- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on ‘outdated’ agencies
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
- Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
Single mistake dooms Nats
MINNEAPOLIS - At this point in their respective building phases, the biggest difference between the Washington Nationals and the Minnesota Twins is legitimate game-changers; namely, the presence of them for the latter club and the absence, at least in the midst of a rash of injuries, for the former.
And while the Twins have a much shorter climb to contention than their former would-be contraction cousins, their 2-1 win over Washington on Tuesday night displayed the disparity between the two teams. While both got commendable performances from their starters, there was one big difference.
It was catcher Joe Mauer (the 2006 American League batting champion) and first baseman Justin Morneau (the AL MVP that year) who provided the necessary offense for Minnesota, maintaining their cool on a night when both teams went to the plate hacking and punishing John Lannan for the few mistakes he made.
The contrast was obvious on a night when the Nationals fell victim to a pitcher who knows them well. Former Washington starter Livan Hernandez threw just 77 pitches in seven innings, throwing first-pitch strikes and then feasting on a young lineup.
And instead of netting their first four-game win streak since May 1, the Nationals lost in 1 hour, 59 minutes.
“Tonight, he threw strike one, and we got overly aggressive,” manager Manny Acta said. “He knows how to do that.”
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Paul Lo Duca doubled in his first at-bat since breaking his hand May 8, and after Kory Casto moved him to third with a groundout, Cristian Guzman brought Lo Duca home with a high chopper off the Metrodome turf, the kind of hit that made him an All-Star for the Twins in 2001.
Lannan rolled through the first 5 2/3 innings, gradually gaining the fastball command that has defined his best starts this season. Ten of his first 15 outs came on ground balls, and he took advantage of a Twins team that, aside from Mauer, swung early in counts.
But then Mauer and Morneau, the two cornerstones who define Minnesota’s present and future, got to Lannan in the sixth.
Mauer fouled off five of the six fastballs Lannan threw him, including three straight to start his at-bat, then lashed a slider back up the middle for a single. Then, when Lannan threw another curve to the inside half of the plate - a pitch Acta said wasn’t in the Nationals’ game plan - Morneau crushed it 421 feet into the right-field upper deck.
“It was a curveball up, and he hit it a long way,” Lannan said. “I threw a good one to him the first at-bat. He’s right. I shouldn’t have been throwing that pitch in that situation. It was just a mistake.”
He threw four pitches or less to 18 of the 23 batters he faced, and the Nationals had only two hits after the third inning, both of which were followed with double plays.
“He was able to control that outside part of the plate,” Acta said. “Usually, guys took the first pitch, and he threw it for a strike. He was able to get ahead and expand the zone on them.”
After seven innings, Hernandez was done for the night, and the Twins’ formidable bullpen had a 2-1 lead to protect. It did, with Joe Nathan working the ninth for his 18th save and ensuring Washington would be held to one run or less for the seventh time this month.
This time, it might have been enough to win but for two young stars who know very much what they’re doing.
About the Author
- T'wolves receive post-Christmas gift
- Back in Minnesota, Saunders sees Wizards stumble
- Nationals sign veteran Marquis
- Nats' buzz at meetings is change of strategy
- In Cleveland, Acta's stock still climbing
Latest Blog Entries
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- U.S. drops 2,000 mice on Guam by parachute to kill snakes
- CURL: 'Mission Accomplished' for Obamacare
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
White House pets gone wild!