This just about sums up the season for the Twins. After scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game 3-3, your 2009 AL MVP Joe Mauer came up to the plate with one out and runners on first and second...and he bunted. Sure the runners advanced, and it wasn't yet another double play, but it's not exactly the kind of killer instinct any of us want to see from our All Star catcher.After the bunt, Dick and Bert applauded the effort, noting how deep the third baseman was playing, blah blah blah. But best case, Mauer bunts for a base hit and loads the bases for Jason Kubel against a left hander. At that point, you had to know Kubel is going to strike out or hit a ground ball tailor made for a double play, and sure enough he grounded out weakly to first to end the inning.
I don't want to take anything away from Trade Deadline Week here at Twinkie Town, so more notes, studs and duds will come after the jump.
It didn't need to come down to a Mauer bunt. After getting pounded last week by the White Sox, Twins starter Kevin Slowey had to "man up" last night. And he started out on fire, striking out five batters in the first three innings and putting up goose eggs through four. The key was his off speed stuff. Slowey mixed the change very well, and the change of speed kept the Indians hitters off balance, a welcome change after throwing 90% fast balls last week. In the meantime, the Twins bats started off well, with a Denard Span double, Orlando Hudson single and Mauer ground out in the first to go up 1-0. But Kubel and Jim Thome struck out to end the inning. After the first, Indians starter Justin Masterson settled down, striking out seven and scattering seven hits over 6.1 innings.
Unfortunately, in the fifth inning, Slowey and Mauer deviated from what was working so well up to that point. After throwing three curve balls and a slider to Matt LaPorta, Slowey gave up a line drive to right. He then proceeded to throw 12 straight fast balls to Shelley Duncan (pop out), Trevor Crowe (ground out) and Jason Donald (line drive double to tie the game at 1). The troubles continued into the sixth, as Slowey gave up a couple of singles and then walked LaPorta to load the bases with two outs. Gardy yanked Slowey and brought in Jesse Crain, who has been lights out for the past two months. But Shelley Duncan ruined Slowey's night by lining a double that would have kicked up chalk on the third base line if Target Field used chalk, seemed more like paint. Doesn't matter, the double put the Indians up 3-1. Crain got out of the inning and got through the seventh 1-2-3 to keep the Twins in position to come back to tie the game in the bottom half.
At this point, after the hitters come back to tie the game, the pitcher needs to shut down Cleveland in the top of the 8th. Jose Mijares decided not to show up, immediately walking Carlos Santana on four pitches that weren't anywhere near the zone, then giving up a Travis Hafner (remember him?) double to the gap in right and score Santana and put the Twins down 4-3. And the game was over, as the Twins went down weakly 1-2-3 in the 8th and 9th.
- Orlando Hudson: 2-4, RBI. Contributed +1.34 runs offensively. Not a good night for studs.
Matt Guerrier: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R. Hopefully he's getting back on track now.
- Jose Mijares: 0 IP, R, BB. Four pitch walk when we needed him to be aggressive.
- Joe Mauer: 1-4, RBI. You just can't be bunting in that situation if you're JOE FREAKING MAUER.
- Jason Kubel: 0-4, 2 SO. Contributed -1.89 runs last night.
- Jim Thome: 0-4, 2 SO. Contributed -1.47 runs.