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Giants 2, Twins 1: Lincecum Strikes Out 12, Sandoval Good Diver

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[Two post-game notes. First, Jim Hoey has been optioned to Rochester to make room for Joe Nathan. Jim Thome will also be added to the roster, but no corresponding move has yet been announced. It's likely that either Drew Butera gets sent down or Rene Rivera gets exposed to waivers. Second note, both Tsuyoshi Nishioka (hamstring) and Joe Mauer (back) were given the day off due to minor aches.]

Remember when Johan Santana was still Johan Santana? You remember. That patented pre-pitch ass wiggle, the non-chalant crossover towards third base when he knew the hitter was striking out before the hitter did. Today, the epitome of command and control was Tim Lincecum.

Everything he throws looks the same. Without referencing pitchfx at all, it really just seems like everything breaks late. Either away from right-handed hitters or down and out of the zone to everyone. The man was unbelieveable. Brief plate appearances, and indeed brief half innings for the Twins offense, were commonplace. Almost as commonplace as Twins hitters looking foolish, or rushed, or striking out.

Miguel Tejada's groundout with runners on second and third in the second inning scored the Giants first run, and for the most part it would be enough. Michael Cuddyer's double in the fourth was wasted when he made a base running mistake and was run down. In the sixth, with runners on first and second and two out, Delmon Young couldn't make the one pitch he saw pay off. Those were the only two chances the Twins had against Lincecum and they failed miserably, which was probably to be expected considering how on his game he was.

In the bottom of the eighth a double and single gave the Giants their second run, but the Twins finally woke up in the top of the ninth. Alexi Casilla's leadoff walk led to a run on a big Cuddyer double into the left-center field gap; it looked like a home run for a minute.

But with the tying run on second base and nobody out, the Twins couldn't convert. Young continued to look atrocious and swung at everything, eventually striking out. Danny Valencia put good wood on the ball but hit it right to Cody Ross in left field. And Luke Hughes grounded into what should have been a routine groundout, but wasn't. Pablo Sandoval figured Cuddyer was too far off second base, and instead of just making the throw and ending the game risked the last out by chasing Cuddyer. Sandoval dove at the last possible moment, and swiped Cuddyer from behind.

Game over.

San Francisco has some sick pitching, and we witnessed one of the best pitchers in the game at his best, which is great but I'm glad to see the back of him. Hopefully the Twins can get back to their winning ways against the Brewers this weekend.

Notes

  • The out to end the game really wasn't a baserunning mistake by Cuddyer, even though it was his second out on the bases in the game. He distracted Sandoval, who just should have made the easy out at first, and nearly got away from him. Cuddyer's only mistake is not getting away from one of the most rotund players in baseball.
  • Sandoval also has a message for all the kids out there: the NFL isn't the only sport where you can be obese and still compete!
  • Six of Lincecum's 12 strikeouts came on that nasty slider, and just one on his fantastic changeup.
  • It should be mentioned that Brian Duensing was good today, as the 2nd, 5th and 7th innings could have been a lot worse than they were.
  • Speaking of the seventh, the first out came with runners and first and third. Chris Stewart put down a terrible bunt, Duensing fielded it cleanly and made a good low throw to Rene Rivera to apply the tag on Emmanuel Burriss. Replays showed Burriss was safe, but at that time I was taking any and all Twins bounces. It was also a good play by Duensing and Rivera.
  • The second out came a play later, when Alexi Casilla was playing in as the Twins weren't conceding runs in a contest like this. Nate Schierholtz grounded to Casilla's right, and Alexi laid out for a great stop and throwing onto first for the second out.
  • Alex Burnett recorded the big final out of the seventh inning with runners on second and third.
  • Young had two plate appearances today where he saw just one pitch. In four plate appearances today he saw just 11 pitches.
  • I once advocated the Twins signing Bill Hall as infield depth. I'm glad they didn't.

Studs

Brian Duensing: Very solid game. He just ran up against Tim Lincecum being Tim Lincecum.
Michael Cuddyer: Three hits including a pair of doubles, and after Casilla lost a popup in the sun down the right field line he nearly threw out the runner anyway.
Alex Burnett: Big out in the seventh.
Luke Hughes: This is simply for his at-bat against Brian Wilson in the top of the ninth with Cuddyer on second and two out. Valencia made good contact but Young looked so overmatched it was ridiculous. In a potential game-changing situation Hughes kept his head, took a few pitches, and gave himself a chance.

Duds

Delmon Young: Seriously a bad day. I'm a big of a defender of Delmon as you'll find but today was rough. Just like his catch that ended the seventh inning. Wow that was awkward.
Glen Perkins: Didn't pitch terribly and rebounded well, but those back-to-back hits to kick off the bottom of the eighth were the back breaker today.