• 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.
    This article was originally published in blog: Scott Baker's Top 5 Games started by Cody Christie
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Nick Nelson and I and The Voice of Reason and a bunch of friends and WAY too much Red Bull & vodka were at #1 on that list. We had never drank Red Bull & vodka before, and when Baker, who before that game had been pretty suspect, thrived, we decided we just had to keep drinking them to keep the no-no going. If I remember correctly (and I doubt I do) I think we ran out just before he gave up the hit.

      That will be my favorite Scott Baker moment.
    1. Zyax's Avatar
      Zyax -
      I have no idea how I remember it, and I had to look it up to confirm that it actually happened, but on 6-15-08, Scott Baker became one of the very few (57 to date) pitchers to strike out 4 batters in one inning. Only Twin to ever do so unless you go back to the 1911 senators. It may not be a particularly flashy or memorable record, but it was fun to watch, and just another way Baker etched his name in to baseball history as a Twin.
    1. Rick Blaine's Avatar
      Rick Blaine -
      FYI Liriano pitched a four-strikeout inning in the fourth inning of the Twins' game against the Kansas City Royals on June 5, 2012.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      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.
      Do you really think this is a steal of a deal for the Cubs? What are realistic expectations for Baker in 2013? Maybe 20-25 starts with pitch limitations on some of them. If you get 40-50% quality starts out of him, that gives you a total of 10 or so quality starts for the year. I don't know if that is a realistic expectation for someone coming off of TJ surgery or not, but if it is, I don't know that I would want to pay at least $5.5 million for 10 quality starts.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      Do you really think this is a steal of a deal for the Cubs? What are realistic expectations for Baker in 2013? Maybe 20-25 starts with pitch limitations on some of them. If you get 40-50% quality starts out of him, that gives you a total of 10 or so quality starts for the year. I don't know if that is a realistic expectation for someone coming off of TJ surgery or not, but if it is, I don't know that I would want to pay at least $5.5 million for 10 quality starts.
      I think Theo is taking a page from Beane's book and signing a guy with the plan to flip him in July. It's a good idea for the Cubs. For the Twins? Not so sure... I'd really like to see them put as much money as possible toward guys who will pitch more than one season with the team. This pitching shortage isn't going to end any time soon.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      If we are considering games based on team importance in addition to individual achievement, game 162 in 2008 and game 163 in 2009 have to be honorable mentions. (Last regular-season Twins starter in the Metrodome!)

      It's a shame Baker never got to start for us in the playoffs, although pitching wasn't generally our biggest stumbling block in the postseason.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Also, if we're nominating worst Scott Baker moments, I was at this game:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/bo...00608010.shtml

      And I sat very near the spot where Gary Matthews Jr.'s grand slam landed.
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