Just What We Needed – Twins 20, White Sox 1

I will never get tired of this picture (click on any of the images for the larger version):

Mrs. Mak had a friend with season tickets at US Cellular, but couldn’t make it to a weekday afternoon game. Since we both work a somewhat flexible schedule, the wife and I headed down to the south side to see if we could reverse the Twins luck and end a six-game losing streak.

First of all, we had GREAT seats. We were about six rows above the Sox dugout.

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On Assignment: Brewers 6, Twins 5

As I lounged about this weekend, an urgent message suddenly appeared in my inbox from the headquarters of the Minnesota Sports Guys conglomerate. I was chosen to attend a Twins game this weekend at Miller Park. Despite the fact that Ramon Ortiz would be pitching, and that I would be wading into hostile territory with which I was not familiar (my first visit to Miller Park), I felt duty-bound to do my best. Following is my report. (Keep in mind, I am not a professional picture taker, I’m barely an amateur, so there’s not much and it may not be high quality, but I’ll try to fill in with witty commentary where appropriate)

Yep, that’s the place. We (me and my wife) exited off the freeway and were pretty much right by the front gate, which we thought boded well. After another 20 minutes of driving we reached our parking spot and made the long trek back toward the field (which is essentially in the middle of an enormous parking lot).
Also, you may notice that the roof was closed. No outdoor baseball for us.

We found our seats pretty easily (after procuring some cheesy fries in a helmet). This was the view from section 430 (the MNSG budget apparently isn’t all that large). The place was pretty well packed with a reasonable representation of Twins fans. And I should point out that the Brewers fans that I met were very well behaved, before and after the game (I probably would have ranted about them if they weren’t, so I have to give them credit).

In the above picture, the Brewers had just walked Jason Bartlett to get to Ramon Ortiz in the big 4-run fourth.

At this point my wife pointed out that TC, the Twins mascot, was in attendance, hanging out with Bernie Brewer on the infamous slide. (Emphasis mine, there were no giant purple arrows at the game). Shortly after this half inning finished, Bernie and TC disappeared from the slide and TC wasn’t seen again. In an interesting parallel, the Brewers outscored the Twins 6 to 1 for the remainder of the game. Perhaps Bernie took matters into his own hands? I know the Twins policy is not to negotiate for hostages, but it had to be weighing on their minds.

Ramon Ortiz plots his next big inning (alternatively, he frets about the plight of TC).
It wouldn’t be Milwaukee without a Sausage Race. Here they come, around the homeplate area, I had the bratwurst in a friendly wager with my wife (that’s him in the green hat at the back of the pack. grrrrrrr)
It was Sunday, so it was a relay (as anyone who’s witnessed a sausage race knows). The “little weenies” ran the last leg and the bratwurst made a valiant comeback to finish second. Unfortunately the wife’s pick, the polish, won easily, so I lost that bet (and no, I won’t tell you what the wager was, it’s not important).
I had a picture of Ramon Ortiz, and here’s a picture of Pat Neshek. I didn’t get a picture of Dennys Reyes because I was covering my eyes in horror the whole time he was on the field. He trotted in from the bullpen and I was desperately trying to convince myself that Juan Rincon had become a lefty. But Dennys laughed at my pitiful attempts to deny him as he coughed up a run to give the Brewers the lead.
Neshek was awesome, after getting two outs on two pitches in the 7th, my wife predicted three strikeouts on 9 pitches in the 8th. She was pretty close, Neshek got two strikeouts and a pop-up on 10 pitches. Between this and the polish sausage thing (plus she got the attendance game right, too) I was getting a little freaked out.

I had a good time, I always enjoy a baseball game, and this one was close enough to be entertaining throughout. I got to give Cuddyer a standing ovation for his home run, and I got to curse the offense for failing to capitalize on a leadoff double in a tie game. The whole range of emotions in one afternoon. I really felt the Twins should have pulled this one out, but I can be content with 2 of 3 on the road in a series. That’s it from me, I’m off to sharpen my photojournalism skills, thanks for reading!

