Saturday, August 21 and Sunday, August 22, 2005
I was so excited to get down to the Twin Cities for a couple of baseball games last weekend for a number of reasons. First, I have only been to one Twins game so far this season. That is something I am not proud of despite the fact that I live about seven hours from the Metrodome. Secondly, I wanted to see the ceremony for the 1965 Twins AL Championship team that lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Driving, I couldn't help but think one question... If Jim Kaat would have beaten Sandy Koufax in Game 7 and the Twins would have won that World Series, would Kaat be in the Hall of Fame? I honestly think that he would be, and if that is the case, that is a sad tale. Third, I was interested in getting the mini-replica of old Met Stadium that was given out to the first 10,000 fans on Saturday night. Well, we didn't get to the game until about 5:00, an hour after the gates open, so we didn't get that. And finally, I am a fan of the bobbleheads. I also love the concept that they went with on Sunday. They handed out bobbleheads to the first 10,000 fans. However, there were ten players each with 1,000 each and you didn't know which player you got until you got the box and opened it. The clincher for me in deciding to make the trek south was that the Mariners were starting Felix Hernandez on Saturday night, and I really wanted to see him pitch.
So, I went down there, and below, you will see a visual look at what I saw this weekend. I will put a number of Twins Thoughts about the games or the players with each picture. I hope you enjoy it and if you have any questions, comments or stories, please e-mail me.
OK, let's get started. Before the Saturday night game, there was a ceremony honoring the 1965 Twins team on the field. Dick Bremer and Herb Carneal MCed the program. They took time to introduce each player that played even a little bit on that team. It seemed as though they named the players in order of "significance" that season. Players that had just a few at bats were announced first. But as the names got bigger, so did the ovations. It was really quite something to see all those players.
Jim Kaat is announced.
Tony Oliva was announced after Harmon Killebrew, which I thought was interesting.
Call me dorky, but I love stuff like this. I love the history of the game. I love that these guys were in the World Series 40 years ago. Only Terry Mulholland was even alive at this point. As Mudcat Grant pointed out in a brief speech to the crowd, this group has now had the chance to 'bond with the current Twins', and that is interesting. There is a certain brotherhood among big leaguers, even players from different generations. There is something about that that is incredible!
Like I said, one of the main reasons I wanted to go down to the games was to see Felix Hernandez. Remember, 11 days earlier, he had pitched against the Twins in Seattle and pitched eight shutout innings for the win. I did the "Analysis of a Phenom" article that day. Anyway, Hernandez was as good as advertised. I thought that the Twins would do a better job against him. Especially after they got two runs in the first inning off of him. Matthew LeCroy stuck his bat out on a fastball and the pitch hit it and the ball went into center for a two run single. Hernandez was at 94 pitches through six innings, so I was surprised that he started the 7th. So I was shocked when he came out for the eighth inning having already thrown 103 pitches, but he had another quick inning. He was throwing his fastball between 93 and 97 throughout the game, actually throwing harder as the game went on. His curveball and changeup were both between 81 and 84.
SATURDAY'S GAME - Twins 3, Mariners 8 (10)
Brent Abernathy got the start at 2B. And it was as though Ron Gardenhire knew that I was going to be in attendance because he played Jason Bartlett in both games at SS! This was really a good game. As you've seen above, Felix Hernandez was great after the first inning. Kyle Lohse was great through six. He gave up back to back solo homers to Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre in the seventh, but left that inning with the score tied at 2. Jesse Crain got five outs before JC Romero got them out of the ninth with the last out. In the 10th, the Mariners pinch hit for Greg Dobbs, a lefty, with Jamal Strong, a righty. So Gardy went to Matt Guerrier. Strong, one of the first major league players suspended for steroids, got his first big league hit, a double. Six runs later, the Twins were down 8-2. A Lew Ford homer to lead off the bottom of the inning made the final score 8-3.
This picture is Matt Guerrier walking the Barbie backpack out to the bullpen before Sunday's game. I took the picture knowing that I needed to say something about Guerrier. As he walked off the mound Saturday night, having given up six runs in the 10th inning, I felt really bad for him. The crowd was either booing him, or making their way to the exits. I turned to someone and said that booing him was just messed up. Yes, he didn't get the job done on this night, but he has been incredible. The people who were booing him probably were not aware that coming into that game, he had a scoreless streak over 18 innings and had not given up a run in his last 14 outings. Many of the people who were there were probably seeing Guerrier for the first time. Fair-weathered fans really bother me!
SUNDAY'S GAME - Twins 7, Mariners 3
This might be the best picture we have. I wish I could say that I took it, but the credit goes to my sister Heather. In the bottom of the first inning, Joe Mauer squibbed a blooper down the left field line. It bounced and rolled into the Twins bullpen where Raul Ibanez was unable to find it right away. Mauer rounded second and went into third in a close play. Had this picture been taken 1/10th of a second sooner, it would have been Sports Illustrated worthy! As it it, I think it is still incredible. First, I think it shows that Mauer's knees are ok. Second, just look at the home plate ump getting himself into perfect position to make the right call, which he would signal soon after this.
In the game, Brad Radke gave up three runs on two homers in the first three innings, but those were all the runs he gave up in seven innings. The Twins came up with a big six run fifth inning that was capped off by a Lew Ford three-run homer. It was Ford's third homer in three games and his seventh of the season. Interestingly, it was his sixth three-run homer!
I went against one of my biggest baseball etiquette rules and left following the seventh inning. That bothers me when people leave early. However, leaving the Dome at 3:30 meant that I got home at 11:00, so if I would have waited until the end of the game, it would have been another hour later. So, I feel bad, but in a way, I don't.
I was going to try to make a story board of all of the pictures we had. However, it would get long. So below, I am just going to post a number of pictures, possibly with some brief captions.
MICHAEL CUDDYER (with Joe Mauer)
SHANNON STEWART throwing another lollipop.
JESSE CRAIN in the pen
BRAD RADKE (pregame warm-up)
CARLOS SILVA (bullpen session between starts)
LEW FORD (running with Stewart, playing Pepper with Matthew LeCroy)
HARMON KILLEBREW and JIM "MUDCAT" GRANT
If you have any questions or comments, or would like any of these pictures, please e-mail me.
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