23-14: I’m Your Man


(The greatest win probability chart in the history of win probability charts via Fangraphs)

Jason Kubel: East Coast killah. Remember when he hit that walkoff grand slam against the Red Sox? That was awesome. Kubel Khan has now victimized Mariano Rivera, hitting the game-winning grand slam off of the future HOFer and notorious Twin-killer after he relieved Joba Chamberlain. Before that, it looked like a typical Twins loss in the Bronx. Nick Blackburn pitched pretty well, surrendering only three runs through seven innings, but received little in the way of run support. Once again, everything seemed to fall into place for the Yankees, while the Twins struggled to do much of anything against Sergio Mitre and David Robertson (other than a belated birthday homerun by the Mountie in the second), arguably the worst pitchers on the Yankees’ staff. But something really strange happened in the eighth. The Twins’ luck started to turn, and suddenly the Yankees were the ones who struggled to get anyone out. Denard Span singled. Orlando Hudson reached on a fielder’s choice. Joe Mauer walked. The sure-handed Mark Teixeira couldn’t handle a hot shot by Michael Cuddyer, loading the bases for Jim Thome. Thome walked, forcing in a run and cutting the Twins’ deficit to just one run. And then Jason Kubel made himself a legend all across Twins Territory. It wasn’t pretty, but Jon Rauch managed to shut the door in the ninth, snapping a too-goddam-many game losing streak (OK, 12) for the Twins in the Bronx.

WPA winners:

1) Jason Kubel: .513. That’s about as high of a WPA as one player can have in a game. I swiped this from Nick Nelson a long time ago, and now would be a good time to post it:

2) Joe Mauer: .086

3) Jim Thome: .069

And losers:

No losers tonight, I am in way too good of a mood for that. Well played, everybody. Woooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

Best pitcher:

Nick Blackburn pitched seven strong innings, surrendering only three runs on nine hits while striking out four. But, according to WPA, Jon Rauch (.049) was the Twins’ best pitcher of the game. He managed to nail down the save in New York, giving up a couple of singles, but striking out Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, and Mark Teixeira (looking, no less) to end the game.

Most important play:

Kubel’s grand slam. With a 3.30 WPA, it’s one of the top plays of the year.