ALDS Game 1
You want to know a secret? Despite the fact that he’s my favorite player and all, when the game is on the line and there are two outs and runners on base, Joe Mauer is pretty much the last guy in a Twins uniform that I want to see at the plate. .347 BA or not, the guy is not clutch. I’ve seen him ground out and line out in key situations more times than I care to remember this season — and I watched him do it again today.
But there were good things for the Twins today. Outside of the second inning, Santana was on fire, and pitched out of a few jams that the uncharacteristically sloppy defense got him into — he just got no run support in the other half of the innings. And while the Twins botched a few defensive plays here and there, Nick Punto made an outstanding leaping catch into some netting on the third base side that had me sitting up (which is no easy feat, given that I have the flu). Michael Cuddyer utilized the homefield advantage that is the worst stadium in baseball when he made it all the way to third on a ball that Milton Bradley couldn’t find in the dome ceiling. When Torii Hunter hit him home, I thought maybe they had a chance to come back in the ninth. But no…
Because you see, the A’s have Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas. And those two homeruns of his really did hurt.
Athletics 3, Twins 2
ALDS Game 1
Considering that Joe is the man you plan on marrying, well, let’s just hope he steps up to the plate when it really matters. It’s a wonder that Joe won the batting title this year but I hope he never does again. I’d much prefer a #3 hitter hitting .290 and 100+ rbis and 25-30 homers than the relatively weak .347. The good news, while not for this year, is that it’s pretty easy to project that’s what he will become.
But it was a team loss. The Twins have an amazing propensity to play down to their pitching staff. Pitch the ace and they score no runs, pitch the weak link and amazing late inning rallies and nine run ball games.
Also, the team was shut out approximately 10% of the time this year. Given that, it is amazing that they scored around 750 runs. It also indicates that when they win, they tend to score a lot. In other words, it is a team that truly thinks and acts as one.
Having said all that, it would be nice to have a player who rises to the occasion. Frank Thomas was an easy pick for Oakland. I have no idea who it might be for the Twins.