Yesterday's Twins 5-4 win over the Indians ended up being one of the more satisfying of the year. It had all the ingredients: a starting pitcher who ended up going deep, clutch hitting and a lock down bullpen. And the results - pulling within a half-game of the White Sox just prior to a midweek series with them, was icing on the cake.
The heroes are pretty obvious. Orlando Hudson had the biggest hit of the game, a two-run double that tied the game and put himself (and the winning run) into scoring position. Jim Thome's 2-run home run earlier in the inning made all those hits relevant. Brian Duensing bounced back from two miserable earlier innings to last into the eighth, and looked like he could have lasted longer.
Sure enough, Win Probability Added scores (available here) confirm those heroes. Hudson's double (which increased the Twins chances of winning by over 16%) was the biggest impact hit of the day, and Hudson finished with the lineup's highest WPA of .167. Thome was second with a WPA of .141. And Duensing finished with a WPA of .104.
But none of those was the highest WPA. That belonged to Matt Capps with .205, for protecting that one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth against Jordan Brown, Trevor Crowe and Jason Donald. It hardly seem fair that he gets credit for 20% of the win for getting past those three stooges. But WPA doesn't really know who is batting in the bottom of the ninth. It only knows that 20% of the time the home team ends up coming back and winning those one-run games in the bottom of the ninth. (Worth remembering given Wed's game against the Rays.)
As satisfying a win as it was for the Twins, it must have been pretty frustrating for those among the Tribe faithful who haven't had the life sucked out of them. As Duensing struggled (again) in the fourth inning, the Indians had a 92% chance of winning that game (according to the game log.)
Remember that Saturday afternoon game versus the Brewers at Target Field when the Twins grabbed an early lead against - I think it was Gallardo - and then blew the game and almost lost it, but finally won it in extra innings? And how we were all apoplectic, even though the Twins won? Imagine if the boys had lost it. That's what this game was like.
So, for the third time in five games, all is well that ends well. It would be nice if Duensing could try to not give up early runs Radke-style. It would be nice if the Twins could piece together more than six hits against the David Huff and the Indians. And it would be nice if Matt Guerrier's effectiveness wasn't decided by a flip of a coin, ala Two-Face.
But mostly it's nice heading into The Cell knowing that the pressure is squarely on the White Sox to show that their 3-6 record against the Twins is an anomaly.