Jon Lester may have pitched a no-hitter against the Royals tonight, but the Twins' game was also a very interesting one. A few strange things happened: Alexi Casilla hit a three-run home run, the Twins used their entire bench and every relief pitcher except Brian Bass, and Bobby Korecky got a hit.
One negative first, though. Gardenhire finally brings Joe Nathan in for the tenth inning in a non-save situation, which many of us have said he should be doing, but then he does not leave him in there for the eleventh. Nathan threw five (5!) pitches to get the three outs in the tenth inning, yet Ron Gardenhire would rather have Juan Rincon pitching? I don't understand this at all. And, not unpredictably, Rincon had to be yanked after loading the bases with only one out via a double and two walks.
That's where the next story comes. Bobby Korecky, a rookie, pitching in just his sixth major league game, slammed the door, getting two very key outs. To follow it up, he got a single in the bottom of the inning. He had to hit because the Twins had moved Brendan Harris from designated hitter to shortstop, and the Twins had no one left on their bench to pinch-hit. After a Harris single and a Joe Mauer walk, he was the winning run on third with Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer due up. Needless to say, he didn't score, but he did come back and pitch a perfect twelfth inning.
Now, this kind of game reminds me why I like Joe Mauer so much. In the bottom of the ninth, down 6-5, Mauer comes up with two on and one out. He hits a single and ties the game. In the bottom of the twelfth, with the game tied, he walks to move Korecky to third and Harris to second with only one out. What does Justin Morneau do right after Mauer? And Michael Cuddyer? They make the last two outs in both instances without getting a run across. On the night, they went a combined 0-10, stranding 14 Twins on the basepaths. At least Morneau got two walks; Cuddyer went 0-6 with 9 left on base.
Fortunately, an unlikely hero got the winning hit in the bottom of the twelfth inning. After Carlos Gomez singled and moved to second on a groundout and Mike Lamb was intentionally walked, Howie Clark connected for a double just past centerfielder Josh Hamilton. Gomez jogged home to win the game for the Twins.
What Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer could not do, Howie Clark did.
And seriously, WHY did Joe Nathan not pitch a second inning?! Can someone please tell me what Ron Gardenhire was thinking?