Thursday, April 12, 2007

So It Goes, Carl Crawford--Notes from a Twins Victory

You might think that Justin Morneau's 3rd homerun, a walk-off giving the Twins the 3-2 victory in the bottom of the ninth would be the most dramatic action of the game. It wasn't even the most dramatic action of the inning.

Ask Carl Crawford about the real turning point in the game. We'll get to that shortly.

But first, apparently, we are here to praise Carlos Silva, not bury him. Believe me, no one is more surprised than your friends here at IDYFT. The Twins are taking some chances with their starting rotation, in part because of what happened to poor, super-awesome Francisco Liriano (who we championed early). After 1 1/2 trips through the starting rotation, Silva has looked good, Ramon Ortiz has looked absolutely fabulous, leading the team in Innings Pitched and ERA, and tied with Santana with 2 wins, AND he faced the Yankees. Yeah, it's early. Real, real early. Silva isn't leading any statistical categories (though tonight is a fine example where he should have gotten a win, and was let down by his offense and his relievers) but has looked good. The worst looking pitcher out of this rotation has to be Sidney Ponson, and really, his roughing up isn't as bad as it looks on paper. Will Jim Souhan admit that he was a whiny ass titty baby? Probably not. And it is way too soon to call Jim wrong. But it's never to soon to call a Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist a Whiny Ass Titty Baby. Or a St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist a Stupid Fat Fuck.

But we digress. Silva pitched well tonight, going almost 7 innings, and not giving up a run. When he left the game, the Twins were up all of 2 runs against the Tampa Bay Steve Irwin Killers. Juan Rincon came in, and in typical Rincon style, made the game exciting. Unlike Rincon, though, he actually allowed the Drays to tie up the game. And so it was at the top of the 9th, when Ron Gardenhire did something that most managers, because they are stupid, rarely do--he used his closer in a non-save situation.

Joe Nathan has been lights out this season, and it made sense to bring him in--make sure Tampa Bay stays tied at 2-2, and let the Twins 4-5-6 hitters try to win the game. But it sure looked like it might backfire when something called Ben Zobrist got itself a single against Nathan. Carl Crawford, a veteran on the Devil Rays, was up next (keep in mind, 0 outs to this point) and laced a ball into the gap. A guaranteed double, and for a man with Crawford's speed, probably a triple. However, the DRay braintrust (probably correctly) had decided that regardless of Carl's speed, the thing called Ben Zobrist couldn't run from first to home on Cuddyer's arm. So they held him up at third. And then Carl showed up at third. Two guys on the same base. Awkward. We've all been there, right fellas? Get your hand on Third Base, and there's some other dude there? Just me? OK.

Cuddyer's throw came into Luis Castillo, who has been playing on bad knees since forever, by which I mean he's been around for awhile, and he had this to say about what he saw after he caught the relay (Thanks, AP article!)

"I turned and saw two guys there on third base and I said, 'What's going on?' I've never seen a play like that. Never." Castillo threw to home, and the ugliness began.

So that the identified thing called Ben Zobrist did the smart thing and ran towards home, thus leaving Crawford free at third base. The rundown began, and because Joe Maurer is quick and Svelte (He Doesn't Have Man-Muscles Yet), it was over quickly. But in the meantime, Carl Crawford, who has been playing organized baseball for at least 8 years (he was drafted in 1999) did something really curious. During the rundown, he started jogging back to second base. Why? No one can say. But Maurer noticed it, and threw to second, being covered by back-up shortstop Alexi Casillia for the extremely rare (rare enough that Twins announcers extraordinaire Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven had to look at their scoring sheets twice) 9-4-2-6 double play.

Consider this again--tie ball game, Top of the Ninth, and one team almost had men on 2nd and 3rd with no men out, and it becomes, based purely on incredibly poor baserunning by one guy, two outs, with no one on. Nathan strikes out some douchebag, and Morneau hits a high fly ball that doesn't stop carrying (indoors) for the walk-off. When I clicked into Yahoo Sports the headline was about Morneau's walk-off homer. But one could argue that the headline should have been Crawford's incredible Boner.

These are the kinds of games that everyone will forget at the end of the season. But if the Twins win the AL Central by one game, they should tip their cap to Carl Crawford, for that one extra win he gave them. Now Carl Crawford knows how Batman felt, back in the day. (Thank you, Super Awesome Superdickery!)


Badcock said...

I'll admit to not being much of a baseball fan. But can someone explain why it was a double play? Wasn't Crawford safe on second?

Who is automatically out when two men are on the same base?

Miwacar said...

Crawford was tagged out on his return to second base, he hadn't quite made it back yet.

Insult to injury: Justin Morneau's home run went right at Crawford in left field. Mr. Dumb-Run leapt to catch it, but the ball just cleared his outstretched glove. Ouch.

Badcock said...

Thanks for the clarification old chummm...p!

Muumuuman said...

Actually it is my understanding that at no time can you run the bases backward - nor force someone off a base. If Zobrist stayed on third, Crawford could be tagged out even if he was on third, the only safe place for him would be second. However, if Zobrist left third for home and Crawford then touched third base Zobrist must run home, third is no longer safe for Zorbist (even if Crawford left third and ran for second). Similarly, once Crawford touched a vacated third base he can no longer return to second - even if he was on second base he could be tagged out. This only leaves one question - who's on first?