May 19, 2008

Baseball is a Funny Game: Part 4,386,108,792

It must be a full moon out there.

- Ron Gardenhire

Where to begin?

Playing his 646th game in the majors last night, Michael Cuddyer made his first career start in center field thanks to Carlos Gomez's wrist injury, yet Gomez still ended up batting twice and scoring the game-winning run after pinch-running for Jason Kubel in the eighth inning. Alexi Casilla smacked a three-run homer in the fourth inning after beginning his big-league career with 215 homerless plate appearances and failing to go deep in 121 trips to the plate at Triple-A prior to being called up.

Brendan Harris was in the lineup at designated hitter one day after reports surfaced that he was in danger of losing his starting job at second base because of defensive struggles, yet finished the game at shortstop. With Harris at shortstop, Mike Lamb at third base, and Howie Clark at second base the Twins featured one of the worst defensive infields in team history, yet Clark and Harris turned a key double play late.

Despite not having worked since Friday, closer Joe Nathan was allowed to throw just five pitches after coming into a tie game in extra innings at home, leading to Juan Rincon loading the bases in the 11th inning. Bobby Korecky was asked to get Rincon off the hook, wriggled out of the jam in his sixth career appearance, and then came to the plate in the bottom of the inning thanks to Ron Gardenhire losing the DH as part of his late-game strategy.

Korecky slapped the first pitch he saw for a single to right field, becoming the first Twins pitcher with a hit in an AL game during the DH era and collecting what may have been the first hit of his professional career on a night when cleanup man Justin Morneau and No. 5 hitter Cuddyer combined to go 0-for-10 while leaving 14 runners on base. Korecky later picked up his first career victory when Clark delivered a walk-off hit over Josh Hamilton's head in center field with pitcher Livan Hernandez waiting on deck.

A 34-year-old veteran of 16 minor-league seasons who was called up from Triple-A over the weekend, Clark then received a shaving-cream pie to the face during his post-game interview, only to have Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune ask him three more questions. On a night when three guys who were teammates at Rochester weeks ago produce a three-run homer, the game-winning hit, and 1.2 scoreless frames of relief for the victory, baseball reminds everyone what a funny game it can be.

And they'll do it all over again tonight.

Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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