This is it. This is the final game of the series. After that marathon pitching battle last night, I would really like to come out and play well today. Mauer tried throwing this morning and the shoulder is still sore so he’s not ready to catch yet. Butera will be going for the 5th day in a row. My hope is that Slowey will continue his good pitching and not shake off Butera either. He has to let his pitcher run the call and not let himself get tied up in his own head. Win TWINS!!!
|Repko, CF||Rodriguez, S, 2B|
|Casilla, A, 2B||Crawford, LF|
|Mauer, DH||Longoria, 3B|
|Young, D, LF||Aybar, W, DH|
|Kubel, RF||Joyce, RF|
|Cuddyer, 1B||Johnson, D, 1B|
|Valencia, 3B||Upton, B, CF|
|Hardy, SS||Brignac, R, SS|
|Butera, C||Shoppach, C|
|Slowey, P||Davis, W, P|
*dies laughing* No, really, I’m still laughing. What an utterly ridiculous series of events! For those who couldn’t see the game because they are gainfully employed, this is going to be hard to convey and the boxscore simply does not do it justice.
To start with, Kevin Slowey was amazing. He pitched a BEAUTIFUL game (very similar to Bakers but even faster). He really had the Rays lineup off-balance in ways that were obviously frustrating them – poor Kelly Shoppach tried to break his bat over his knee after one particular strike out. He got ALMOST all the way through the 8th inning before he started to struggle a bit – kind of wish he’d stayed out there because he couldn’t have done any WORSE than the relief pitching that came out. Our bullpen was taxed and tired after the last three games so it was wonderful that Slowey did what he did.
The Twins offense got to Davis early and hard getting 4 runs in the first inning and sending all 9 hitters to the plate. In the following innings, Davis managed to refocus but we still tagged the Rays with another couple runs and kept the shutout going until the 8th inning. That was assisted hugely by some GREAT defensive plays that contrasted greatly with the defensive miscues from yesterday. But defense and pitching kept the Rays frustrated for a good portion of the game… and then came the 8th inning.
Slowey didn’t seem to be working as successfully with the strike zone and started letting men on base after he gave up a solo HR. Jesse Crain was brought in and he couldn’t get an out to save his life and by the time he walked in an additional run to make the score 6-2, he was pulled and Mahay came in. Um… yeah, ouch. Mahay ended up giving up a grand slam to Bartlett who came in as a pinch hitter and tied the game. All of Twins fandom felt their hearts crack as yet another stellar starting pitching outting ended in a no decision. (We really have to do better to support our starters wehn they do so well guys!) Matt Capps came in and FINALLY got the last out. That left one inning left to try to take the game back even if it was too late for Kev.
Twins hitters once again managed to make something happen to get on base even without Mauer who was walked intentionally twice. The truly entertaining part was Kubel coming up with runners on the corners and 2 outs. He REALLY wanted to hit that long HR and be the hero… well, he hit it hard, that’s for sure – straight up. The ball ended up bouncing off of the inner-most metal catwalk and bouncing back down into the infield in what was the luckiest play to go the Twins way in a long time. The Rays infield simply had no way to play the ball as it ricocheted back down to almost the pitchers mound. There was a lot of dropped jaws on the faces of players from both teams and much broadcaster reading of the rules so that fans knew what the heck counted as what. But EVERYONE knew that was just a lucky bounce that went our way irregardless of what it bounced off of. So Kubel ended up getting us that winning RBI off a hard hit single into the sky. For that, he and JJ Hardy and Jason Repko all get pastries for timely hitting.
However, the two highlights of today won’t really show up in the final stats. The first was that no decision of Kev Slowey’s which was a beautifully pitched gem and the other was some consistently miraculous fielding from Alexi Casilla including the final out that didn’t even look humanly possible. Especially since their accomplishments seem to lose impact in the final stats, the Chat voted them CO-BOD’s today. Thanks you so much for your hard work and excellent comebacks from two players who have known what it is to struggle.