Monday, May 26, 2008

Lamb Slaughters Tigers

Twins 9, Tigers 4
Tigers 19, Twins 3
Twins 6, Tigers 1

That's what I love about baseball. Your team can endure its most lop-sided defeat of the year, and yet you can still feel good when the weekend is over. Though the Twins were battered for 24 runs over the 3 games (8.31 ERA!), they did all their sucking in the middle game, and came away series winners. Though they've allowed 16 more runs than they've scored this season, they're 25-25, and only 3 games out of first place.

The Twins have pretty well settled who will be leaving the rotation when Scott Baker is ready to come off the DL in about 10 days. Kevin Slowey finally got the last out of the 6th inning, and has now averaged almost 5.2 IP with a 3.63 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 4 starts since returning from the DL. Glen Perkins was great in his first 3 starts, but topped them all on Sunday. After allowing just 1 ER in 7.2 IP, he is now averaging over 6.1 IP with a 2.77 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. As for Boof Bonser, well, it hadn't been going very well, and Saturday was as bad as it can be. He allowed 8 ER in 3+ IP; over his last 4 starts, he's averaging just under 5 IP with a 10.37 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. This is not a difficult decision - Boof will almost certainly be sent to the bullpen.

To make room, someone else will have to go. That will be either Brian Bass or Juan Rincon, who joined Boof before the firing squad on Saturday. While Bass' line (1.1 IP, 7 ER, 7 H) may be more spectacularly horrid, he came into the game with a respectable 3.90 ERA, and had been doing a pretty solid job in the long-relief roll up to that point. Juan Rincon (2.2 IP, 3 ER, 2 H, 2 BB) was brought in to bail Bass out, and failed to do it. In his last 9 appearances, he's had just one perfect inning, walking 11 and allowing 10 H in 11.2 IP. That's all since Neshek went down and the Twins needed him to step up. One of those two is going to be DFA by the end of next week.

Dennys Reyes had a rough weekend as well, although I'd like to put his outings in context. It was always doubtful that he would be successful outside of the situational lefty role. In this series, he was asked to face 7 righties and 1 lefty. He got the lefty out. The righties went 4 for 6 with a BB. On Friday, though he was unable to retire anyone, he didn't pitch badly. The hits he allowed were:
*a 2-hop grounder 1 inch fair and 1 inch over the glove of Mike Lamb,
*a soft liner off the end of the bat that barely had enough mustard to clear the infield,
*a booming triple on a 3-2 pitch after Pudge had fouled off 4 good 2-strike pitches.
15 pitches, only 1 was poorly located. 93% were good! Still, let's try to keep him facing just lefties as much as possible.

Offensively, the star of the show was Mike Lamb, who went 5-7 with 4R, 2B, 3B, 2 BB and his first HR as a Twin. He still has time to cement his place in the lineup if he can keep raising his average over the next 2 weeks. If not, Brian Buscher is playing too well in Rochester to be denied much longer. And Jason Kubel delivered a clutch grand slam to win Sunday's game, capping a weekend in which he went 3-8 with a BB and 2 R. With Craig Monroe just 1 for his last 24 and a bunch of RHP taking the hill in the next few days, I suspect Kubel will get plenty of chances to build on solid numbers over the past week.

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