Despite not having one of the best players in baseball for the remainder of the year in Justin Morneau, the Minnesota Twins are making serious late-season push towards the playoffs.
Yesterday, the Twins cut the Detroit Tigers lead in the AL Central to just three games. With the AL Central race heating up, I thought I would do a live blog of today’s game between the two AL Central rivals.
Game: Detroit Tigers vs. Minnesota Twins
1. Curtis Granderson, CF
2. Placido Polanco, 2B
3. Carlos Guillen, LF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Aubrey Huff, DH
6. Magglio Ordonez, RF
7. Brandon Inge, 3B
8. Gerald Laird, C
9. Adam Everett, SS
Justin Verlander, P
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Cabrera, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Jason Kubel, RF
5. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
6. Delmon Young, LF
7. Jose Morales, DH
8. Brian Buscher, 3B
9. Nick Punto, 2B
Carl Pavano, P
Dick Bramer and Rod Allen calling the game for Fox today. Glad to see Fox has their D team doing the game today. On the mound for the Twins is Carl Pavano who is 4-0 lifetime versus the Tigers.
Every New York Yankee fan just threw their remote at the TV.
First pitch of the game to Granderson is fouled off out of play. Granderson’s average is down to .250. He really needs to pick up here.
Maybe some other time as Granderson strikes out looking on three pitches.
Polanco rips a single up the middle. One on and nobody out for Guillen. Guillen has been hampered all year by injuries.
Jim Leyland, trying to create some offense put on a hit and run, but Guillen fouls the ball off. Polanco gets to second base anyway as Pavano throws a wild pitch.
Guillen goes down swinging as Pavano throws a nasty changeup to get Guillen. Two outs now.
On an 0-2 pitch, Cabrera bloops one to center. Polanco, running all the way with two outs — scores easily. Tigers take an early lead, 1-0.
Big two-out RBI for Cabrera.
Huff pops out to short to end the inning.
The Tigers push across a run and lead 1-0 heading to the bottom of the first.
Cy Young award candidate Justin Verlander on the mound for the Tigers. He gets Span to ground out weakly to first for the first out of the inning.
Verlander pacing himself with 96 mph fastballs to Cabrera. Verlander gets Cabrera to pop up to second for the second out.
Now comes up the 2009 AL MVP and one of the nicest athletes I have ever met, Joe Mauer.
My lord Mauer is awesome. Mauer just turns on a 96 mph fastball and launches one into the upper deck in rightfield. That ball was freakin’ crushed.
Game tied at one.
Kubel rips one, but right to Cabrera to end the inning.
But the Twins pull even, and after one in Minnesota, we are tied at one.
I gotta tell ya, Ordonez’s bat looks slower than Gary Carter’s did at the end of his career. The Tigers are so pleased to be paying Ordonez $18 million next year. Worst contract in baseball next year, hands down.
Ordonez grounds out to third for the first out.
Ouch! Inge gets hit right on the elbow. That’s going to leave a mark in the morning.
Laird bloops one to right for a single. Inge stops at second. First and second with one out for Everett.
Everett hits a groundball in the hole between first and second, but Punto cuts the ball off and gets Everett at first. Inge and Laird move up a base.
Granderson, not wasting any time, swings at the first pitch and lines one deep to center, but Span tracks it down to make the catch. Granderson has had two AB’s and has seen four pitches. Way to work the count Curtis.
Awesome crowd on hand at the Metrodome. It looks like there is a sellout.
Cuddyer flies out to deep center for the first out.
The ever-so-disappointing Young hits a seeing eye single up the middle.
If I were in the Twins dugout, I would say just sit on the fastball. Verlander’s curve is all over the place and he has yet to throw it for a strike.
Verlander can’t locate his fastball either as he walks Morales. First and second with one out for Buscher.
The Twins really could use a third baseman next year. Maybe Garrett Atkins makes sense for them. Verlander just overpowers Buscher and strikes him out on three pitches.
Wow, Punto is really battling Verlander. He has fouled off pitch after pitch.
Punto hits a grounder in the hole, but is robbed by a great defensive play by Cabrera. He dove to right, caught the ball, and then made a perfect throw to Everett to force out Morales.
After two complete, it’s the Tigers one and the Twins one
Pavano is a first-pitch strike throwing machine. First-pitch strikes to nine of the 11 batters he has faced so far. Yankee fans are just fuming right now.
Polanco is such a professional hitter. Pavano throws an outside fastball and Polanco just goes with the pitch and serves it to rightfield for a single.
Guillen just looks like a shell of his former self. He pops up to third for the first out. My take on the Tigers so far is that they just look like an old team.
Cabrera rips one to rightfield for a single. Polanco stops at second.
