2009 Twins Score Four in Eighth Inning to Win a Wild Game 7
The 1987 Twins had a two run lead heading into the eighth inning, thanks in part to Roy Smalley’s three-run home run. The hope for Tom Kelly was that Keith Atherton could pitch a scoreless eighth paving the way for Jeff Reardon in the ninth. Those plans never came to fruition.
While Atherton had recorded three outs by facing two batters in the previous inning, he was greeted in the eighth with back-to-back home runs by Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer (the second of the game for the right fielder) that tied the game at 7-7.
After retiring the next two batters he faced, Atherton issued a walk to pinch-hitter Jose Morales. Kelly went to Reardon to try and maintain the tie. Nick Punto greeted the closer with a single to short left field. Reardon then made a pitch to Span that should have ended the inning. A routine grounder to one of the most reliable shortstops in baseball is converted to an out 99 out of 100 times or more, but this time Greg Gagne fumbled the ball and everyone was safe.
With the bases loaded, Ron Gardenhire went to the bench to look for the hero of the tie-breaker game against the 2009 Tigers: Alexi Casilla. With the bases loaded and two outs, Casilla came through again with a bleeder up the middle that scored two runs and put the 2009 Twins ahead, 9-7.
Joe Nathan worked around a couple of ninth inning hits to close the door and earn his fourth save of the series. After the 1987 Twins took the lead, Matt Guerrier settled things down with two scoreless innings of work. For his effort he earned the win.
Kirby Puckett was named the series MVP, batting .467/.467/.553 with six runs scored a three RBI in his team’s losing effort.
Box and PBP Below the Fold
Read the rest of this entry »