A perfect example of the Twins winning a game in spite of their manager, Ron Gardenhire, whose moves in the bottom of the eighth inning are head-scratching mystifiers if you ask this fan. To make matters worse, Dick Bremer pointed to "shrewd managing" as a reason why the Twins were able to come back against the Rangers; it's unfortunately paradoxical and counter-productive when one idiot heaps praise on a fellow idiot. Let's examine this half-inning to see how the Twins were shockingly able to come back: after Justin Morneau walked and Jason Kubel singled against C.J. Wilson, Michael Cuddyer came up to the plate with one goal in mind: to strike out. Some baseball people would have had Cuddyer bunt, but I'm fine with what happened. In those situations, Cuddyer has to strike out, because that is apparently what he's paid to do. No problem there. Then Brendan Harris singles to left to tie the game, and outfielder Nelson Cruz's error allows runners to move to second and third with one out. So far, so good for Ron Gardenhire -- he hasn't done jackshit, and the team has tied the game and is on the verge of taking the lead. Then he continues to do nothing, and inexplicably he lets Mike Redmond hit. Here's a guy who, if it weren't for Nick Punto and Alexi Casilla also being on the team, would be by far the worst hitter on your team, who hits the ball to the right side of the field because he can't catch up to anything at this point in his career and is perpetually behind the baseball. Gardenhire had some moves on the bench to make: Jose Morales, he of the Joe Mauer-esque batting average, Orlando Cabrera, and Seldom Young -- all three of those players are far superior hitters to Redmond. But Gardy goes with Redmond, who bounces it to first, and pinch-runner Carlos Gomez is only able to score because of a bad throw home. Gardenhire again lucks out, does nothing and gets the advantageous bounce to take the lead.
Now it's Nick Punto's turn, and Bremer lauded Gardenhire's ploy to bunt Punto here. As if everybody else in the building didn't also think that Punto just *might* bunt. Dude, have you seen Nick Punto swing the bat this season? It's kind of like watching Elaine Benes dance -- he's got these little kicks and herky-jerky movements that's very hard to watch most of the time. Yeah, like you're going to have Nick Punto try to swing away to get the run home. The bunt is a decent one, and Wilson's throw home was again errant, allowing the run to score, and Bremer takes that opportunity to praise both morons, Gardenhire and Punto, for teaming together to score another run. As if Gardy was done making moronic managerial moves; in the middle of the next at-bat, on a 1-1 pitch, Gardenhire pinch-runs Redmond at second base in favor of Orlando Cabrera? Whaaaaaat???!!! You'd pinch-run Redmond in the middle of an at-bat but you'd think that he could get the job done at the plate? What the hell are you thinking, Gardenhire? And to make matters worse, instead of putting Jose Morales behind the plate for the ninth, he loses his DH and has Mauer catch the ninth. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Master of Logic, Ron Gardenhire. Oh, and as a side note, the Twins are unable to extend their lead because Alexi Casilla, batting .198 and second in the lineup again, failed to get a two-out hit. Hmm. I wouldn't have expected that.
So Sunday's game was a perfect example of the Twins winning despite their manager's best efforts to lose ballgames. Not that this should be necessarily new to Twins fans, as Gardy has done this ever since he took over the managerial reins in 2002. Unfortunately for the Twins, Gardenhire's poor managing did constitute enough to lose the season for the Twins in 2008, and if they want to make the playoffs this year, it's going to be the players that are going to have to rise up and win in spite of Gardenhire's best Pete Rose imitations. By the way, the Tigers' dramatic 4-3 win against Tampa Bay again prevented the Twins from moving up on Detroit.
Photos: (1) AP/Tom Olmscheid; (2) Getty Images/G. Newman Lawrence