Uggh! Yankees 4, Twins 3

10 Oct

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Hey ya’ll, remember that I’m the positive Twins blogger, right? It’s been awhile since I’ve been as frustrated in a game as last night. If you listen to last night’s podcast, you will get to hear a couple of rants. That doesn’t happen too often. For 8 ½ innings, that was a great baseball game. It stayed a great baseball game, just not for Twins games, starting with the bottom of the 9th:

Joe Nathan was named the Rolaids Relief Award winner earlier yesterday. The award goes to the top closer in the league based on some formula. Nathan had a team record 47 saves on the season. But is there anyone in Twins nation that had any confidence when Joe Nathan took the mound with a 3-1 lead for the 9th inning in Yankees Stadium last night with Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui coming to the plate? My only confidence was this… I was so sure that Joe Nathan was going to blow the save, that I assumed I must be wrong, that just maybe Nathan would actually step up and get the final three outs without coughing up the lead. That’s right, my only confidence in Nathan was that I had no confidence in him, so maybe just this one time he would come through.

But instead, he started nibbling. Sliders just off the plate. Fastballs just off the plate. Falling behind because the Yankees hitters are disciplined enough not to swing at pitches that aren’t strikes. Here’s an idea for Joe Nathan. Hey, you throw 95-96 mph, try throwing one of those over the plate earlier in the count, not after you’ve nibbled your way into a 2-1 or 3-1 count. See, then they know a fastball is coming, and hitters like Alex Rodriguez… they like those kinds of pitches. Fastballs right down the middle travel a long ways. So really, I get that you’ve got like 14 pitches, and that they work for most of the league. But this isn’t most of the league. It is the Yankees, and this is the playoffs.

But again, it was no surprise to see Joe Nathan blow a save in Yankees Stadium. That’s what he does. The Little Engine That Could (as the media loves to portray the Twins) played a great game. They outplayed the Yankees. The Twins had 12 hits, seven walks and were hit by two pitches in the game. They were not overmatched. People can point to the play where Carlos Gomez ran past second base and was tagged out by Derek Jeter before Delmon Young scored. Not a good play by Gomez, obviously a mistake. But honest, if the Twins had a 4-1 lead going into the bottom of the 9th, that would only have meant that Nathan would have given up three runs instead of two. Twins fans can play the LF umpire for missing the Mauer should-have-been double in the 11th, a ball that was clearly fair. But it never should have got there.

The Twins lost. The Twins did not choke. No, one player choked, and he’s been doing that in Yankees Stadium regularly since 2004. Some Twins fans look to Ron Gardenhire and his 5-27 record against the Yankees. Or they mention that the Twins are 0-9 against them this year. Well, that can’t all be put on him. Last night, he made all of the right decisions, including replacing Nathan with Jose Mijares in the 10th.

It’s really unfortunate that the game turned out like it did because a lot of very good things happened in this game.

  • Nick Blackburn was awesome!! He didn’t give up a hit until the fifth and pitched into the sixth. Had it been a normal regular season game, he would have lasted much longer, I’m sure. He got ahead (with this crazy thing called a fastball, even if it only was 89-91 mph!). He threw a lot of strikes. He had good movement on his pitches. He looked in control. Nick Blackburn again pitched big in a big game!
  • The bullpen was good. Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay were terrific. Matt Guerrier had an excellent inning of work.
  • Nick Punto was on base three times. He drove in a run with a single and walked twice.
  • Brendan Harris will likely be the team’s 3B for the near future. He came in for Matt Tolbert at 3B and hit the big triple that gave the Twins as 1-0 lead. He also mad an incredible diving play at 3B, got up and made a good throw to 1B which Michael Cuddyer was able to pick up on the short hope for an out. Tolbert left the game with a strained oblique.
  • Michael Cuddyer had three hits. Denard Span and Joe Mauer each had two. Mauer also walked twice. Nick Punto went 1-3 with two walks.

