At the outset, it looked like more of the same for the Minnesota Twins against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday afternoon. By the end, we were all reminded that it ain't over until it's over.
After a disastrous start by Kevin Slowey and on the way to losing their third straight game, the Twins rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth inning, and got some extra inning heroics from Drew Butera and Matt Tolbert to outlast the Phillies 13-10 in 11 innings at Citizen's Bank Ballpark.
Slowey, much like Nick Blackburn on Friday night, didn't even make it out of the second inning, as the Phillies bombed him for seven runs in 1.2 innings of work. Even after the Twins managed to jump out to a three-run lead in the top of the first, thanks to a two-run single by Justin Morneau and an RBI double by Delmon Young, Slowey couldn't hold it together, giving those three runs right back in the bottom of the inning on a triple by Chase Utley that scored two runs and a sacrifice fly by Jayson Werth.
In the bottom of the second, the Phillies did even more damage, with a solo home run by light-hitting shortstop Wilson Valdez, a sac fly by Utley, and a two-run homer to center by Ryan Howard. Jeff Manship then came in for Slowey and got out of the second, but he was greeted in the bottom of the third by a Raul Ibanez solo home run to make the score 8-3.
The score remained that way until the top of the sixth, when Justin Morneau homered to lead off the inning and pull the Twins within 8-4. In the bottom of the seventh, Werth homered off of Brian Duensing with two outs to make it 9-4 in favor of the Phillies, and that's where we were going into the top of the ninth.
In the ninth, Young greeted Phillies reliever Jose Contreras with a single to center, and that was followed up by former Phillie Jim Thome blasting a pinch-hit, two-run homer to center to make it 9-6. After Nick Punto drew a walk, Philadelphia turned to closer Brad Lidge to seal the deal. Punto eventually wound up on third, taking second on fielder's indifference and moving to third on a wild pitch by Lidge. Punto then scored on a Denard Span single to center to make the score 9-7, and after Orlando Hudson struck out, Joe Mauer came to the plate with Span on second and two outs.
And he delivered. Big time.
Mauer launched a two-out, two-run bomb to center field to tie the game at nine, and the Philadelphia crowd was nothing short of shell-shocked. Lidge got Morneau to strike out to end the inning, but the damage had already been done. Then, things got crazier.
In the top of the tenth with the score still tied at nine, catcher Drew Butera. . .hitting a robust .175 on the season. . .pinch hit for Matt Guerrier to lead off the inning, and hit his first ever Major League home run to left field to give the Twins the lead for the first time since the first inning at 10-9. The Twins attempted to add more, but Punto was thrown out at home after an infield single by Denard Span on which Punto tried to score from second base.
On to the bottom of the tenth we went, and the Twins brought on their own closer, Jon Rauch. Rauch got the first two outs in short order, and then had to face pinch hitter Ross Gload. Gload took Rauch deep to right field for another home run to tie the game at ten, and we went on to the eleventh inning of play.
The Twins took over in the eleventh, and got some offense from another unlikely source, as Matt Tolbert followed up a Delmon Young RBI single with a two-run double to make the score 13-10 in favor of the Twins. Rauch, who had a sac bunt in the top half of the inning, stayed in for the eleventh, and retired the Phillies for the save.
So, after that bit of craziness, the Twins will look to win the series and, possibly, have a starting pitcher last longer than 1.2 innings. The Twins will be sending Carl Pavano's mustache to the mound, along with Carl Pavano (7-6, 3.92 ERA), and the Phillies will counter with some guy named Roy Halladay (8-5, 2.36). First pitch is slated for 12:35 PM Central time.