I do. Heading to the middle of the eighth inning, Iím forced to leave my seat to pick up my kid at 10:00. By the time I walk through the stadium, Iíve heard the roar and see Jamey Carroll standing on third base with no outs and the third through fifth batters coming up.
If I didnít have to pick up my kid in 10 minutes, I SWEAR I wouldíve stuck around. I mean Ė you know me by now. Is there anyone MORE superstitious?
Four blocks away from Target Field I say to The Voice of Reasonô, ďHave you heard a roar yet? I havenít.Ē
Me: (Heavy sigh.)
One can frame this game a lot of ways. Iím sure the Boston papers will frame it as a Cody Ross redemption game. And if the Twins third and fourth hitters would have managed to do anything remotely similar to what one expects from the eighth and ninth hitters, it would have been a different game, and a different column.
But they didnít. And it isnít. Check that Ė SO it isnít.
I canít talk too much about those criticat at-bats. I didnít see them live. I saw replays of the swings. Apparently, Josh Willingham hit the ball hard but lined out to the third baseman.
Joe Mauer swung weekly at an off-speed pitch and grounded out to first base. The at-bat looks worse because of how poor a hit it was Ė a dribbling play up the first base line. Of course, it was an off-speed pitch. On a full count, one might expect a pitcher to challenge a hitter, but with two bases open, why would he? He threw a 75-mph-pitch that Mauer had not yet seen and that was it. I want to come down on Mauer Ė I want to come down on everyone after this loss Ė but I can see what happened.
A few more notes about the gameÖ
Capping Off A Loss
Hey, at least Matt Capps hasnít blown a Save (capital S) yet - just a game.
Is that a cheap shot? Sure, but I donít mean it to Capps. I mean it to the Twins, who seem to think that once a randome team sprinkles a guy with Magic Closer Dust (capital MCD), theyíre forever a different guy. Capps now has four strikeouts in seven innings, which is under the league average, especially for relievers, but about average for him. (Correction: He actually has two strikeouts, which is less than half of his career rate.) To his credit, he hasnít walked a guy. But heís given up seven hits, which is about average for both him and your average major league pitcher. And, worse of all for a closer, heís given up two home runs, which is about three times the average rate for a pitcher.
Hey, itís small sample size. It doesnít mean much.
Except that home runs were Cappsí soft spot last year and have been every year heís struggled. He basically matched his career averages in all categories last season Ė except he gave up a couple of extra home runs. Which is what turned him from a below average closer into a really terrible closer.
Which one MIGHT have anticipated, if he wasnít all glittery with that MCD.
The Other Story
Minus that eighth inning debacle and a ninth inning home run, hereís what the game story would have includedÖ
- Gardenhire took a risk I didnít anticipate with the lineup tonight. Faced with wanting to get Chris Parmelee in the lineup instead of Clete Thomas (for which there should be wild applause), he didnít take the safe route. Instead, he gave Willingham a rest at designated hitter and gave Parmelee a start in left field. From what I saw, Parmelee didnít embarrass himself out there, which is REALLY nice to see. I was really happy to see this.
- Danny Valencia should have been the hero of this game. Taking a 1-2 pitch with 2 outs to deep center? Really? I really hope this is a sign of things to come. Soon.
- The 6-4-3 double play that saved a run got the whole stadium excited. One canít say enough about Carroll on that play, but itís worth noting that the pivot was carried out by Trevor Plouffe. Itís exciting to see him make just a mediocre throw. That was phenomenal.
- Is manager Ron Gardenhire pulling his starters too late this year? Itís late, so Iíll let someone else crunch the numbers, but Marquis gave up that home run when he was after 100 pitches. It seems like the last week or so, I feel like the starter is having a decent outing, but by the time theyíre done, theyíve given up enough runs in their last inning to inflate their ERA. It certainly happened tonight.
- Of course, part of that might be not having a lot of faith in the bullpen. Capps certainly furthered that concern, but did anyone else note that Glen Perkins didnít make an appearance in the eighth again tonight? Perkins pitched yesterday, and was apparently unavailable, and thatís looking like a pattern.
Everyone got all that? Good.