Glen Perkins pitched his 9th Quality Start of the year, holding Detroit to just 2 runs over 6 and 2/3 innings. One of the runs came from a sacrifice fly, the other from an RBI single. He allowed a total of 6 hits, a combination of 3 doubles and 3 singles. He walked and struck out the same amount of batters (2) and was in real trouble only once, in the 7th. He loaded the bases with 1 out, gave up the sac fly, and was pulled in favor of Jesse Crain. Yes it panned out, but I don’t know that I necessarily agree with pulling Perkins when he was only at 85 pitches and had 2 outs with runners on first and second.
Crain made things a little interesting, throwing two 95-mph fastballs for strikes, then a breaking ball that landed in front of home plate, and finally got Carlos Guillen to fly out to (deep) center field.
Matt Guerrier came in next and frankly it took me by surprise. He’s generally considered our best reliever, but I didn’t expect both he and Crain (although Jesse only threw 4 pitches) would pitch on back-to-back nights. Nevertheless, Guerrier used 13 pitches to make it a quick inning that included 2 strikeouts.
The ever-dominant Joe Nathan notched his 26th save in 28 chances, successfully lowering his season ERA to a ridiculous 1.16. It might surprise you to find out that his ERA is only third-best out of all pitchers with at least 37 innings pitched. It also might sound ridiculous that I used 37 IP as a benchmark, but there are three closers right next to each other as far as ERA is concerned, and the lowest IP total is 37, making that the easiest choice.
Offensively, the star was easily Nick Punto. He had an RBI double early in the game, to tie it, and a sac fly a couple innings later to give the Twins a lead. Delmon Young would have a sac fly of his own in the next inning, and it proved to be key as Detroit scored a run on a sac fly of their own in the bottom half of the inning. I think I just said sac fly more in this paragraph than I have in the history of the blog, but when 3/5 of the runs scored in a game are by way of the sacrificial fly ball…you gotta do what you gotta do.
I have to say there was a questionable managerial move by Ron Gardenhire late in the game. Well, at least it seemed questionable at the time: pinch-hitting Brendan Harris, a right-handed batter, for Brian Buscher, a lefty, to face a left-handed pitcher. It didn’t bother me until FSN was more than willing to show us the splits for Harris: a .218/.269/.299 hitting line against lefties. I thought to myself, “This is ridiculous. Buscher has to have better numbers than that!”
Well, he doesn’t. Buscher has a flashy .143 batting average against lefties this season, albeit in minimal at-bats (14). Have no fear though, two other pinch-hit options (Craig Monroe, Mike Lamb) would’ve been even worse! Monroe has a .450 OPS against LH pitchers (for example, the average AL hitter had a .781 OPS in 2007) while Lamb has just 2 hits in 27 at-bats against southpaws. The only bench player that could’ve pinch-hit, and would’ve been an upgrade statistically (other than Harris) is Mike Redmond, who has 10 hits in 37 at-bats versus left-handers. Even then, Harris would’ve had to come in the game as a defensive replacement, because I’m pretty sure Red Dog would be an inept third baseman (edit: for what it’s worth, he has 2 career innings played at 3B).
Carlos Gomez was 0-for-5 yesterday and that only adds to his current 0-for-17 slump. He’s got just 7 hits in the entire month of July (a .184 batting average) and a horrendous 2:12 BB:K ratio. We can only hope that he will come back after the All-Star Break energized (wait, it might be impossible for Carlos to not be energized) but at the very least, refreshed and ready to get on a hot streak. Denard Span is making a great case to be deemed our new lead off man, who is carrying a .474 OBP into today’s game. Even though the numbers are there, it will never happen and for a couple of reasons. One, Gomez scares pitchers in a way. They never know what he’s going to do, and he gives pitchers an extra thing to worry about when he does get on base. Secondly, I have a feeling that Gardy likes Span hitting 9th because it gives them that “two leadoff guys in a row” lineup (you could actually make a case to have Alexi Casilla added to that to make it three) which worked so well for the piranhas in 2006.
Like I said previously, I’m now off on a week-long vacation with no Internet access. I’ll still be sure to watch every game and when I get back, I hope to just do a short summary of how every Twin fared during the week. Although there won’t be too much, considering the All-Star Break is right around the corner.