Monday, August 16, 2010
Controversial but Clearly Correct
The Twins won 4-2 on Sunday to complete a three game sweep of the Oakland Aís. Kevin Slowey picked up his 11th win of the season, but that is just the start of the story about Sundayís game. You see, Kevin Slowey threw seven shutout innings when he was replaced by Jon Rauch. As you know by now, it wasnít just seven shutout innings, it was seven no-hit innings. Most managers would keep the pitcher in the ball game. Most fans certainly would. But this was a different situation, a different set of circumstances. Kevin Slowey was making his first start in over a week because he had been pushed back a turn due to elbow tendonitis. Soreness in the back of his elbow. When it comes to pitching, the elbow is pretty important.† When it comes to the Minnesota Twins, Kevin Slowey is pretty important to their success this year and for years to come. Through seven innings, he had already thrown 106 pitches. He had walked three batters and hit Mark Ellis with a pitch with one out in the 7th inning. If he had so much as given up a bloop single earlier in the game, that likely would have been the end of the road for Slowey. Gardenhire stood by him, and he got a ground ball to 3B to start an inning-ending double play. With a 1-0 lead, an elbow issue, Slowey being uncharacteristically wild, and wanting to win games and a division title, Slowey was removed from the game. Ron Gardenhire made what was probably a very difficult decision. He made it definitively, and he answered questions about it perfectly. But in the end, when really thinking big picture, he made the easy decision, the right decision.
Now, as much as I loved the decision to remove Slowey from the game, I think that there was also some obligation to continue going after the no-hitter. Again, thatís not a big deal to the big picture, but it is a nice event. Bringing in Jon Rauch is the part of the decision-making that I would question. I would have wanted him to go to Jesse Crain at that time. Of course, hindsight is always 20-20. Crain could have come in and given up a hit too, but Iíll take my chances. Two runs later, Crain had to come in to clean up another Rauch mess. Matt Capps came in for the 9th and put the leadoff runner on, but he got a double player before getting the final out for the save and the Twins win.
But again, the game is the most important thing, and the Twins won the game 4-2. Coupled with yet another White Sox bullpen implosion, the Twins go into their Monday off day with a three game lead over the White Sox.
The Twins should feel fortunate to have had a sweep against this Oakland team. Their starting staff may be young, but it is incredibly talented. The Twins had to work for every run they got. The Twins scored four, two and four runs in this series. On Sunday, it was a 1-0 game until Jim Thome was green-lighted with two runners on in the bottom of the 7th and hit a laser over the right field fence to give the Twins a 4-0 lead, and insurance they would need.
The Twins get a day off before playing three games at Target Field against the Chicago White Sox. The Twins will send Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano to the mound against John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Mark Buehrle in what should be another fun, exciting series.
Here are some notes from Sundayís games, followed by the minor league game highlights, and some other notes:
∑ Danny Valencia had gone 5-45 since August 2nd coming into the weekend, but he was 6-13 in the series to get his batting average up to .329 again.
∑ Following the game, Nick Punto was activated and Jose Morales was sent back to Rochester. It will be interesting to see how Gardy uses his infielders at this point. The starters are Valencia, JJ Hardy and Orlando Hudson with Punto and Alexi Casilla ready when called upon.
∑ Speaking of infielders, Matt Tolbertís rehab stint ended. He was activated and optioned to AAA Rochester.
∑ The Red Wings won the first two games against Lehigh Valley, but on Sunday, they lost 5-4. Matt Macri was 2-3 with two walks. Brendan Harris went 2-4 with his 12th double. Dustin Martin and Roberts were both 2-5. Martin hit his 22nd double. David Bromberg started. In 4.2 innings, he gave up three runs on five hits and two walks. Matt Fox got four outs and gave up one run on four hits. Pat Neshek gave up one hit, two walks and hit a batter but did not allow a run in two innings. Anthony Slama took the loss. He gave up one run on two hits and a walk in his inning.
∑ New Britain lost 7-0 to Akron. Chris Parmelee went 2-3 with a walk and his 23rd double. Steve Singleton went 2-4 with his 38th double. Bobby Lanigan started and gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings. Carlos Gutierrez went the next two innings and gave up no runs on one hit and three walks. Billy Bullock gave up two runs on two hits and two walks in one inning.
∑ Ft. Myers beat Jupiter twice on Sunday. In game one, the won 5-4 in nine innings. Santos Arias gave up four runs on 12 hits and a walk in eight innings for the win. Dakota Watts struck out two in the ninth for the save. Angel Morales went 3-5 with his seventh double and eighth stolen base. Brian Dozier was 2-4 with his tenth double. In the second game, the Miracle won 3-2. Steve Blevins made his first professional start. He gave up one run on three hits and a walk in four innings. Jhon Garcia gave up one run on two hits and three walks in three innings. He started the seventh inning with runners on second and third and nobody out, but he got out of the inning without a run scoring. The Miracle managed just six hits. Brian Dozier was 2-3. The other four hits were doubles.
∑ The Beloit Snappers lost 6-3 to Clinton. Tom Stuifbergen started and gave up four runs on ten hits in 6.1 innings. He walked none and struck out 11. Andrei Lobanov came in and gave up two runs on three hits in 1.2 innings. He struck out two. Matt Tone struck out two in a scoreless inning. Michael Harrington went 2-3 with a homer. Steve Liddle hit his 9th home run.
∑ Elizabethton lost 8-3 to Greeneville. Logan Darnell started and gave up five runs (4 earned) on eight hits in four innings. Dallas Gallant came in and gave up one run on one hits and two walks while striking out four. Michael Tonkin gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. Ryan OíRourke got the final two outs. Nate Roberts went 2-4 with his fourth and fifth home runs. Kyle Knudson went 2-4.
∑ The GLC Twins did not have a game on their schedule on Sunday.
Finally, here are a few more quick notes:
∑ I am driving down to the Twin Cities for Tuesday nightís Twins/White Sox game, so there is will be no SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast tonight.
∑ Knowing that, you will want to listen in to last nightís SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. Travis Aune co-hosted the show with me. We were joined by Phil Mackey of 1500espnís Reusse & Mackey Show (12-2 weekdays) to discuss several Twins topics. Later, JJ Stankevitz, the White Sox writer for Examiner.com, joined us to discuss the White Sox. Other than that, we took questions in the chat room and had a few people call in, so it was a ton of fun.
∑ I wrote an article for John Sickelsí excellent MinorLeagueBall.com blog. John told me that it will be posted on Monday, so be sure to check there throughout the day for the new article.
Any questions or comments on the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.