From Mirth to Mulch: Twins swept by Yanks
In the bottom of the 7th of last night's season-ending loss to the Yankees, Delmon Young managed to hit himself in the nuts (with batted ball) during an at-bat. The moment felt symbolic of the Twins playoff experience as a whole.
Young would later double in the at-bat. That the Twins' were unable to bring him around to notch the score at 2's would seem another microcosm of the club's ALDS sweepage at the hands of New York. Few believed that the Twins could outlast what was baseball's most-winning club during the regular season, however after having led in all three contests -- the chill in our baseball hearts is mirrored only by the snow upon our autumnal ground.
This series hurt; underground media outlets reported this morning that local noose sales rose 20 percent.
Despite the fervor with which the Boys entered the postseason, despite the aforementioned leads, despite stellar Game 2 and 3 starts from Blackburn and Pavano, despite outhitting the Yankees 29-23, and despite .400-batting series from Cuddyer, Mauer, Punto and Span -- the Twins left 32 runners on base in the series and were unable to either out-muscle or out-"time" the Evil Empire, against whom the club went a collective 0-10 on the season.
New York moves onward to host the best-of-seven-game ALCS versus the Angels, who brought out their own broom in taking three straight from the Red Sox.
The Baseball Gods look down upon us with arms crossed, lips pursed, eyebrows piqued. No slight to the victors, but even with the lamented Cuzzi call and blown save from Game 2 -- the Twins would be playing a Game 4 if not for some youthful imprudence in the top of the 11th on Friday, and a host of series' base-running gaffes atypical of Twin baseball. Furthermore, while the plucky Twins hit 172 home runs this season (their most since 2004), they were unable to uncork a single bomb against the Yankees, who belted 6 over the three games.
Skip Ron Gardenhire should be wholly applauded for leading the late-season surge to the postseason; in his eight-year career at the helm, Gardy has a won at a .547 clip, good for 6th-best among active managers. His second-seasons spin an alternate yarn, however, as this winless ALDS dropped him to just 6-18 (.250) in the postseason. While Dome memories will most often be rekindled with the club's two championships (with a contemporary nod to this year's game 163), the Twins move outdoors next season having lost eight straight postseason contests at home.
To paint this series with a broader stroke, I look back upon my own days of coaching and renew herein that -- after the fundamentals of baseball and sportsmanship -- there is perhaps no greater tenet for finding victory in sport than releasing your opponent of his or her will. Yes, the Twins scored first and led in all three games of this series. Yet after each inning in every game that this Twins grabbed that lead, the Yankees answered in their ensuing at-bat to either tie the score or take a lead of their own. Break their will.
As TBS (ech) closed their telecast last night before moving onto coverage of the Phillies and Rockies, cameras showed Joe Nathan walking to the Dome mound one last time and scooping a handful of dirt, one can assume for the memory chest. Nathan set the Twins single-season save record this year and is likely the finest closer in the history of the club. But sometimes, we should just let dirt be dirt.
Countless thanks for following 2009 Twins baseball herein, gentle readers. Please look for a final "Metrodome Memory" installment later this week, and continued sportswritings as we focus our attentions on other sporting seasons. Until then,
Read Alt. weekly 2009 Baseball Throwdown coverage for:
St. Louis Cardinals: http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/therundown
Boston Red Sox: http://www.weeklydig.com/blogs/mlbthrowdown
Minnesota Twins: http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/baseball/
Colorado Rockies: http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/baseball/
New York Yankees: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/baseball/
Los Angeles Dodgers: http://blogs.laweekly.com/ladaily/sports/
Anaheim/LA Angels: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/baseball/
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