It looks like Delmon Young really wants to go to Anaheim. With two days of voting remaining for the final spots in the All Star Game (vote here), Young went 3-3 and scored the winning run in a 7-6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays last night. Since moving down to the 8th spot in the lineup after interleague games ended, Delmon has gone 11-25 with 4 runs, 6 RBI and a home run over seven games, increasing his overall line to .307/.342/.498, one certainly worthy of All Star consideration. With the victory, the Twins keep pace a half game behind division leading Detroit and a half game ahead the White Sox, who both won games last night.
Notes, studs and duds follow after the jump.
Getting to the final 7-6 result wasn't easy for either team. The Twins started out the scoring in the second inning, plating two runs after a Jim Thome ground out and a clutch two out single by Young. Meanwhile, Carl Pavano cruised through the first two innings, needing only 15 pitches to retire six straight until Lyle Overbay and Fred Lewis doubles in the third brought Toronto to within a run. After a long double to center field by Young to lead off the fifth and Nick Punto advanced him to third with a ground ball to the right side (more on this below). But the opportunity was wasted when Denard Span and Orlando Hudson both grounded out weakly to end the inning. At this point it seemed the momentum had turned, and Lyle Overbay confirmed this by leading off with an opposite field home run to tie the game. Edwin Encarnacion followed with a double down the left field line, and Pavano was in trouble. After Fred Lewis singled Encarnacion home, DeWayne Wise homered to put the Blue Jays up 5-2.
The Twins were on the ropes. Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel quickly took the Twins off the ropes with back to back long home runs to right field, bringing the Twins within one. A Michael Cuddyer single and Jim Thome double chased Toronto starter Jesse Litsch from the game, and reliever Brian Tallet intentionally walked Young to load the bases for Punto. LNP immediately popped up for the second out, leaving it up to Span to come up in the clutch. On a 2-1 fastball, it appeared Denard was hit by a pitch to tie the game, but he just got out of the way and the ball hit the knob of the bat to even the count at 2-2. Tallet barely missed with his last two pitches to walk Span and tie the game. But the bases were still loaded for Hudson, who popped out weakly to end the inning.
The game was tied, but another opportunity had been wasted. Pavano settled down with a seven pitch 1-2-3 sixth inning, bringing the Twins right back to the plate. Joe Mauer led off the seventh inning by crushing a Tallet meatball over the right field fence to put the Twins up 6-5. But in the seventh inning, Gardy decided to keep Pavano in the game (the correct call after the 1-2-3 sixth, IMO) and Encarnacion smashed a home run to left to tie the game for the third time. Pavano got a ground out and was relieved by Jose Mijares, who was sharp, striking out Fred Lewis and getting Wise to weakly fly out to Delmon to end the inning.
It was money time. Young led off the eighth with a single off the pitcher's glove, Punto bunted him to second, and Span drove him in to put the Twins up 7-6. After Jason Frasor one hopped a quick pickoff attempt off Overbay's glove into the first base stands, advancing Span to third, the Twins were again in business with one out. But Hudson flew out weakly to shallow right, Mauer walked and Morneau struck out to end the inning. Jesse Crain relieved Mijares and pitched a very effective 1-2-3 eighth inning. Jon Rauch made it interesting (again), getting John Buck on a deep fly ball to the center field fence, but he got out of the inning by striking out pinch hitter Vernon Wells, who sat out most of the game due to illness.
- Delmon Young, 3-3, R, RBI. Contributed +1.96 runs offensively. He was the spark plug last night.
- Jason Kubel, 2-5, 2 R, HR. Contributed +1.10 runs. He was all over Toronto pitchers, was robbed twice by DeWayne Wise on line drives to deep center field.
- Bullpen. Mijares, Crain and Rauch got the last 8 outs, giving up only the one hit in the ninth.
- DeWayne Wise: Have to give an opponent his due, Wise stole two doubles from Kubel and he also had a two run homer to give Toronto its 3 run lead.
Nick Punto, 0-3. Even though he had a successful sacrifice bunt and ground balls to advance Young, he was still the Twins most negative contributor, at -1.42 runs.
Orlando Hudson, 0-4. Contributed -1.15 runs offensively. He really looks like he needs a day off. We may see Punto at second tonight, with Hardy at short.