"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Squeaking By

You'd think that scoring eight runs would win you a ballgame.

Usually, you'd be right.

But usually, Juan "Quick Inning" Rincón doesn't give up a game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning, either. (Don't you ever do that again, Juan!)

It was a roller-coaster of a game, with Brad Radke giving up four runs in the first inning, three before the second out was recorded. Torii Hunter put the Twins on the board in the fourth with a solo homer. They eked out another run in the fifth on a walk-single-sac bunt-sac fly sequence. The DBacks answered with a Luis Gonzalez solo homer in the bottom of the inning.

[Side note: does anyone else still carry a warm, fuzzy spot in their hearts for Gonzo because of the last game of the 2001 World Series? I sure do.]

In the top of the sixth, Hunter doubled to open the inning, then Jones moved him to third on a groundout. Matthew LeCroy got the second out of the inning on a sac fly, and though Hunter scored the bases were empty and it looked like that was pretty much all for the sixth. But Cuddyer worked a walk on a full count, then Castro singled. Glenn Williams made his major-league debut, pinch hitting for Brad Radke, and dropped a single into shallow right to load the bases. It still looked like a weak chance, given the Twins' bases-loaded woes this season, but the DBacks kindly brought out a reliever who might be of more use to the team in batting practice than actual games, and the game knotted at five apiece with a two-run single off the bat of Shannon Stewart. A balk advancing Williams and Stewart into scoring position went for naught as the half-inning finally ended on a failed bunt attempt.

The Twins held the DBacks off in the bottom of the inning, and came back to the plate in the seventh with bats still ablaze, scoring three more runs on a one-out solo homer by Hunter (making this his first multi-homer game of the season), and a two-out Morneau walk followed by a Cuddyer homer to put the Twins up 8-5. And there's your ballgame, right? Wrong.

Alas, poor Juan. The bottom of the eighth didn't go well at all. He opened with a walk to Troy Glaus, then got a strikeout, followed by a single, followed by a strikeout. Two out, two on. I wasn't even worried...until he hung that slider. Tony Clark hit that ball to Tucson, and we had ourselves a tie game again.

On to the ninth, then, sometime after 11 o'clock Central, visions of extra innings dancing in our weary heads. Hero du jour Hunter reached with a one-out single, then launched an ill-advised basestealing attempt. But the pitcher threw wide of the base and the shortstop, who acquired the ball, thought Hunter was heading for third and turned that way just as Hunter dived past him to return to second. Safe. Whew!

Jones singled to right and Hunter challenged the excellent arm of Arizona right fielder Shawn Green, beating the tag at home by a hairsbreadth. That would be all the scoring for the Twins, and we handed the one-run lead over to closer Joe Nathan, who has been awfully shaky lately.

Nathan, happily, remembered that he is, in fact, the Nathanator, and allowed only a measly single in the process of securing the win for Minnesota. Twins fans everywhere went to bed only a little late, happy in the knowledge of victory.

Have you ever noticed that, no matter how violent the storm, you will only lose power if you went grocery shopping the day before? It's true!

3 rejoinders:

Fourth pew, center sounded off...

Cute film on CNN this morning -- one of the cameramen covering the game, wearing a "Vote for Gonzo" t-shirt, called the homer BEFORE Gonzo hit it.
And very pleased with himself afterward, too, as well he should be.

SBG sounded off...

It was Hunter's first multi-homer game of the season and first since May 15, 2004 when he hit two against the Chisux.

Third Base Line sounded off...


Strange, I could have sworn they said first ever on TV. I remember thinking at the time how odd it was! Ah, well, I'm correcting it! Thanks!