Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Sudden Death: Twins 6, Tigers 5, (12 Innings)
Bottom 3rd: With men on the corners and two out, Rick Porcello threw a pickoff toss away, but it hit first base coach Jerry White, bouncing back in the general direction of Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera. That scored an unearned run to move the score to 3-1 Tigers. Porcello then walked Joe Mauer, but struck out Jason Kubel to end the frame.
Top 4th: Baker's having a rough game, giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Raburn, and using up 61 pitches to this point; he only had a single 1-2-3 inning, the first. Ron Gardenhire had Ron Keppel warming up in the bullpen already. Baker finally got out of the inning without damage by inducing a 5-4-3 double play from catcher Gerald Laird. Keppel starts getting wild with Laird at the plate, and goes 3-1 to the Tigers catcher, who fouls the next pitch off — and strikes him out on ball four to end the frame.
Top 5th: Baker gave up a two-out single off the end of Placido Polanco, and found himself once again facing Magglio Ordonez, who hurt him in the third. This time, Ordonez bounced out to short to keep the game at 3-1 Tigers.
Top 6th: Baker finally has a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, setting down the 4-5-6 batters in order. He's only used 84 pitches, and while he's down by two runs, it's not too late for the Twinks to come back. They'll send their 2-3-4 batters to the plate in the bottom of the frame.
Bottom 6th: After getting Orlando Cabrera to fly out and Joe Mauer to strike out swinging, Rick Porcello finally gives up a run on a solo upper-deck blast to Kubel, making it 3-2 Tigers. That brings up the dangerous Michael Cuddyer, who walked after an eight-pitch at-bat. That brings out Jim Leyland with the hook for Porcello. Zach Miner in relief then gave up a first-pitch bloop single to Delmon Young. Gardenhire sent Brendan Harris to pinch hit, and Miner immediately hit him in the elbow, loading the bases for .231-hitting Matt Tolbert. Tolbert flies out on a 2-1 pitch, leaving the bases loaded.
Top 7th: Scott Baker walks Brandon Inge after a seven-pitch at-bat, and that's all from him today. Jon Rauch comes out to face Gerald Laird, and got him to pop out to first. Though Jose Mijares gave up a two-out single, the Twins use two more relievers (Mijares and Matt Guerrier) to hold off the Tigers attack for another inning.
Bottom 7th: Orlando Cabrera sneaks a homer over the left field wall to drive in Nick Punto to make it 4-3 Twins, Minnesota's first lead of the game. Fu-Te Ne and Brandon Lyon finish the frame, but the damage is done, and the Tigers have six outs to reclaim the lead or at least force extras.
Top 8th: Ordonez wastes no time, crushing a 1-0 pitch off Matt Guerrier over the left field fence to tie the game 4-4. Guerrier gets Miguel Cabrera to ground out to third, but walks Carlos Guillen and Ryan Rayburn. That's it for Guerrier, and Gardenhire brings in closer Joe Nathan with men on first and second and only one out. Nathan then gets Inge (pop out on ball 3) and Laird (strikeout swinging) to end the frame without further damage.
Bottom 9th: After Nathan survives a scary top of the frame (ending in a 6-3 lineout double play on Magglio Ordonez), Nick Punto walks to lead off the frame, and Denard Span drops a sac bunt to move him over. Tigers closer Fernando Rodney comes in, and gets Orlando Cabrera on a 5-3 hot smash groundout. He intentionally walks Mauer to get to center fielder Carlos Gomez (who pinch-hit for Justin Kubel in the eighth), and then Gomez bounces out to short. We're headed for extras in Minnesota; the Metrodome refuses to die!
Top 10th: With one out, Jesse Crain plunks Aubrey Huff on the foot. Crain then retires Ryan Raburn on a swinging strikeout, but Inge doubles down the left field line, and Huff scores from first despite a 7-6-2 attempt at the plate; Huff breaks through Mauer's block of the plate to score, making it 5-4 Tigers. Gerald Laird then bounces out 4-3, but the damage is done.
Bottom 10th: Rodney is pitching from the stretch even with the bases empty, and then Raburn loses Cuddyer's ball in the Metrodome lights, and Cuddyer turns a fly out or a double into a leadoff triple. Delmon Young bounces out to short, and Cuddyer holds his ground. One out.
Rodney then walked Brendan Harris on five pitches, and .228-hitting Tolbert knocks in the tying run to make it 5-5 on a single up the middle. Alexi Casilla, running for Harris, goes first to third, and now the Twins have men on the corners with Nick Punto at the plate. Punto then flies out to left, and Raburn throws a bullet to the plate, cutting down Casilla and forcing yet another frame. Wow.
Bottom 11th: Orlando Cabrera barks at home plate umpire Randy Marsh on a called first strike from Rodney; he eventually strikes out anyway, but that's the extent of the fireworks in this inning, as Joe Mauer grounds out harmlessly to second to end the frame.
Top 12th: Bobby Keppel loads up the bases with one out after walking Cabrera, giving up a bloop double to Don Kelly (who entered the game as a pinch-runner in the 10th for Aubrey Huff), and an intentional pass to Raburn. Inge bounces into a 4-2 fielder's choice at the plate, and there's two out with a slow Miguel Cabrera getting gunned down on the force. Keppel goes 3-2 on Laird, and then gets him to strike out on ball four to end the frame.
Bottom 12th: Rodney gets in trouble immediately by giving up a leadoff single to Carlos Gomez, with Mauer bouncing out to second to move him over to second. After missing twice in the strike zone, Rodney hands Delmon Young an intentional pass, and Alexi Casilla, the ex-Angel, squirts a seeing-eye single through the right side to push across the winning run to make it 6-5 Twins, who finish with only their second lead of the night, but the last one. Congratulations to the Twins, who will barely have time to wipe the champagne out of their eyes before getting on the plane to New York.
And that doesn't begin to address what he did for the team after he was traded. He hit .311 post-ASB, and .526 in the final week of the stretch-run. By most accounts he was the spiritual leader of the team in the final months, which is not a small thing, given resurgences like that of the Twins this season are largely built on momentum and emotional psychology.