While there were plenty of big plays to go around in last night's AL Central playoff game, the one most people want to talk about today is the play at the plate in the 5th inning. After Michael Cuddyer doubled to start the inning -- it was Minnesota's first hit of the evening -- he moved to third on a fly ball to centerfield.
Apparently this was enough to convince Cuddyer that he could beat Ken Griffey Jr, so a few pitches later on a pop up to shallow center, Cuddyer decided to test Griff again. Griffey's throw home beat Cuddyer, and despite Michael's best efforts to take A.J. Pierzynski out, the lovable Sox catcher held on to the ball and Cuddyer was out. Considering the final score was 1-0, it turned out to be a pivotal play, but not one that Cuddyer regrets.
"Obviously once (Griffey) caught that ball it was a play we had to make," Cuddyer said. "We had to take a chance right there. We weren't getting much done offensively, we were at the bottom of the order. We had to take a shot. ... Unfortunately A.J. made a hell of a play. I don't know how he held onto the ball. I thought I knocked his arm off, not just the ball, but he made a great play."
I understood the Twins logic in sending Cuddyer then, but I still don't agree with the decision. Griffey's arm may not be what it once was, but most MLB outfielders will throw you out from that depth, so I thought it was a mistake. Not one I minded of course.
Now, about A.J. showing Cuddyer the ball afterwards...
Since the play took place last night, I've heard quite a few complaints from Twins fans and others (including a fellow FanHouse blogger) about Pierznski's antics. Listen, I understand that A.J. can be incredibly annoying when he's on the other team, but cut him some slack here.
Why shouldn't he gloat after making that play (it was a pretty tough short hop to handle), taking the hit, and holding on to the ball? It's a scoreless game, and if you lose, you go home. Preventing a run in that situation is something that should be celebrated. Cuddyer was trying to knock the ball out, and if he had, I'll bet you he'd have pumped his fist.
It's funny, the same Twins fans I heard complaining about A.J.'s reaction sure didn't seem to mind it last week when their centerfielder Carlos Gomez acted like he won the World Series (as did the entire Twins team after completing the three-game sweep) everytime he caught a routine fly ball. It seems their memories last as long as their division leads.