Seven and a half innings were inked in the scorebook, and you couldn't have found a single positive-minded Twins fan between here and Saskatoon. Carl Pavano had allowed two home runs, and Minnesota's inability to score a runner had made Jeremy Sowers look like Sandy Koufax, and the Indians led 3-0 and the Tigers had come back to win and Twins fans were flipping over to Monday Night Football.
And then. What a wonderful and then. Leading off the bottom of the eighth, Orlando Cabrera reached on a broken-bat grounder to shortstop that Asdrubal Cabrera couldn't handle. The Indians walked Joe Mauer, a sensible move given his three singles in three trips. Cleveland brought in Chris Perez, sidearming righty, to face Michael Cuddyer, who had previously earned the name "Mr. Double-Play Grounder" yet again.
Well, Perez couldn't find the plate. On a 3-1 count, he had to come over with a blazer. Cuddyer knew it. Cuddyer was ready. Cuddyer hammered the pitch deep into the retracted seats over the center-field fence, tying the ballgame.
By no means, though, was it over. Delmon Young lined a single to right-center, then alertly scampered to third on a pop-fly single down the left-field line off the bat of Matt Tolbert. That piece of baserunning paid off, as Perez uncorked a wild slider that beat the catcher to the stick side, giving Delmon a chance to hurry home with the go-ahead run.
Perez, who had previously adhered to the all-slider-all-the-time theory of pitching to Jason Kubel, got rattled and dealt the lefty a fastball. This one landed in the mitt of a joyous fan in the upper-deck seats in right field, giving the home team a 6-3 lead.
As quickly as that, the Twins had turned a three-run deficit into a three-run lead, and with Joe Nathan on the mound in the ninth, a three-run victory.
Yes, Minnesota remained five and a half games back in the AL Central, and yes, these particular heroics will be little remembered. But, for one more night, previously-depressed Twins fans like your correspondent got a chance to scream exhortations at the television, were able to jump out of chairs to joyously shout "GET OUT OF THERE!" to well-launched baseballs. What a wonderful evening.
3. Jason Kubel - A pinch-hit rocket that sealed the game.
2. Delmon Young - Alert baserunning that proved to be the winning run.
1. Michael Cuddyer - Could have hit into five other double plays, and he'd still be the first star. Game-tying, three-run homers have that effect.
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