The Twins won last night, 3-2, which one might expect. But what one doesn't expect, especially when one studies the game, is how they won. The game was decided in the bottom of the seventh inning, when a bizarre string of decisions and events led to even more bizarre outcomes. Such as...
1. Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo sends Daniel Cabrera back to the mound to start the inning.
Cabrera had thrown somewhere in the vicinity of 90 pitches already, which is plenty for a pitcher this early in the season, especially for one as young as Cabrera. He's struck out the side in the sixth, but he also had walked Morneau, and he looked a little gassed. However, Cabrera is right-handed, and the Twins leadoff hitter was right-handed batter Rondell White.
So Perlozzo gambled a bit. He sent Cabrera out to face White, but had relievers Jamie Walker (LH) and Chad Bradford (RH) warming in the bullpen. I suspect the plan was for Cabrera to get White out, then have the left-handed Walker face the left-handed Jason Kubel, and then the right-handed Bradford face the right-handed Bartlett.
So what happens? Cabrera walks White on four pitches.
2. Perlozzo leaves Cabrera in to face the left-handed Kubel.
So the first batter didn't go as Perlozzo planned but he STILL leaves Cabrera out there to face Kubel? Even after a trip to the mound? Why?
Because the Twins had subbed Jason Tyner in for Rondell White, and Perlozzo expected Ron Gardenhire to instruct Kubel to bunt. That's why he ran out to the mound - to talk about the bunting defense. And that's why Melvin Mora played so far in at third base. And it's also why Cabrera kept holding the ball for so long prior to the pitch - to see if Kubel would square up to bunt.
So what happens? Kubel doesn't bunt.
3. Kubel strikes out.
The Twins have an ideal situation. Kubel is facing a young, tiring, right-handed and historically eratic pitcher. He's gonna make sure that Cabrera throws the ball over the plate.
Unfortunately, it's a young, tiring, right-handed and historically eratic pitcher who has a fastball that comes right at left-handed batters but tails back over the plate. And there's an umpire who has been calling that a strike all night. And Cabrera and his catcher are smart enough to only throw it to batter when they already have two strikes.
So what happens? Kubel takes that inside pitch for strike three. And Tyner is still on first.
4. Tyner falls down stealing second base.
Twins fans haven't seen that much of Tyner's speed. Sure, we know he's fast, but do you know he stole at least 40 bases each year from 1998-2001? So you don't expect to see him lying prone 10 feet short of second base and doing a seal walk into the base.
So what happens? He's safe, because the catcher doesn't even bother to get off his knees to throw the ball.
5. Bartlett bloops a hit to left field.
Cabrera is now over 100 pitches by the time he's allowed to face the right-handed Bartlett. artlett has about as bad a swing as he had when he popped out in the 5th inning with the tieing run on third base and one out. But this ball clears the infield. Unfortunately, it's still in short left-field, with outfielder Jay Gibbons charging it and fifty feet behind Tyner who is rounding third.
So what happens? Gibbons doesn't even throw the ball home. Several Orioles look look at Gibbons like he grew a second head. And the Twins score the winning run.
Oh, and Perlozzo finally takes Cabrera out of the game. The 25-year-old has thrown 110 pitches in his first outing of the season. Oh, and two relievers that the Orioles paid $21 million this offseason watched the winning run score while they warmed up, over and over again, from the bullpen.
Five things that probably shouldn't have happened, each of which led to another even that shouldn't have happaned.
Baseball - you just never know.
Gotta mentions some things....
- I'm going to be on FM 107 with Lori and Julia tomorrow at 4:30. We're going to talk about fun baseball stuff. Tune in and let me know what you think.
- I will be at the Blogger event at BW3 on Saturday at 3:00. And I'm arranging to have free copies of the April issue of GameDay for anyone that can attend. I hope you can make it too. The Twins blogosphere has always been about bringing fans together. This is a great opportunity to do that in another forum.
- Congrats to TwinsCards.com for their recognition by Michael Rand in yesterday's Strib. Blake has really put together one hell of a site there, something that is unique in MLB. I you haven't checked it out, you probably should.
- A couple of years ago, I got to throw out the first pitch at a minor league game, and the best part was the catcher heckling me I walked to the mound. "OH! Are you going to embarass yourself! You won't even make it to the plate. I feel sorry for your kids? Are they watching this?"
I'm proud to say I zipped it right to him. (The multiple beers I had beforhand might have helped).
I assume that Eric Davis did not taunt Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, but that didn't stop Mallory from making the worst first pitch ever. Oh, I feel sorry for his kids. Are they watching this?
(Honestly, click on the link. My favorite part is the look of disgust that Eric Davis gives him. Like he takes that throw as a personal insult. Beautiful.)