Record: 31-28. Change on last season: +8
To mark the Twins being in town, we're going to title each game this series based on movies in which twins play a vital role. We start with a late Hammer horror film: while this was when they were getting into their fangs 'n' flesh phrase, it's still memorable, largely thanks to a great performance by Peter Cushing. He plays Puritan Gustav Weil, who must defeat Count Karnstein before he can seduce his two teenage wards. They (one good, one bad - contrary to the title!) were played by real twins and Playboy playmates, Mary and Madeleine Collinson. Which means a mandatory not safe for work link. :-)
While this was a loss, at least it was an exciting one. Again, we score runs without making an out, leaping to a four run advantage, before the Twins roar back against our bullpen, who fail to hold a 5-3 lead. Then, with the score 8-5, we turn, inevitably, to our last, best hope, Tony Clark. He smacks his club record fifth straight pinch-hit - and it's a three-run shot to tie the game.
However, some Little League fielding plays - and I'm looking straight at you, Messrs. Valverde and Cintron - give the Twins the opportunity to score the go-ahead run, and this time, there's no coming back. In the "Well, duh!" book of quotations (Stefan, are you collecting these?), this one from Bob Melvin rates highly: "We have to find a way to score eight runs and win the ballgame."
It started very nicely, thank you. Radke has proved extremely vulnerable in the first, and gave up four runs on five hits last night - though unlike the previous game, our own pitcher only got to the on-deck circle. And in the sixth innings, we still had a 5-2 lead - this one looked well under control.
However, Estes tried to barehand a comebacker and had to be taken out, Koplove came in, and immediately allowed the tying runs to score, while new recruit Herges allowed two homers and three runs before getting three outs. In 1 1/3 innings, a 5-2 lead had become a 5-8 deficit. Then Clark performed his latest heroics (anyone know what he wasn't, oh, starting?) and the momentum was back with Arizona.
If there was a game-deciding play, it was Hunter's steal attempt of second in the ninth; he left way too early, and Valverde should have picked him off, but his throw sailed past Cintron. Hunter started towards third, but an alert Counsell had backed up the play and threw the ball back in - this time, Cintron couldn't apply the tag to the returning Hunter, who scored the winning run on a single by Jones.
No real problems with the offense, save no hits again for Glaus (scuffling badly at 4-for-35. In that time, he has no homers, 2 RBIs, and 15 K's). Three hits for Tracy [ah, so that's why Clark was sitting :-)], two each for Gonzalez, Green, Cruz and Clayton.
Wish I could say the same about the pitching. Koplove is in real danger of being put on waivers when Aquino returns, and not just because of his moustache, which looks like the sort worn by the "plumber" in bad 70's porno. Herges showed exactly why the Giants released him, and Valverde won't be seeing any close opportunities in the near future either. All of which makes Estes's eight hit, three walk, 5.2 innings performance seem almost credible. Except that it wasn't.
Thanks to Otacon for his comments last night. As he says, our pitching has been horrid lately: in the last five games (once through the rotation), we've allowed 39 runs. Our hitting hasn't been bad - we've scored 33 - but just as we need to find a way to win when we score eight runs, we need to stop freakin' allowing eight runs per game. I don't think today's going to help either, but more on that in the preview to follow.
The draft continues today, though odds are we won't find any superstars in today's selections - taking the standard disclaimer, usually with a mention of 62nd-round pick, Mike Piazza, as read. Even the Diamondbacks have had some second-day success: Mike Koplove was a 29th-round choice, while Alex Cintron wasn't selected until the 36th round. After last night, however, the organization is perhaps wishing they hadn't bothered. :-(
See this article for scouting director's Mike Rizzo's take on the Arizona picks from the opening day. He uses the words "big, physical" to describe every one of our top four arms, but I guess we don't employ Rizzo for his extensive vocabulary.
Preview to follow this afternoon, but am trying to get the decks cleared early, since we're off to the game...