- Twins survive ninth-inning nightmare to beat Oakland 10-5
This game was much, much closer than the final score would indicate. The Twins had a 10-0 lead going into the ninth. Scott Baker had pitched brilliantly, holding the A’s two just two hits in eight innings, and since he’d thrown only 96 pitches, was going for a complete game. And that’s when things got a lot more interesting than they really needed to be. Baker was obviously gassed, and loaded up the bases without recording an out (although he didn’t get any help from Alexi Casilla, more on that in a minute). Jesse Crain was brought in to relieve Scotty, but ran into trouble of his own. After Alexi Casilla again failed to field a routine ground ball that allowed a pair of runs to score, Crain had trouble finding the strike zone. He walked Jack Cust with the bases loaded, and was yanked in favor of Jose Mijares. Mijares struck out Jason Giambi, but then suffered some control issues of his own. He walked the next two batters and forced in a pair of runs. With the score now 10-5, and the bases loaded with only one out, Joe Nathan was brought in to complete what had suddenly become a save situation. He struck out Jack Hannahan and Rajai Davis to end the threat and pick up his 12th save of the year.
I’ll admit that I was nervous before Nathan came in. If there’s any team that can screw up a 10-0 lead in the ninth inning, it is the Twins. They’ve had such awful luck on the road this season and it really wouldn’t have surprised me if they ended up losing 11-10. Besides, it’s not like this kind of thing has never happened before.
The horrorshow that unfolded in the ninth overshadowed what had been a rare quality road win. Not only did Baker pitch a gem, but the bats sprang to life and gave him some much-needed run support. Delmon Young, who’s really been having a rough season both on and off the field, went 2-for-4 with a double (his first extra-base hit since April 22) and three RBI. Justin Morneau made me look silly for suggesting he might be in a slump, going 4-for-5 with a solo home run. Jason Kubel hit a three-run homer. Brendan Harris, who saw his career-high 12 game hitting streak come to an end on Monday night, went 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Even Carlos Gomez, who was put in the leadoff spot when Denard Span was forced to leave the game, came up with a big two-run double (though he also struck out twice). It’s a good thing too, because the Twins needed every single one of those runs to hold off the A’s and get the win.
- Bert Blyleven is an a**
OK, here comes a mini-rant. I’m not really a fan of the Twins’ broadcast team, but I don’t usually complain about them here because it’s a waste of time. The Twins aren’t going to fire Bert and Dick simply because I don’t like them, and rehashing ad nauseum all the dumb things they say is enough to give me a headache. And since most of my readers don’t have to listen to Dick and Bert, they’d probably have no idea what I’m talking about, anyway. But when Blyleven called out Scott Baker during the broadcast for failing to pitch a complete game, I felt I needed to make an exception. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but he made it sound like the ninth-inning collapse was all Scotty’s fault, and it wasn’t (Alexi Casilla had a lot to do with it, but I’ll get to that). Baker was on his game all night: he struck out eight batters, didn’t walk anyone, and allowed only one extra-base hit. He retired fourteen straight batters coming into the ninth inning, and considering how much Baker has struggled this season, his performance had already exceeded expectations. The complete game would simply have been icing on the cake. But Bert ripped into Scotty when he loaded the bases without recording an out (again, not really his fault), accusing him of lacking the mettle to pitch a complete game. Ridiculous. If Baker truly wasn’t interested in trying to finish the game, then what the hell was he doing out there in the first place? It was obvious that he was exhausted, and one would think that if Baker didn’t care about finishing the game himself, he would’ve simply told Gardy that he was done for the night. Scotty didn’t deserve the public tongue-lashing Bert doled out from the safety of the broadcast booth, not after pitching eight innings of two-hit ball. And it will never happen, but Bert owes Scotty an on-air apology. Maybe I should change the title of this blog to “Fire Bert Blyleven”.
