Opponent: Chicago White Sox
Starting Pitcher: Liriano
Final Score: W 9-3
Recap: Was that game the last nail in the coffin for the White Sox? Maybe not, but it's not looking too good for them. It sort of throws me off how good we are right now. I just expect that we will win, and we usually do. It definitely has lessened the excitement of the pennant race for me. Well, maybe excitement isn't the best word. I'm thrilled with how well we're doing. We have the third best record in baseball. I guess stress might be a better word. Last season every game was critical, and it's just not the same right now. Of course we could have an epic collapse and make things interesting, but it would take a pretty major meltdown to accomplish that, and I don't see that happening.
Anyway, that was a really great game. For us. Mauer got his 1,000 career hit, Skinny Delmon homered on his birthday, and Jesse Crain showed why he's the most reliable bullpen arm we have (I can't believe I just wrote that). It was a really close game for the majority of the time. It was scoreless into the 5th inning, when Delmon's solo homer put the first run on the board. It was his 99th RBI of the year on his 25th birthday. It seems like he should be older than 25. Thome smashed a ball almost out of the park, but a perfect play on the ricochet off the wall resulted in him being thrown out by a mile at 2nd. Hardy doubled later in the inning and scored on a hit by Span.
But the White Sox tied the game in the bottom of the inning, and then they took a 1-run lead in the next inning. It was short-lived as the Twins put up 2 runs in the top of the 7th. The bottom of the 7th is where things got tricky for the Twins. Matt Guerrier relieved Liriano, and he immediately gave up 2 singles. Gardy had seen enough and called for secret weapon Jesse Crain. The first batter Crain faced bunted the runners over to 2nd and 3rd. Then Rios drew a walk to load the bases for Paul Konerko. Konerko's been on an absolute tear, but he's struggled against Crain. Tonight was no different as he blew a fastball right by him for a strikeout. Manny Ramirez was up next, and he struck out as well for the third time in the game, leading to a round of boos from the crowd.
The 8th inning must have seemed like a nightmare for the White Sox. Their bullpen struggled to get outs, but the fatal blow came when Alex Rios misplayed a fly ball to center. The bases were loaded with 2 outs in the inning. It looked like a routine play, but Rios had a bad break on it and couldn't get back fast enough. He made a jumping lunge for the ball, but it bounced out of his glove. He made an attempt to catch the ball with his bare hand, but his juggling act didn't work and the ball dropped. Span cleared the bases and the stands as many fans made for the exits. The Twins put up 5 runs in the inning, and it effectively ended the game.
Span had 2 hits and 4 RBIs. Mauer had 3 hits, and Hardy had 2 doubles in the game. Crain, Fuentes, and Rauch each had a scoreless inning. Now tomorrow we can see if the White Sox are going to put up a fight or roll over and play dead.
Best Moment: Mauer's 1,000 hit. And Crain striking out 2 with the bases loaded.
Most Questionable Moment: Gardy pinch-running for Delmon Young. It didn't really matter, but I just didn't understand it that much.
Worst Moment: The White Sox taking the lead in the 6th. I actually had a moment of fear. Silly me.
Quotations of the Day:
- "To come in here and win this first game is huge. They wanted to sweep and if they did that, they would have been right back in the thick of things. It's still not over, but to come in here and take this game, I think mentally it's got to hurt them a little bit." - Jesse Crain
- "Today's over with. We did our job today and now we've got to come back tomorrow and try to do the same thing and hopefully kill their dreams." - Denard Span. Wow, how cutthroat.
Suck-Ass Performance of the Game: Orlando Hudson (0 for 5, 2 strikeouts, 3 left on base). And for the games I've missed:
Game #140: Matt Capps (1.0 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 walk, 2 earned runs)
Game #141: Michael Cuddyer (0 for 3, 1 GIDP, 1 left on base)
Game #142: Orlando Hudson (1 for 5, 2 GIDPs, 4 left on base)
Game #143: No one