Friday, July 2, 2010

A loss to make me crabby

Or maybe it's just adding to the rest of my stress.

Any way ... the Twins lost Thursday because Nick Punto fumbled a two-out grounder to allow a run to score and because their two most reliable late-inning relievers — or at least the two Ron Gardenhire most wants to rely on — each coughed up a run in the ninth and 10th innings. It happens.

I'd like to go on an Alfonso Marquez (photo) rant here, but I don't want to overstate the importance of his hallucinatory safe call at third base in the 10th inning. Kelly Stoppach never got any further. The only damage caused was to Gardenhire's bank account, since he'll be fined for the ejection that followed; to Michael Cuddyer's fielding percentage, since he was charged with an error; and the extra pitches required to get out of the inning. Had Marquez gotten the call right, the Twins would still have lost that game.

And I don't want to overstate an evaluation of Marquez as an umpire. I really don't know if he's as bad as I think he is. He might be a competent, or better, umpire who simply made a mistake. It happens.

That call certainly bore the hallmarks of incompetence, however.


Silly broadcaster comment: Joe Mauer led off the bottom of the eight inning with a double. Justin Morneau followed with a fly ball to right, with Mauer advancing to third. And Dan Gladden said of Morneau: He did his job.

Not really. Morneau is the cleanup hitter. His job — not that he can be expected to be successful 100 percent of the time, or even 50 percent of it — when the go-ahead run is in scoring position, is to bring him home.

A give-yourself-up at-bat is the moral equivalent of a sacrifice bunt. As I wrote Thursday, I love the bunt. But you don't bunt Morneau in that situation, because you're looking for more than trading an out for a base from him. Matt Tolbert, Punto, Drew Butera — with those guys, it's a different story.

Morneau's fly ball helped. It set up Jason Kubel's sac fly, which set up Jon Rauch's blown save. But it simply passed the job of getting Mauer home to the next guy.

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