Normally, when a team scores seven runs in the first four innings of a baseball game, it's enough to give that team a win.
But not every team is the 2011 Minnesota Twins.
The Twins blew that entire seven-run lead, concluding with Matt Capps getting lit up for four runs and five hits in just two-thirds of an inning on Saturday night at Target Field, and what appeared at first to be an easy win wound up being an 8-7 loss, snapping Minnesota's three-game winning streak and preventing them from making up ground in the American League Central.
The Twins got things going early, as a two-out single by Danny Valencia in the bottom of the first inning brought Alexi Casilla home to score, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. The Twins added to that lead in the bottom of the third, as Michael Cuddyer and Valencia hit back-to-back solo home runs to extend the Minnesota lead to 3-0. It was the first time the Twins had hit back-to-back home runs since September 25, 2010 in Detroit.
Minnesota got a string of clutch hits in the bottom of the fourth as well. Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Ben Revere both grounded out to start the inning, but a double by Casilla and a walk to Joe Mauer kept the inning alive. The Twins then got four consecutive RBI singles from Cuddyer, Valencia, Luke Hughes, and Jason Repko to give Minnesota a 7-0 lead. The Twins had thirteen hits after four innings of play. . .they would get one the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, the Brewers started chipping away at the lead in the top of the fifth, when a Jonathan Lucroy RBI single off of Twins' starter Carl Pavano made the score 7-1. They cut into the lead even more in the top of the sixth, when Nyjer Morgan blasted a Pavano offering into the left field seats for a two-run homer to make the score 7-3. The Brewers made it a three-run game in the eighth when a Ryan Braun groundout brought Morgan in to score and make the game 7-4. The Twins turned the ball over to Matt Capps for the top of the ninth inning.
The Brewers started the inning with consecutive singles from Yuneski Betancourt, Mark Kotstay, and Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy's single brought Betancourt in to score, and the score became 7-5. Capps then retired Craig Counsell on a pop out to short and Rickie Weeks on a fly ball to left. With two outs, the Brewers got a double from Morgan that brought two runs in to score and tied the game at 7-7. To conclude the meltdown, pinch-hitter George Kottaras laced a single to center to score Morgan, and the Brewers took their first lead of the night at 8-7.
That one lead was all the Brewers needed, however, as the Twins went down 1-2-3 in the ninth to officially snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Neither starter, Milwaukee's Chris Narveson nor Minnesota's Carl Pavano, figured into the decision. Pavano pitched well enough, but his bullpen made a complete mess of things after he left the ball game. The win wound up going to Takashi Saito for pitching a perfect eighth inning, giving him his first victory of the 2011 season and evening his record at 1-1. Brewers' closer John Axford collected his twenty-first save of the year for his work in the ninth. The blown save for Capps was his sixth of the season (in nineteen attempts), and he also took the loss to drop his record for the year to 2-4.
The Twins will try to bounce back in the rubber game of the series tomorrow afternoon at Target Field, with first pitch scheduled for 1:10 PM Central time. Long-time Twins nemesis Zack Grienke (7-3, 5.63 ERA) will make his first start against the Twins in a Brewers uniform, while the Twins will go with right-hander Nick Blackburn (6-6, 3.64 ERA).