Thursday, August 7, 2014

Game of the Day (8/6/14)

Padres 5, Twins 4 (10). Minnesota started 12-year veteran Kevin Correia, who is getting pretty old and has been pretty bad so far this year. The Padres countered with a 27-year-old rookie making his eighth major league start. His name is Odrisamer Despaigne, which is unusual enough that I don't even think a baseball video game generating fictional future prospects could come up with it. (In particular, the first name is uncommon enough that Despaigne, who is not especially famous, is responsible for the entire first page of Google results when searching for "Odrisamer.")

Correia retired the Padres in order in the top of the first, and the Twins jumped out in front with a Brian Dozier single and a Trevor Plouffe homer. Correia was perfect again in the second, and Minnesota loaded the bases on singles by Eduardo Escobar and Eric Fryer and a one-out HBP of Danny Santana, but Despaigne induced a force at home from Dozier and got Plouffe to fly out, ending the inning.

Yonder Alonso led off the third with a double and made it to third with one out, but was stranded there. In the fourth, however, the Padres picked up their first run on a Tommy Medica single and a Jedd Gyorko double. Despaigne allowed a Jordan Schafer single-and-steal, then walked Santana in the bottom of the fourth, but left both men on. Correia was perfect once more in the fifth, and the Twins restored the two-run lead in the bottom of the inning when Kennys Vargas singled, Chris Parmelee walked, and Escobar singled Vargas around.

San Diego rallied in the top of the sixth on a single by Everth Cabrera, a walk to Yangervis Solarte, an RBI double by Seth Smith, and a run-scoring groundout from Medica that tied the game at 3. Minnesota then responded once more as Santana was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on Plouffe's single. Alex Torres relieved Despaigne and got Vargas to ground out to end the inning.

Brian Duensing got into trouble in the top of the seventh, allowing an Alonso single and walking Rene Rivera; Jared Burton replaced him and promptly picked Alonso off of second to defuse the rally. Oswaldo Arcia led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, but Torres then induced a double play. Burton walked Smith and allowed a Medica single in the eighth before stranding both men, and Torres allowed a leadoff double to Fryer, then combined with Nick Vincent to leave him at second.

Glen Perkins took the mound in the ninth and was greeted by an Alonso double. Rivera walked, Alexi Amarista bunted the runners to second and third, and Cabrera followed with a game-tying sacrifice fly. Kevin Quackenbush walked Plouffe to start the home ninth; pinch runner Eduardo Nunez stole second and Arcia was intentionally walked, but Quackenbush left both runners on to send the game to extras. Smith broke the tie with a tenth-inning leadoff homer against Anthony Swarzak, and Joaquin Benoit allowed a Kurt Suzuki single and walked Dozier, but left Suzuki at second to secure the save.

The two most important hitters in this game occupied the third spots in their teams' batting orders; that doesn't qualify as terribly unusual by baseball standards. What is slightly less normal, however, is the fact that those players were Seth Smith (2 for 4 with an RBI double and the game-winning homer) and Trevor Plouffe (also 2 for 4, with a 2-run homer to open the scoring and 3 RBI). Combine that with the undistinguished pitching matchup, and you have a reasonable explanation for the fact that these two teams are a combined 19 games under .500 on the season.

But with the constant Padre rallies and the Twins leaving runners in scoring position in both the ninth and tenth, these two subpar teams still managed to produce an excellent baseball game.

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