Important Games #8 – September 23 (Twins win, 9-3)

I had a hard time ranking the games at the end of the season that really determined the Twins’ fate? Sure, it would make sense for the top seven games to all be in the Twins-Sox series and the Twins-Royals series, plus the tiebreaker. However, I decided that not only would it be boring, it would be self-defeating. There were many more important days in the 2008 season, and for different reasons. There were also a lot of really dramatic games that really weren’t that important in the long run. I mean, remember that KC game where Delmon Young did his best to lose the game on an attempted foot-first sliding catch that ended in an inside-the-parker? And then the Twins came back to win it? That was really dramatic game, and one of the worst to watch (at least, after the seventh inning, but it really wasn’t important, other than reinforcing that Delmon Young couldn’t field.

And what about games that resulted in players getting cut? I could pull out the last game where Livan pitched or Monroe hit before they were cut August first, but those games weren’t very important overall (I made a big deal about Rincon’s last game, but that game was important in and of itself). I could talk about either of the games where Lamb or Everett were cut. Again, not important. Brian Bass also sucked, but he was cut after another game that may or not make an appearance on the countdown.

This is not one of those games. By this time, the Twins roster was established, for better or for worse. This is the first of that momentous series against the ChiSox.

Box Scores and summary after the break.Here is a partial play-by-play:

  • Scott Baker was on. He pitched seven one-run, five-hit innings. He struck out four and threw 73 of 102 pitches for strikes. He was, frankly, dominant.
  • Crain pitched a scoreless inning, before Guerrier came on and continued his strategy of sucktitude, giving up two runs on a home run by Griffey.
  • Most of the Twins’ offense came from Jason Kubel and Delmon Young. Kubel hit two home runs, and went back-to-back with Delmon Young in the 7th inning. Between the two of them, there were 6 hits, five runs scored, five RBIs, a triple, a double, and a walk. Basically, they raked.
  • Gomez and Punto each had two singles and Morneau had a double. The Twins had a total of  12 hits.
  • Span didn’t have a good game. He was in the midst of a nasty slump. He was hitless and struck out twice.

Here’s the Box:

Chi White Sox AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Cabrera, SS 4 0 1 0 0 0 2 .281
Pierzynski, C 4 0 0 0 0 1 4 .280
Phillips, C 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Dye, RF 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 .288
Thome, DH 4 1 1 0 0 1 0 .245
Konerko, 1B 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 .243
Griffey Jr., CF 3 1 1 2 1 0 1 .246
Ramirez, 2B 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 .294
Wise, LF 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 .280
Uribe, 3B 2 0 1 0 1 0 2 .249
Totals 31 3 6 2 3 4 11
BATTING
HR: Griffey Jr. (17, 9th inning off Guerrier, 1 on, 2 out).
TB: Cabrera; Thome; Konerko; Griffey Jr. 4; Ramirez; Uribe.
RBI: Griffey Jr. 2 (69).
2-out RBI: Griffey Jr. 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Pierzynski 2.
GIDP: Griffey Jr.; Cabrera.
Team LOB: 4.
Minnesota AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Span, RF 5 0 0 0 0 2 4 .294
Casilla, 2B 5 0 0 0 0 1 2 .285
Mauer, C 4 1 1 0 0 0 1 .329
Morneau, 1B 3 2 1 1 1 0 0 .308
Kubel, DH 4 3 3 3 0 0 1 .276
Young, LF 3 2 3 2 1 0 0 .293
Buscher, 3B 3 0 0 1 0 0 2 .298
Punto, SS 4 1 2 1 0 0 1 .285
Gomez, CF 4 0 2 1 0 0 2 .258
Totals 35 9 12 9 2 3 13
BATTING
2B: Young (28, Vazquez, J), Morneau (47, Richard).
3B: Kubel (5, Vazquez, J).
HR: Kubel 2 (20, 2nd inning off Vazquez, J, 1 on, 0 out; 7th inning off Logan, 0 on, 1 out), Young (10, 7th inning off Logan, 0 on, 1 out).
TB: Mauer; Morneau 2; Kubel 11; Young 7; Punto 2; Gomez 2.
RBI: Kubel 3 (78), Young 2 (67), Punto (28), Gomez (57), Morneau (129), Buscher (47).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Span 2; Casilla; Punto; Mauer.
SF: Buscher.
Team LOB: 5.

BASERUNNING
SB: Punto (13, 2nd base off Vazquez, J/Pierzynski), Gomez (32, 2nd base off Vazquez, J/Pierzynski).

FIELDING
DP: 2 (Punto-Morneau, Casilla-Punto-Morneau).

Chi White Sox IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Vazquez, J (L, 12-15) 4.0 7 5 5 1 3 1 4.46
Richard 2.0 3 2 2 1 0 0 6.25
Logan 0.1 2 2 2 0 0 2 5.95
Carrasco 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3.58
Ramirez, H 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.17
Minnesota IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Baker (W, 10-4) 7.0 5 1 1 1 4 0 3.59
Crain 1.0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3.71
Guerrier 1.0 1 2 2 1 0 1 5.06
IBB: Young (by Richard).
Pitches-strikes: Vazquez, J 78-51, Richard 29-19, Logan 4-4, Carrasco 5-3, Ramirez, H 11-8, Baker 102-73, Crain 9-4, Guerrier 20-10.
Groundouts-flyouts: Vazquez, J 7-2, Richard 3-3, Logan 1-0, Carrasco 2-0, Ramirez, H 2-1, Baker 6-11, Crain 2-1, Guerrier 1-2.
Batters faced: Vazquez, J 20, Richard 10, Logan 3, Carrasco 2, Ramirez, H 3, Baker 26, Crain 3, Guerrier 5.

I felt quite sorry for Vazquez coming into this game; Ozzie had just finished telling the national media that he wasn’t a “big game pitcher.” However, it turned out to be true. In Vazquez’ most important start of the season, he failed rather miserably. Clayton Richard and Boone Logan followed him up with yet more fail. Ouch.

This was a fun game to watch, because not only did the Twins beat the Chisox, they beat them rather badly. It also was a must-win game… and they won. It seemed like most players performed quite well. Honestly, there isn’t that much for me to rant about on the tail end of this game. It was a must-win, ergo it was important. Really important.

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