Twins' Baker not quite perfect, but it will do

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 2, 2007 - 10:51 PM

Twins pitcher Scott Baker retired the first 24 Royals he faced before settling for a one-hit, one-walk gem.

view larger photos

  

Scott Baker was an afterthought when the Twins reported to spring training, even though the biggest story was the starting pitching staff and its myriad concerns.

He began the season at Class AAA Rochester and seemed forgotten behind other blue-chip pitching prospects such as Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey and Glen Perkins.

But on Friday night at the Metrodome, Baker emerged from the shadows once and for all, coming within three outs of the first nine-inning perfect game in team history, as the Twins defeated the Kansas City Royals 5-0 in the second game of a day-night doubleheader.

Baker had to settle for the 15th one-hitter in team history, after walking John Buck to start the ninth inning and surrendering a one-out single to Mike Sweeney.

"I made the right pitch," Baker said of the sinker Sweeney muscled to center field. "It just wasn't meant to be tonight."

Still, the Twins earned a memorable doubleheader split after a 9-4 loss in Game 1.

"I think we just went from the worst game we played all year to almost perfect," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That was a great performance by Scott Baker. We needed that. He's the whole story."

After retiring the first 24 batters, Baker (8-6) might have missed in his bid for the 18th nine-inning perfect game in major league history, but he entrenched himself as a force in the Twins rotation.

An announced crowd of 24,986 began rising to its feet with each out in the seventh inning, urging Baker toward history.

The only Twins pitcher to finish a game without allowing anyone to reach base was Dean Chance on Aug. 6, 1967, and that 2-0 victory over Boston was shortened to five innings, so it's not on MLB's official list of perfect games.

Baker finished with 111 pitches -- 81 strikes, 30 balls.

Despite that command, his bid for perfection ended with a five-pitch walk to Buck. He fell behind in the count 3-0, threw a strike and then another ball.

"I thought the first one was borderline, but the umpire [Jim Wolf] did a fantastic job," Baker said.

The walk actually ended a streak of 38 consecutive Royals batters retired for Baker, dating to his start vs. Kansas City on July 30. He retired the final 14 batters he faced in that 3-1 victory.

Baker, 25, said he wasn't overly nervous for the ninth inning and he didn't think the walk rattled him.

When Joey Gathright hit into a fielder's choice, Baker was two outs from the sixth no-hitter in Twins history. The last came from Eric Milton against the Angels on Sept. 11, 1999.

And, oh yes, Baker knew he was close. "Personally, I know every hit I give up," he said. "From the first inning on, I know if I'm giving up hits or not."

Baker had given up 29 hits in his previous three starts, including 14 against Seattle on Aug. 21, showing just how unlikely this performance was.

Royals manager Buddy Bell sent the veteran Sweeney up to pinch hit for Tony Pena Jr. Sweeney had come off the disabled list between games. This was the Royals captain's first at-bat since July 21.

After taking a called strike, Sweeney got jammed by Baker's sinker but fisted the pitch on a looping arc to center field.

"It's been so long since I've had a hit in the big leagues, I was going to ask him for the ball," Sweeney said.

Baker did a little hop step when Sweeney's ball landed, but he remained poised enough to retire David DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek, ending the game.

Afterward, Baker kept it all in perspective. He returned from Rochester in May and has gone 7-4 in his past 14 starts. Last week, his wife gave birth to the couple's second child, and he was flying to Louisiana between starts.

"I don't think he could be any higher than he is right now," Gardenhire said. "We're very happy for him. He's a big part of our rotation right now, throwing the ball very, very well."

  • GAME 1: KANSAS CITY 9, TWINS 4 GAME 2: TWINS 5, KANSAS CITY 0 Up next: vs. Kansas City • 11:10 a.m. today • No TV • 1500-AM

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Minnesota000000000040
Detroit «00100002X340
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
HR: MIN- None DET- I.Kinsler (17)

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - J. Vargas 7:07 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 1 1st Prd 7:02
Toronto 0
NY Rangers 0 1st Prd 6:48
Montreal 1
New Jersey 0 1st Prd 6:21
Ottawa 0
Dallas 1 1st Prd 2:11
NY Islanders 1
Detroit 1 1st Prd :33
Philadelphia 0
Chicago 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Nashville
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Florida 8:00 PM
Arizona
Washington 9:00 PM
Calgary
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
UAB 17 FINAL
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
UNLV 20 FINAL
Utah State 34
Temple 14 3rd Qtr 3:08
UCF 27
(15) Arizona 31 2nd Qtr 0:19
Washington St 16
Texas-El Paso 14 1st Qtr 1:21
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 0 1st Qtr 3:10
Colorado State 10
Syracuse 3 2nd Qtr
(21) Clemson 0
Texas State 0 2nd Qtr 15:00
ULM 3
(3) Ole Miss 0 1st Qtr 4:10
(24) LSU 0
(4) Alabama 6 1st Qtr 12:39
Tennessee 0
So Carolina 0 1st Qtr 13:10
(5) Auburn 0
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 1st Half 44:55
New England 0
Portland 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 7 1:00
Winnipeg 4
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close