“Crain”ing His Neck…Again

As I was watching the afternoon tilt between the Twins and White Sox today, I really felt that the Twins were going to pull out a victory.  Then, Jesse Crain was summoned from the bullpen, and the game turned sour in a hurry.

Before I go any further, I am fully aware that Matt Guerrier had an extremely poor outing and deserved to take the loss today.  However, I also strongly feel that if other members of the bullpen would step up their game, we wouldn’t have to rely on Guerrier every other day.  Everybody has bad days, and I think today was Guerrier’s “bad day”.  I will not fault a pitcher who is usually reliable for having one bad outing.  I don’t know the general opinion about the Twins bullpen, but right now I only trust Guerrier.  Rincon is finished, Reyes is too wild, Breslow is unproven, Bass is a mop-up guy, and I’m just getting started about Crain.

But, rant aside, let’s get back to the game at hand.  After struggling to make it through five innings, Gardy gave starter Perkins the quick hook after walking Jim Thome with one out.  Though I was surprised that Gardy pulled the youngster (especially waiting until Perkins almost threw the first pitch to Jermaine Dye and making Mauer call time) so early, I can see the rationale: Perkins had labored through five innings, and the Twins had a 5-2 lead.  Though I would have left Perky in the game, I can see Gardy’s reasoning and don’t fault him too much for his decision.

But then, like a scene from a cheesy old horror movie (where everybody screams in mock panic), Crain was summoned from the pen.  Again, I do not fault Gardy for bringing in Crain, as the bullpen is terribly overworked and, as of now, can only turn to the freshest arm each night.  Crain managed to look impressive in striking out Dye, and I thought that perhaps he could actually put forward a rare performance in which he performs well in the clutch.  That thought was quickly adjourned, however, when the next batter–Nick Swisher– launched a bomb into the seats to put the ChiSox within one.  Thus, once again, Crain was left to his seemingly-normal routine: Watch the flight of the moonshot, stare at the ground for awhile, and start rubbing up a new ball.

Because Crain could not be productive, Guerrier had to be brought into another game, and had his “bad day” as previously mentioned, taking the loss.  I don’t know about you, but I am not projecting a postive future for Jesse Crain whatsoever.  Besides that one season a few years ago where he padded his record with a lucky string of extra-inning victories that fell into his lap, Crain has done nothing but get injured and fold under nearly ever pressure situation thrown his way.  I really hope that Rick Anderson can straighten him out, because he does have a nice curveball and nice velocity.  However, it will take a string of good outings (perhaps an entire season!) to put him back in my good graces.

On a finale note, am I sure glad the Twins are leaving Chicago!!  The combination of terrible Twins starting pitcher and monstrous ChiSox production is not a good mix for Twins fans.  I don’t think I have ever seen a Twins series in which the opposing team hit so many long fly balls (either home runs or not).  It seemed like half the outs the Twins did record were in the gap or on the warning track.

Preview: The Twins get no rest after their long series with Chicago, as they begin a three-game tilt in Cleveland tomorrow night.  Scott Baker (2-0, 4.03) will take the mound against C.C. Sabathia (3-8, 4.81).  Even though C.C. hasn’t been pitching well this season, he is still a “Twins killer” because of his lefthanded status.  Like with Chicago, though, the Twins’ mound opponent won’t matter much if Baker can’t provide a quality start.

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