Worse yet, there was little rage directed at the true goat of the game: Alexi Casilla. The second baseman booted a couple of routine ground balls, one of which might have been a double-play. If Alexi even made one of those plays, Baker likely would’ve escaped the ninth having pitched a three-hit, maybe one-run complete game. But because of Casilla’s incompetence, Baker had to settle for eight innings and three unearned earned runs. And the Twins had to use their closer to save what should have been a complete blowout (of course, Jesse Crain and Jose Mijares could’ve pitched better, too). Ugh, I never thought I’d be so happy to hear that Nick Punto is coming back soon. I will take a sub-.200 middle-infielder who can make routine plays over a sub-.200 middle-infielder who can’t any day.
Today is my 27th birthday, and man I feel like an old lady. Part of it is because I am sort of a non-traditional college student, so I go to school with a bunch of 18-year olds and they have a habit of making you feel old. I have also come to realize that pretty much the entire Twins team this year is younger than I am. I’m older than every single one of the starting pitchers, half of the infield, and most of the outfield, too. While this is good news for the team, it’s kind of bad for my ego.
Plus, I found some grey hairs not too long ago. As I have written elsewhere, it’s probably from being a Minnesota sports fan. Or it could be because everyone in my family has started to go grey before they turn thirty. Nah, it’s gotta be the sports thing.
Reflecting upon all of the stuff I am actually old enough to remember doesn’t really help matters much either. For example:
I am so old I can remember both of the Twins’ most recent World Series titles (although I just vaguely remember the ’87 Series). Good times.
I am so old I can remember the last time the Vikings were actually favored to win the Super Bowl. Losers.
I can also remember when basketball returned to Minnesota. People were really excited about it, too. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, anyway.
I am so old I can remember the Montreal Expos, Vancouver Grizzlies, Houston Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, and the first incarnation of the Cleveland Browns. I remember when the Rams were still in Los Angeles. I’m not quite old enough to remember the football Cardinals being in St. Louis, though, which makes me feel a little better.
I remember when they were still called the California Angels, and not the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or whatever it is they call themselves these days.
I remember when Florida didn’t have any baseball teams, let alone two. I remember that they kept threatening to steal ours, though.
I can remember a lot of important things, too. I remember when the Berlin Wall came down. I wasn’t really old enough at the time to grasp the historical significance of it, but I thought it was cool that people were smashing things on television. And I really liked David Hasselhoff’s leather jacket.
Yeah, I know. Don’t ask.
I kind of remember a time when the Soviet Union was our biggest enemy. I also remember when the Soviet government collapsed under its own weight. I remember that people were really scared, because everything was in such chaos and nobody knew what was going to happen. I also remember that the Soviet people felt this overwhelming sense of hope, that they could look forward to a future free from the tyranny of the Communist regime. Yeah, good luck with that.
I don’t want to sound too much like an old fart, but technology has really changed since I was a kid. Most people still didn’t have computers in their homes, even when I was in high school. They were just too expensive. Same thing with cell phones. They didn’t have all that fancy stuff like cameras, or email, either. I don’t even think you could download ringtones back then. I kind of miss those days.
I remember when I was in high school and my best friend and I used to spend hours listening to records. I used to make him listen to Mudhoney:
He used to make me listen to Big Black (Uhh, some of the language is NSFW):
We thought we were soooo cool because we liked music that nobody else we knew liked. Having indie cred was really important back then. If you weren’t the first person to discover a band, or at least a fan since the very beginning, then you were a poser (a front-runner, if you will). I’m not sure anyone really cares about that stuff anymore.
That was back when recording an album was actually kind of important. The internet has changed all of that. There’s no point in making a masterpiece like Let it Be anymore, when all people want to hear is “I Will Dare“. I remember when I was excited about the internet and how it was going to totally revolutionize the music industry. I grew up in a rural area, and it was really hard to find the music I liked. If MTV didn’t play it (yes, believe it or not there was a time when MTV actually showed music videos) then the big-box stores didn’t carry it, and you were out of luck. But the internet was going to change everything, it was going to be so much more democratic. The little bands were going to have just as much of a chance at being heard as the big bands. And that’s kind of true. But people have lost patience in the meantime, and now refuse to sit through an entire album when they really only want one song. Even if the entire album is actually worth listening to.
Ok, now I’m really depressed. I think I’ll go back to bed.