Wild Card, Gme 2

Wednesday, October 04 2023 @ 09:32 AM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

It's pretty simple. Win or go home.

The Twins and their fans were talking about how their defense won yesterday's game for them, and they did make a quantity of good plays. But two of them, obviously, were crucial.

The first, of course, was Correa throwing Bichette out at home to end the top of the fourth. Luis Rivera evidently held up a stop sign, but Bichette either didn't notice or ignored it. Aggressive baserunning often blows up in your face in the post-season, as those of us old enough to remember the 1985 Blue Jays remember all too well. Challenging a good player to make a good play isn't a winning strategy. But I don't think Bichette was being over-aggressive and Rivera's stop sign, if it was there, seems a little too cautious, if not downright timid. Correa didn't make a good play - I think he made an amazing play. He was standing near second base when the ball got through Polanco. He had to dash over to near third base on his sore foot, barehand the ball, and throw a strike to the catcher, off-balance and on the run. It was worthy of the late great Brooks Robinson, who did that sort of thing better than anyone.

But much more important was Michael A. Taylor's catch on Chapman's drive to the wall to end the top of the sixth. It wasn't as spectacular - Taylor is so smooth, so fast, and so graceful that he makes everything look pretty easy. But two runs score and the game is tied if he doesn't get to that ball. Or if Chapman had hit it 403 feet instead of 401... Well, we can all think about what needed to be done differently to squeeze out just an extra couple of feet on that drive, and slowly lose our collective minds. That way madness lies.

But I think George Springer was right afterwards. The Blue Jays played a pretty good game - they hit the ball well, made plays on defense, held the other team to three runs. But the Twins are a good team and played very well themselves. What it really came down to was Pablo Lopez being better than Kevin Gausman on the day. Well, Rocco didn't give Lopez the Game One start because of his sexy Latin looks.

Sonny Gray - who is that extremely rare creature, a short RH pitcher - had a season that in almost every respect was like all the other Sonny Gray seasons before. He's been a solid starting pitcher for a long time. What was different about him in 2023 was that no one could take him deep. He's always been able to keep the ball in the yard, but this season was exceptional. Gray didn't give up his first homer of the season until June 3, in his twelfth start, and he allowed just 8 long balls all season. That's the same number of homers as Erik Swanson and Yimi Garcia gave up.

The Report Card is nowhere near ready. Not even close. I need the season to continue a little longer.