Tonight's game was a laugher. No real offense to speak of for New Britain until the game was well out of hand. In fact, it's not even worth discussing Sano or Rosario (on offense, at least, where they were non-factors). Let's get right to what's worth covering tonight: Trevor May, and New Britain's defense.
I've seen Trevor May pitch probably 3 or 4 times this season. I'd be lying if I said that May hasn't been frustrating, or that the Twins really pulled one over on the Phillies. Don't get me wrong -- May has been OK -- but not fantastic any means. Control problems have plagued him. Tonight, though, was not a bad outing, despite what the box score will tell you. May started off the game hitting 92-94 on his fastball, 83ish with the change-up, and upper 70s or lower 80s with a nice curve.
Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar
May lasted 5 and 2/3 innings and gave up 4 runs on 10 hits; he took the loss. He also struck out 9 and walked only 1 -- the last hitter he faced. On the night, he threw 107 pitches, 75 of them for strikes. In fact, perhaps he was a little too accurate, or threw too many strikes, leading to the 10 hits? He threw strike 1 to the majority of batters, consistently working ahead in the count. He changed speeds, and got a fair number of weakly hit pitches that were either choppers or pop-outs. In short, he did what you would coach any pitcher to do. The results just weren't there. But there's more to the story than that.
New Hampshire's first run of the game, in the second inning, came partially as the result of an infield chopper up the middle that died behind the mound. The next batter hit a well struck opposite field double to right center. Just like that, 1-0 New Hampshire. In the third inning, a 2-out, 2-strike opposite field solo homer may have rattled May, as he gave up a single past Sano to the next batter, but then worked out of the jam.
Aside from these hiccups and despite the runs allowed, May pitched to, generally, what his ceiling should be: low/no walks; the ability to strike guys out; and the ability to induce weakly hit balls by changing speeds. Of the hits he gave up, probably 5 were well struck, 3 were extremely weak (i.e., choppers or flares), and a couple were average.
The fateful 6th inning started with a pop-up behind second base that went for a single (good argument for the "team error" category) after Eddie Rosario and Danny Santana either didn't communicate, or miscommunicated. Thereafter, a clean single, an out (a fantastic diving play by Miguel Sano), a double that Jordan Parraz just missed in CF (which then rolled to the wall) scored 2 more runs. And that was it for May.
That pop-up behind second base felt worse than a lead-off walk. It was deflating, in fact. You just knew that it was going to be the death knell for May, who already was tiring.
May deserved better this evening. Was he perfect? No. But it's important to note that 2 of the 4 runs were partially a result of infield singles -- one of which was really a "team error" type of play. And there was no offensive support, either. Sure, you can't take away infield singles, and sure, team errors happen, but I only count 2 things that went May's way this evening (Daniel Ortiz making a great play to throw out a runner headed to second, and Miguel Sano making a nice diving stop and strong throw to save a hit), while a few things definitely went the other way. It was 4 earned runs. It easily could (should?) have been 2 or 3, and May could (should?) have been able to complete 6 innings. Honestly, it's a strange, strange start to strike out 9 and walk 1 and not be able to make it through 6 innings.
I hope people aren't ready to relegate May to the bullpen for his career. Look at tonight's start: 100+ pitches, still hitting 92 on the gun on his fastball when he came out. 9 Ks; 1 walk (on his last batter when he was gassed). The ERA doesn't support it, but I would absolutely argue that May has been better this year than last. Sure, it's not ideal that he's repeating -- and not dominating -- AA, but there has been improvement
. His walks per 9 innings have decreased about .5 walks per game; Ks per 9 are consistent; HRs allowed per 9 have decreased a little; but hits per 9 have increased.
Kyle Gibson, who just debuted a couple months ago, is 25. May is still 23 for another month. Let's not talk about May as if he's a Chris Colabello-esque journeyman. Sure, Gibson was delayed as a result of Tommy John surgery and recovery, but my point is only that May isn't "old," even if he is repeating AA. I'm still hopeful that he can figure it out; it just May take a little while longer than Twins fans would prefer.
One final note. I'm having a Twitter contest to win a Rock Cats Joe Mauer bobblehead that was just given away in New Britain a few weeks ago. Of course, you have to be on Twitter and following me to enter.
Go here for details.