Welcome to the doghouse, Ron Mahay.
A barrage of singles, a Michael Cuddyer double, a Delmon Young walk and a Trevor Plouffe sacrifice fly led to four runs in the bottom of the first today for the Twins, and it seemed like they'd never look back.
Kevin Slowey once again was effective, but far from efficient. The fifth inning was a long affair, and saw Slowey throw 27 pitches before finally getting out of the frame. He'd get two outs in the sixth before allowing a massive, MASSIVE solo homer to Corey Hart. Earlier it was obvious that Ryan Braun was seeing the ball pretty well out of Slowey's hand, so clearly the Brewers weren't quite as off-balance as their two runs would suggest.
Of the 24 hitters Slowey faced, 11 of them had plate appearances that lasted five pitches or more. In the end he managed to get through 5.2 innings and allowed just the two runs, but it would matter in the end, when Ron Mahay managed to help the Twins blow a four-run lead.
Leading 6-2 entering the top of the ninth, Mahay allowed back-to-back singles before walking George Kattaras to load the bases. Yes, George friggin Kattaras.
Jon Rauch came into a terrible situation but couldn't avoid the folly of the baseball gods. Ricky Weeks doubled to score two, and Carlos Gomez (who showed how bad of an idea trying to catch pop flies with one hand can be) took a cut on the first pitch he saw, singling to score two more and knot the game at six.
Rauch would fight back with a double play before walking Prince Fielder on four straight. Delmon Young couldn't bring in Casey McGehee's deep fly, and it bounced off the wall to see Fielder the turtle score from first base. Hart would strike out to finally end the inning, but the damage was done. The Brewers had scored five miracle runs to take a 7-6 lead.
Luckily, Justin Morneau was able to continue his torrid start to the season and led off the bottom of the ninth with his second double of the game, this time off reliever Carlos Villanueva. Cuddyer looped a single the other way, too hard to score Morneau but enough to set up runners on the corners with nobody out. Villanueva then threw Jason Kubel six consecutive pitches outside of the strike zone...but Kubel swung at three of them.
And then Delmon Young tied the game. Young lowered the head of the bat and made fantastic contact, driving the ball into deep left field for a ground rule double.
Villanueva intentionally walked pinch hitter Jim Thome to load the bases, before getting Nick Punto to strike out looking. Back at the top of the order, Denard Span took three consecutive balls and a strike. On Villanueva's fifth pitch, Span hit it deep to right field, just to the center field side of that bizarre overhang. It was the third out, and the Twins led another opportunity slip away.
In the bottom of the tenth the Twins would load the bases again, putting Young in yet another position to drive in runs. He smashed a line drive hard into right field, only to have Hart crash into the wall to make a fantastic grab and rob Young of a game-winning hit.
But Minnesota would get one more chance, thanks to a pair of extra inning double plays and a trio of goose eggs by a pair of relievers. Manny Parra would sandwich a Mauer single between hitting Alexi Casilla and walking Morneau, loading the bases with nobody away. Cuddyer grounded into a force out at home, but Kubel would finally come through for the first time all day with a sac fly to right field.
This game was torture from the ninth inning on. I'm done. I'm just glad the Twins found a way to earn that win back. Studs, duds and notes after the jump.
- Homeplate umpire Tom Hallion is a bit of a douche, not simply for making some pretty terrible calls on balls and strikes (on both sides), but for his Street Fighter Ryu-style uppercut punch motion on strikeout calls. His strikezone today appeared to be a random series of holes over or around the plate.
- Alexi Casilla may not be starter material, but he's quietly putting together a very nice OBP. After two walks today (and an HBP), you should check out his stats for yourself. Color me surprised.
- Of the 11 hits the Twins had through nine innings, the 2-3-4-5 hitters had ten of them. They had 12 of 13 overall.
- With one on and nobody out int he top of the eleventh, the Brewers attempted to bunt and popped it up foul. Mauer was up and out of his crouch and diving for the ball in a flash; it's rare to see him move that quickly. It just shows how quickly he can move when he has to.
- In addition to being a monster at the plate, Morneau started a pair of big double plays in extra innings.
- Alex Burnett and Jesse Crain combined for three scoreless extra innings.
- Delmon Young played well today, in spite of the play in left field. He made great contact today, and showed some great discipline on the walk.
- Justin Morneau owns you. YES, YOU.
- Orlando Hudson had to leave the game after getting hit by the relay on his stolen base attempt. He was safe, and later scored, but was then removed. Stay tuned.
Morneau: 3 hits, a pair of doubles and a pair of walks. Oh yeah, and defense. Great game for Justin.
Mauer: 4 hits. Just another day at the office,
Hudson: Pair of hits.
Cuddyer: A trio of solid hits.
Young: See above. Just one hit, but a big walk and 3 RBI.
Guerrier: 2 scoreless innings.
Crain. Ditto, minus one.
Casilla: 3 plate appearances, reached 3 times. Perfection.
Slowey: Not a bad day, but he still couldn't get through six full. That fifth inning is a killer.
Punto: Great double play turned, but just one walk in six plate appearances.
Plouffe: 0-for-3 but a sac fly. I have to say I've liked what I've seen so far.
Kubel: Game-winning hit, but he looked miserable at the dish at times today.
Mahay: Three hitters, all reached and all eventually scored. Failboat.
Rauch: I know, it was a rough position, but he did nothing to stop the bleeding.