Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Murphy's Law

"Everything that can go wrong will."

And it did.  For the first five innings of yesterday's game, the Minnesota Twins were living proof that this law really does exist.  Every ball fell in.  Bloopers, liners, everything found a hole.  Throws airmailed, balls misplayed, Rangers rounding the bases like they were kids racing the mascot during the seventh inning stretch.  It was a comedy of errors that was full of errors and devoid of comedy.

Sure, Nick Blackburn was horrible.  And yes, Jose Mijares continued his season-long implosion, while Chuck James matched him pitch-for-hittable-pitch.  And you're right, the fielding was utterly atrocious.  Delmon Young badly overthrew second base, Tsuyoshi Nishioka missed wildly on a routine throw to first, and Trevor Plouffe looked like the kid who's in right field in little league because the ball is never hit there on an awful misread.  Mijares did himself no favors by booting a ground ball.  But you don't do this badly without both terrible play and terrible luck.

By the time the fifth inning closed, the Twins trailed 18-1, having given up at least 3 runs in every inning.  That's only the second time that's happened since 1920.  You might be aware, but there have been a lot of baseball games played since then.  Something in the neighborhood of 155,000.  That means around 310,000 opportunities.  And the Twins matched a measure of futility seen only once before.

The Twins had, at that point, managed to score one run, appropriately enough on a GIDP, and only after an error by the Rangers.  By comparison, the Rangers had 18 runs on 22 hits.  They had more runs (18) than outs (15).  They had 14 singles, 6 doubles, and 2 home runs.  Every Ranger except Chris Davis (more on him in a second) had multiple hits.  Five of them had at least 3 hits.  And one of them, Ian Kinsler, already had 4 hits.  By the end of the game, every Rangers starter would have 3 hits, except Davis and Josh Hamilton, who was replaced.

Thank goodness for Davis, who went 0-6 while also making two errors at third base.  While he was unable to grab a hit and had 2 of the Rangers' 4 strikeouts, his teammates batted .587 (27-for-46).  One can only imagine what the damage would have been if Adrian Beltre had not been placed on the Disabled List a couple days ago...

It got so bad that Ron Gardenhire turned to Michael Cuddyer to pitch the bottom of the eighth inning.  Despite no help from his defense, Cuddyer tossed a scoreless inning.  The last out aptly came as Plouffe ran into Nishioka on a shallow pop fly; for the first time, something went right on the defensive side of the game, as Nishioka managed to hold on to the ball and end the misery.

In the end, though, it's only one game.  Just a few weeks ago, the Twins opened a series with a 15-0 loss to the Dodgers, but came back and won the series anyways.  Sure, combined with the Twins less than impressive homestand, their playoff chances truly look bleak.  But it wasn't because of this one game--this game was just one of their 55 losses.  And, one 20-6 loss where you give up a 2011 league-high 27 hits is not the worst thing that could happen, even in the scope of baseball.  As Buster Olney tweeted after the fifth inning: the "Twins could console themselves with this thought: they are not the Mariners."

16 losses in a row?  Check.  Murphy's Law was in effect for the Twins last night, but it's been hounding the Mariners since before the All-Star break.

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