08/05/10 12:37 AM ET
Twins outlast Rays on Young's RBI single
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
The poorly fielded sixth-inning double to left-center by Carl Crawford, the ninth-inning collapse by Matt Capps, the 1-for-14 hitting with runners in scoring position -- just to name a few.
But there were just as many bright spots to be remembered: Scott Baker's dominant eight innings on the mound; the excellent performance by the rest of the bullpen and Delmon Young's game-deciding RBI single to left field in the 13th inning. And, of course, Minnesota will remember the 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay before 19,172 at Tropicana Field.
"Throughout any game, you get things that happen, and obviously, you look back as a player and say, 'Wow, that turned the game, and we ended up losing.' You may take it a little harder in those losing games," said Matt Guerrier, who pitched two perfect innings and picked up the win. "Those winning games, you might say, 'All right, that's something I need to work on, but at least it didn't cost us the game.' I think everybody's just happy we got the win, even if it took four or five innings too long."
Baker was about as good as he could have possibly been against the Rays (67-40), and the Twins' lineup spotted him an early run -- seemingly the only one Minnesota (60-48) would need, given the way Baker was working on the mound -- and a 1-0 lead that lasted until the bottom of the ninth. But Capps, who joined the team last week in a trade with the Nationals, replaced Baker and gave up the tying run on a single by Dan Johnson that scored Evan Longoria.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said it was difficult to see his starter not get the win after such an excellent performance -- eight shutout innings with three hits, one walk, a hit batter and seven strikeouts. Baker's teammates shared that sentiment, though they all agreed that the most important thing was picking up a win after dropping two straight to Tampa Bay.
"Anytime a pitcher pitches like that, you would love for him to get it. He deserves to win," center fielder Denard Span said. "It's too bad for him, but I'm pretty sure if you go ask him, he would say that he's just happy we won today."
Baker was hitting on all cylinders against the Rays, mixing up his pitches and keeping Tampa Bay's hitters guessing throughout the game. The right-hander, who dropped his ERA from 5.00 to 4.70 in the no-decision, credited a mechanical adjustment he made between outings. It paid off, as Baker had his longest scoreless outing of the season and was arguably the best he has looked since throwing seven shutout, two-hit innings and striking out 12 batters against the Rockies on June 16.
"He's very good at, as they say, shifting eye levels up and down," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Started mixing in a good changeup later on, just kept making good pitches. He was not giving up a whole lot at the plate. He was pitching his game tonight. He was very sharp, very competitive. He was really good."
Although Capps faltered in the ninth, giving up a leadoff double on Longoria's high fly ball that Young couldn't get underneath before Johnson ripped a single into right field to drive in the game-tying run, the rest of the bullpen stepped up to the challenge.
Relievers Jesse Crain, Jose Mijares and Guerrier combined to give up no hits and just two walks in a combined four innings of scoreless work. Guerrier tossed two perfect innings after suffering the loss in his first three appearances against the Rays this season, including Tuesday night's 6-4 defeat.
The Rays' bullpen, meanwhile, fell short. Entering the top of the 13th, Lance Cormier had given up only one hit in three innings of relief. But he walked Alexi Casilla and surrendered a single to Joe Mauer that moved Casilla to third. Young, hitting .426 this season with runners in scoring position, then knocked a single into left field that brought home Casilla and put the Twins back up by one run.
"The guys kept playing and rallied and finally get a big hit by Delmon," Gardenhire said. "Some big performances out of the bullpen on both sides, and fortunately we won."
Since his team escaped with the win, Gardenhire said he wasn't going to worry about the little mistakes too much. Plus, with the series finale scheduled to begin just a little less than 13 hours after the last out of the team's longest game this season, he didn't have a whole lot of time to look back.
"You just move on," Gardenhire said. "You just keep trying to figure out how to win it. It's over with. We won the game. All those things come into play when you don't win -- I go back and stay up all night. Now, I only want to stay up half the night."
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.