No No-No for Slowey

August 17, 2010

Had I been at Target Field Sunday afternoon I might have booed Ron Gardnhire’s decision to pull Kevin Slowey. I have been in attendance at a lot of major league baseball games, but have never had a sniff of a no-hitter. I might have booed, loudly.

That doesn’t mean I would have been correct in doing so.

No-hitters are fun, and they don’t happen terribly often. Only four men have thrown a no-hitter in a Minnesota Twins’ uniform, and the list adds just two more if you extend it over the 110-year history of the franchise. That’s six men in just over a century’s worth of games. Slowey could have joined Walter Johnson, Dean Chance, and Eric Milton on that short list.

Still, the Twins are an organization that is very careful with its starting pitchers. It can be maddening at times, and most of the research suggests that Bert Blyleven may be correct when he complains that the pitch ceiling can probably be extended to 120 pitches with no adverse consequences on the staff; but the fact is 100 pitches and change has been the ceiling for Kevin Slowey. Allowing him to extend himself beyond that limit just a week after a missed start due to elbow soreness in order to chase a personal milestone would have been beyond reckless.

Ron Gardenhire’s priorities in that situation should be a mixture of 1. win the current game, and 2. put the club in position to win more games. A no hitter, while perhaps a piece of history, would have helped accomplish neither, and may have actually put both goals in jeopardy.

What did happened on Sunday afternoon was a Twins win, good enough to put them three games ahead of the White Sox in the American League Central with about a month-and-a-half left in the season. That is a good thing. Now the Sox come to town for three games at Target Field – a chance for the Twins to put even more distance between themselves and second place.


This is Getting Old

July 9, 2010

Game 85: Blue Jays 8 (43-43), Twins 1 (45-40)

I might as well use a template for these recaps.

{Starting pitcher’s name here} struggled early and gave up {a few/a handful/a large amount} of runs in the first two innings. The Twins’ offense {didn’t show up/scored runs but not enough/came back to tie the game or take a lead that the bullpen couldn’t hold} and the Twins ended up with another loss.

It is fair to say that the 2010 Twins aren’t a whole lot of fun to follow right now.

WPA Stars of the Game
1. Brett Cecil
2. Alex Gonzalez
3. Adam Lind

Standings (through Thursday)
1. Det 46-37, 384-377, –
2. Chi 46-38, 365-355, 0.5
3. Min 45-40, 395-355, 2.0
4. KC 39-46, 377-409, 8.0
5. Cle 33-52, 346-427, 14.0


“I certainly feel like this was my game to win,”

July 8, 2010

… Slowey said, “We scored those runs in the fourth and fifth [innings] and gave me an opportunity to go back out there, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get the job done.” -quoted by Joe Christensen

Game 84: Blue Jays 6 (42-43), Twins 5 (45-39)

If the Twins weren’t scuffling so much this loss probably wouldn’t sting. As it stands, the loss to Toronto put the Twins in third place in the AL Central, looking up at both Detroit and Chicago.

Watching these games in Toronto reminds me of baseball video games when I was a kid when we would set the levels so the pitching was not particularly good and just tee off. The two teams look more like Hawaii and LA from Bases Loaded than major league teams (especially given Toronto’s throwback uniforms – at least in 1985 they had the sense to save the powder blues for road games). I was half-waiting for Joe Mauer’s glove to start floating away from his body on outside pitches.

On the injury front, the Twins were a hairline away from moving this game from silly to disastrous. It sounds like both Delmon Young and Justin Morneau will be okay, probably in the lineup tonight, but losing even one of those guys at this point might make even the most optimistic of fans start to look towards next year.

WPA Stars of the Game
1. Orlando Hudson
2. Jose Bautista
3. Scott Downs

Standings (through Wednesday)
1. Det 46-37, 384-377, –
2. Chi 45-38, 364-355, 1.0
3. Min 45-39, 394-347, 1.5
4. KC 39-46, 377-409, 8.0
5. Cle 33-51, 344-422, 13.5


Home Runs for Everyone!

July 7, 2010

Game 83: Twins 7 (45-38), Blue Jays 6 (41-43)

It probably didn’t come the way Ron Gardenhire would have drawn it up, especially considering that Carl Pavano was on the mound, but the Twins were able to out-home run one of the best home run-hitting teams in the league.

