Tuesday, June 10, 2008


White Sox 10, Twins 6
White Sox 11, Twins 2
White Sox 12, Twins 2
White Sox 7, Twins 5

Two months ago, when the final game of the Twins' first series with the White Sox was rained out, I thought it was a lucky break. Though the Twins had split the first 2 games, the Sox were getting a ton of runs out of their meager batting average, hitting way too many homers and having a lot of big innings. They won't be so hot in June, I thought.

Well, once again, the Twins arrive one week too late for that to be true. This weekend the Sox were not only hitting home runs, they were hitting bloopers and bleeders and playing sick D and pitching pretty darn well to boot. The Twins would have had to be awfully sharp to withstand a team clicking like that. Sadly, they were not up to the challenge.

My wife had a baby shower this weekend, and there were out-of-town guests, barbecues, house-cleaning - basically, I only got to watch about 4-5 innings on Sunday and Monday afternoons (thank goodness). Kevin Slowey was the victim of a lot of poorly-hit hits: my (least) favorite was the sawed-off single by Alexei Ramirez with 2 out in the 2nd. Gardy and Slowey both characterized the game as one in which the Sox hit everything he threw up there, good, bad or ugly. That can happen when a team gets hot. I still think he doesn't stretch the plate as much as he could, but he didn't pitch as badly as his resulting line would suggest.

Glen Perkins recovered nicely from a couple of very poor starts. The missed DP opportunity by Macri and Casilla taxed him greatly in the 3rd, and probably cost him a chance of finishing 6 innings. Still, I have to really question some of the pitch selection, and Joe Mauer is to blame for some of this.

Leading off the 2nd, Perkins blew 2 straight high fastballs past Jim Thome to get ahead 0-2. The next pitch should also be a high fastball, possibly higher than the first two, but essentially in the same location. Thome likes to get his arms extended, as we know from seeing him in our division for most of the last decade+. He has great opposite-field power. And aren't we trying to establish inside today? Well, the 0-2 pitch has just above the knees on the outside corner, and Thome ripped it into the left-centerfield gap for a ground rule double. He would later score the first run for the Sox. If you're going to go down-and-away on the 0-2 pitch, it can't be hittable. Bad pitch-calling. (In Thome's next AB, with the bases loaded and 2 out, Perkins threw a high fastball by Thome to end the threat. How about that.)

In the 4th, Nick Swisher opened up extremely quickly on a well located fastball (letter high, off the plate inside) and crushed it about 400 feet into the LF corner, just foul. If he's that early on a fastball, this is the textbook moment to throw a changeup and slow the bat down. If they had, Swisher would have probably fallen down striking out. Instead. Mauer and Perkins threw the exact same pitch Swisher had just crushed foul, and this time he timed it a little better and crushed it fair.

Why does Mauer call these pitches? Is he such a smart hitter that he has trouble believing that other hitters don't think the way he does, that basic pitching patterns could actually bring positive results? This problem of location and pitch selection is something I expect to see improve as Mauer and the young pitching staff continue to gain experience.

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