In this All-Star moment, Michael Cuddyer won. A week and a half after popping out in his only at-bat in the showcase in Phoenix, the hot-hitting Cuddyer faced another All-Star, Royals reliever Aaron Crow, and showed just why he deserved the honor. With the score tied in the eighth inning, Cuddyer poked a 1-2 breaking ball into center to score Alexi Casilla for the eventual game-winner. Unlike the previous night, when Matt Capps blew a 1-0 lead in the ninth, Joe Nathan -- in his first day back in the closer role -- got the job done, allowing one hit sandwiched between three pop flies, in the Twins' 4-3 victory. "It's still the same job," said Nathan, "but the stuff going on outside of the field is the stuff that's different, with the music playing. Usually it's like advertisements going on in the eighth inning, and the crowd gets a little louder in the ninth inning. Everything seems a little bigger in that inning ... so you have to calm down a little bit more." The save by Nathan was something he and the Twins hadn't seen for a while -- not since the home opener April 8 against Oakland -- but getting a huge hit from Cuddyer is nothing new for the Twins this year. Coming into Saturday's game, the all-purpose infielder/outfielder was hitting .359 with three home runs and 13 RBI in his past 11 games, and his stellar offensive performance this year landed him in his first All-Star Game. The big hit in a pressure situation is something his team is coming to expect from Cuddyer. He is hitting .429 this season with a man on third and has the second-most RBI on the team, with 43.
Joe Nathan in, Matt Capps out as Twins closer
Minneapolis Star Tribune | Jul 17