I viewed the first nine innings of Saturday’s game from the shade of section 313. It was a nice afternoon at the ballpark until that pesky ninth inning came along.
For the second straight game, the Twins jumped on the Brewers in the first inning. This time, however, Milwaukee’s pitcher (Yovani Gallardo) settled down and kept the game relatively close – at least close enough in the event the Twins’ bullpen went into full meltdown mode – as it eventually did.
So, it each run the Twins scored in the early innings ended up being necessary in the bottom of the ninth. The Twins entered down by one. Morneau doubled to start the inning. Cuddyer singled him to third. After Kubel struck out, Delmon Young hit a rocket over Jody Gerut’s head to tie the game.
Now, lets talk strategy. Second and third, one out. Gardy went to Thome with first base open. He had to know that meant intentional walk. What if you send Harris to the plate instead? The Brewers may A.) play it by the book and put Harris on, or (more likely) B.) pitch to Harris assuming that Thome would bat for Punto with the bases loaded. Either way you are unlikely to get Thome a meaningful at-bat, but you may be able to save him for later rather than wasting his one appearance.
I had to leave to get the baby after nine innings, so I heard the rest on the radio. The missed opportunities were frustrating, compounded by Gladden and Morris constantly (and wrongly) predicting outcomes. The game ended the correct way, but it should have been a lot easier.
WPA Stars of the Game
1. Justin Morneau
2. Alex Burnett
3. Michael Cuddyer
AL Central Standings (through Saturday)
1. Min 26-17, 217-174, –
2. Det 24-19, 193-191, 2.0
3. Chi 18-24, 177-192, 7.5
4. KC 18-26, 188-218, 8.5
5. Cle 15-26, 156-203, 10.0
I don’t know if there is anyone left to pitch for either team, but there will be a series finale on Sunday. Carl Pavano will go for the Twins, Marco Estrada is currently listed for the Brewers.