Opponent: Tampa Bay Rays
Starting Pitcher: Slowey
Final Score: W 8-6
Recap: Guess what? I'm alive! And I'm back for good for the rest of the season. Well, assuming I can keep my internet working. Anyway, it seems like a good game to get restarted on. That was completely bizarre. And kind of awesome. I mean, how unpredictable was that game? Jason Bartlett has a pinch-hit grand slam? Jason Kubel drives in the winning run on a pop-up? The bullpen implodes to ruin a good start? Okay, so maybe that last one wasn't so unpredictable, but still.
I have to say, when we lost those first two games in Tampa after steamrolling through the basement dwellers, I thought it was just another example of our inability to compete with the AL East. But they were close games, and we bounced back to at least split the series, so I feel good about that. The game started off really well, with the Twins exploding for 4 runs in the 1st inning thanks to back-to-back-to-back doubles by Casilla, Mauer and Young, plus a couple of singles. Slowey was fantastic for the first 7 innings. He was working quickly and had great control.
The Twins had a comfortable (Ha!) 6-run lead going into the bottom of the 8th. And then B.J. Upton homered to lead off the inning. Just 1 run, right? A blip on the radar, no big deal. But after a strikeout, Slowey hit Kelly Shoppach. Sean Rodriguez followed with a single. Carl Crawford grounded out and advanced the runners. At this point I was feeling nervous, but we only needed 1 out to escape the inning with a 5-run lead. Slowey walked the next batter, and Gardy had seen enough. Enter the Crain. The bases were loaded, he faced Willy Aybar. Aybar worked the count full, and then took a very close pitch for ball four. I'm fairly certain it was a strike, but whatever. A run walked in, and the tying run came to the plate. At this point, I was expecting something horrible to happen. Of course it did.
The Twins pulled Crain in favor of Mahay. Bad sign #1. Jason Bartlett, former Twin, was brought in to pitch. Bad sign #2. I wasn't drinking. Bad sign #3. On a 1-0 pitch, Jason Pear crushed a pitch to left. It was his first career grand slam, and only his third homer of the season. Come on, where's the love for your former team? You couldn't have grounded out to short? At this point I was braced for a loss. Yet the crazy bottom of the 8th gave way to an even crazier top of the 9th.
Jason Repko lined a pitch to left to lead off the inning. Crawford cut off the ball quickly and I thought Repko might be thrown out at 2nd, but he is speedy-quick and didn't hesitate rounding 1st. So with a runner on 2nd and no outs, everyone thought Casilla would be asked to bunt. But no. Casilla eventually grounded out and advanced the runner anyway. Mauer was intentionally walked to bring Skinny Delmon to the plate. He hit a ball on one hop to the shortstop, who threw to 2nd to force Mauer. Skinny Delmon hustled down the line to avoid a double play and keep the inning alive. It ended up being a huge play as it gave Kubel a chance.
Kubel was the batter. He hit a towering pop-up, and I started yelling at the TV. The Rays had a shift on for Kubel, and all of the sudden you could see from the way the shortstop was moving on the right side of the infield that something was wrong. The ball had hit one of the Tropicana Field catwalks, and it dropped back down in front of Bartlett for a truly strange single. Repko apparently had no idea what had happened until he got into the dugout. Skinny Delmon made it to 3rd on the play, and the Twins added on a run later in the inning. Was it fair? Well, those are the ground rules of the field. Is it kind of a cheap way to win a ball game? Maybe, but things like this happen in baseball. A win is a win, so I'll take it. And it's not like the Rays were guaranteed to win if the ball had been caught. The Twins may have seen the last of the Metrodome, but it doesn't mean they can't still have a little dome magic.
Interestingly, there has only been 1 other ball that hit that particular catwalk, the highest in Tropicana Field. Remember this play? Still hilarious, even after a year. Speaking of catwalks, I would pay good money to see Kubel as a model. I should also probably mention the two great defensive plays by Casilla. He's certainly trying to show that last year was a fluke. The Twins now get to face some Central opponents, starting with the Indians. We're still a game and a half back of the White Sox, and we start a series against them on Tuesday.
Best Moment: Kubel's pop-up RBI single.
Most Questionable Moment: Jon Rauch has hand, foot and mouth disease? Question mark?
Worst Moment: Jason Bartlett's grand slam.
Quotations of the Day:
- "It was awesome. I was on third base, came in and touched home. I looked back, and I saw Bartlett sprinting in, and I didn't know what was going on. Everybody told me it hit the rafters when I got in. That's a part of this field." - Jason Repko. Wow, he sounds positively gleeful. Do I detect a mean streak there? I like that in a man...
- ""I know it works both ways, but to lose a game in a pennant situation like that, because of a roof, truly indicates why there's a crying need for a new ballpark in this area, regardless of where they put it." - Joe Maddon
- "We've lost ballgames here just the same way, so back at you." - Ron Gardenhire
- "I got around 1st base and looked at Bartlett and Reid Brignac. They were running in, and I was like, 'What the heck?' I didn't realize until it finally bounced." - Jason Kubel
Suck-Ass Performance of the Game: Ron Mahay (0.0 innings pitched, 1 hit, 1 home run, 1 earned run, 3 inherited runners scored, 1 blown save)
And just because I can't skip this, here are the SAPotG for the games I missed:
Game #103- Jason Kubel (0-4, 1 K, 2 LOB)
Game #104- Denard Span (0-4, 2 LOB)
Game #105- J.J. Hardy (0-3, 3 LOB, 1 E)
Game #106- Jim Thome (0-4, 3 K, 3 LOB)
Game #107- Delmon Young (0-5, 7 LOB) and Matt Guerrier (0.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 HR, 3 ER, 1 L)
Game #108- Michael Cuddyer (0-6, 2 K, 6 LOB)