Weather: 74 degrees, overcast
Wind: 9 mph, R to L
This game was all about pitching. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Nick Blackburn pitched a good game. Luke Hochevar pitched a good game. Both went seven innings. Blackburn gave up no runs on four hits and two walks, Hochevar gave up one on three hits and three walks.
Coming out of the bullpen in the eighth, Joe Nathan and Tim Collins were good, neither giving up a hit and only Collins allowing a base runner on one walk.
For Hochevar, the bad came in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Ben Revere stepped to the plate. He's got legs, and he knows how to use them. Revere promptly beat out an infield single, then stole second to get into scoring position. Casilla grounded out, moving Revere to third, and with first base open the Royals decided to give Joe Mauer a free pass, the first of three walks on the night for Mauer. Cuddyer popped up to the first baseman for the second out. But with Jim Thome batting, Hochevar uncorked a wild pitch and Revere scampered home for the Twins lone run of the game.
The ugly came in the top of the ninth. Matt Capps led off the inning by walking Melky Cabrera on four pitches. Cabrera stole second, and things were looking grim for the home team. But then hope returned. Alex Gordon grounded out to first, keeping Cabrera anchored at second. Then Butler drove a Capps meatball deep to the right field corner. Jason Repko, in as a defensive replacement for Plouffe!, made a great running catch, turned and threw to second. Cabrera, who played the ball halfway, had to retreat.
Eric Hosmer, rookie first baseman, stepped to the plate representing the last out and a win for the Twins, and the go-ahead run for the Royals. Eager rookie versus crafty (and I use that term ironically) veteran. You've seen the plot a thousand times. In this adaptation, Matt Capps threw his second pitch to Hosmer, a Hello, Dolly! fastball down the geometric center of the strike zone, and Hosmer drove the ball over the fence in dead center field. Joakim Soria came in to show Matt Capps how closing a game is supposed to be done, that is, without giving up home runs that lose the game for you. He held the Twins scoreless in the ninth, and the Twins lost the game in stunning if not completely unpredictable fashion.
Folks, Matt Capps sucks at closing baseball games right now. He was never especially great at it, but now he sucks with the mindless fury of a black hole, impelling wins and puppies and beer and all good things that cross his gravitational field into the inescapable denseness of his collapsed, compacted mass. He sucks. He should not be closing games for this team. Use Perkins, use Nathan. Free Chuck James. Do whatever has to be done, but for the love of puppies and beer - for the love of winning itself - do not let Matt Capps close another baseball game for the Minnesota Twins.