“Yesterday, I was the bullpen coach. Today I was going to be the right fielder”: Minnesota Twins 2009, week one


by Jean Gabler | 4/13/09

the knothole view is jean gabler’s blog about the minnesota twins and all things baseball.

Week one of the baseball season ended with a loss yesterday for the Twins and for Nick Blackburn. For Blackburn it was a chance to revisit the match-up at Cellular Field that ended the Twins’ season last year in Game 163, against the White Sox. In that game it was a Jim Thome home run that beat us, and he did it again yesterday. With the game tied 1-1 in the 6th inning, Thome hit a two-run homer off Blackburn that turned out to be the winning run. Gardenhire and Blackburn both joked that it might be time to bring Thome over to our side—as we did with Joe Crede—when he becomes a free agent at the end of this season. Crede was given a video homage and an ovation prior to the game. He was then greeted by Air Supply’s “All Out of Love” for his first at-bat, an affectionate message from his old teammates. His response was to hit his first home run as a Minnesota Twin, at the field where he has played for parts of the past nine seasons. The Twins scored 12 runs and won the Friday game, and scored only one more run in the next two games, both of which they lost to the White Sox. That, combined with a split with the Mariners in the opening series, leaves the Twins with a 3-4 record for week one.

The Twins opened their final season in the Metrodome against Seattle before a sellout crowd of over 48,000. It was not only a loss, but a fairly uneventful game. (Here’s piece of trivia for you: the Twins’ first game at the Metrodome was played on April 6, 1982 and the Twins also lost that opener to the Seattle Mariners, 11-7.) The pre-game tribute to Carl Pohlad was touching, but the sound system in the Metrodome is so bad that those things are hard to hear and the tribute did not hold the attention of the big crowd. As they have for the past few openers, the Twins paid tribute to the troops in Iraq, showing the American Flag flying at a base over there during the national anthem.

The Tuesday game was definitely the highlight of the week. The Twins were down 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs. The Mariners’ new closer Brandon Morrow was facing Carlos Gomez. Gomez has been talking about his newfound patience at the plate, and he showed that patience on Tuesday, drawing a walk to start the rally. Morrow ended up walking two more, then giving up a hit to Denard Span to score one. Alexi Casilla had the game-winning hit that scored two and gave the Twins a 6-5 victory. I read that Gardenhire had R.A. Dickey getting ready to play in the outfield if the game went into extra innings. “Gardy told me to get my spikes on,” La Velle Neal quotes Dickey as saying. “I was going to go out there and Babe Ruth it. Yesterday, I was the bullpen coach. Today I was going to be the right fielder. This is a heck of an organization.” And here is a bit of trivia from that game, courtesy of the Twins’ Web site. Last night’s victory occurred after the Twins were down to their last out, trailing by two runs and with nobody on base. That’s the first time that has happened in over 40 years, the last time being on Aug. 30, 1968 when the Twins beat the White Sox at Metropolitan Stadium.

Dickey, who didn’t get to play on Tuesday, pitched very well against the White Sox on Friday night, earning the win. The Twins will have to make a roster move when Baker returns to the active roster Wednesday to start against the Blue Jays. Discussion at the dinner table this weekend was that Dickey will be moved to the bullpen, but we couldn’t reach a consensus on who should be sent down. The Twins begin a seven-game home stand tonight with a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, who are 5-2 to start the year.

I want to share with you something my son-in-law told me about. You can download the Twins schedule for the season onto your Microsoft Outlook calendar. I did it a few weeks ago and found that not only does it add the scores after the game, it actually updates the score as the game is being played.

Photos, from the Twins’ season opener, by Jean Gabler.