I don't understand how a veteran, well-paid pitcher like Scott Baker can continue to have the mechanical problems he does, and then fail to make any adjustments in-game. He was missing up in the zone from the get-go, but the ball stayed there throughout his outing. It should come as no surprise that he was knocked around.
I wasn't surprised to see Alex Burnett knocked around, either. I thought he should have been sent back to AAA weeks ago - his early success was sort of covering up how much the league was catching up to him. This will be his first AAA experience, so I think it will be a help to him, and he should remain a big part of the Twins' plans for the future.
Any time a team gives up 20 H, you know it's beyond bad pitching. Sure, there was bad pitching, but there were also just a ton of balls falling in or finding holes. That was most of the problem in the 9th, for example. Shrug. You know they're not going to get that many tomorrow!
Twins 3, Indians 4
The series hinged on this game, and it really came down to this: the Indians got a couple of 2-out H with RISP, and the Twins didn't. It's tempting to hurl ridicule at Kevin Slowey for once again failing to complete 6 IP, but he was way too close to having a very good game for me to pan his outing. Had he retired the last batter he faced, his performance through 6 IP would have been: 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. That's excellent. Inefficient, excellent. I was amazed at how much patience the Indians' hitters showed against him. He threw 2/3 of his pitches for strikes, yet they were content to work deep counts. It definitely left a bad taste that the last batter he faced drew the only walk against Slowey, and that he didn't come particularly close to the strike zone. It was almost like he was passing the baton to the bullpen to finish the job.
Jesse Crain has been awfully good lately, and he was again in this game, allowing just 1 H in 1.1 IP. Unfortunately, it came with the bases loaded, on a ball that couldn't have been any closer to being foul down the LF line.
Only 2 BB in the game, and they both contributed to run-scoring rallies for the Indians. The leadoff BB in the 8th off Jose Mijares came around to score the eventual winning run.
This game will be remembered most for Joe Mauer's attempted bunt with 2 men on in the bottom of the 7th, at a time when the Twins had just tied the game and appeared to have momentum swinging their way. Enough has been said about it - I don't really have anything to add. He'll do better next time.
Twins 6, Indians 0
Those who are caught up in Win/Loss records might be missing how well Francisco Liriano has pitched this season. He's been nearly Carl Pavano's equal in terms of amassing quality starts and pitching deep into games. On Wednesday, he looked like his fastball was only so-so, but his changeup was unusually good, and his slider was as good as ever. Drew Butera was catching, giving Mauer a day off, and he seemed eager to call changeups away far more than sliders down and in. It seemed like the Indians caught on to this around the 5th inning, laying off close pitches off the plate away and whacking liners to RF on the pitches that were over.
This led to a bit of trouble, though Liriano was fortunate that Matt LaPorta's liner went straight to the glove of Michael Cuddyer for an inning-ending DP. I started begging Butera to set up inside in the 7th, but he wouldn't do it until there were 2 men aboard. Finally, he went back to the slider, and Liriano finished his afternoon with back-to-back Ks.
Anthony Slama! He was called up to take Burnett's spot, and struck out 2 in his Major League debut. It helps that the competition he was facing was in AAA not long ago, but still, this is what he's shown throughout his time in the minors that he can do. I hope he'll stick in the 'pen.
- Delmon Young is money with RISP.
- JJ Hardy is doing everything except hit for power, though he's getting his share of 2B. He should definitely be in the Twins' plans for 2011, and possibly a year or two beyond that. That means that Trevor Plouffe should be someone we could trade for a SP...
- I'm not at all convinced that Butera is some sort of prodigy behind the plate. He's had the privilege of catching the 2 best starters on the team lately. They're pitching well while he's behind the plate. Yeah, because they're good pitchers! Mauer has caught shutouts before, too. When Drew Butera starts, it means that either Mauer or Thome is not in the lineup. That's throwing away .400+ points of OPS for some pretty intangible game-calling value.
- Nick Blackburn was officially demoted to the bullpen, opening up a spot in the rotation for Brian Duensing. This should have been done weeks ago, and Duensing would have been fully stretched out by now. Also, I don't understand why Blackburn goes to the 'pen rather than to AAA, where he could keep starting. He's had some outright clunkers this season, but a lot of his trouble has come the 2nd and 3rd time through the batting order, and he's not going to face that challenge in the 'pen. Plus, he may lose some of his stamina and be less effective as a spot starter should the need arise.
- This series was a good example of why the Twins are underperforming their Pythagorean record. With the combined shutout on Wednesday, the 3 R the Twins scored on Tuesday would have been sufficient for the win. They needed the 6 R on Tuesday night. The differential for the series would have been identical, but the Twins would have had 2 W instead of 2 L. The Tigers and White Sox have been getting those 6 R when they needed them a lot more often this season.