THAT’S How Ya Do It!

After attending the debacle Friday night and then reading that Francisco Liriano had been scratched from his Saturday start in favor of Anthony Swarzak, who would be facing off with Jared Weaver, I can’t say I was optimistic about the possibility of witnessing a Twins win Saturday night.

Silly me.

OF COURSE this would be the circumstance under which the wins would put things together to pull out a W!

There was a great crowd on hand, reminding me a bit of the enthusiasm I felt during so many games last season. I think we all knew that the Twins were likely to have trouble scoring much off of Weaver, who’s had a pretty strong year, thus far. But Swarzak was every bit Weaver’s equal as the two pitchers matched one another almost pitch for pitch from one inning to the next.

Toward the 7th inning, Swarzak gave up a couple of pretty deep, well hit balls that found the gloves of Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young. In fact, the defense tonight was very solid all night long. It hasn’t been often that we’ve been able to say that this year.

With one out in the 8th inning Peter Bourjos laced a line drive down the left field line for a double to ruin Swarzak’s no-hitter bid and the crowd immediately rose to give the young pitcher a huge standing ovation. As we sat down, the three 20-something women sitting to my left asked me why everyone had been cheering… they had no idea Swarzak had a no-hitter going. I’m not sure they even knew what a no-hitter was, to be honest. Ah well.

The guy to my right almost flipped out when Matt Capps entered the game to start the 9th inning on the mound for the Twins… but he stood and gave Capps an ovation with the rest of us after his hitless inning. Alex Burnett followed with a clean inning of relief, himself. (Where have THESE versions of those two pitchers been lately… and can we keep them a while?)

And then it was the bottom of the 10th. Lefty reliever Hisanori Takahashi took over for Weaver and struck Jason Kubel out looking before giving up a solid line drive single to Justin Morneau. Jason Repko ran for Morneau and righty Kevin Jepson took the mound for the Angels. Michael Cuddyer grounded a single past the SS in to left field and Delmon Young lined a single to center field. Unfortunately, Repko couldn’t get a jump on that single because there was a real chance it could have been snagged by the shortstop (I thought he was going to catch it from where I sat).

A lot of people around me were upset that Repko didn’t score, but to be honest, he HAD to make sure that ball got through. The LAST thing you want is to have him get doubled off 2B to end that inning. He still got to 3B and the bases were loaded with just one out and Danny Valencia at the plate.

The Angels used five infielders, all playing in on the grass, and just two outfielders, but it didn’t matter. Valencia lifted a fly ball to RF and right off the bat, everyone knew it was deep enough to score Repko from 3B. Torii Hunter jogged back a bit but he knew it didn’t matter whether he got to it or not and it landed well beyond Hunter. Game over.

The Twins celebrated on the field and you could just tell this was a win that made everyone feel good… players and fans alike.

I didn’t take as many pictures this trip as I usually do at games and many I did take are far from high quality, but I thought I would post a few anyway… hope you enjoy!

– JC

Pregame fraternization between Torii, Denard and Cuddy, as well as Justin and Russell Branyan
TC Bear fires tshirts in to the crowd
Anthony Swarzak was very, very good
Jared Weaver was also very, very good
Torii Hunter went hitless... but looked good doing it
An appreciative crowd gives Swarzak a standing ovation after he gives up the first Angels hit in the 8th inning
The Angels play a 5 man infield when the Twins loaded the bases in the 10th
Danny Valencia strokes a deep fly ball to right field...
... and the Twins celebrate a much-needed win!

4 Replies to “THAT’S How Ya Do It!”

  1. Glad you got to see that!

    It’s interesting seeing a picture of Torri and Denard standing next to each other. Who looks like the man and who looks like the young-pup now? Denard has really filled out, got his man body.

    TC brought the kiddo’s. How sweet. 🙂

    Does the 5-man infield EVER actually work in baseball? I don’t get it.

    After seeing the video of the DY hit I don’t see how, even with a good jump, that any runner would have been sent home from second. It was barely beyond the infield grass. Imagine the displeasure if said runner was gunned down at home plate.

    Extra infield practice is good, verra verra good 🙂

  2. I think the 5 man infield makes some sense in that situation, assuming the two OFs you have out there have enough wheels to get to any shallow fly ball. Your only hope for survival is to get a very shallow fly ball, a strike out, or a ground ball. If it’s a K, it doesn’t matter where your fielders are, but if it’s a ground ball you want as few holes as possible. Since you’re going to play the infield in, having the 5th infielder isn’t a bad idea.

    What made it curious, to me, is that the Angels did that with one out. With nobody out, it makes perfect sense… you HAVE to get that lead runner at home. But the Twins had 1 out so the middle infield could have turned a DP.

    With Bourjos and Hunter in the OF, they had plenty of speed to get to any shallow fly ball anyway, so it wasn’t a bad decision. Valencia just made the issue moot by getting a ball deep enough that it didn’t matter.

  3. I do understand the concept. My question is, have you ever seen it work at the major league level? I’ve seen it work out for the fielding team in little league and softball, but never at this level.

  4. I haven’t seen a ground ball fielded by the middle infielder, but I’ve seen ground balls to other fielders when 5 infielders are deployed. Theoretically, those infielders were positioned a few steps to the left or right of where they would have been without the middle infielder there, so those ground balls might have gotten through the hole if the 5th infielder hadn’t been there.