Red Sox 6, Twins 5
I do. Heading to the middle of the eighth inning, I’m forced to leave my seat to pick up my kid at 10:00. By the time I walk through the stadium, I’ve heard the roar and see Jamey Carroll standing on third base with no outs and the third through fifth batters coming up.
If I didn’t have to pick up my kid in 10 minutes, I SWEAR I would’ve stuck around. I mean – you know me by now. Is there anyone MORE superstitious?
Four blocks away from Target Field I say to The Voice of Reason™, “Have you heard a roar yet? I haven’t.”
Me: (Heavy sigh.)
One can frame this game a lot of ways. I’m sure the Boston papers will frame it as a Cody Ross redemption game. And if the Twins third and fourth hitters would have managed to do anything remotely similar to what one expects from the eighth and ninth hitters, it would have been a different game, and a different column.
But they didn’t. And it isn’t. Check that – SO it isn’t.
I can’t talk too much about those criticat at-bats. I didn’t see them live. I saw replays of the swings. Apparently, Josh Willingham hit the ball hard but lined out to the third baseman.
Joe Mauer swung weekly at an off-speed pitch and grounded out to first base. The at-bat looks worse because of how poor a hit it was – a dribbling play up the first base line. Of course, it was an off-speed pitch. On a full count, one might expect a pitcher to challenge a hitter, but with two bases open, why would he? He threw a 75-mph-pitch that Mauer had not yet seen and that was it. I want to come down on Mauer – I want to come down on everyone after this loss – but I can see what happened.
A few more notes about the game…
Capping Off A Loss
Hey, at least Matt Capps hasn’t blown a Save (capital S) yet - just a game.
Is that a cheap shot? Sure, but I don’t mean it to Capps. I mean it to the Twins, who seem to think that once a randome team sprinkles a guy with Magic Closer Dust (capital MCD), they’re forever a different guy. Capps now has four strikeouts in seven innings, which is under the league average, especially for relievers, but about average for him. (Correction: He actually has two strikeouts, which is less than half of his career rate.) To his credit, he hasn’t walked a guy. But he’s given up seven hits, which is about average for both him and your average major league pitcher. And, worse of all for a closer, he’s given up two home runs, which is about three times the average rate for a pitcher.
Hey, it’s small sample size. It doesn’t mean much.
Except that home runs were Capps’ soft spot last year and have been every year he’s struggled. He basically matched his career averages in all categories last season – except he gave up a couple of extra home runs. Which is what turned him from a below average closer into a really terrible closer.
Which one MIGHT have anticipated, if he wasn’t all glittery with that MCD.
The Other Story
Minus that eighth inning debacle and a ninth inning home run, here’s what the game story would have included…
- Gardenhire took a risk I didn’t anticipate with the lineup tonight. Faced with wanting to get Chris Parmelee in the lineup instead of Clete Thomas (for which there should be wild applause), he didn’t take the safe route. Instead, he gave Willingham a rest at designated hitter and gave Parmelee a start in left field. From what I saw, Parmelee didn’t embarrass himself out there, which is REALLY nice to see. I was really happy to see this.
But it didn’t pay off. Justin Morneau, who played first base, didn’t get a hit, and neither did Willingham. In fact, according to WPA, they impacted the game the most negatively of any of the Twins. Finally, Parmelee’s only hit came in the ninth, and was too little, too late.
- Danny Valencia should have been the hero of this game. Taking a 1-2 pitch with 2 outs to deep center? Really? I really hope this is a sign of things to come. Soon.
- The 6-4-3 double play that saved a run got the whole stadium excited. One can’t say enough about Carroll on that play, but it’s worth noting that the pivot was carried out by Trevor Plouffe. It’s exciting to see him make just a mediocre throw. That was phenomenal.
- Is manager Ron Gardenhire pulling his starters too late this year? It’s late, so I’ll let someone else crunch the numbers, but Marquis gave up that home run when he was after 100 pitches. It seems like the last week or so, I feel like the starter is having a decent outing, but by the time they’re done, they’ve given up enough runs in their last inning to inflate their ERA. It certainly happened tonight.
- Of course, part of that might be not having a lot of faith in the bullpen. Capps certainly furthered that concern, but did anyone else note that Glen Perkins didn’t make an appearance in the eighth again tonight? Perkins pitched yesterday, and was apparently unavailable, and that’s looking like a pattern.
The thing is, he pitched yesterday when the Twins were already behind. (And then he gave up a run, so the team was further behind.) Just so we’re clear on where Perkins is so far this year: he hasn’t been particularly good, he hasn’t been available on back-to-back days, he has been hurt, and he just got a long-term deal.
Everyone got all that? Good.