Scott Baker of the Minnesota Twins came within three outs of baseball immortality on Friday night, as he retired the first 24 Kansas City Royals he faced at the Metrodome in the second game of a doubleheader.
I joined the game on the MLB package as he retired batter number 24, and stayed with it. It was on the Twins station, FSN North. In ninth, with a 5-0 lead, Baker walked John Buck to end the perfect game. He still had the no-hitter going as he retired the next hitter. Up stepped Mike Sweeney (pictured) as a pinch-hitter, and he just came off the DL today, as he had been on it for a few months with an injury. And sure enough, Sweeney hit a bloop single to left center to end the no-hit bid. Baker then retired the next two hitters for a one-hit shutout.
Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven had the best line right after Sweeney got the hit. As the disappointed crowd sighed and was briefly silent when he got the hit, Blyleven blurted out about Sweeney, "I never liked that guy."
I had to laugh at that, as he's one of the few in baseball who think that. Mike Sweeney is generally known as one of the nicest and classiest guys in the game. (And he was on the "Nicest Guys In Baseball" list I had on my blog a few months ago.)
But for a few moments in the Metrodome on Friday night, over 27,000 people probably agreed with Blyleven.
Congrats to Scott Baker on a fabulous night of near-perfection in Minneapolis.