The Angels wrapped up the Twins tonight, 13-5. The difference was a 10-run Anaheim seventh. It's kind of a shame that a team like the Twins that had a great deal of success under very trying circumstances would have to go out in such a humiliating way.
It was a very odd ballgame: for the second game in a row a pitchers' duel turned into a run away. If you take away the seventh inning the score would be 3-2 in favor of the Angels. For the third straight game the Minnesota bullpen let them down, which is also odd given that it was one of their strengths during the season (their starter's ERA was 70 points higher during the season but 156 lower in the postseason). Another oddity was Adam Kennedy, who hit 7 home runs all season, clouting three today.
The more one looks at the strange twists of the last two games, the one realizes that the series turned on the use of 4 pitchers in the third game. The strategy seemed to work at the time as the Twins' relievers kept them tied with Anaheim, but it unraveled in the ninth as left-handed J.C. Romero remained in the game to pitch to the right-handed Troy Glaus, who quickly untied the game for good. The strategy has severely failed the Twins in the last two games.
Minnesota's strategy and miscues plagued them the entire series and help cause their demise:
In this game A.J. Pierzynski, after apparently plating Dustan Mohr in the second with a single to shallow left, gets himself caught in what may kindly be called a rundown when the throw to the plate is cut off.
Luis Rivas defense early in the game was disconcerting on three separate plays but did not cause any damage o the scoreboard.
Mays gave up two home runs (to Spiezio and Kennedy) on hanging breaking balls to lose the lead without causing some much as a stir in the bullpen. My thought was where is Kyle Lohse-he's a starter who is well rested. Lohse wouldn't appear until the game was out of hand.
Kennedy's third home run was particularly egregious. He started out bunting (the Angels trailed 5-3 at that point), fell to 0-2, and then homered on a fat inside breaking ball.
Also, in the disastrous seventh, Romero throw a ball so high I swear I saw it hit the bull, scoring the Angels' ninth run. Wells hit Eckstein to force in the 12th run. And Romero also walked in the seventh run. The Angels scored 10 runs on 10 hits (1 HR and 9 singles), one walk, a wild pitch, a hit batsman, and two strikeouts.
Gardenhire continued to use strategy that had been failing him throughout the series. The relief tandem of Hawkins, Santana, Jackson, and Romero has just not gotten the job done. Kyle Lohse, Bob Wells (who gave up the last run tonight), and closer Eddie Guardado were all available and underused. Terry Fiore was left off the ALCS playoff roster in favor of Wells. If Gardenhire had not intended to use Lohse in long relief (like replacing Mays early), why not bring Fiore for the relief help? Frankly, anyone besides the game five starter should have been used to keep the game close.
Gardenhire also stuck with "the guys who got us here" and lost because of the loyalty. Jacque Jones and Christian Guzman at the top of the order failed to ignite the offense. His one inspired move was to use Dustan Mohr, who has been hot, in right.
Some will say that when his team is not batting and his relief corps is failing, the manager cannot be blamed. It's true that he had somewhat limited options, but it is also true that he did not explore those options thoroughly enough.
The saddest part of the 10-run inning was the look on the Twins faces as the Angels punched singles between or just over defenders. They had just taken a two-run lead exploiting Francisco Rodriguez wildness (a walk and a wild pitch that each scored a run-the Angels may be overusing him or is minor-league wildness may be returning) and lackadaisical stab at the wild pitch by Bengie Molina (his second such play of the game) in the top of the inning.