You know, I wish Kubel and Thome weren’t starting tonight (against John Danks).
That was my comment to my friend Laura as we sat in our break room prior to Kubel’s at-bat in the 1st inning. As it turned out, these two guys helped carry the team.
The game started out very well with Orlando Hudson’s 6th home run (5th home run hit right-handed this year) against Danks in the 1st inning. Tacking on 3 additional runs with some help from a Jason Kubel 2-run triple and later his diving catch in the outfield made it seem like Game 1 would be an easy, yet entertaining victory for the Twins. However, the White Sox apparently deployed U.S. Cellular Field inside of Target Field, as Baker allowed big flies to Paul Konerko and Mark Kotsay. When the score went from 4-0 to 4-4, you couldn’t help but worry that the Twins were going to let a winnable game slip away.
Yet the Twins just wouldn’t let that happen. Glen Perkins came in to relieve Baker and pitched very well during his 1 1/3 innings. Delmon Young decided that he hates ties and gave the Twins the lead in the 5th inning with a monster solo home run off the video banner in left-center field. Target Field continued its transformation into “The Cell” in the 9th inning, when Matt Capps allowed a game-tying, leadoff home run to Alexei Ramirez. Capps eventually loaded the bases, but was able to get Konerko to ground into a double play. By the way, I know that people rag on Michael Cuddyer for his defense (or lack thereof) at 1st base, but there’s no arguing that he had a huge scoop of J.J. Hardy’s throw after Hardy took a spill at 2nd base, and for a guy that has had limited exposure to the position, Cuddy has done a great job of filling in for Justin Morneau.
In the 10th, Jon Rauch continued his trend of “I’m no longer the closer, so I’m not going to pitch well any longer” by allowing 3 hits and a go-ahead run for the Sox. Ron Mahay came in to get the final out of the inning and succeeded in near-Dennys Reyes fashion, needing only 2 pitches to get the 3rd out.
In the bottom of the inning, Delmon Young led off with a single to center field, and then Jim Thome did something that I thought was previously impossible. He silenced Hawk Harrelson.
When Thome signed with the Twins, his lack of money in his contract (only $1.5 million, though it’s approaching $1.7 million from various bonuses) seemed to suggest that he would be only a pinch-hitter this year. However, Ron Gardenhire realized that there was still plenty of pop in his bat, and Thome has become one of the greatest free agent signings of the 2010 season. Often known for their thrifty ways, Thome has got to be one of the signature signings.
In the middle of the game, we had possibly our first field jumper of the season. I wasn’t paying attention to the field until I heard the crowd cheer, and I looked up to see a young-ish looking boy run across left field and into the left field foul territory seats. After running around for a short while, he ran back where he jumped on the field, and to my disbelief, he sat down in the 4th row, first seat next to the stairs. I’m not sure if he thought that he was totally fine once he returned to the seats, but the field level security guards also jumped the wall and immediately removed him and his family from the seating area. Now typically, field jumpers are drunk, college-age males. Not this time. Nope, according to an usher supervisor that saw the boy as he was escorted away by security, he appeared to be 10 years old. Start ‘em young, I guess! However, this supervisor also said that the boy’s mom was absolutely livid, saying something like, “I turn my back for a minute and next thing I know, you’re gone!” and the boy apparently had a smirk on his face as he was being taken away. I guess the kid just didn’t realize how much trouble he was in.
My walk back to our parking garage was nearly as entertaining as the game itself. About one block from the stadium, an older man walks up to us and strikes up a conversation. Within 15 seconds, he tells us that he’s Jeff Cox,* the 3rd base coach for the White Sox. It was pretty funny seeing us walk down the street, as three of us were walking very close to Cox as we walked down the street. He told us how he had a couple beers after the game, and he didn’t seem bitter at all about Thome beating the Sox. We reminded him of Game 163 a couple years ago and how Thome drove in the only run of the game with a solo homer off Nick Blackburn, and Cox reminded us of Ken Griffey, Jr. throwing out Michael Cuddyer at home plate. Of course we remember that, because Cuddy tried running over A.J. Pierzynski!
* I didn’t hear him tell us his name, I just heard “3rd base coach for the Sox.” Later, one of my friends told me his name was “Cox.” Well thanks, that sure helps me a lot! Fortunately, some Twitter friends came to the rescue by identifying him as Jeff Cox. That’s sure better than Laura, who tried telling one of our friends that he was Bobby Cox.
As we walked up to one of the bars on 5th Street, Cox told us that he had found his guys and said bye to us. As he approached one of the tables outside a bar, he said rather loudly, “Go White Sox!” If there was any doubt that this man was indeed Jeff Cox, 3rd base coach of the White Sox, a man at the table responded with his own loud, “Shut up, old man!”
That man at the table was Paul Konerko.
As I’ve said before, I hate the White Sox, but I’m not the kind of guy that’s going to trash talk players on the opposing team. It was rather amazing to see Konerko out in broad daylight (relatively speaking) and he wasn’t being harassed by anyone on the street because he just appeared to be a normal guy. That can happen when you’re wielding a cigar. Yes, Konerko was smoking a cigar.
So, tonight was an exciting game, I met the 3rd base coach of the White Sox (though my friends did all the talking), and I walked within 4 feet of Paul Konerko while he was dressed in street clothes in Minneapolis, smoking a cigar. Wednesday’s game is Student Night, and against the White Sox, I hope the only excitement comes on the field, not in the stands.