Minnesota Twins: Plenty of Blame To Go Around in Their Heartbreaking Loss

patrick bohnCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 14:  American League All-Star Joe Nathan of the Minnesota Twins pitches during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Start with the beginning.

Let's face it: There are a lot of reasons the Minnesota Twins lost Game Two of the ALDS to the New York Yankees tonight. Some of those reasons are unfair; some are justified. But if we're going to take an honest look at what transpired, we've got to start at the beginning.

Reason No. 1: Joe Nathan couldn't hold the lead.

As angry as Twins fans are (and rightfully so) about what happened two innings later, if they want the Yankees fans to own up and admit their team caught a break, they have to be willing to do the same.

And the fact of the matter is, the Twins should have been celebrating in the clubhouse a half-hour earlier.

Joe Nathan is a great closer; probably the best in the American League right now. But any blame for the Twins loss has to start with his allowing two runs in the bottom of the ninth.

Sure, it was a tough assignment to retire Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui. But that's what you have to do in the playoffs. You've got to come through when it matters. So, when Alex Rodriguez's blast cleared the center field wall and knotted the score at three, the Twins had no-one to blame but their closer.

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Reason No. 2: The umpires royally screwed the Twins.

Look, I'm a Yankees fan. So you probably expect me to be some blind homer. I'm not. Joe Mauer clearly hit a double down the left field line leading off the 11th inning. It wasn't even close.

The umpire absolutely, completely, 100 percent blew that call. Given that the next two Twins got clean singles, Mauer would have scored. The Twins should have at least scored one run in that inning, possibly more.

There's really no other way to say it. I know some fans will stop reading after this point, but really, the story doesn't end there.

Reason No. 3: The Twins blew it in the 11th inning.

Regardless of the bad call, the Twins were able to load the bases with no-one out later in the inning. But a line out, ground out and fly ball ended the inning without a run being scored.

Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez and Brendan Harris all had chances to render the blown call moot by getting a base hit, sacrifice fly, hit by a pitch, whatever. They were unable to get the job done.

When a team has the bases loaded and nobody out in the 11th inning and the opposing pitcher is a 24-year-old making his first ever postseason appearance, that team has to score.

Those are chances you just can't blow. There's no reason the Twins couldn't have gone up 5-3 or 6-3 in the inning.

Reason No. 4: We don't know what the Yankees would have done in the bottom of the inning.

Regardless of the lead the Twins could have had heading into the bottom of the 9th, they still would have needed to get the Yankees out in the bottom half. And who knows what would have happened then.

The Yankees had put together a rally in both the 9th and 10th innings, although they only scored in the 9th. How do we know they wouldn't have put together another in the 11th? Would it be unlikely? Probably. But we don't know. The middle of the order was coming up again, and the Twins, like the Yankees, were deep into their bullpen.

We simply don't know that the Yankees wouldn't have won the game anyway.

So where does that leave us? I don't know. I'm not going to try to quantify each piece of the blame. But fair or not, there's plenty of it to go around for the Twins.

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