10 run leads are just not enough

July 21, 2009 - A lot of Twins fans were already in bed confident of another Twins win when home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski called Mike Cuddyer out on a close call at the plate at about 12:38 AM local time on Tuesday morning. Cuddyer was trying to tie the score at 14-14 all the way from second base on a wild pitch by A’s reliever Michael Wuertz. Replays showed fairly clearly that Cuddyer was safe, having slid under the tag from Wuertz but the dirty deed had already been done, the A’s were already shaking hands for a great come from behind victory while Gardy “discussed” the play with Muchlinski.

It was an abrupt end to a game that dragged on for 3 hours and 32 in front of only 10,283 fans in Oakland in a game where each team hit 4 home runs with a grand slam for each side. Neither starter, or reliever for that matter, had anything, Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez lasted just 2 2/3 innings giving up 11 earned runs and Nick Blackburn pitched 5 innings for Minnesota and gave up 7 earned runs on 13 hits. Twins pitchers threw 155 pitches, allowed 22 hits and 3 walks and strangely enough, did not strike out a single A’s batter.

With the 14-13 loss the Twins tied their record for largest blown lead in Twins history. The Twins and Frank Viola had a 10-0 lead in the 3rd inning at Cleveland Stadium on September 28, 1984 and lost the game 11-10 but that was in the Ron Davis era and many would say that was not all that shocking. Sports Illustrated did a recap of the game in their October 4, 1984 issue and you can check it out here. If you want to see the actual box score of the 1984 game just click here.

According to Elias, Minnesota’s Justin Morneau had two home runs and seven RBIs and Oakland’s Matt Holliday had two homers and six RBIs in the A’s win over the Twins. It was only the fourth game in major-league history in which a player on each team hit at least two home runs and had at least six RBIs. The other pairs of opponents to do that were Rogers Hornsby (Cardinals) and Butch Henline (Phillies) in 1922, Lou Gehrig (Yankees) and Jimmie Foxx (A’s) in 1930, and Albert Belle (White Sox) and Rusty Greer (Rangers) in 1997.

A’s starter Gio Gonzalez gave up 11 runs in two and two-thirds innings Monday night but he did not get a loss as Oakland rallied from a ten-run deficit to beat the Twins, 14-13. Gonzalez is only the second starting pitcher in baseball’s modern era (i.e., since 1900) to avoid a loss in a game in which he pitched fewer than three innings and gave up at least 11 runs. You don’t have to search back very far to find the other instance: the Rangers’ Scott Feldman was charged with 12 runs in two and two-thirds innings in Boston on August 12, 2008 he too was not involved in the decision as Texas lost to the Red Sox, 19-17.

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