Matt Capps pitches out of murky 9th after offense scores two runs late
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A solid performance by Scott Diamond and two timely runs in the bottom of the eighth inning propelled the Minnesota Twins to a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday afternoon.
A's right-hander Ryan Cook entered the week having not surrendered an earned run in 23 1/3 innings this season.
Apparently he was due.
The Twins trailed 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, but Joe Mauer started a rally off Cook by reaching on an infield single and stealing second base with one out. After Josh Willingham walked, Justin Morneau blooped a double down the left-field line that allowed Mauer to come around and tie the game.
The next batter, Ryan Doumit, delivered a sac fly to deep left field that allowed Willingham to score the go-ahead run.
"Sometimes you need luck in this game, and it was just good to get another opportunity, and good at-bats by the guys in front of me off the guy who's having a great year," Morneau said. "Just kept it fair just enough. I think the wind kept it fair. We ended up tying the game, Doumit has a good at-bat and gets the go-ahead run in, and we get a much-needed win."
One day after blowing his first save of the season, Capps -- who entered to a smattering of boos -- made things interesting in the ninth inning.
The frame started with second baseman Alexi Casilla booting a routine groundball that allowed Collin Cowgill to reach safely. After inducing a pop-up for the first out, Capps followed by walking Jemile Weeks on five pitches.
Coco Crisp then lined a 2-2 pitch back up the middle that Capps deflected off his glove straight down to his feet. Had he caught the ball or picked it up cleanly it's possible he could have started a game-ending double play. But Capps had trouble picking up the ball and wound up only getting the out at first base, which put runners in scoring position with two outs.
That's when Gardenhire came out to discuss whether it made sense to pitch to Oakland's hottest hitter, Reddick.
"He's been killing the ball," Gardenhire said. "I normally don't like telling my closer to walk anybody, but with the way that guy was swinging we thought that was the right thing to do."
The Twins elected to walk the red-hot Reddick to load the bases for Jonny Gomes, who struck out swinging to end the game.
"(Gardenhire) came out there and said, 'This is their best hitter right now and not the guy we to beat us.' Basically he said he wanted to put him on, so that's what we did," Capps said. "He kind of made it a two-way street, but I don't think it really was. You know, that's the right move there. He's the manager and I play for him. It's not a decision I want to make, or can honestly say I would have made, but it was the right move there and it worked out for us."
Capps added, "After a day like yesterday, getting that next one is pretty important and pretty nice. ...
"I don't blame people for booing; they expect us to do a job and I'm no different from the 24 other guys in here. They expect me to do my job and bottom line is yesterday I didn't -- and that's very fresh in their memories, in their minds."
The A's jumped out to an early 2-0 lead off Diamond courtesy of solo homers by Josh Reddick in the first inning and Kila Ka'aihue in the second. Oakland added another run in the sixth when Reddick scored on a groundball double play.
Overall Diamond delivered a solid effort -- especially by Twins starters' standards this season -- allowing three earned runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out four in 6 1/3 innings.
Prior to Monday, A's left-hander Travis Blackley hadn't started a major league game since 2007. Blackley, who was claimed off waivers from the Giants on May 15, held the Twins to just one run on three hits and a walk while striking three in five innings.
Trevor Plouffe's solo homer in the fifth was the only damage.
Jeff Gray pitched out of trouble in the seventh after Diamond was pulled, but he issued two one-out walks in the top of the eighth inning which set the table for Kurt Suzuki to deliver the go-ahead RBI single off Alex Burnett.
Aside from Plouffe's home run the Twins were unable to put together anything offensively against Blackley.
But as soon as Blackley left the Twins sparked a rally against Jordan Norberto, who issued back-to-back one-out walks to Mastroianni and Mauer. Mastroianni stole third then scored on Willingham's double. Morneau's sac fly tied the score and bounced Norberto from the game.
"We didn't kill the ball today, but we got enough hits and enough runs in to get a win," Gardenhire said.
25: RBIs for Doumit. ""I just tried to get a ball to the outfield," said about his game-winning sac fly. "I knew I had to get it pretty deep because Willingham isn't the fleetest foot guy in the world. But I got it deep enough and this is a good win."4-for-42: Morneau vs. left-handed pitchers this season.
69: Double plays turned by the Twins defense, which leads the league.
12: The number of double plays Mauer has grounded into, which leads the league.
7%: The frequency at which Mauer swings at the first pitch.
Right-hander Nick Blackburn (thigh) will make a rehab start for Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday. Right-hander Kyle Waldrop (elbow) is scheduled to make an appearance for Single-A Fort Myers.
"We get to go home, relax a little bit, maybe smoke a cigar out there on the deck with my wife and drink a bottle of water or whatever else you like to drink and enjoy Memorial Day."
"It's disappointing to see a guy get booed when he's coming in the game, but I think he's 10-for-11 in save opportunities or whatever he is, he's having a pretty good year. He had a little hiccup yesterday, but there hasn't been too many perfect seasons for closers. It's disappointing to see that sometimes, but obviously people's expectations are high, just as ours are."
Tuesday: vs. Athletics, 7:10 p.m. RHP Cole De Vries (0-1, 5.40) vs. RHP Jarrod Parker (1-2, 3.38)
Wednesday: vs. Athletics, 12:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (0-5, 8.47) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (2-5, 5.79)
Thursday: Off day