Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Game of the Day (8/11/14)

Twins 4, Astros 2. I suppose a third consecutive 19-inning game would have been a bit much to ask... The Astros started Brad Peacock against Minnesota's Tommy Milone. Peacock and Milone were once involved in the same trade; they were both sent from Washington to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez deal before the 2012 season. The A's have since traded both men, and now they are pitching against each other.

The Twins put up the game's first run, as Danny Santana led off the game with a single, was doubled to third by Brian Dozier, saw Joe Mauer walk to load the bases, and scored when Trevor Plouffe hit into a force at second. In the bottom of the inning, Jose Altuve homered to tie it.

The teams mounted repeated rallies over the next two innings. Eduardo Escobar doubled and was stranded in the second. Singles by Jonathan Singleton and Jake Marisnick and a Gregorio Petit walk loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning, but Robbie Grossman hit into a double play. In the third, Mauer doubled and Kennys Vargas singled to put runners at the corners before Peacock escaped the jam. Altuve led off the bottom of the third with a single and moved to second on a flyout (which is some cool baserunning), but Milone left him there.

Minnesota took the lead once more in the fourth, starting with a one-out Escobar double. Santana reached on an infield hit, moving Escobar to third. Peacock then attempted to pick Santana off of first, but threw inaccurately, allowing Santana to take third and Escobar to score the go-ahead run. A Singleton walk and a Marisnick single pushed the tying run into scoring position in the bottom of the inning, but Milone recovered to strand them both. After a perfect fifth from Peacock, Chris Carter homered to even the score in the bottom of the inning.

Jake Buchanan replaced Peacock in the sixth and allowed only an Escobar walk. Milone gave up a single to Marisnick in the bottom of the inning, but then picked him off of first. Santana singled to start the seventh and was caught stealing second; Dozier then reached on a Buchanan error, but Mauer lined into a double play to end the inning. Ryan Pressly retired the Astros in order in the bottom of the seventh, and the Twins tried again in the eighth. Plouffe singled with one out and took second on a passed ball. After Buchanan earned the second out, Chris Parmelee singled, and Plouffe was thrown out at home.

Pressly recorded the first out of the bottom of the eighth, then was replaced by Brian Duensing for the last two. In the top of the ninth, Josh Fields walked Jordan Schafer with one out, and Schafer stole second with two away. Dozier then walked, and Mauer worked a full count, so the runners were moving with the pitch that he grounded into left for a single. Schafer scored the go-ahead run easily, and left fielder Domingo Santana held onto the ball for reasons that are not at all clear to me, allowing Dozier to race home as well for a 4-2 lead. Glen Perkins allowed a Marisnick single in the bottom of the inning, but retired the other three hitters he faced to secure the save.

It was a good day for 23-year-old center fielders, as Jake Marisnick had a career high four hits, and Danny Santana added three. It was also a pretty good day for Jake Buchanan, who appears to be filling a lost role on the Houston pitching staff - he's made eight appearances this year; two have been starts (lasting 4.1 and 5 innings), and three others have been relief outings of 3 innings or more. That would seem to place him squarely in the category of "long man," at least if "long man" were still a category that people used.

Most of all, though, it was a good day for Joe Mauer, who went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and a go-ahead ninth-inning RBI. That's the kind of performance Mauer rode to three batting titles and a solid Hall of Fame case, and it's the kind he'll need a lot more of if he's going to retain any semblance of productivity now that he's no longer a catcher.

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