A Rare Bullpen Misfire
Last night, the Detroit Tigers showed why they are a force to be reckoned with in the coming months:
Throughout the first six innings, the Twins got great pitching from starter Glen Perkins (6.1 IP, 2 ER), as well as scored four times by using their speed-ball type of play. Then, as the game was handed to the bullpen, everything started to unravel, with the Tigers scoring twice in both the seventh and eighth innings for the eventual 5-4 victory.
I could now spend a bunch of time analyzing exactly how the game fell apart, but I don’t think it would be worthwhile. Plain and simple, the bullpen just couldn’t hold the lead. The Twins normally have a very solid bullpen, so I think the never-ending Tigers lineup just flat-out beat us last night. The Twins have always had problems against deep, power-hitting lineups (remember the ’03-’04 Yankees playoff series’?), and that pattern continued last night. I’m just glad that the Twins were competitive against the Tigers, not getting blown out as so often happens when running into those bats. The starting pitching was solid, the bats were alive, and a ninth inning rally nearly led to a tie ballgame. What more can you ask for?
-Ron Gardenhire was ejected from the game…I’ll give you three guesses why. Yes, it was because the umpire warned both benches. It started in the first inning when Perkins threw a ball inside that hit Miguel Cabrera, who was batting third. To me, the pitch looked completely unintentional, but obviously Jim Leyland and his Tigers did not see it that way. The next time Joe Mauer came up (the Twins’ third batter), the first pitch went behind him. The second pitch was way in, and it was clear that the Tigers wanted to plunk him. After a long look in from Mauer, the ump warned both benches and Gardy might as well have went to the clubhouse right then. I completely agree with him, though. By warning the benches, the ump creates a situation where pitchers are now afraid to pitch inside, for fear of accidentally plunking a guy and getting tossed. If the ump deemed the Mauer at-bat to be intentional malice, then the Tiger pitcher should be tossed right then and there.
-Denard Span is a major-league player. He would have a starting spot locked up on nearly any other major league club, but he only gets a chance on the Twins when another outfielder gets hurt. Complicating matters is that the Young-Gomez-Cuddyer outfield combination doesn’t project to be tampered with anytime soon, while Kubel (now the “full-time” DH) also plays OF on occasion. Any way you slice it, Span will be squeezed out of a job when Cuddy comes back. Span could, however, be used as major trade bait in the future (or even at the All-Star break).
Preview (45-38, 2nd, 2.5 GB CWS): Scott Baker (4-2, 3.57) vs. Nate Robertson (6-6, 5.23). For some reason, I have a bad feeling about this matchup, what with Robertson being a lefty. I think that Baker’s pitching will decide the game, as he may have to be near-perfect to get the win.