Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fortune Frowns on the Twins

Royals 4, Twins 2
Magic Number: 2

It appears that the baseball gods want to see this one-game playoff next week. Things may yet turn out all right, but it's excruciating to see the bounces going against my team at a time when they have to win.

The first bounce came in the 6th inning. Boof Bonser relieved Glen Perkins, and gave up 4 H without retiring a batter. In fairness to Boof, only one of the hits was a solid line drive - the others were 2 choppers and a flare. The second chopper was the first place fate turned on the Twins. It was just over and to the right of the mound. If Boof fields it cleanly, he starts a DP. If he doesn't touch it at all, Alexi Casilla fields it and starts a DP. Instead, Boof deflected it into short RF, allowing the tying run to score.

The second bounce came the next inning. Matt Guerrier was called on to rescue Boof, which he managed to do in spite of falling behind 2-0 on each hitter he faced with the bases loaded. One sent a ball over the bag at third that Brendan Harris was able to turn into a force at the plate, the other hit a liner to Justin Morneau at first. Gardy left Guerrier out there to start the 7th, and he promptly fell behind the first 2 hitters and surrendered singles to each. Jesse Crain was brough in to rescue Guerrier. Bad bounce #2 happened on a slider in the dirt that struck out Jose Guillen - it skipped away from Joe Mauer, allowing the runners to advance to 2nd and 3rd and prompting the infielders to play in. The next hitter lofted a broken bat blooper that would have easily been caught by Morneau at his normal position. Instead, it was just far enough out of reach to tick off his glove and allow the go-ahead runs to score.

Morneau is pressing at the plate, and it's hurting the team. He went 0-3 with RISP. This was most egregious when he followed Joe Mauer's 4-pitch walk to load the bases with an inning-ending GIDP on the first pitch. KC pitcher John Bale had thrown 6 pitches before Morneau's AB, and the only "strike" was the pitch Casilla attempted to bunt (and popped up). That is a take situation all the way - swinging early in the count helps the pitcher out.

The Twins grounded into 4 DPs overall. Mauer's GIDP in the 9th was a killer, especially since he hit the ball right on the screws. Carlos Gomez nearly knocked in the tying runs in the bottom of the 8th, but his liner to the gap in left-center was just within range of LF Mark Teahan.

So, for the second straight game, the Twins didn't get a lot of breaks at the Dome (though they didn't execute quite well enough to win in spite of the breaks). But for the second straight game, Cleveland pummeled the White Sox, and the Twins are still in first place. They still need one more loss from the Sox, whether against the Indians on Sunday, the Tigers on Monday, or the Twins on Tuesday. Cliff Lee will not be starting for Cleveland today, so that's one more bad break for the Twins. However, the Twins must win the game they will be playing today. If they do that, the only way they can be eliminated is to lose on the field to the Sox on Tuesday. If they must come up short, that's how I'd prefer to see it happen.

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