We take a look back at what could have been for the Minnesota Twins had Phil Cuzzi not blown the foul ball call in 2009.
On this date in 2010, Umpire Jim Joyce called former Cleveland Indians shortstop Jason Donald safe at first base, costing Tigers pitcher and (Minnesota Twins nemesis) Armando Galarraga a perfect game, as Galarraga had retired the previous 26 batters without issue.
Joyce immediately saw after the replay he made the wrong decision, but there was nothing to be done. Jim Joyce is still haunted by this moment, but he and Galarraga have made amends. Despite Galarraga still asking the MLB to reward him a perfect game nearly 10 years later, he still hasn’t been granted that yet.
This had me thinking about some of the Twins worst blown calls, including the worst in recent memory: Umpire Phil Cuzzi calling the ball hit by Joe Mauer a foul ball in Game 2 of the 2009 American League Division Series.
Let me set the stage for you: after falling in Game One, 7-2, the Twins played Game Two in New York. It was a hard fought game but in the bottom of the ninth Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer to tie it at three. The score stayed 3-3 into the into the eleventh inning, when Joe Mauer walked up to the plate.
Joe Mauer laced a 1-1 pitched down the left field line and watched the ball tip off the glove of Melky Cabrera and bounce into the stand. Phil Cuzzi, the umpire down that line wasted no time calling the ball foul. I’ll let you decide where you think the ball landed:
The fuzzy quality doesn’t make it any less clear, and this happened right in front of Cuzzi’s face. The worst part is, this would have set Mauer on second, rather than first, and with the Twins racking up two singles right after, Mauer would likely have scored and the Twins would have carried at least a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the inning (it could have been more without the force at home).
Let’s say that leads to a Twins win later that night. If the Twins win Game 2, the series comes back to Minneapolis tied 1-1. After an incredible victory, the team has a little more adrenaline and doesn’t give up four runs in the final three innings of Game 3.
Again, this is all one big what if, but without any baseball to watch today, it’s hard not to think about what could have been. That Twins team was very solid and led by the eventual American League MVP, so they could have unseated the eventual champion Yankees. If only Cuzzi makes the right call….