Twins Daily: Matt Capps embarrassed after blowing 3-run lead in 9th
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A four-run ninth inning against closer Matt Capps finished a seven-run comeback by the Milwaukee Brewers in a 8-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Saturday.
It was on May 22, 2010 when left-hander Ron Mahay and closer Jon Rauch gave up five runs in the top of the ninth inning to the Brewers at Target Field, extending the game into extra innings. The Twins, however, went on to win, 8-7 in 12.
A similar scenario played out on Saturday, with a different final result.
Closer Capps came in to protect a 7-4 cushion, but the Brewers kicked open the door with authority, scoring four runs on five hits to take a 8-7 lead. The big blow came from outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who delivered a game-tying, two-out, two-RBI double, capping a 3-for-4 performance at the plate that saw him tally a double, a triple, a home run and four RBIs.
"I was up in the zone and over the heart of the plate," Capps said. "They came out swinging. The lead-off guy got on and I tried to get a groundball and it found a hole. It just snowballed on me.
"You can't be successful here pitching up in the zone and that's what I was doing today and that's not acceptable, it sucks."
Prior to the meltdown -- which Capps classified as being perhaps "the worst night I've had that I can remember in my career" -- the right-hander had allowed only one earned run in his previous 10 innings.
Capps added, "That was pretty tough. That was embarassing."
Regarding Morgan's unlikely power explosion, manager Ron Gardenhire said, "Normally he's more of a threat to bunt then he is to drive the ball off the wall and slap the ball the other way but we made some bad pitches a couple times and he got a hold of them."
The Twins offense initially jumped out to an early 7-0 lead -- courtesy of 14 hits against Brewers starter Chris Narveson -- and it appeared as if they were well on their way to a fourth consecutive victory.
But the Brewers chipped away throughout the game, scoring four runs (three earned) on eight hits against Carl Pavano, who exited after 7 2/3 innings.
Every Twins hitter reached base at least once, and five Twins hitters tallied at least two hits. Danny Valencia led the way, going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Michael Cuddyer went 2-for-4 with a home run a walk and two RBIs. Jason Repko, Luke Hughes and Alexi Casilla each tallied two hits as well.
The seven-run blown lead was the fourth largest in team history.
Even with the Brewers chipping away, things looked pretty promising for the Twins as the top of the ninth commenced.
But three straight singles by Yuniesky Betancourt, Mark Kotsay and Jonathan Lucroy to lead off the frame cut the lead to 7-5. Capps settled down to retire Craig Counsell and Rickie Weeks, but Morgan followed with a booming double off the scoreboard in right-center field, just beyond the reach of a leaping Cuddyer, driving in two runs to tie the game 7-7.
Pinch hitter George Kottaras then delivered a sharp single to center, scoring Morgan to put the Brewers ahead, 8-7.
Having seen enough, Gardenhire walked out to pull Capps, who was booed loudly by a sellout crowd.
"He makes big pitches, he got to two outs, and I thought for sure that he was going to nail it down and that's what he's been doing, he's been locating very well," Gardenhire said. "Just too many pitches that drifted over the plate tonight... He just got too many pitches centered. ...
"It's frustrating and disappointing because we had a huge lead and they slowly got back into the game and then off your closer when they score four that's pretty tough."
6: Blown saves for Capps. "I'm going to be itching for the ball tomorrow I know that," he said. "After days like this it sucks and you don't want to leave this taste in everybody's mouth, especially your own."
1: Runs scored by the Brewers after a controversial call in the fifth inning. With his team trailing 7-0, Betancourt tested the arm of center fielder Ben Revere by trying to tag up from first base on a flyout by Kotsay. Revere's throw beat Betancourt by a few steps, but Betancourt attempted to leap over Alexi Casilla's tag. Second base umpire Mike Estabrook called Betancourt safe, but replays showed Casilla did indeed apply the tag. Lucroy followed with an RBI single to put the Brewers on the board, and that run later wound up holding much more significance. "A couple borderline calls, I think, with the play at second, but those guys battled back," Pavano said. "I mean, you've got to tip your hat to them."
