Friday, April 29, 2011


Twins 2, Rays 8

Even though everything appeared to hunky-dory at the end of the weekend's mini-sweep of the Indians, and the team got an extra day off with a rainout on Tuesday night, they somehow showed up to the ballpark in worse shape than when they'd left it more than 72 hours earlier. Delmon Young wasn't ready to play after a week on the shelf, and had to be placed on the DL. Jim Thome and Jason Repko had nagging, day-to-day injuries that kept them out of the lineup for the series. Carl Pavano was the latest to catch the flu, pushing back his expected start this weekend.

So, once again Gardy was forced to fill out lineup cards inundated with the scrubs, and the results were predictably pathetic. Thome would have been particularly useful against the 3 RHPs the Rays threw in the series. Toss in the fact that Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel didn't hit in the same games, and you've got a lot of quick, easy innings for the Rays' talented young starters. To top it all off, the weather was horrible. The end result was a Twins squad that, top to bottom, looked like it didn't want to be there, and played accordingly. For the series, they were outscored 29-6 by a Rays team that came in hitting just about as badly as the Twins had this season.

I won't go into any of the individual performances. I find Francisco Liriano's total lack of command absolutely mystifying and infuriating, but I don't have anything smart to say about it. I'm a little puzzled by what the Twins opted to do logistically this week, though.

With Pavano sick, the plan was evidently to push his next scheduled turn back to Sunday. That's fine, but I don't see why it necessitated giving a spot start to a replacement level pitcher on Thursday. Scott Baker last pitched a week ago Thursday, and Brian Duensing pitched on Saturday. Either one of those guys could have comfortably thrown one half of the double-header. The other could start Friday's series in KC on extra rest. For Saturday, they could call up Kevin Slowey to go 3-4 innings, then hand the ball to Glen Perkins for another 3 or so. Or call up Kyle Gibson, the Twins' #1 or #2 prospect (depending who you ask). In his last 3 GS, he's allowed 4 ER on 10 H and 4 BB in 17 IP with 17 K. He would have been pitching on 3 days' rest, but so was Anthony Swarzak.

Ah, Swarzak. I guess there was no harm in tendering him a contract, but I would have much rather seen him banished from the 40-man roster instead of Rob Delaney. He was terrible at AAA last year, and then he was terrible in the Venezuelan Winter League in the offseason. In his last 3 GS, he allowed 11 ER on 18 H and 5 BB in 15.2 IP with 7 K. On Thursday night, he allowed 5 ER on 8 H and 1 BB in 5.1 IP with 1 K. Whoa - didn't see that coming! He was promptly returned to the minors. Please, can that be the last we see of him?

Eric Hacker wouldn't have been a much better option, but he was originally slated start on Thursday. At least he was already on the 25-man roster. But he was used up in long-relief on Wednesday when Liriano lasted just 3+ IP. Question: why is tomorrow's scheduled starter the 1st guy up in the 'pen when tonight's starter struggles? There are 7 guys in the bullpen. All of them just had at least 2 days off. If you give all of them except Hacker 1 IP on Wednesday, everybody but Joe Nathan should be available to go on Thursday, too, right? Duensing ought to be able to throw an inning or 2 on Wednesday and still be OK for Saturday, right? I would have done everything possible to avoid using Swarzak. But I guess I just see the world differently than Bill Smith does.

On to KC, where the Royals are coming off an 0-6 road trip. They're just as cold as the Twins. Something's got to give! At least the rotation is set up to make things hard on their offense. If Thome can return, the Twins may have enough offense to put this ugly week behind them.

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