Twins 3, Sox 1

The family was in town, so we spent our Easter down at US Cellular Field watching Johan Santana deal to the Sox.

First of all, the weather wasn’t half bad. I spent all week fretting that we’d be freezing our tails off, but then it turned out to be cold, but not unbearable. We sat in the left field bleachers in the sun and it was actually pretty nice.

The fans ran the gamut, some of those who sat around us were great, willing to chat about the Twins’ bullpen, Jim Thome, or whatever. Unfortunately, directly to our right in the bleachers was an extremely vocal group of Sox fans. I have no problem with enthusiastic cheering, I’ve even partaken in my fair share. But, that refers to support of your team or a little bit of jeering of the opposing players. One guy in particular in this group regaled us with chants that ranged from the standard “Twins suck” nearly every inning, to instructing Twins’ fans to “drown in Lake Huron” (I don’t know why that particular non-Minnesota/non-Chicago lake). I don’t want to devolve into a rant here, but this, unfortunately, became a significant part of the experience today. We even had the aforementioned “good” fans turn around and apologize for some of the ruder comments. Making all this considerably more tolerable was the fact that the Twins were winning the baseball game.

Ah yes, the game. In the middle of the game 24 batters, from Bartlett’s second K in the fourth to Punto’s flyout in the eighth were all retired in order. Twins or White Sox batter, it didn’t matter, they all went down. Which was nice for a cold day, once we had the lead, clearly the goal was to just get out of there.

A couple of thoughts:

– Santana with the win, Nathan with the save, 2 for 2 so far. Santana settled down after walking 3 in the first 1.1 IP, retiring the last 17 batters he faced. Nathan also settled down after giving up two hits, retiring the last batter he faced for the save.

– Cuddyer went 3 for 6 in the abbreviated series, which was good, but the baserunning blunder Saturday still kills me.

– Mauer + Cuddyer + Morneau (5 for 11, HR, BB, 3 R, 3 RBI). Everyone else (1 for 22, BB, 6 K). Thanks Justin!

– Morneau has hit both of his homeruns off of lefties this season. Also he’s hit both while I was wearing the Jersey of Fortune.

Speaking of which:

Twins record with jersey of fortune: 2-0
Torii Hunter with the Jersey of Fortune: 2 for 8, .250/.250/.750, 1 HR 2 RBI

Twins 7, O’s 4

It’s all my fault. It was the top of the fourth, when I realized that it was time to medicate my cat. No, that’s not a euphemism for anything; my cat, Bruno, has a scratched cornea and he requires eye drops once or twice a day. I don’t know if anyone else has ever tried to administer eye drops to a squirming cat, but I recommend it if you ever have a dull evening. Anyway, my attention was distracted from the baseball at hand whilst I chased Bruno around the apartment and by the time I looked up, the lead had evaporated. So, again, mea culpa.

However, the rest of the game was very nicely played by Minnesota. The clean up guys cleaned up (Morneau, Hunter – 2 HR 4 RBI), Mauer got on base (1-3, BB), The small guys at the top and bottom ran all over the place (Tyner, Castillo, Punto (4 H, 3 R).

A couple of notes:

— Win for Santana, Save for Nathan, the first of many times I will write that this season

— Morneau gets 3 hits against an above average left-handed starter. I like it a lot.

— The bullpen looked great tonight (+points to Reyes, Crain, Rincon, and Nathan)

— Cuddyer fouled off a lot of pitches, battling? or just not quite clicking?

— I’m not even slightly concerned about Santana (9.0 K/9, he’s fooling people)

Most importantly, Monday represented the debut of the Jersey of Fortune which shall be worn by me whenever I feel it’s appropriate:

Twins record with the Jersey of Fortune: 1-0
Torii Hunter with the Jersey of Fortune: .500/.500/1.500, 1 HR 2 RBI