Up is Huff who is sporting a nice beard. He kind of looks like a young Bert Blyleven. Ironically, Huff isn’t going to the Hall of Fame either.
Huff becomes the third Tigers batter this inning to go to the opposite field for a single. Huff’s single brings home Polanco and the Tigers lead 2-1. Cabrera stops at second.
It’s kind of weird. Pavano appears to be pitching well, but he has given up six hits in just 2.1 innings so far.
Ordonez really does stink. He taps one back to the mound and Pavano gets the force at second. That ball was hit so slowly that the Twins couldn’t turn two on the play.
Pavano escapes further damage as Inge hits a can-of-corn to center.
But the Tigers take a 2-1 heading into the bottom of the third.
Fox just showed Ernie Harwell’s speech from Wednesday night. What a class act he is. He looks healthier at 91 than I do at 32.
Span starts off the inning with a single to left.
On an 0-1 count, Span tries to steal second and is gunned down by Laird. Laird threw a pea to second base. Span was out by a good foot.
Verlander throws his best offspead pitch of the day and strikes out Cabrera on a wicked changeup. Two outs.
Wow, Verlander’s curve isn’t working today, but his changeup is. He strikes out Mauer on a sweet changeup down and away.
After three, it’s still 2-1 Tigers
Just saw a commercial for Bud Light Golden Wheat. I bet that tastes awful. If regular Bud Light runs right through you, I can only imagine what Golden Wheat will do.
Laird flies out to shallow right for the first out.
Kick save and a beauty by Pavano. Everett hits one up the middle, the ball kicks off Pavano’s cleat to third, and Buscher gets Everett at first. Pavano wins that battle of former over-hyped Red Sox prospects.
Granderson singles to left. It seems the Tigers are taking an opposite field approach to hitting Pavano.
With Granderson running, Polanco just flicks his bat on a low and outside pitch and bloops one to right for a single. Granderson continues running and gets to third.
Another opposite field hit for the Tigers. The Tigers have eight hits and all of them are either up the middle or to the opposite field.
Guillen strikes out looking to end the inning. Not sure what Guillen was looking at or for. That pitch was right down the middle.
Fox just showed a view of the new Target Field. Can’t wait till Opening Day 2010 when it’s 25 degrees at game time.
Kubel grounds out to second for the first out.
Cuddyer swings at the first pitch and flies out to center for the second out.
Verlander pumps one up to 97 mph and strikes out Young. Hey look at that. Our first one-two-three inning of the day.
I have no idea what just happened. Cabrera hits a little flare to rightfield and Punto actually out-ran the ball, tried to turn around to catch it, and dropped the ball.
It goes down as a hit and another opposite field hit for the Tigers.
Huff chops one to short, but the ball is hit to slowly to turn two. Cabrera is forced at second for the first out.
Ordonez hits one sharply through the hole between short and third for a single. Huff stops at second. That is now 10 hits for the Tigers — all singles.
Inge bloops one down the rightfield line for a single. Good job by Kubel of trapping that ball. If that got by him, it might have gone for a triple.
Bases loaded for Laird. Pavano will try to get a double play ball from the slow footed Tigers’ catcher.
And right on cue, Laird hits into a tailor made six-four-three double play.
Pavano dances out of trouble again. It’s still 2-1 Tigers going into the bottom of the fifth.
Jose Morales leading it off for the Tigers. Morales loops one to left for a single.
Fox just showed Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants highlights. Brad Penny is getting rocked in LA. Not surprised. It was bound to happen.
Buscher has seen six pitches and six strikes. Again, he was overmatched and struck out. One out.
Punto hits a lazy fly ball to center for the second out.
Span swings at the first pitch and flies out to rightcenter for the third out. Verlander without his best stuff is shutting down the Twins.
2-1 Tigers after five.
Everett swings at the first pitch and pops it up to short.
Granderson hits one sharply to second, but Punto is all over it and gets Granderson at first. Two outs.
Let’s see if Pavano can get his first one-two-three inning. He does. Polanco grounds to third to end the inning.
If the Tigers lose this game they will be really kicking themselves in the but. They have had tons of chances to blow this game open.
I love Orlando Cabrera. I wish the Red Sox resigned him. He is just a winning player.
Cabrera, right on cue, singles to right.
Every time Mauer comes to the plate, there is an electricity in the air. That is how good he is right now. Every time he is up, you expect something to happen.
Good battle here between Mauer and Verlander. 3-2 count and Mauer has fouled off a couple of 97 mph fastballs from Verlander.
Another nice play by Miguel Cabrera. Mauer hit one into the hole, but Cabrera makes another diving stop. Since Orlando Cabrera was running, Cabrera just stepped on first for the out.
