Sunday's goats turned into Monday's heroes, ending a five-game losing streak.
The Twins turned Memorial Day into redemption day -- on a small scale, sure, but teams with lousy records can enjoy moments like this, too.
In Sunday's loss to Detroit, Justin Morneau stranded seven runners on base and Matt Capps blew his first save chance of the year, but both played big roles Monday as the Twins staged an eighth-inning comeback and held on to defeat Oakland 5-4 at Target Field, stopping a five-game losing streak.
After falling behind 4-3 in the eighth inning, the Twins rallied for two runs against Athletics righthander Ryan Cook, who had a 0.00 ERA in 21 previous appearances. Morneau delivered the game-tying RBI double, Ryan Doumit hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly, and Capps escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, fanning Jonny Gomes on three pitches to end the game.
Capps punctuated the moment with a fist pump, as an announced crowd of 34,709 roared approval. Later, he and Morneau weren't shy expressing how they felt about the loud boos they heard from those same fans when Capps entered for the ninth inning.
"I don't blame people for booing," Capps said. "They expect me to do my job, and bottom line is [Sunday] I didn't -- and that's very fresh in their memories.
"I mean, I'd be lying, and I wouldn't be human, if I didn't feel something. Nobody likes that, especially in their home ballpark. But this organization pays me to do a job, and no matter what their fans think, I've got to go out and do it."
The Twins were thrilled to see Capps answer his critics, just 24 hours after giving up Sunday's two-run, ninth-inning homer to Detroit's Miguel Cabrera.
"He made one bad pitch [Sunday] to one of the best hitters in baseball," Morneau said. "That's going to happen. We feel comfortable with him on the mound. He's a guy with guts. It's disappointing to see a guy get booed when he's coming in the game, but I think he's 10-for-11 in save opportunities -- he's having a pretty good year."
Capps started warming up in the eighth, while the Twins mounted their improbable rally against Cook. Joe Mauer beat out an infield single and Josh Willingham walked before Morneau dropped a bloop double just inside the left field line, scoring Mauer. Doumit's sacrifice fly gave the Twins their first lead.
The Twins dugout had been keenly aware that Cook entered with a perfect ERA.
"We saw a lot of zeros up there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Everybody should have stats, and he had none."
But their satisfaction quickly turned to angst, when second baseman Alexi Casilla opened the ninth inning with an error, booting a routine grounder from Collin Cowgill. Capps issued a one-out walk to Jemile Weeks before stabbing a comeback liner from Coco Crisp, dropping the ball twice before throwing to first for the second out.
With runners on second and third, Gardenhire went to the mound with instructions to intentionally walk Josh Reddick, who had hit his 14th homer and tripled off the center field wall earlier in the game off Twins starter Scott Diamond.
"He's the manager and I play for him," Capps said. "It's not a decision I want to make, or can honestly say I would have made, but it was the right move there and it worked out for us."
It worked because Capps fanned the .227-hitting Gomes, climbing the ladder with fastballs.
"There's not a bigger competitor on this team than Capps," Doumit said. "No one wants to win more. There's no better teammate. So for him to come in and do the job like he's done so many times was great."
|Fla Gulf Coast||62|
|Sam Houston St||67||FINAL|
|Miss Valley St||0|
|Stephen F Austin||92|
|Cal State Fullerton||62||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||69|
|(18) Texas A&M||57|
|East Tenn St||73|
|Sam Houston St||73||FINAL|
|Stephen F Austin||56|
|Miss Valley St||0|
|(15) North Carolina||84|
|Cal State Fullerton||66|
|Long Beach St||60||FINAL|
|UC Santa Barbara||36|
Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?