How many times this year did I count the Twins out? I believe at last count, it was 49 times that I said the Twins 2009 season was over, that there was no way that the Twins could make the playoffs. The Twins backs are up against the wall again. This time, instead of playing another AL Central foe, they are taking on the best team in baseball. They are down two games to none in a best of five series. Things certainly look bleak.

And once again, I have to think, logic tells me, that this is over. Even though the Twins are coming home for Game 3. The effects of the Joe Nathan blown save can’t help but linger. That one was hard to swallow for Twins fans.

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18 Responses to “Uggh! Yankees 4, Twins 3”

  1. Michael October 10, 2009 at 7:40 am #

    Frustrating, yes. But did any of us expect the Twins to be here? I’m just happy that we made it to the playoffs and everything beyond this point is gravy. It has been a fun and exciting season, whether we beat the Yankees or not.

  2. Bill in Sarasota October 10, 2009 at 8:24 am #

    Twins cannot win without doing all of the little things correctly:
    Gomez baserunning , Nathan nibbling too much.
    I cannot complain since the Twins played a great game.
    However, one of my biggest pet peeves with Gardy is that he doesn’t believe in the take sign. He wants his players to be able to swing in case it’s a fat pitch.
    Young and Gomez are classic free swingers. Playoffs, bases loaded, extra innings, I’m sure their adrenaline was off the charts. Of course the other side knows this and it’s obvious they used it to their advantage.

  3. the Dragon October 10, 2009 at 8:52 am #


    I didn’t realize Young or Gomez are better hitters with an 0-1 or 0-2 count.


    I agree 100% on Nathan. I kept hoping the Twins would get to 4/5 run lead so Nathan could sit out the game.

    By the Way, whould Nathan bring anything in an off-season trade?


  4. Seth October 10, 2009 at 9:07 am #

    I was just fine with Young swinging at the first pitch. He got a good pitch and ripped a shot, just right at Tex. I can’t find fault in that at all.

    Gomez, on the other hand, swung at the first pitch, even though he clearly wasn’t ready or didn’t want to or something. That was not good.

    And Dragon, excellent question, I would just say, check back later today or tomorrow for my thoughts on that topic.

  5. Adam Peterson October 10, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    Another key to the game…In the 10th, Punto absolutely had to find a way to steal second. I don’t know if Gardy gave him the green light or not, but he played cat and mouse for six pitches before Span’s single. Considering the way Cabrera hit last night, we have to steal second in that situation. Much like Gardner in the bottom of the 10th.

  6. Adam Peterson October 10, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    I’m totally with you on Nathan. His nibbling is ticking me off. It use to be, he nibbled after pounding the zone and getting up 0-2. Not from the first pitch. If we were up 4-1, he would have given up 3 runs. If Mauer doubles and scores in the 11th, the Yankees score more runs after Teixeira’s home run.

  7. Han Joelo October 10, 2009 at 9:22 am #

    Seth, I too am a super positive never say die homer apologist who absolutely lost it last night for the first time this year. Almost couldn’t sleep. Heck, I’d thrown in the towel in the in the 10th inning, right before the DP ball. My wife scolded me. Then the Twins rally…Yankees running out of pitchers. Tolbert’s injury was huge. Could’ve pinch hit for Gomez if there was anybody left to play the outfield. Unless Morales can play first.

    One fascinating subplot I enjoyed: Gomez getting the better of Phil Hughes.

  8. the Dragon October 10, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    Question regarding Nathan’s “nibbling”…HOW much responsibility can be attributed to Mauer? I presume Mauer is more than a potted plant with a catching mitt.


  9. mike wants wins October 10, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    Wow. Nathan is the 2nd best closer in all of baseball for the last 5 years. I cannot believe how much you all are ripping him.

    As for Mauer, he’s now admitted he’s too tired right now to run. But, I’m sure all of us saying that playing catcher will wear him down (faster and faster every year) are still wrong about that….

