"Like a tire fire in your mouth." - photo by Flickr user DR000
I suppose I could do the usual thing and tell you which batters and pitchers had the highest and lowest WPA for the game, but seriously, why should I bother? Last night was beyond laughably bad for several reasons. Joe Mauer inexplicably played the entire game despite not exactly being a McGriff-like model of durability. That seems to be to be a case of serious managerial malpractice. Did the reporters present at the postgame ask a single question about this decision? Not as far as I can tell from the articles available as I write this (0100 Tuesday). I could grouch about Mauer playing or mediocre journalism more, but I'm guessing the number of eyes that care to revisit last night by reading this are already going to be pretty low.
Moving along, the storyline for last night (apart from being blown out of the water) is Cuddyer's turn as a pitcher. According to the AP, this was the first time a position player took the hill for the Twins since John Moses pitched an inning in relief. That was 31 July 1990, in a 13-2 loss to the California Angels. Moses actually pitched twice in 1990, each time in a loss charged to Allan Anderson, throwing an inning in each appearance. The other was in a 13-1 loss to the Red Sox on 19 May, when the Sawk hung 5 runs on Anderson before he was given the hook after 0.2 IP. In all, five position players have now pitched for the Twins: Julio Becquer (10 Sept 1961), César Tovar (more on him in a minute), Dan Gladden (27 June 1988 and 7 May 1989, both Fred Toliver losses), John Moses, and now Cuddyer.
Anyway, Cuddy's now played every position on the diamond except shortstop and catcher. The question is, why didn't he play all nine last night? If you believe (or have resigned yourself to the fact that) the Twins will not trade Cuddyer at the deadline because they're overly fond of him, then there was absolutely no reason for him to not become the second Twin to have played all nine positions in a game. I suppose one could make the argument that doing so would simply remind Twins fans of this game when it comes up in bar trivia 30 years from now, but quite honestly, that's not good enough. In a game where history has significant weight, Ron Gardenhire and the coaching staff squandered a golden opportunity for Cuddyer to join (in order) Bert Campaneris, César Tovar, Scott Shelton, and Shane Halter as the only players in baseball history to perform that feat. I don't think there's any shame in that. I would have kept watching, no matter how bad the score got, simply to see Cuddyer pull it off.
A few words about pulling it off, then. If you don't already know, Campaneris was the first player to pull it off, back in 1965. Tovar became the second three years later, on 22 September 1968. When he took the mound in the first inning of that game, do you know who stepped in to face Tovar? That's right - Bert Campaneris. (Campy fouled out to Ron Clark at third base.) Tovar recorded one strikeout - the always-prolific Reggie Jackson. In the second Tovar was behind the plate, and you can guess what his box score reads from there: P-C-1B-2B-SS-3B-LF-CF-RF. Tom Hall, who came on to pitch the second, got the win. Rod Carew played short for an inning. Graig Nettles manned center field for four innings. If Graig Nettles could play center for four innings, there's no reason the Twins couldn't have let Cuddyer play short, catcher, and everywhere else last night. It would have given Twins fans an opportunity to fondly remember César Tovar, a player who deserves more remembrance than he gets, and would allow Cuddy to check off an item or two more on his bucket list. With a game as bad as last night's was, and it was far, far worse than hitting Malört out of the bottle like a cowboy, the club has to give something back to the fans who stick around until the bitter end, something to deaden that throw-up-in-the-mouth taste. Cuddy playing all nine would have done it. Instead we got nine innings of suck and needless risk to the franchise player (yeah, I'm not over that).
Here's this week's View from the Ballpark:
photo by The WGOM's very own Rhubarb_Runner
Remember, no embiggening.