Wetmore: 5 thoughts, an unusual Twins win in extras, Derek Jeter Day
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MINNEAPOLIS - Yohan Pino was solid for 6 innings Saturday and the Twins bullpen held strong for 5 more, as the Twins beat the Yankees, 2-1.
This column presents 5 thoughts on Saturday's game.
As always, feel free to ask questions or make observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. The Twins scored the winning run in the 11th inning in one of the most unusual manners.
Josh Willingham scored from second base on a botched 1-2-3 double play to end the game. The setup was compelling.
Chris Colabello pinch hit for No. 3 hitter Chris Parmelee to open the 11th inning against lefty Matt Thornton. Colabello narrowly missed a home run and doubled high off the right field wall. Kendrys Morales grounded out and advanced Colabello to third. Righty Josh Willingham was intentionally walked to get to Oswaldo Arcia with one out. Thornton plunked Arcia, the second time Arcia was hit by a pitch Saturday.
Then came the finishing blow. Trevor Plouffe hit a slow tapper to the pitcher, who tossed home to force out Colabello. But then catcher Francisco Cervelli tried to throw down to first base, and airmailed the throw, which allowed Willingham to come around from second and score the winning run. The final sequence was rather unique: intentional walk, hit by pitch, tapper for a fielder's choice and error on the catcher's throw.
But it added up to a Twins win in a one-run game.
"A win's a win. We were desperate," manager Ron Gardenhire said after the game.
2. The Twins recognized legendary shortstop Derek Jeter with a pregame ceremony Saturday. It lasted about five minutes and included a video montage with messages from Phil Hughes, Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer.
"I've always tried to model myself after you as a player," Mauer said in the video.
"To share the field with you today is just a dream come true," Dozier said in the video. "You've been such a great role model for kids playing baseball."
"We've learned a lot from you. We've taken a lot of pain from you," Gardenhire said to Jeter while the two stood together at home plate. "I'm asking Mr. [Joe] Girardi over there, since we're honoring you, to take you out of the lineup for two more days."
That drew a laugh from the crowd and after years of booing Jeter, there was a round of polite applause. Jeter didn't speak but he waved and saluted to the crowd and Twins players in the home dugout.
The Twins presented Jeter with the last-ever used 2nd base bag from the Metrodome.
His skills have diminished considerably -- especially in the field -- but Jeter still is a legend of this game and it was cool to see the Twins honor him in that way. His "flip play" in the 2001 ALDS against the Oakland A's is one of the most memorable moments I've witnessed as a follower of baseball.
3. Yohan Pino helped Brian Dozier retire the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury in the fourth inning. Through three innings, the only damage against Pino was a harmless two-out single from Ichiro Suzuki in the second. Then, in the fourth, Ellsbury ripped a line drive up the middle that Pino deflected slightly when it glanced off his glove. It appeared it would be a single, but Pino slowed it down just enough for Dozier to range up the middle, slide stop to field it, and pop back up to his feet to make the throw to first in time to get Ellsbury.
Pino got the next batter, Mark Teixeira, to ground out to first base to get through four innings having faced just one batter more than the minimum. He finished the sixth with just one run allowed, when he gave way to the Twins bullpen. Matt Guerrier, Casey Fien, Glen Perkins, Jared Burton and Brian Duensing pitched a scoreless frame apiece to keep the Yankees at bay.
4. Ichiro Suzuki helped create the only run for the Yankees with his legs (and perhaps a fortunate call). With a runner on first and no outs in the fifth inning, first baseman Chris Parmelee ranged to his right and fielded Suzuki's ground ball. Parmelee threw to second for an out, but the 40-year-old Suzuki avoided a potential double play because he was too quick down the line for a return throw to first base.
Once on first, Ichirco stole second base on an 0-2 pitch from Pino. Pino has a reputation as a soft thrower, and that's mostly accurate, but this pitch hit 90 mph and was slightly off the plate -- a good pitch for catcher Kurt Suzuki to try to throw down to second base. But the Yankees right fielder beat the throw for his sixth steal of the season.
The next pitch was a slider in the dirt for a wild pitch and Ichirco Suzuki took third base. Then, a single to left field off the bat of Francisco Cervelli drove in the run. With Ichiro's speed, he might have scored from second base on Josh Willingham's arm on the single. But a slower runner may not have even gotten in position to score that run and give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
Worth noting: replays showed that Suzuki was out at second base.
5. Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the bottom of the third inning. He was ejected before even leaving the dugout, on what appeared to be a disagreement over whether Yankees starter David Phelps balked with Sam Fuld on first base.
I thought the changes to replay review would decrease manager ejections this season, but home plate umpire Marty Foster tossed Gardenhire. It was Gardenhire's third ejection this season, and his 70th regular season ejection in his career.
Gardenhire is first on the active manager ejection list and just two ejections behind his friend, Jim Leyland, according to SB Nation's Beyond the Box Score. Another side note from that website: Gardenhire is ejected (on a rate basis) about twice as often as Lou Pinella was during his managerial career.