Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Scott Baker's Top 5 Games

The offseason was supposed to mark the happy reunion between the rehabbing starting pitcher and the only team he has ever known. But when Scott Baker reached the free agent market, there was plenty of interest in the right-handed hurler. The Cubs inked Baker to a one-year deal worth a base salary of $5.5 million with some incentives built into the back end. If Baker is healthy and can pitch effectively for the Cubs, it will be a steal of a deal.

A few weeks ago, the thought of Baker leaving the Twins seemed to be far from everyone's mind. In interviews, Terry Ryan sounded confident about the possibility of bringing back Baker. From the sounds of reports out of the Twin Cities, Baker's deal with the Twins fell through because Minnesota wanted an option year for 2014. It sounds like Baker and his agent wanted the pitcher to hit the open market again after what they hope will be a positive year for him in Chicago.

There is a chance for the Twins to sign Baker in the next offseason but that's a long ways away. For now, it looks like the end of his Minnesota career. Here's a look back at the top 5 games from his time with the Twins:

1. Baker tosses one-hitter, after losing perfecto
Date: 8-31-07
Location: HHH Metrodome
Opponent: Kansas City Royals
Stat Summary: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 9 SO, 1 BB
Baseball Reference Box Score

Following the birth of his son earlier in the week, Baker found himself on the brink of history. He had a perfect game into the ninth inning before surrendering a walk and hit. John Buck ended the perfect game by drawing a five pitch walk to start the ninth. Mike Sweeney, a pinch hitter that was activated off the DL prior to the game, would step to the plate and crack the only hit of the game. The pitch jammed Sweeney but he got enough of it to keep Baker from the history books. It was still his most masterful performance in a Twins uniform and it came in his first full season at the big league level.

2. Baker throws second career shutout
Date: 8-14-09
Location: HHH Metrodome
Opponent: Cleveland Indians
Stat Summary: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 5 SO, 0 BB
Baseball Reference Box Score

Almost two years after he flirted with perfection, Baker notched his second and his final complete game shutout for the Twins. There wasn't as much drama in this game as Baker hit the first batter of the game so there was no threat of a perfect game. The first hit of the game came in the fourth inning when Asdrubal Cabrera smacked a double to deep left-center field. He would be the only man to get into scoring position for the Indians. The only other man to reach base would be Jhonny Peralta on a single in the seventh. It turned out to be a blowout win for the Twins but it still doesn't take anything away from this masterful performance by Baker.

3. Baker strikes out career high 12 batters
Date: 6-16-10
Location: Target Field
Opponent: Colorado Rockies
Stat Summary: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 12 SO, 1 BB
Baseball Reference Box Score

In the first of a couple interleague games to make this top 5 list, Baker wasted little time attacking the hitters for the Rockies. He had five strikeouts by the end of the third inning and then he struck out the side in the top of the fourth. This included Colorado's three, four, and five hitters. At one point, he struck out five batters in a row and it looked like nothing could stop him on this night. Even though the Rockies hitters couldn't touch him, Baker's pitch count was over 100 at the end of the seventh. Since it was a close game, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire turned to the bullpen to finish off the Rockies but it's still the most strikeouts Baker has collected in his MLB career.

4. Baker throws 115 pitches, strikes out 10
Date: 6-18-11
Location: Target Field
Opponent: San Diego Padres
Stat Summary: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 10 SO, 1 BB
Baseball Reference Box Score

Over the course of less than two and a half hours, Baker would do his best to keep the Padres off of the board. Chris Denorfia, the first batter of the game, cracked a triple on a 0-2 count to get San Diego started off on the right foot. He would be left at third after Baker struck out the next two batters and got a fly ball to end the frame. Baker would avoid trouble in the second by striking out the side. Two men reached against Baker in the top of the fifth but he coaxed a couple of deep fly balls to right field and left them were they were. With his pitch count already over 100, the Twins let Baker head out for the eighth. The first batter reached on a single but the next three men grounded out and Baker had completed a solid eight innings.

5. Baker scatters five hits over nine innings
Date: 6-11-11
Location: Target Field
Opponent: Texas Rangers
Stat Summary: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7 SO, 0 BB
Baseball Reference Box Score

A week before the game listed above, Baker had another very strong outing against the eventual American League Champions. No player for the Rangers had more than one hit and the lone extra-base hit came off of the bat of Adrian Beltre. By the time Texas got close to scoring, the Twins and Baker were already cruising. A single by Mike Napoli with two outs in the eighth got the Rangers going. Napoli would advance to second on fielder's indifference and he would score on a single by David Murphy. Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton would reach base in the top of the ninth but a timely double play would end the inning and the game.

So what was your favorite Scott Baker moment during his tenure with the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember his almost perfect game like it was yesterday.

Damn you Mike Sweeney!!