In the 9th inning, after pinch-hitting Craig Monroe for Mike Lamb, Ron Gardenhire had an interesting decision to make: move Justin Morneau to first base from designated hitter, or move someone already in the field to first base (which ended up being Brian Buscher) and bring someone in to replace them. Normally, you would never want to move Morneau there, because it means the pitcher would have to hit, but who else could fill in at first base?
The options were few. Buscher played 7 games there with Rochester last year and one the year before with New Britain. Needless to say, that's not a lot of experience. Matt Tolbert has never played a professional inning there and Nick Punto has, surprisingly, never played a major league inning at first base (he's played LF, CF, RF, 3B, SS, and 2B). Brendan Harris has only played one inning there in his career and that was earlier this season. I guess you could throw Joe Mauer in as a choice, but he's never played first base either. Now, maybe I overestimate the difficulty in transferring to a different position for a Major League player, but the thought of having any of those guys playing first base in extra innings was very worrisome. And, Buscher, who Gardenhire did choose to play first, is a shaky defender at his own position who was playing in his first Major League game this season.
Of course, all this, all my second-guessing, and what happens? Justin Morneau comes up with men on first and third and two outs in the bottom of the tenth. Thank God that wasn't Matt Guerrier.
A few more game notes:
- Buscher doubled for his first hit of the year, while Mike Redmond also collected his first hit, a single in the ninth inning.
- Scott Baker had a fantastic outing, going seven innings and allowing one run, while getting eight Indians to strike out.
- Brendan Harris hit his first home run of the year. He is the third Twins player (and first right-handed one) to hit a home run this season. They're now within two of the Mets and A's who have had five players hit home runs. Pretty pathetic.
- The bullpen came through today, as Dennys Reyes, Pat Neshek, and Matt Guerrier combined to shut down the Indians for three innings. Neshek was aided by an amazing catch by Carlos Gomez in the ninth (or maybe Reyes was--it was his baserunner on second). It was really some catch.