Posted at 10:50 PM on June 13, 2006
by Josh Lee
"Schilling versus Santana" sounds like Old English for "epic pitchers' duel," so naturally, I approached tonight's game with suspicion. "Surely," I thought, "a meeting between The Bleeding Sock and El Presidente could never live up to our expectations, because our expectations involve some kind of apocalyptic battle between giants, lightning flying off the mound, batters left scarred and weeping." It takes some pretty amazing pitching to inspire purple prose like that, and as good as these guys are, I wasn't going to hold my breath for a tell-your-grandkids-about-it kind of game.
As it turns out, I could breathe easy, because for eight innings, Santana and Schilling battled like Beowulf and Grendel. Boston's ace kept Minnesota firmly under wraps, inducing groundouts and double plays and making the Twins look a little foolish, even without Rondell White in the lineup. Johan Santana, on the other hand, simply owned the Red Sox, racking up 13 strikeouts, including the 1,000th "K" of his career. Jason Varitek looked like he might break things open with a homer in the top of the 7th, but Michael Cuddyer balanced the scales with a dinger of his own in the bottom of the inning.
After pitching each other to a draw through eight innings, though, both pitchers tired and had to withdraw from the fray, giving way to their respective bullpens. If the hitters thought that they'd have it any easier, though, they were quickly reminded that while guys like Papelbon, Nathan, and Rincon might not have any epic poems written about them, they can still get Coco Crisp and Luis Rodriguez out without breaking a sweat.
Then Gardenhire put Jesse Crain in to pitch the 12th inning, and he promptly booched it, allowing the Red Sox to load up the bases and slip a run across. With the Twins' backs to the wall in the bottom of the 12th, Mauer struck out, Cuddyer was hit by a pitch, Morneau hit a ground-rule double, and Torii was intentionally walked to load the bases. Then Jason Kubel came up to bat, decided that pitching had defined this game for long enough, and hit a walkoff grand slam to right field. Minnesota Twins 5, Boston Red Sox 2. Be sure to tell your grandkids about it.
Going into the bottom of the twelfth I said to my friends, "We're about to find out if what we've witnessed here tonight was a great game, or one of the greatest." ...Now I can't wait to have grandkids!
Great game from the highlights... unfortunately I was stuck at work watching the MLB Gameday for it, and I was getting nervous when Kubel got up to the plate. What a finish!
Wow...I probably woke up half the neighborhood with my yelling after J. Kube hit that walk off granny. Hell of a game. The kind that makes it hard to sleep at night.