4 of 9: Pitches from Narveson that went for RBI singles with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
280: Days since the last time Twins hitters smacked back-to-back home runs after Cuddyer and Valencia went deep in the third inning. Valencia and Jason Kubel last accomplished the feat on September 25, 2010 in Detroit.
41,378: Saturday's attendance, which set a record for largest regular-season crowd in Target Field history.
"I never thought a "Let's go Brewers" chant would break out and be louder than a "Let's Go Twins" chant at our home park!!! Really?!?!"
-- Valencia (@DannyValencia19) via Twitter following Saturday's loss.
"He's a great basketball player... basketball player."
-- Maya Moore on John Wall's embarrassing first pitch at a Nationals game in mid-June. Moore and fellow Lynx teammate Candice Wiggins threw out the ceremonial first pitches prior to Saturday's game.
"I can feel his spirit with me right now. This is what he lived for, this is what he died for... My whole life has kind of just been fulfilling his legacy so this is really huge for me coming here and I can sense that this is probably what he was doing back in the 80s this is how he would warm up every day. He got to this place where he worked his whole life from poverty to the big leagues so this is awesome for me today."
-- Wiggins, talking about her late father Alan Wiggins, who played for the Padres and Orioles in the 1980s and holds the single-season steals record for the Padres with 70 in '84. In three seasons with the Orioles from 1985-1987, Wiggins went 24-for-84 (.286) in 25 games vs. the Twins. Wiggins died of AIDS in 1991, and Saturday was the first time Candice had stepped foot on a Major League Baseball field.
• OF Jason Kubel (sprained foot) "did make some progress (Saturday)," head athletic trainer Rick McWane said. "He felt better doing his straight forward running, he took batting practice," but "still has difficulty making cuts." Kubel is not currently scheduled to play in a game yet, and the team will continue to evaluate him day-by-day.
• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled to start on Tuesday for Triple-A Rochester and will throw about 60 pitches.
• OF Delmon Young (sprained ankle) will head to Rochester on Sunday to begin a Triple-A rehab stint.
• 1B Justin Morneau (neck surgery), who remains sidelined until at least August, had the cast removed from his left wrist and will start gripping exercises soon.
The Twins take the field for the final time against an NL opponent this regular season, hoping to finish up inter-league play at .500 as they close out their series with the Brewers on Sunday (1:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN).
Taking the mound for the Twins will be right-hander Nick Blackburn (6-6, 3.64) who hopes to erase the memory of his last start, in which he allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 13 hits in 4.1 innings en route to a 15-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Blackburn is 1-2 all-time against the Brewers with a 6.46 ERA. His last appearance against the Brewers came in a 5-0 loss on June 24, 2010 when he allowed all five runs in 3.2 innings.
The Brewers' top off-season acquisition, Zack Greinke, will pitch for his first time against the Twins in a Brewers uniform. As a pitcher with the Kansas City Royals from 2004-2010, Greinke (7-3, 5.63) compiled a 3-8 record with a 4.90 ERA in 19 games against the Twins. In his last outing at Target Field on Sept. 8, 2010, Greinke pitched eight innings, allowed four runs and picked up the loss as the Royals scored two runs in the top of the ninth but still fell short, losing 4-3. Greinke is coming off by far his worst outing of the season as he was shelled by the New York Yankees, surrendering seven earned runs on five hits and three walks in just two innings of work on Tuesday.
• Monday: vs. Tampa Bay, 12:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (5-7, 4.69) vs. LHP David Price (8-6, 3.43).
• Tuesday: vs. Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (6-5, 3.15) vs. RHP James Shields (8-5, 2.45).
• Wednesday: vs. Tampa Bay, 12:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (5-7, 4.76) vs. RHP Wade Davis (7-6, 4.20).
Dan Tracy contributed to this report