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Valencia Is Mr. Clutch
Posted By Jonathan Fawkes On Jul 21 2011 @ 6:10 pm In Minnesota Twins | 3 Comments
After battling all year to move within just 5 games of 1st place in the AL Central, it was demoralizing for the Twins to get swept in a doubleheader against the Indians. At 7 games back the Twins needed to at least avoid getting swept and preferably split the series.
The third game was not encouraging as we saw 7 2/3 innings of dominant pitching by Cleveland’s ace Justin Masterson, who gave up just 4 hits and no walks while he pumped his sinker to the tune of an astonishing 17 ground outs in the game. Liriano was not at his sharpest but still went 6 innings and allowed just one run.
In the ninth the Indians turned it over to their All-Star closer Chris Perez who had blown only one save all season. After getting Alexi Casilla to fly out he walked Joe Mauer, gave up a bloop double to Michael Cuddyer (aided by infielder Luis Valbuena playing emergency LF), and intentionally walked Jim Thome to face his old college roommate, Danny Valencia.
Valencia worked the count to 2-1 and then pulled a fastball for a single to left which scored Cuddyer from 2nd and gave Valencia his 3rd walk-off hit of the season.
Then in game 4 Valencia broke up a 4-4 tie in the 8th inning with another bases loaded single to take the lead. Tsuyoshi Nishioka then slapped a single to left for 2 more runs leading to a Twins 7-5 victory.
These two wins kept the Twins within 5 games of the Al Central leaders (Detroit and Cleveland), and tonight the Twins start another important 4 game series against the Tigers.
As cliché as it sounds, every time that Twins fans are ready to give up on the team they seem to find a way to scrap together a win. Clutch plays have kept them in the race and shown the rest of the AL Central what they already knew: the Twins will fight until game 162*.
*Or 163 if necessary (http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=13103651 )
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