Justin Morneau lifted the Twins to a walk-off victory last night when he hit a scalding liner at Akinori Iwamura that the Rays couldn't convert into a double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but it was a position that the Twins really never should have been in.
I say that not because it was unacceptable for Joe Nathan to surrender the game-tying home to Ben Zobrist in the top half of the ninth. Nathan's one of the best in the biz, but nobody's perfect and he's going to make the occasional mistake. The fact of the matter is that Nathan wouldn't have been protecting a one-run lead had the Twins not failed repeatedly in scoring opportunities for a second night in a row.
The Twins went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in last night's game, with the only hit coming on an infield single by Denard Span during their ninth-inning rally. On Monday night, the Twins had gone 0-for-9 in scoring opportunities, and they entered last night's game hitting just .265/.344/.348 in such situations on the season. Whatever clutch magic this offense purportedly had last year certainly has not been present so far this season, and has definitely been absent in this series. It seems the Twins have ended their affair with Lady Luck and are now courting a cold-hearted mistress by the name of Regression to the Mean.
After Morneau ripped a two-run homer in the first inning, the only way the Twins could find to score in the game were getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and hitting into a fielder's choice. That's not a sustainable offensive strategy and the Twins aren't going to be winning many games if they can't start driving some runners in with legitimate hits. Unfortunately, tonight they'll be going against Scott Kazmir, who happens to be left-handed. And we all know how this team has performed against left-handers so far...