Well boys, I was scheduled to work from 10-8 today but when I got there to start my shift they said I could head home until 2 if I wanted. I could use the money, but I could use the family/study time more so I accepted. Studied for a bit, hung out with the wife and kid, took the dogs for a walk and brought the old transistor radio along. Heard the first 4 innings as relayed by Provus & Dazzle, watched bits and pieces of the last 5 innings when I got to work. Was able to wander into the bar to watch the big Willingham at-bat from first pitch to big boy swing. But more on that after the jump.
Both pitchers (Diamond and Leake) pitched very well throughout and in the end, it was homers by Joey Votto (2-run) and Trevor Plouffe! (what else – solo) and RBI’s by Valdez and Mountie that left the game at 3-2 in favor of Cincinnati in the top of the 9th. Mastroianni had a nice at-bat against Chapman before striking out. Up walks the hometown hero and, if Mastroianni had a nice at-bat, Joe Mauer had a hell of an at-bat. After finding himself down (surprise) 0-2, Joe saw 7 more pitches, fouling off 4 and working himself back to a full count before lacing a double off the left field wall. Span came in to run for Joe (hobbling around on a bruised thigh and tweaked hamstring – but STILL IN THE GAME). It was up to my favorite Twins addition since…well, only since JI JIM…but, well, favorite addition this year – Josh Willingham. Hammer heads up to the plate, takes a strike and then watches three straight fastballs up and away before jacking a massive (no doubt) shot into the 2nd deck in left for what end up being the go-ahead runs. I’m proud to say, it was my first honest-to-goodness “spookied” homer of the season.
Other than a minor hiccup in the 3rd and the Votto 2-run homer in the 8th, Scott Diamond had one of his better outings of late; holding the Reds to 3 runs through 8 innings. His line was pretty outstanding for a Twins starting pitcher this season – 3 runs on 8 hits, 7 K’s and only 1 BB. He threw first pitch strikes to 26 of the 33 batters he faced and 65 of his 82 pitches overall were in the zone. Burton came on for the 9th, issued a walk, sacrifice bunt, and another walk before wiggling for the save with a diving Casilla literally hugging 2nd base for the force out to end the game.
The Twins leave Cincinnati with a series win and the National League with a 9-10 record. They head back to Minnesota to face the Chicago White Sox (with new addition Kevin Youkilis) followed by AL Central foes Kansas City and then a trip to Detroit to finish up the first half of the 2012 season. They are 29-42, 4-6 in their last 10 and currently sit 8.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox.