Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bitter Aftertaste


The Twins rolled into Chicago with a favorable pitching matchup in two of the three games, with last night’s being the one they would most likely lose. Sure enough, they did. It isn’t going to be much fun to talk about, but maybe spitting about it for a few paragraphs will help get its taste out of my mouth.

We can start with the lineup, which include Jason Repko. I understand wanting to keep players fresh, and I understand that White Sox pitcher John Danks is left-handed. But Repko replaces Jim Thome instead of Jason Kubel or Denard Span? I can’t be too critical about it, but that move – along with Perkins being given a spot start – seems like the Twins as an organization and coaching staff decided they would be happy just taking two of three in Chicago. That’s probably not fair, but….

But boy, the guys sure played like they were going through the motions in this one. The fifth inning was nauseating. Three runs scored, pushing the lead from 3-0 for the White Sox to 6-0 – and none of those runs should have scored. First, Perkins hesitated on a bunt where he had the lead runner dead to rights. Then, the Twins had Juan Pierre picked off of first base but a poor throw by Michael Cuddyer along with missed tag by Orlando Hudson cost them that out. And the third run scored when JJ Hardy short-armed an easy throw to Cuddyer for the final out. It was a mess.

They looked sloppy at the plate too, but not any sloppier than home plate umpire Mike DiMuro, who gave John Danks a few extra inches on both sides of the plate which he did not give to Glen Perkins. Don’t believe me? Check out the Pitch Fx charts, courtesy of Erik Thompson and Brooks Baseball. Here were Danks pitches, and you’ll see several pitches (I count 11) outside both sides of the strike zone that were strikes. Now look at Perkins’. Nothing.

So I don’t face ridicule, I’m supposed to say something right now like, “I’m sure that wasn’t the difference in the game.” But you know what? I’m not sure of that at all. Danks has at least two called strikeouts on two of those outside pitches, and he got a third one when third base umpire Bill Welke called a ridiculous check swing strikeout on Jason Kubel. (Give credit to AJ Pierzynski on that, though. He did a great job of selling it. Weak minds are helpless against AJ’s Jedi mind tricks.)

And, like a lot of times when players are going through the motions, some injuries were the result. Jose Mijares strained his knee on a bizarre play near first base, was on crutches after the game, and looks headed to the DL. JJ Hardy also hurt his left wrist enough so that he was lifted for a pinch-hitter late. He thinks he can avoid the DL, but the Twins will likely be pretty aggressive about putting him on it given how that same injury lingered last time. Finally, Jon Rauch wasn’t available because his toe is black and blue. I wouldn’t be shocked if that’s addressed by tomorrow too.

So let’s wrap this one up: Twins were ready to concede before the game began, players followed suit, and umpires helped the cause. As a result, the Twins are now tied with the Sox, get to face a rested Sox bullpen tomorrow, and now need to deal with several injuries. The whole night was the baseball equivalent of a swift kick in the teeth.

Which explains the taste I still have in my mouth. Yuck.


Anonymous said...

Didn't Valencia get K'd on a pitch 'well' inside?

And in terms of Perkins, I thought He had one certain pitch that wasn't called... that at-bat could have gone much differently and maybe Quentin doesn't get a 2-run dong to change the start of the game?

But Perkins wasn't lighting up the world either, so I'll move on. Just wish there would have been a better sense of consistency there in the calls.

mike said...

looks like perkins had 2 pitches (one left and one high) out of the zone called for strikes.

walter hanson said...

Silly question:

Lirianio because of the off day could've started on four days rest on Wednesday and Pavno would've had four days rest for Thursday!

Why the hell when a sweep would've been a statement to the White Sox didn't Gardy even think of that with the injury!

What's he trying to do? Let the White Sox win.

We already know that Smith wants the White Sox to win because he didn't pull off the Cliff Lee deal.

Walter Hanson
Minneapolis, MN

SoCalTwinsfan said...

The Twins have been playing brilliant baseball for about three weeks now. They finally get into first place and are playing in Chicago with a chance to expand on that lead after putting a beatdown on them last night. And suddenly they're "going through the motions?" I don't buy that. I never really do with the Twins unless they have been eliminated in the race, but especially in this case. There's no reason for it. The Twins were just due for a bad game. Hardy was playing with a sore wrist, which might have contributed to his error. And throwing a mediocre (at best) lefty against the White Sox in Chicago is never a good idea. Then he was facing Chicago's ace who was getting the benefit of a wider zone. And don't forget that Thome just sat out a few games because of a bad back. He should never be in there against a lefty. Gardy improved the defense by getting Repko in RF and allowed Kubel a day off from defense and Thome a complete day off. I have no problem with that especially when Kubel was coming off a game in which he reached base all five times and hit a home run.

Mike M. said...

Why the hell when a sweep would've been a statement to the White Sox didn't Gardy even think of that with the injury!

Gardy did think of that, but both Liriano and Pavano said that they wanted the extra day of rest.

fenring said...

Maybe we need to go to the six or seven man rotation. Then these poor men wouldn't have to pitch twice in one week. They've been pushed so hard since the all-star break. And now the extra stress of having to pitch in Chicago during a pennant race. It's just too much to ask.

StatFreak101 said...

We will see just how significant that extra day of rest is with Liriano going tonight.

He hasn't exactly been the 'ace' that most would hope in big games...and I am not sure he does much better tonight versus Chicago either.

chiasmus said...

I'm usually sceptical of complaints about umpires, but this time I think you're right. I posted a chart of last night's calls that shows all the pitchers on the same chart, and you can really see how much the Twins pitchers were getting squeezed.

Anonymous said...

lots of tough guys around here. Everyone should apparently "man up" and pitch through injuries, fatigue etc, long-term consequences be damned.

Sometimes you have to look at the bigger pitcher. If Liriano pitched last night on regular rest, maybe the Twins won, but maybe Liriano isn't as effective in his next two or three starts and it costs the Twins down the road.

Did any of you geniuses think of that???