Jays down in order.
Morneau rewarded Pavano with the Win, by belting his 30th home run of the season (and collecting his 100th RBI) in the top of the next inning. It was like pre-All-Star break Justin, connecting on a high first pitch fastball and jettisoning the sphere to somewhere in the vicinity of center field. It was Morneau's only hit of the evening, but it was a big one. It was his first homer in two-and-a-half weeks, and his ninth since the break.
Pavano started the bottom of the eight, walking Marco Scutaro before getting the first out on a sacrifice bunt. That finished his night, but it was enough. Jose Mijares picked up a strikeout en route to completing a perfect eighth, and Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 38th save.
The TIgers even had the decency to lose to the Royals, closing the gap to 5.5 games. Does the Minnesota sports press what a chasm? Forget Favre-gate, he's fine. Focus on the Twins closing this gap to first place in the final weeks of the season.
#3: Orlando Cabrera (1-for-5, HR, RBI, .101 WPA)
#2: Justin Morneau (1-for-4, HR, RBI, .243 WPA)
#1: Carl Pavano (7.1 IP, 6 H, 5 K, 2 BB, 1 R, .192 WPA)