Monday, August 8, 2011

Boston Comes to Target Field

So I haven't done this since, I think, opening day of the 2009 season.  But today is a good day to do a game log because the game is on ESPN, so I won't be needing to switch between windows on my computer.

Could be a fun game tonight.  I'm excited to see the Twins take on Tim Wakefield.  Hopefully the knuckleball is all over the place, sending those wild pitches to the plate left and right.

Good first inning for Scott Baker.  He struck out Ellsbury and Crawford, allowed a lazy single to Adrian Gonzalez, and coaxed an easy groundout from Pedroia.

And of course the ESPN announcers reference the Twins' number of errors (3rd most in the AL) in discussing their defense.  I certainly agree that the defense has been bad, at best, but errors are not necessarily a good indicator of that.  Apparently Nishioka's out for a couple of days, though, meaning the defense will be better for now.  And Trevor Plouffe will finally get some starts.  And you know what?  Even Matt Tolbert is probably better than Nishioka right now, so wins on all front.  I'm not ready to give up on Nishioka, but I do acknowledge he has been very bad in all aspects to this point.

Wakefield's knuckler seemed to be moving good.  Saltalamacchia couldn't catch the first one, and Span looked confused throughout his at bat.  Plouffe only looked marginally better, but Mauer did put some good wood on the ball, albeit for a groundout.

Well, Baker just couldn't get the last out of the inning, but fortunately the Twins managed to get it on the basepaths, as Cuddyer cut off Span's throw home to nail Jed Lowrie rounding second.  Speaking of which, Span's throw was embarrassing; if we wanted a throw home that started bouncing around second base, Ben Revere would be out there.

Wow, I don't know who this official scorer is.  Cuddyer gets a double for the ball that Carl Crawford dropped, and then Saltalamacchia gets an error on his attempt to tag Cuddyer?  As the announcers joked on Cuddyer's hit, his cousin must be scoring this game.  And he must not like Saltalamacchia either.

Good thing that ball rolled past Saltalamacchia so slowly, because Jim Thome isn't exactly a speedster.  And that's exactly what I was hoping to see against Wakefield: the knuckleball wreaking havoc for the Red Sox.

A nice inning for Baker there, getting three quick outs and not allowing a baserunner.  I feel like Baker is not appreciated enough for what he does.  His ERA is a nifty 3.01, his FIP is only slightly higher at 3.38, and is striking out over 8 batters per 9 innings.  What am I missing?  Isn't he having a really nice year?

Somehow Lowrie gets an error on that rocket by Thome, while Crawford doesn't get one for dropping Cuddyer's fly ball.  On a related note, you always appreciate hustle from your player, but Lowrie didn't need to chase it down with the urgency he showed, especially with the left fielder coming in to get it anyway.  He could have traipsed after the ball and picked some dandelions along the way, and Thome still would have been content with a single.

Darn.  I came in at the tail end of the announcers' discussion of Nishioka; I would've liked to hear what they had to say about him, even if I don't necessarily value what they say.  To hear the tone from baseball people (if you'd consider former players to be that) would be interesting.  No matter, though.  Mauer scalding the ball like that is much more important to me.  Seriously, that ball was smoked.  You could tell by the way it skidded across the outfield grass and made it all the way to the warning track before it was cut off.

Nice pitch sequence there to Gonzalez.  Down 3-1 in the count, Baker got him to chase 3 consecutive pitches out of the zone.  The first was a whiff, the second a foul, and the third in play for a sacrifice fly.  But with a leadoff triple and the middle of the order coming up that could have been a big inning.
...Speak of the devil.  Ortiz just totally blasted a pitch to right-center.  Just a one-run lead now.  Come on, Scott, you're pitching for 3 of my teams (the Twins and my two fantasy baseball teams).

Oh no.  Would you look at that.  Not good.  Back-to-back homers.  Now it's tied.

Yikes, it's Phil Dumatrait.  It's so disappointing to see him come out of the bullpen every time.  And then you go, "Don't the Twins have ANYONE better they can bring in?"  But they don't.  Or they do, but they're only marginally better.  The bullpen is just in sad, sad shape.  Jose Mijares, Alex Burnett, and Dumatrait have all been really bad, and Matt Capps isn't far behind.  And Dumatrait predictably didn't get the job done, unless you consider getting one out and loading the bases to be 'getting the job done'.  Of course I'm sure Gardenhire will blame Plouffe for not being able to complete the diving play when he got his glove on the ball.

Wow, absolutely huge double play there.  I just took a shot at Capps, and have been doing so regularly for a while (I often refer to him as Cappsize), so I've got to give him credit there.  He threw some good pitches and got exactly what the Twins needed.  And, to some surprise, the defense got the job done, completing the 5-4-3 double play to get the speedy Pedroia and prevent any runs from scoring.

Is it just me or does Wakefield look like he's got a bit of a potbelly?  I really don't think it's me.  Span now hitless in his last 18 at bats.  He's threatening his mark from last year of 23 at bats in a row without a hit.  And more futility, as Tolbert somehow gets caught stealing by a very wide margin despite the fact that Wakefield threw a 70 mile-per-hour pitch.

That's just a devastating drop by Mauer at home plate.  Ortiz was dead-to-rights, the announcers were correct.  I was a good distance away from the TV at the time of the play, and I assumed he was out before I got closer and realize Mauer had dropped it.  It was a good throw by Tolbert, though, one that I'm not sure Nishioka would have been able to make.  In fact, all three grounders handled by Tolbert are ones that would have made me very nervous if Nishioka was out there.  I'm really rooting for him, so I don't like to give him a hard time, but he just doesn't seem to have a very strong arm at all.  Tolbert made all of those throws look easy, which they really should be (and you know I hate to give credit to Tolbert).

It's a crime that Mauer didn't get a hit on that--he just scalded it.  And Cuddyer didn't get the runner in from third with fewer than two outs anyway. 

That'll work though.  Big hit from Kubel!  Let's hope Glen Perkins stays in, because I don't trust anyone else to get three outs here.  [Oh, good, looks like he will pitch the ninth.]

Perkins caught Ellsbury stealing, with Cuddyer making a great throw and Tolbert providing a good tag to nab him.  Then, after Perkins allowed a hit to Adrian Gonzalez, Joe Nathan came in for relief.  He threw a lot of good pitches against Pedroia, with the announcer oddly nitpicking just about every one of them, before he weakly grounded to third base for an infield single.  Valencia didn't handle it cleanly, but that's to be expected and he might not have had it anyway.

And now it's 8-6, and it looks like the Twins will lose once again.  51-64.  Come on.  Will they ever win again?  It's just so frustrating.  I don't even think Nathan pitched badly.  He battled Pedroia and got a weak groundball, and one of the other two hits was a broken bat blooper.  Sometimes it just seems like you'll never get the breaks.  I can't imagine how Mariners fans felt a couple weeks ago.

Ugh.  I'm putting on Seinfeld.  Until the top of the ninth, I really thought they had this one.

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