Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Nothing To Write Home About

I said earlier today that I wouldn't post about tonight's game if the Twins lost 3-2 again. Going into the bottom of the 9th, the Twins were down 3-2 with one of the more menacing closers in the game stepping on to the hill in the form of BJ Ryan. I figured my laptop was going to go untouched tonight. Instead, the Orioles imploded and allowed the Twins to squeak by 4-3 in what can only be called a very unimpressive victory.

For those who missed it, let me break down the Twins' very fortunate series of events in that ninth inning. After each Orioles mistake, I will put a number so we can keep track of just how badly they screwed up.

It started out with Ryan getting Luis Rodriguez (who hit leadoff tonight and didn't do too bad, going hitless but drawing 2 walks) to ground out to short. This brought up Joe Mauer with one out and nobody on. He managed to draw a walk (1). Next up, Shannon Stewart. Stew struck out swinging to top off an 0/5 night, and on the third strike Mauer was on his way to second. The throw sailed past Brian Roberts and into center field, allowing Mauer to go to third (2). Still, even with a runner on third, the Twins' prospects were grim, as Matt LeCroy - a guy who has recorded the last out with runners in scoring position on multiple occasions this season - was stepping with the Twinkies down to their final out. Then pitcher Ryan did just about the worst thing he could do in that particular situation, deliver a wild pitch (3). Backup catcher Eli Whiteside raced back for the ball and seemed to deliver it in time for Ryan to apply the tag to Mauer at the plate, but Ryan was unable to reach the ball and it sailed past him as Joe slid in safely with the tying run (4). Then, instead of inducing the typical Fatty groundout or strikeout, they walked him to bring up the more-dangerous Torii Hunter (5). Hunter delivered with a clutch single to right field, that moved pinch-runner Mike Ryan to third base, putting the winning run 90 feet away from home. Hunter moved up to second by defensive indifference (although he did get 2 credited stolen bases in the game, increasing his season total to 21), and up came Jacque Jones who was 1/3 on the night with a double and a walk. Jones hit a slow bouncer up the middle, and it looked as if Miguel Tejada would scoop it out and throw Jones out at first to send the game to extra innings. Instead, the ball was in the dirt and Jones was safe at first on a play (6) that was not ruled an error, but certainly seemed makable, especially for a guy like Tejada.

So there you have it. By virtue of no less than SIX ugly miscues in one inning by the Orioles, the Twins were able to collect an increasingly rare victory. Good luck doing that on a regular basis.