Twins starting pitcher Andrew Albers found trouble early Friday vs. Chicago.
Marlin Levison, Star Tribune
Reality catches Twins' Albers
- Article by: PHIL MILLER
- Star Tribune
- August 18, 2013 - 12:47 AM
Andrew Albers amazed again Saturday night, shifting the ball around, fooling hitters with his slow-and-slower repertoire, keeping the game moving at a brisk pace as he frustrated another lineup. If you focus on process and technique, there’s no reason for Saskatche-mania to lose any momentum.
Of course, if you get hung up on results, if you just pay attention to details like runs and leads and victories, then Albers’ first career loss, 8-5 to the White Sox, looks like a setback.
Too bad baseball uses a scoreboard.
The rookie from middle Canada surrendered the first run of his career on a popup lost in the sun, then allowed four more runs after coming within one strike of a 1-2-3 inning, ruining any hope that he might become the first Twins pitcher to open his career with three consecutive victories.
Afterward, Albers helpfully pointed out that his first two shutout victories were just as fluky as his first career loss.
“Look at the first inning — you lose a ball in the sun. That just goes to show you how right everything was going before that,” said Albers, whose ERA rose from 0.00 to 1.85 after he allowed five runs over seven innings. “You’ve got to get some breaks to have nights like [his first two games]. Tonight I didn’t catch quite as many.”
No, he didn’t, and his scary ability to throw first-pitch strikes there early in this one, either. Albers fell behind six of the first nine hitters he faced, an early clue that his mid-80s fastball was a few inches off. But he still should have retired the side in the first inning unscathed. With one out and a runner on first, Alexei Ramirez lifted a harmless popup to short center — visible to everyone but center fielder Clete Thomas, who was looking directly into the setting sun.
“No chance,” manager Ron Gardenhire said of the ball, which fell just beyond shortstop Pedro Florimon’s top-speed range and was ruled a double — the first extra-base hit Albers had ever allowed. “The sun was right in his face, and low.”
What should have been an inning-ending grounder by Paul Konerko then scored a run, ending Albers’ streak of 17 ⅓scoreless innings, a franchise record for a starting pitcher at the beginning of his career.
Albers was similarly easing his way through the fourth inning, getting two quick outs, when he got to 0-2 on Adam Dunn. But a cut fastball got too much of the plate, and Dunn lined it to right, and suddenly, a rally was underway. Avisail Garcia followed with an RBI double to left, Jeff Keppinger accepted the second walk of Albers’ career, and the Canadian lefty made the biggest mistake of his night: A slider to Dayan Viciedo.
“One bad pitch. He tried to cut a fastball, it looked like,” Gardenhire said, and the White Sox outfielder slugged it into the right field stands, a three-run homer.
Albers was his old self after the mistake, retiring nine of the next 10 he faced easily. The Twins tried to rally, with Ryan Doumit hitting a two-run homer of his own to pull Minnesota within one, but they never caught up, in part because another fly ball got swallowed up by the sky after Albers departed. This time, it was an eighth-inning fly ball by Dunn that Josh Willingham never saw in the slate-gray twilight, allowing another run to score.
“It hurts. You give up runs on balls that are normally caught, just because of the [light] circumstances,” Albers said. Another shutout “ would have been nice, the streak was great while it was going on. It was awesome to have those two nights, they were pretty special, and who knows if they’ll ever happen again? You see today how quickly things can change. “
© 2013 Star Tribune