I'm sorry, what? Did you see that game?
The batting order today consisted of two players who began the season in Rochester, two players who started the season on the bench, Jason Kubel in the outfield, two more everyday starters playing out of position...and then Delmon Young in left field and J.J. Hardy at shortstop. That's pretty much been par for the course lately...and yet the Twins still manage to score enough runs to win games. Let's just have a moment of appreciation for the offense and all the guys who are filling in and performing so well.
Now. This crackpot of a game. It started off with a bang. Back-to-back-to-back one out doubles accounted for half of the Twins hits in the first inning, and by the time Wade Davis limped off the mound it was 4-0. Kevin Slowey, meanwhile, cruised through three perfect innings before allowing a leadoff hit in the fourth, which he stranded. Something was clicking today for Slowey. His location was pinpoint for most of the afternoon, and he earned a win he didn't get.
Jason Repko launched his third home run of the season in the fifth, to make it 5-0 off Davis. Drew Butera picked up an RBI double in the sixth, again off Davis, to make it 6-0. The game was well in-hand.
And then the polarity shifted. Literally, it must have, because there's no other explanation.
A B.J. Upton homer seemed harmless enough to lead off the eighth, as Slowey picked up his ninth strikeout of the afternoon on the very next batter. He'd only get one more out before getting pulled with the bases loaded. It happened that quickly. Jesse Crain walked in a run, got pulled for Ron Mahay, and then Jason Bartlett extolled his Twins revenge. Pinch hitting for Matt Joyce, Bartlett blasted just his third home run of the season into the left field seats. The grand slam tied the game, and with only one out to retire the side neither Crain nor Mahay could get the damn job done. Matt Capps entered and struck out Upton to end the frame. Three pitchers to get one out is not a picture of efficiency.
But once again, Repko delivered in the clutch, leading off the inning with a double. He advanced to third on an Alexi Casilla groundout, Joe Mauer was intentionally walked (again) but was retired on Delmon Young's grounder, and then Jason Kubel skied a pop-up into the artificial sky.
What should have ended the inning, landed on Tropicana's artificial turf. Repko scored, Young moved up to second, and standing on first base but for the grace of the baseball gods was Kubel. At best the Twins should have hoped for extra innings. Instead, Michael Cuddyer added the insurance by singling home Young, and Matt Capps shut down the Rays in the bottom of the ninth.
With a little help from Casilla. DID YOU SEE THAT PLAY? Carl Crawford's grounder was basically behind first base, and had no business finding Casilla's glove. But unbelieveably there he was, scooping the ball off the turf, pulling off an athletic spinning jump and firing a strike to Cuddyer at first. Here's the video. It's pretty amazing.
So, that's that. Series split. And considering the Twins dropped games one and two of the series, I'll take it. Notes, studs and duds after the jump.
- Slowey's off-speed pitches kept hitters off balance. He didn't induce many chase swings, but not very many of those off-speed offerings were hit very hard, either.
- Of his nine strikeouts, two were looking (both on fastballs). Of the swinging strikeouts, two were off fastballs, two were off curveballs and three were from the slider.
- Through seven innings, Slowey had allowed just two hits.
- Six different Twins smacked a double this afternoon.
- Kelly Shoppach tried to pull a Bo Jackson after striking out against Slowey for the second time. It didn't work. But guys trying to break their bats over their knees always reminds me of this.
Jason Kubel / The Catwalk
Kelly Shoppach bat-breaking fail