Opponent: Texas Rangers
Starting Pitcher: Blackburn and PavanoI
Final Score: L 4-0 and L 4-3
Recap: Seriously? I drive all the way to Texas, roast out in sweltering 100+ degree weather, sit by ignorant baseball-hating fans, and get attacked by giant, mutant, dive-bombing grasshoppers, and this is what I get?Two crappy, mistake-filled games with terrible situational hitting (and terrible hitting in general in the first game)? Gee, thanks. Actually, the only thing that really bothered me was the insects. I'm terrified of bugs and these things were giant and kept falling out of the sky like creepy invertebrate parachuters (speaking of parachuters, did anyone see the guy get stuck on the flagpole?).
To be honest, I really am enjoying myself here, but I would be enjoying myself a lot more if the Twins would actually win. The first game was the worst, with the Twins very nearly getting no-hit. It was eerily reminiscent of the recent game with Slowey's no-hit 7 innings, with Rich Harden going 6.2 hitless innings before being pulled due to a high pitch count. Ron Washington got booed for pulling him from the game, just as Ron Gardenhire was booed for pulling Slowey. Of course the Rangers bullpen kept the no-hitter into the 9th inning. Mauer finally singled in the 9th, giving the Twins fans their first reason to cheer for the whole night.
It was kind of interesting because Harden really seemed to be laboring the whole game. He was having trouble throwing strikes, and issued 5 walks. I kept thinking that we would be able to take advantage of that, but no such luck. We did manage to ground into 2 double plays though; yay us. I think what irritated me more than having only 1 hit in the game was that we really could have prevented most of the runs. In the 1st inning, with 2 outs, Josh Hamilton hit a ground ball to Hudson. He was playing too deep and couldn't make the play. Then the next batter hit a ground ball to short which Hardy stopped but couldn't make a play on. David Murphy stepped to the plate with runners on 1st and 2nd and hit a deep fly ball to center. Span got to the ball but couldn't quite catch it (it seems like that happens a lot), and it ended up a 2-run triple. So there were 2 preventable runs.
Then in the 5th inning, runners were on the corner with 1 out, and Michael Young hit a ground ball right to J.J. Hardy who stepped on the bag and threw to 1st. It was a low throw and Cuddyer couldn't pick it. And there was a third run that could have been prevented. I just feel bad for Blackburn, because all of those runs were earned for him. He was actually pitching really well. Most of the hits he gave up were hit weakly, and many were ground balls that were just hit to the right spots. So the Twins put up a fairly pathetic showing in the first game with only 1 measly single. I did get overhear some interesting tidbits from the woman behind me who had apparently never been to a baseball game. First she insisted every sport was better than baseball, and suggested that the best part of a baseball game was watching the radar gun. She later said she thought the Twins uniforms were "sassy". And finally, proving her intellect was about as sharp as a baseball, she asked if the big 3 to 0 on the board was the score.
Tonight's game was also frustrating though. Again we had some preventable runs, but we also had a questionable call to go along with it. Not to mention lots of missed opportunities. The game at least started well (and immediately gave the Twins more hits than the prior game), with singles from Hudson and Mauer and a 2-run double hit by Cuddyer. But after that the bats were pretty quiet, while the Rangers took the lead in the 4th. They had scored 1 run in the 3rd, and then Hamilton homered to lead off the inning. With 2 outs in the inning, Bengie Molina hit a deep fly ball to right. In a typical Twins outfield miscommunication, Kubel waved off Span but then chickened out and pulled up. The ball dropped in and Molina made it to 2nd. Our outfielders are treacherous. Span stared down Kubel for a good 15 seconds after that one. Molina later scored (chalk that run up as preventable) to give the Rangers a 1-run lead.
In the 7th we finally got something going after Skinny Delmon and Valencia singled to start the inning. Casilla followed with a double off the wall in right to score Delmon and send Valencia to 3rd. Runners on 2nd and 3rd, no outs, and of course we managed not to score any more runs. Drew Butera lined out for the first out. Then Denard Span hit into a fielder's choice, with the 1st baseman throwing home to get Valencia at the plate. Unfortunately for us, it looked like he slid under the tag, but the umpire didn't see it that way. He sure looked safe to me from my vantage point, although I didn't see it in slo-mo on TV. That call really hurt us. The Rangers scored a run in the bottom of the 7th, and that ended up being the winning run.
Yes, I'm a little irritated, especially at today's game because we really should have won (or at least taken the game into extra innings). Now it's up to Duensing to at least give us a chance to split the series. I hope they win tomorrow, if only because it will prove I'm not bringing bad luck with me to the ball park. I'm feeling a bit cursed right now.
Best Moment: In the first game, Mauer's single to break up the no-hitter. In the second game, scoring in the 1st inning to immediately make the second game of the series superior to the first game (at least in regard to offense).
Most Questionable Moment: Can I just say that I find the Rangers' horse mascot Rangers Captain extremely disturbing and creepy? But as for questionable moments, I definitely have to go with pinch-hitting Matt Tolbert for Butera. I felt some momentary flashes of hope in the 9th inning when Thome was hit by a pitch and gave us a base-runner, but then I saw Matt Tolbert trot out to home plate and it was like I was a balloon that had been popped with a pin. I can't think of anything that fills me with less confidence than Tolbert being our offensive threat off the bench. Sure he was hitting for Butera, who is essentially a pitcher, but this is Matt Tolbert we're talking about here. The same Matt Tolbert batting .215 with 8 RBIs and 2 extra-base hits on the year. I'd just as soon have seen Big Fella at the plate. At least that would have been good for a laugh. In a related note, while I can appreciate that Butera is Pavano's personal catcher, I think an exception might have been nice today, what with Thome being 4 for 6 or something off Lewis. And let's face it, the Butera catching for Pavano thing is really what led to the unfortunate pinch-hitting appearance of Matt Tolbert.
Worst Moment: All the stupid defensive mistakes that cost our pitchers runs. And the strange, annoying Rangers fan who sat all by himself in his section and tried to encourage his team by yelling through a megaphone and doing a bizarre marching dance.
Quotations of the Day:
- "We didn't make a play. That was disappointing because it cost us two runs early, and Blackie threw too well for that." - Ron Gardenhire
- "In my opinion, they shouldn't have had any runs." - Ron Gardenhire, after Monday's game, although he also could have been referring to Tuesday's game.
- "We're just trying to get some runs. We had some opportunities where Harden walked a couple guys, and we just couldn't get that hit to get a couple runs across the board. But you definitely don't want to get no-hit." - Joe Mauer
- "I called for it and then I stopped. I just got scared or something, I don't know." - Jason Kubel. Well that clarifies things.
- "We missed a play out in the outfield, and it ended up costing us again. That's the difference in the ballgame. You can't keep shooting yourself in the foot." - Ron Gardenhire
Suck-Ass Performance of the Game: Jason Kubel (0 for 4, 3 strikeouts, 4 left on base) and Jason Kubel (0 for 4, 1 strikeout, 4 left on bas). A bit of a rough series so far for Kubel, eh?