On a few occasions, it looked as though this might be another disappointing game for the Twins. First there was the four-run fifth inning for the Blue Jays that put the Twins down 5-2. Then, having fought hard to tie the game and ultimately take the lead on Joe Mauer’s first home run in ages, Pavano coughed the lead up on an Edwin Encarnacion home run.

Still, the Twins were able to win. If the offense can continue to score seven runs per game, this team will be okay. Pavano was not at his best on Tuesday, but the team was still able to pull out the victory – and the bullpen was able to hold on (something that was touch-and-go at best over the weekend).

All-in-all, a nice win to start a string of good play heading into the break (one can hope).

WPA Stars of the Game
1. Edwin Encarnacion
2. Denard Span
3. Delmon Young

Standings (through Tuesday)
1. Det 45-37, 380-375, –
2. Min 45-38, 389-341, 0.5
3. Chi 44-38, 359-353, 1.0
4. KC 38-46, 370-406, 8.0
5. Cle 33-50, 341-418, 12.5


Triple Triples II

July 7, 2010

It has been almost a week since Denard Span became the 29th player in major league baseball history to hit three triples. To put that in perspective, there have been 21 perfect games in major league history, so it is a feat just slightly more common than the perfect game.

The Minnesota/Washington franchise has been involved in five of those games – three times on the “right” side, including Span’s game.

The last time a member of the Minnesota Twins hit three triples in a game was on July 3, 1980 when Ken Landreaux did it against the Texas Rangers.

One of the more recent occurences came at the expense of the Twins. Lance Johnson, then with the Chicago White Sox, hit three triples in a 14-4 win late in the 1995 season.

Interestingly, all three events were home games for the Twins, one at each of the parks the team has called home.

Washington was involved twice, once when Joe Kuhel did it against the White Sox in 1937, and once when the Nats were the victims of Charlie Gehringer and the rest of the Tigers in a 21-5 loss in 1929. Since Gehringer had his three triples at Griffith Stadium, that makes four ballparks in franchise history that have played host to a three-triple game.


Past The Halfway Point

July 5, 2010

Game 82: Rays 7 (48-33), Twins 4 (44-38)

The mathematical halfway point of the season for the Twins came after the game on Saturday. I suppose it is appropriate that they lost games on both sides of that arbitrary milestone. I only half paid attention to Sunday’s game, and found myself wishing there was a World Cup match to pay attention to when the Twins fell in a six-run hole.

Moral victories are starting to get old, but I guess in this case it was good that the Twins were able to get the tying run to the plate. Perhaps this is the optimist in me, but I still think the Twins will eventually pull away from the pack. This lineup is too good – especially now that Jim Thome seems to have an everyday job as DH against right-handed pitching. This lineup will score runs, and the pitching (both starters and bullpen) will break the funk of the last month or so.

WPA Stars of the Game
1. Evan Longoria
2. James Shields
3. Grant Balfour

Standings (through Sunday)
1. Det 43-37, 361-361, –
2. Min 44-38, 382-335, –
3. Chi 42-38, 346-350, 1.0
4. KC 36-46, 361-400, 8.0
5. Cle 32-49, 331-403, 11.5


Meltdown

July 4, 2010

Game 81: Rays 8 (47-33), Twins 6 (44-37)

My kids both decided to meltdown at about the same time the Twins bullpen did on Saturday, so I may have been fortunate that I was only half paying attention when the 4-1 lead turned into an 8-4 deficit.

Things looked very good for the Twins early in the game, when Jim Thome put to rest the fears that the Twins would never hit home runs out of Target Field with two solo home runs – just enough to pass Harmon Killebrew on the all-time home run list. Justin Morneau added a two-run home run to make the lead 4-1.

After striking out 10 in seven innings pitched, Liriano came out of the game only to watch his dominant performance go to waste. Gardy, quoted by Joe Christensen, took it upon himself:

“No matter who I went to, it seemed to be the wrong move today, and I’ll take that one on myself,” Gardenhire said.

WPA Stars of the Game
1. Matt Joyce
2. Francisco Liriano
3. Carl Crawford

Standings (through Saturday)
1. Det 43-36, 360-356, –
2. Min 44-37, 378-328, –
3. Chi 41-38, 341-347, 1.0
4. KC 36-45, 361-389, 8.0
5. Cle 32-48, 330-400, 11.5


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