  10. Mark October 10, 2009 at 10:40 am #

    Ok Seth after reading your comments about last night’s game I have come to this conclusion. You like everyone else are upset at Joe’s lack of performance(good performance). Well so am I. During the 2007 season I noticed signs that Nathan’s skills as an elite closer were showing signs of slipping when he started losing games when all he had to do was save the game. Then in 2008 that comment became painfully clear with more losses.And now we come to this year which has been a very painful season for Joe and the fans when we see performances like last night. Alot of fans want him to be traded or get rid of him! But I say why? This guy has had some bad luck situations lately and everyone wants him gone! With the exception Of Nick Blackburn’s performance just getting to the 6th inning is a miracle. Or Dunesing’s pitching in game 1. what about the rest of this teams performance on the field? What about Kubel striking out so much or Joe Mauer can get on base but cannot bring anyone home? Or another of Gomez’s mindless mistakes runing on the bases? So here comes Nathan who has the worse night of his career and everyone wants his his head! Please tell us Seth, if the Twins wanted to make all thses fans happy and get rid of Nathan how would they do it?

  11. Gizzy October 10, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    This is all on Nathan !! Your stars have to step it up in the playoffs. When you are 0-8 vs a team for the year and you have a lead for once , you have to convert that save. But the good news is we all think were done now , thats when we play are best ball. GO DOME MAGIC GO TWINS !!

  12. Nate October 10, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    Nathan has got to go. And not so much because he blew the save but because he was the only Twins player all night who actually looked scared of the Yankees. Everybody else came out with the mindest that they were going to stick it to the Bombers for once. A couple guys were pressing a little bit, sure. But that is not the same thing as going out onto the field and being scared of your opponent. And when it’s one of your star players who is the guy looking scared, that’s a problem.

  13. ben October 10, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    I wasn’t comfortable that lead and Nathan coming in either. But we should probably take a deep breath and get some distance from last night’s game before we make him the next Nick Punto.

  14. Greg October 10, 2009 at 1:42 pm #

    i thought the only crazy posting was on the Twin startribune pages. Thought about dealing the Rolaids Reliever?

    Not having Morneau also doesn”t help.

    Win Twins!

  15. rover27 October 10, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    You stated Nathan has a 95-96 mph fastball. Nathan hasn’t consistently thrown that hard in a couple of years. He’s 92-94 mph normally with no movement. He might pop one at 95-96 ocassionally, but not very often. So, he’s become a slider, curveball pitcher. Nibbling with the fastball. He can’t blow it past hitters like he used to, thus his struggles…and he’s not getting better going forward.

  16. Shawn in Binghamton October 10, 2009 at 3:20 pm #

    I was at Game 2 in 2004 where yes, Nathan blew a win…. at about 50 pitches he ran out of gas. He was great to that point and hasn’t been the same against this team since. Nathan doesn’t often throw 95-96 anymore and has to use a little more guile. I was pissed he blew the save and I really hope Gardy was pissed at the team for the loss and made it clear. Chairs needed to be thrown, etc…. Nathan, is still one of the best 3 closers in the game, he just needs a shock to the system. The idea of trading him is crazy. I agree Mauer might be part of the nibbling. Especially against lefties, the nibbling on the outside to lefties drives me nuts. As far as any lack of faith you had in Nathan? The team and fans have a lack of faith that the Twins will beat the Yankees, Nathan was just the foil in that argument for last night. Go back to being level headed, it suits you much better.

  17. Joe October 10, 2009 at 5:18 pm #

    Wow, did Seth really write this one? Who did you want out there, Keppel? According to TBS he was throwing 96 against the Tigers, but I think there’s more to closing games than velocity. Rivera only clocks in around 91 these days and seems to do ok.

  18. Michael October 11, 2009 at 10:01 am #

    The team really should not even be playing and here most of you are ripping the second best closer in the game because he gave up a HR to the best player in the AL. Wow. Some of you really need to get a life or least a reality check.

    He has far more on nights than 98% of the players in the game and he blows one and “he nibbles,” “he is on the downside,” “he’s too old,” “we need to trade him.”

    If Mauer goes 0-4 today, will the “frustrated reactionaries” demand that we trade Joe? After all, he could fetch us some pretty good prospects who you can then demand a promotion for until they finally are and then blow a game or two and the process starts all over.

    Get real.

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