Battle of the Also-Rans
The Toronto Blue Jays and The Minnesota Twins, wrestling for possession of fourth place in the Wild Card race (with the mighty Oakland Athletics), were like a pair of samurai this evening, each desperately trying to push the other out of the chalk ring without success. Behold: Scott Baker and Shaun Marcum pitched very good games and watched as their respective clubs could only score a run apiece. Baker's was a particularly impressive performance, going seven full innings, giving up a run and striking out nine. This type of performance should be rewarded with a Win for the young hurler, right? Not in Twins Territory...
You can get all thrilled to pieces that the Twins have their seventh walk-off victory of the season, after Jeff Cirillo, pinch-hitting in the twelfth fucking, inning looped a single into center to score Mike Cuddyer from third. You could roar with delight when Jason Kubel drew a tenth inning walk that amounted to nothing. When your team's not scoring, when the opponent's not scoring (and you know in your gut they should), you'll take what you can get. You may marvel at the pitcher's duel unfolding on the field, but deep down you're feeling cheated.
I say the duel was decent, nothing more. True, Baker was magnificent. When Vernon Wells (a Twins killer if ever there was one) doubled to open the fourth and end a no-hit bid, Baker never lost his composure. With Wells standing at the keystone, the kid from Shreveport induced a pop-up and struck out the next two. So that was good.
If only we could've scored. Because this Shaun Marcum, who is excelling as a starter for the Jays (3-0, 2.26 as a starter), seemed to be given some help with his dubious magic by some serious hacking on our part. No Twin saw more than five pitches per at-bat through seven innings, and none took a Jay pitcher to a full count until the tenth inning. Granted, there weren't many strikeouts, so at least we got some wood on the ball. But that's cold comfort.
The Twins can't ask guys like Scott Baker to do a whole heck of a lot more. If they insist on playing small ball, well, that involves piranhas nibbling on opposing pitchers with plate appearances swollen with high pitch counts. Instead, we get an extra-inning game that should have been finished in the regulation nine. Neither team looked like a contender tonight.