Ignore the fact that my last two posts have centered around how the Twins’ bullpen cost them basically every single game in the Boston series and instead focus on the future. And by the future I mean the series with one game already in the books, the one against the Detroit Tigers.
Kevin Slowey was only able to last 3 and 2/3 innings, allowing 9 hits and 6 runs. He walked 2, struck out 1, and his problem may have been that he was throwing too many strikes, allowing Detroit to make good contact; only 25 of his 77 pitches went for balls.
If I had been watching the game, I literally would’ve gone ballistic. In the 3 games against Boston, Minnesota’s bullpen combined for 6 innings pitched. No big deal, that’s only 2 innings per game right? But in those 6 innings they allowed 17 runs; that is a big deal.
Back on track though, look above you and answer the question I posed to you in the title: who said our bullpen sucked? I probably said it a million times in the Red Sox series.
But remember I said we are looking at the future here, not the past. What does the future hold? Well, if the future was yesterday’s game, it held 7 and 1/3 scoreless innings from the bullpen. I’m still in shock looking at the boxscore. Only 4 hits were allowed in those innings, although Craig Breslow walked 2 and Joe Nathan walked 3 (1 intentional). Nathan’s 9th inning antics, judging by the play-by-play on mlb.com, would’ve been incredibly stressful. He led of the inning with a walk, a stolen base, another walk, a pop up, a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with just one out, and an intentional walk. Of course, the Joe Nathan we’re all familiar with showed up at that moment, striking out the next two batters swinging.
Matt Guerrier showed up as well, allowing just a single in 2 innings of work, collecting his 5th win of the season in the process. Ironically, Guerrier and Jesse Crain each had the same pitching line: 2 innings, 1 hit allowed, no runs or walks, and 1 strikeout. Each of them also threw exactly 25 pitches; 18 of Guerrier’s went for strikes versus Crain’s 15. Speaking of Crain, his 2.61 ERA on the year comes out of nowhere. It would be much appreciated if he’s returned to pre-2007 Jesse Crain, i.e. a 98-mph fastball-hurling shutdown reliever.
Justin Morneau led the offense, going 5-for-5 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. His average is now up to .324; just .004 points behind Joe Mauer. Even though Justin had two doubles, the biggest hit was a solo homer in the 11th inning to give the team a lead. The 8 and 9 hitters contributed greatly as well. Nick Punto and Denard Span combined to go 7-for-8 with 2 walks, 4 runs scored, and an RBI. Span stole his 5th base of the season but also got caught stealing for the third time.
Mauer came up big in the 9th when he pinch-hit for Carlos Gomez (0-for-4 on the day) and nabbed a game-tying sacrifice fly.
Craig Monroe, Mike Lamb (who pinch-hit for Monroe and got 2 at-bats), and Delmon Young combined to go 0-for-11 with 1 RBI and 1 walk. Mike Redmond also was hitless in his 4 at-bats.
As down as everyone was (is?) on the Twins after the Red Sox series, I think some people (including me) forgot how good they were doing before that. In the span between being swept by the White Sox in early June and the Red Sox in early July, the Twins went 19-5. Granted, most of those games were interleague games against the weaker National League, but also remember some of the pitchers the team faced: Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy, Greg Maddux, Ben Sheets, and even Cliff Lee in the Indians series.
I want to now shine the light on a very recent Sports Illustrated online article. A writer by the name of Gennaro Filice put up a list of “power rankings” for MLB as of this week. I ask that you jump down to the 8th team on that list, the Minnesota Twins, and take a moment to read the paragraph associated with the team.
Ok, your moment should be over. I was linked to from Sports Illustrated!!!! This is huge news for Twins, Not Twinkies. Previously, the most views I’d ever received in a day was 202, when Aaron Gleeman linked here. As of 12:08 AM on Friday, the SI article has sent an astounding 618 visitors here. I genuinely hope that at least 1/10 of those new viewers will enjoy what they read and decide to visit T,NT on a regular basis.
Glen Perkins pitches tonight in a game that starts at 6:05. I’m going on vacation tomorrow morning, but I will still have at least something up for everyone before I leave. It’s an Internet-less vacation, so if I do indeed attract any new readers from the SI article, unfortunately it’s bad timing for them.