By Joe Christensen
ANAHEIM — Torii Hunter was the first to admit he should have caught the deep fly ball by Nick Punto, which turned into a triple and the eventual winning run in the Twins’ 2-1, 12-inning victory Thursday at Angel Stadium.
“I’ve got to catch that,” Hunter said. “If it hits your glove, you have to catch it. I make those plays nine out of 10 times.”
“I was a little shocked,” Punto said. “I watched Torii make those plays all the time. Fortunately for us, it worked out.”
Span’s sigh of relief
Denard Span said he thought he saw the squeeze sign in the 12th inning on the pitch before his game-winning hit. So he squared to bunt, just in case Punto was running from third, and wound up taking strike two.
What a relief for Span when he shortened his swing and drove that single past Chone Figgins at third base.
Span was headed out with Hunter after the game and seemed eager to give his mentor some grief about the ball he hit over his head for a double in the 10th inning.
“I tried to tell him between innings,” Span said, “but I don’t think he heard me: ‘You better back up a little bit. Try to play me shallow, I can drive the ball a little bit, you know.’ “
Baker up to the task
Scott Baker spoke very softly after holding the Angels to one run on four hits over eight innings. Turns out, he’s been fighting some congestion for about a week.
What a performance. Considering how good the Angels’ lineup is, that might be Baker’s best start of the year.
“For us to come in here and win that type of game really shows we’re a playoff team,” Baker said. “This is a very strong atmosphere to play in, and I thought we performed well.”
Guerrier back on the horse
Matt Guerrier had a 20.25 ERA for August, and it’s hard to imagine a tougher spot than the one he entered in the ninth, facing Mark Teixeira, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter. But Guerrier got through it, and then he got through the 10th. It was his first two-inning outing since July 10 at Detroit, and only his second since May 15.
“I want to be back in those situations,” Guerrier said. “… They threw me into a spot where if they didn’t have confidence in me, or they didn’t think I had the confidence, they wouldn’t have put me back in there.”
Liking the new lineup
Before the game, Gardy talked about how the lineup looked with Alexi Casilla back in the No. 2 spot and noted that he now has his four speed guys — Punto, Carlos Gomez, Span and Alexi Casilla — batting 8, 9, 1, 2.
Sure enough, Punto scored both of the Twins’ runs.
Gomez had his first multi-hit game since Aug. 5.
Casilla singled in his first at-bat back from the disabled list, then went hitless in his next five at-bats. But he made a nice play to smother Teixeira’s blistering grounder to start the ninth inning.
After the game, Casilla had his right hand wrapped in ice. He’s probably going to have to battle through some soreness all season, but the Twins are thrilled to have him back.
(*) Justin Morneau left seven runners on base. Twice, the Angels intentionally walked Joe Mauer to pitch to Morneau — in the eighth inning and the 10th — and twice Morneau failed to come through.
“We missed opportunities,” Gardenhire said. “In those opportunities, you look at the other side and who’s pitching, and [Lackey] can bear down as good as anybody in the game in situations like that and make pitches.”
(*) Garrett Anderson took a 23-game hitting streak into the game but went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
(*) Following up on my note about the Twins’ interest in Eddie Guardado, I was told they had talks with the Rangers before the July 31 deadline but Texas wanted to get something good in return.
Now, Guardado is believed to be on waivers, and the Twins will likely make a claim, but they don’t think Texas will move him this time, either.
(*) With the win, the Twins pulled within a half-game of the idle White Sox.
(*) And, finally, to Peter S and the other In-n-Out non-believers, I stopped at the one in Garden Grove this afternoon, ordered the Double-Double with fries, and it was spectacular.