Here is a list of all the pitchers in baseball who have faced Justin Morneau at least 10 times and have held him hitless:
- Bobby Jenks
Esteemed Twins blogger Aaron Gleeman routinely criticizes Ron Gardenhire's reluctance to use Joe Nathan in non-save situations, specifically in extra innings. So I was surprised to see Nathan called upon in the ninth with the teams knotted at 4. Ozzie, on the other hand, will usually turn to Jenks as soon as the game goes to extras, often using him for multiple innings if possible. So I was even more surprised that Jenks sat on his duff eating candy down the right field line as Guillen trotted out Andy Sisco and Nick Masset.
In addition to keeping Bobby Jenks fresh to pitch in mop-up time tomorrow because "he needs work," Ozzie was inexplicably inconsistent with the IBB. In the last two innings, he called for 3 IBB, though only two appear in the box score, which had the undesirable effect of bringing the reigning MVP to the plate twice in the two innings where one shot can lose the Sox the game.
The first IBB was to Morneau leading off the 9th with David Aardsma, who seemingly entered the game only because the righthanded hitting AAAA player Josh Rabe was announced, on the mound. Because, you know, leadoff walks never come around to score. The walk was followed by a Jeff Cirillo bunt, which Aardsma mishandled, allowing Morneau into scoring position. Ozzie allowed Aardsma to pitch to Mike Redmond, who he retired on a pop foul, but when the ever dangerous Nicky Punto stepped to the plate, it was time to call for another free pass. Aardsma got out of the inning by inducing a lineout from Jason Bartlett, but the two free baserunners would come back to haunt.
Andy Sisco started the 10th after a 1-2-3 top half by the Greg Walker All-Stars. He promptly gave up a double just over the third base bag -- Crede, who I still think is one of the best defensive 3B in baseball, doesn't have the nearly the range into foul territory that Punto and Brandon Inge display. -- Sisco struck out Jason Kubel before being pulled so that Nick Masset could intentionally walk Torii Hunter. I suppose they were afraid Sisco's intentional balls would be even wilder that Aardsma's. Walking Hunter meant that the only way Masset would avoid facing the left-handed hitting Morneau would be by getting a double play off the bat of Michael Cuddyer, but that bastard popped out. So with men on first and second, Ozzie let Masset, the team's longman, the bottom of the right-handed reliever totem pole, face Morneau.
To recap, the following situations made Ozzie take action:
- Justin Morneau stepping to the plate in the 9th with the Sox most effective reliever (this season) on the mound.
- Nicky Punto steppnig into the box with a runner in scoring position with the Sox most effective reliever (this season) on the mound.
- Josh Rabe being announced
- Torii Hunter coming to the plate with a runner in scoring position in the 10th.
- Torii Hunter coming to the plate with a runner in scoring position and the Sox clinging to a 1-run lead in the 8th inning.
- Justin Morneau batting with the winning run on second in the 10th innning with the Sox "longman" on the mound and Bobby Jenks contemplating in which color sugar to dip his lick 'em stix.
This team is bad, and there's not a member of the coaching staff, team, or front office who should escape at least a small part of the blame.