As reigning MVP Justin Morneau watched a Joe Borowski fastball sail over the outside corner of the plate for a called third strike with two outs and the tying run on second base in the ninth inning of last night's game, the Twins watched any realistic hopes of getting back into the postseason race sail away.
La Velle E. Neal III wrote on his blog before the game yesterday that Ron Gardenhire was counting on Boof Bonser to step up and pitch deep into the game, giving some rest to the Twins' worn-down bullpen. Bonser did give the Twins seven innings, and he made it a Quality Start by allowing just three earned runs, but he gave up two big home runs. The struggles of Carmen Cali and Pat Neshek in the eighth inning pushed the Indians' lead from one to three, which turned out to be pretty huge when the Twins scored a couple runs in the ninth inning.
It wouldn't have taken a ninth-inning comeback effort if the Twins' offense had been able to capitalize in the earlier innings. Against Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook, the Twins racked up 10 hits and two walks, but managed to convert all those baserunners into just three runs. The Twins stranded eight baserunners and lost by one. That hurts.
In the grand scheme of things, though, the Twins did not deserve to win the game. And they don't deserve to make the playoffs -- they just aren't good enough. We keep holding out hope for another miraculous comeback, but at some point we have to come to terms with the fact that this Twins team is not good enough to put together a big winning streak. It's great that they can beat the crap out of the hapless Orioles, but when they come up against a good team in a must-win situation, they fold under the pressure. That has pretty much been their M.O. all season.