Last night at dinner, a friend asked me about the Twins record this year and would they do better. I told him that in the Major Leagues, every player was a league leader at some point in his career and all had the ability to do what was necessary to win a game from time to time. Last night in Seattle, this rule was proven in spades where the Twins won 3-2 in 13 innings.
The game was won by a fellow named Chris Colabello. This player played seven seasons of independent league baseball, was at AA before being called up to the Majors. He was batting .132 when he entered this game in the 8th inning and promptly hit into a double play, later he stuck out. In the 13th, however, he hit Yoervis Medina’s first pitch for a two run homerun to win the game. Medina was probably trying a first pitch fastball to get an early strike, it was a mistake. Seattle starter, Felix Hernandez, had pitched 32 scoreless innings against the Twins until the ninth in a 1-0 game, when he threw a 0-2 fastball to Trevor Plouffe, a pinch hitter who was 0-9 in previous at-bats, who singled to center to score Pedro Florimon, who had singled and been bunted to second to lead off the inning. An 0-2 fastball is always a mistake if it is over the plate. So two mistakes to two average to poor players resutled in a 3-2 extra-inning loss for Seattle. Such is life in the big leagues.
The difference between batters is stated in batting average percentages with the leading hitter in the AL, Miguel Cabrera, batting .365. The average batter in the league is at about .261. The difference is one hit in ten at-bats or one hit every two games. Where that is significant, it also means that a player with few credentials, like Chris Colabello, can beat you with the one hit he gets each six
Where the difference in batters is usually slight in actual number. .300 to .260, for example, when multiplied by the 162 game schedule or 500 at bats, the difference is winning or loosing that fifth game that readers of this blog are familiar with. It also means that anyone with a bat can win the game and that is something Yoervis Medina and Felix Hernandez did not focus on last night. They both threw fastballs over the plate to a Major League player and that was the problem.
As the legendary manager, Earl Weaver, said, in distinguishing baseball from other games, “we can’t just run out the clock or take a knee, we have to throw the ball over the plate and give the other team a chance.” Such is the game of baseball.