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 Glen Perkins being given a spot start over starting Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano on normal rest – made it seem like the Twins 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 managed to parlay a poor throw by Michael Cuddyer along with missed tag by Orlando Hudson into a stolen base against. And the third run scored when JJ Hardy short-armed an easy throw to Cuddyer for the final out. It was a mess.
The Twins 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 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 ( I count 11) pitches outside both sides of the strike zone that were strikes. Now look at Perkins’. Nothing.
I’m supposed to say something right now like, “I’m sure that wasn’t the difference in the game." You know - so I don't face ridicule. 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 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.) The game deserved better, though it's not clear the Twins did.
And, like a lot of times when players are going through the motions, 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. 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 looked ready to concede before the game began, the players followed suit, and the umpires helped the cause. As a result, the Twins are now tied with the White 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.