Weather: 54 degrees, overcast
Wind: 13 mph, L to R
Right now, the Minnesota Twins are the worst team in baseball, and it's not even that close. Twelve games under .500 and 11.5 games out of first place. A paltry .333 winning percentage and a losing streak that now runs to six games. Watching this team play baseball is about as much fun as growing up in a Dickensian orphanage. It's damp and drafty, it's cold, the beatings are frequent and severe, and there's never enough gruel in your bowl.
Tonight's game was typical of the thin gruel that's been the portion for Twins fans so far this season. Carl Pavano for the home team squared off on the mound with the Jay's Ricky Romero. While Pavano managed to hold the Jays scoreless through five and a third, he was far from sharp, struggling to spot his pitches, allowing seven hits and walking three while only striking out one Toronto hitter. He would leave the game in the sixth, having thrown 115 pitches, just 71 for strikes.
The Twins bullpen was equally mediocre, albeit with less favorable results. After bailing out Pavano in the sixth, Burnett gave up a single before walking Jose Bautista. Hoey came on in relief and promptly gave up a soft hit to Juan Rivera, scoring Corey Patterson. Hoey then redeemed himself to a small degree by striking out Aaron Hill and inducing an inning-ending double play off of J.P. Arencibia. With the Twins these days, one run feels like an almost insurmountable lead, so it was only a little bit of salt in the wound when Nathan led off the ninth inning by serving up a round-tripper to, who else, Jose Bautista.
But even had Nathan not given up the late bomb, Ricky Romero made sure that any Jays lead would be enough. He held the Twins to just four hits through eight and two-thirds, and only one of those four hits was a well struck ball. Romero, who lost in his last outing when Justin Verlander tossed a no-hitter against the Jays, seemed intent on throwing one himself tonight until Span broke up his no-no bid in the sixth. It was a moral victory of sorts for the struggling Gemini, but the only victory that Nike would allow them this damp, chill evening.
With the no-hitter off the table, Romero went for the consolation prize, a complete game shutout. He carried it all the way to the bottom of the ninth, when he walked Trevor Plouffe to lead off the inning. But Romero quickly regained his control to strike out both Kubel and Morneau. Then Delmon Young, back in the lineup for the first time since going on the disabled list, snuck a weak bleeder past Aaron Hill, sending Plouffe to second. With a runner now in scoring position, the tying run on first, and the winning run at the plate, the Jays went to their closer, the bilingually redundant Franklin Francisco, to try to complete the shutout. Michael Cuddyer, who guesses often and guesses poorly, obliged Francisco and the Jays by striking out on a checked swing at a pitch almost a foot outside.
So there you have it. Damp, drafty and cold, and the gruel these days tastes rather undeniably like shite. But the beatings do build character, or so they say. And who couldn't use a bit of extra character in these troubling times?
Please, sir, may I have some more?