Great pitching by Verlander. Knowing Kubel is looking for a fastball, Verlander pulls the string and gets Kubel out in front and Kubel grounds weakly up the middle. Everett gets Kubel at first for the second out.
Cuddyer hits a two-hopper to second for the third out. The Twins strand a runner at third. This is where not having Morneau in the lineup kills the Twins
I can’t believe this John Mellencamp “This is our country” commercial is still playing. It’s sooooo 2007.
Pavano still in there for the Twins. Despite giving up what seems like 20 singles, he has pitched well today.
Guillen flies to Span for the first out of the inning.
Young makes a nice diving catch to rob Cabrera of a hit. Young has the fatest face with a body that doesn’t match. He is like the anti-Kirby Puckett.
Pavano gets Huff looking for strike three. That was a sweet slider that got the inside corner. So after not having a one-two-three inning through the first five — Pavano has retired six in a row.
Pavano’s day is probably done. Who do you think Yankees fans hate more? Pavano or Jaret Wright?
Holy shnikies! What a play by Inge. He extends to rob Young of a double, but Young beats Inge’s throw to first. Still, what a great play by Inge. That ball was ticketed for at least a double.
Carlos Gomez comes on to pinch run for Young. Speaking of Gomez, how bad has that Johan Santana trade been for the Twins?
Look for Gomez to steal at some point.
Morales flies out to left for the first out.
I have to tell you. I have been beyond impressed with Laird in this game. Gomez tried to steal second and Laird gunned him down. Laird has such a quick release.
Buscher grounds to second to end the inning. On a positive note, Buscher actually made contact against Verlander.
Jesse Crain comes in to replace Pavano. A solid effort from Pavano. Seven innings and only two runs. I think the Twins will take that every time.
Crain gets Ordonez and his beyond slow swing to ground to first for the first out.
Inge flies to Kubel in right for the second out. Crain throwing heat. He has been in the upper-90’s all inning.
Easy inning for Crain as Laird grounds out to second.
Verlander still on the mound for the Tigers. He has thrown 110 pitches so far. My guess is Leyland let’s him throw 160 pitches today if it means a Tigers win.
Verlander still has it as he blows away Punto for the first out.
Span gets the Twins going with a single down the leftfield line. Nice play by Don Kelly, who replaced Guillen in left to cut the ball off and hold Span to a single.
I am going to admit, I have no idea who Don Kelly is.
3-2 count now to Cabrera. Do you send Span? I would.
If I didn’t know who Kelly was before, I do know. Cabrera hits a routine flyball to left, but Kelly last the ball in the roof. The ball drops and Span ends up at third and Cabrera ends up with a double.
Leyland is going to ring this kid’s neck. Poor sap.
Mauer is being intentionally walked to load the bases for Kubel.
Big spot her for Kubel. Bases loaded with one out. This is Verlander’s game. He is pumping it up to 98 on the gun.
Kubel bloops one to left for a single and what great baserunning by Cabrera. He got an outstanding jump and scored behind Span to give the Twins a 3-2 lead.
And with that hit, Verlander exits the game.
Brandon Lyon comes on to replace Verlander. I don’t care what his numbers are — he stinks.
BOOM!!! Who needs Morneau? Cuddyer just crushes one to leftcenter field. 6-2 Twins. I can’t believe there are people out there who think Lyon is good.
Gomez flies to rightcenter and Clete Thomas, who replaced Ordonez for defense makes a nice running catch for the second out.
This is the problem if the Tigers even make the playoffs. Even if Verlander gives you seven, solid innings, who is going to pitch the eighth? Lyon is going to pitch the eigth in Yankee Stadium? No thank you.
Lyon gets Morales swinging to end the inning. But the damage was done.
The Twins score five big runs and take a 6-2 lead into the ninth inning.
Jose Mijares on to close out the game for the Twins. Mijares looks like a left-handed Juan Berenguer.
Mijares makes quick work of Everett, as Everett flies out to Span for the first out.
Boy, someone needs to talke to Granderson. His team is down by four runs and he goes up there swinging at the first pitch. He pops up to second for the second out.
Polanco keeps the Tigers alive as he doubles to leftcenter field.
With Ryan Raburn announced as the pinch-hitter for Don Kelly, Ron Gardenhire is going to make an unneccessary pitching change. He will bring in Matt Guerrier to face Raburn.
Can Mijares not get out Raburn? I mean come on.
Well, what I think doesn’t matter as Raburn grounds back to the mound to end the game.
Twins win 6-2 and now they are just two games back of the Tigers. The Twins won this three-game series and they will go for the sweep tomorrow.