The Twins were on the road today, playing an afternoon game in Baltimore, starting at 2:10 our time, and Ghost and I decided it was time to see a game. We looked for a convivial watering hole located somewhere between his house and mine, and settled on the Groveland Tap, on St. Claire Avenue in Saint Paul, near Macalaster College. “If there’s a game on then it’s on one of our 10 televisions.” It was an overcast afternoon, and seemed more like fall than spring as I made our way to the pub. Inside I found Ghost sitting at the bar. There were a few tables and booths in the front, several of them occupied by people using laptops and portable electric typewriters. (Mac students? Faculty?) The Groveland Tap has nice big windows that span the whole face of the building, and looking out on St. Clair Avenue. As the afternoon wore on, we noticed a disturbing mix of rain and snow, busily precipitating.
Overall, the Tap was not a bad choice. However, though they did have the game on several of their 10 tvs, they did not seem to have the sound turned up on any of them. So we watched the game while music played. Not sure what sort of music, but it didn’t interfere too much. Basically unmemorable. On the one hand, it would have been nice to hear the sounds of the ballpark, but on the other hand we didn’t have to listen to the announcers. We found a table with a good view of the game, ordered some beers, and watched some ball. I provided the play-by-play. (“There’s a hit.”) Ghost did the color commentary. (“Nice pitch.”)
For refreshments? Surly Furious, Odell Nitro Cutthroat Porter, Grain Belt, onion rings (yum) and cheesy fries. I thought the Porter and the rings were excellent.
Nice sunny day out there in Baltimore. Hendriks pitching for the Twins, Arrieta for the Orioles. Neither of them had great games, and both made their exits about halfway through. Baltimore grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 3rd, but the Twins came back with 4 in the fourth to put the game away. Or so we believed. Dozier swung the big bat there, hitting a triple with two on to make it 3-1. Escobar then drove Dozier home with a single.
[Noticed that a lot of the Twins were wearing the eye black out there. Does that stuff work? And if so, how? Where did that come from? I guess supposedly it “reduces glare”, but studies seem a bit inconclusive. Would it help while watching the TV? Or for fans at the ball park? I guess I’m surprised I don’t see more fans in the stands wearing it. Maybe half the people watching the game in the bar had eye black on, but I don’t know if it helped them any. It was a pretty sunny day in Baltimore, though, and sometimes there was a lot of glare from the TV.]
The vaunted Hendriks could not nail it down, though. The Orioles led off the bottom of the fourth with a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases with no one out. Former Twin “Watch The Wrist” Hardy hit into a fielder’s choice to plate one, but the play at third, Escobar to Plouffe, failed to get the runner, so it was still bases loaded with no outs. Hendriks escaped, though; he unleashed some patented Australian Heat, got a a strikeout and a couple of pop ups. But 4-2.
And then in the bottom of the 5th, the Orioles hit him pretty solidly from the start, and two more Orioles runs knot it up. In the 6th Dozier singles to drive in his third run, and the Twins are up again 5-4. But then came the bottom of the 8th. Casey Fien gives up a couple of singles, and then a sacrifice bunt (old-time baseball!) and then an intentional walk. To us, sitting ringside, those singles look like they came on pretty good pitches. But not good enough — perhaps they were waiting on his fastball — but anyway, bases are loaded, with one out. And Chris Davis is strides to the plate. This is the Chris Davis who’s hit a home run in each of the first three games, and is looking to tie the record by making it four games, tying Willie Mays, Mark McGwire, and Nelson Cruz. We bring our left-handed specialist in, Tyler Robertson. First pitch, Davis swings, an odd sort of swing, but he takes it over the wall for a grand slam, and that’s all she wrote.
I was surprised it went out, it seemed like a kind of an awkward swing, Davis falling away from the pitch a bit. But he must have got it up in some strong draft of wind, because it carried and carried. Here’s a picture of his swing. Doesn’t it look a bit awkward? Well, I just watched the replay, and it doesn’t look so awkward there. But it was disappointing.
So. It was a pretty entertaining game to watch, a little back and forth. And it seemed like we had the game in hand, all they way, until that one pitch in the bottom of the 8th, when it suddenly morphed into a disappointing L. Hard to move those games from the W to the L column. Next time I think we need a seat at a smaller darker bar, with fewer small children, (yes, this was a family bar sort of place,) fewer people of all ages, perhaps, and the sound of the game and eye-black covering our faces.
Well, I’m tired. more later.