Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Crazy Game

I wasn't able to watch any of the game since I was visiting my grandpa for Father's Day, but I did catch two updates scrolling by on the ESPN bottom line while I was there. First, I saw the Twins were trailing 9-7 with 2 outs in the ninth inning, a man on second, and Joe Mauer batting. Then, after scrolling through a few more scores, the bottom line flashed its "Score Update" graphic. I hoped, and was fulfilled, when it reported that Mauer had tied the game with a 2-run homer. Little did I know all the other craziness that had and would happen in the game.

Up 5 heading to the ninth inning, the Phillies looked to have victory all but assured with their Win Probability at 99.3 %, a drop from the high point of 99.5 %. After a monster pinch-hit, two-run homer by Jim Thome, Nick Punto's traipse around the base paths on a walk, defensive indifference, and a wild pitch, and Denard Span's run scoring single and stolen base, the Twins' chances of winning still stood at a measly 4 %. Mauer quickly erased that, tying the game on his third blast of the season.

Things looked even better shortly, as no-hit Drew Butera knocked out his first career Major League home run. For heaven's sake the guy only had 2 home runs in 333 career AAA at-bats. But there it was, a 10-9 Twins lead heading to the bottom of the tenth, with the suddenly reliable again Jon Rauch coming in for the save. After coaxing two easy groundouts, Rauch had the Twins' sitting pretty with a 95 % chance of victory. Of course that's when Ross Gload hit the 9th home run of the game, knotting the game up again.

Minnesota responded in the eleventh, though. Mauer walked, and the Phillies followed by intentionally walking Justin Morneau, bringing up Jon Rauch with one out. He had not had a plate appearance since 2008 (he had one that year), had not reached base since 2005, and had 22 career plate appearances, including one sacrifice bunt in 2005. Naturally, he was asked to do that again, and he successfully moved the runners over. Remind me again why Nick Punto can't?

Advancing the runners proved of vital importance, as Delmon Young collected an infield single immediately after on a groundball to short. Matt Tolbert sealed the deal--although we should be careful about saying that after today--with a two-run double to left. And this time Rauch did complete a scoreless bottom half to end the game.

Easily one of the top two games of the year, along with the Twins' comeback on Jason Kubel's grand slam off of Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium.

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