Postgame: Twins now 4-0 in rubber games
- Blog Post by: Phil Miller
- May 4, 2014 - 8:14 PM
Three leftover thoughts after the Twins improved to 4-0 in rubber games of series Sunday:
RUNNING ALL THE WAY: This season has been a nightmare for Pedro Florimon, starting with his appendicitis attack in February. He's batting just .113 and appears on the verge of losing his job to Eduardo Escobar, Danny Santana or Eduardo Nunez. But give him credit -- he's still hustling. Florimon, who has spent plenty of extra time with hitting coach Tom Brunansky this week, hit what looked like a sure double-play ball in the third inning, but rather than dropping his head, he beat the relay from J.J. Hardy to first. That meant the inning didn't end when Chris Herrmann struck out a couple batters later, and Trevor Plouffe capitalized with a two-run double. "He knows he's not swinging well right now. But that's all we're asking him: play the game, run balls out like that," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's playing hard."
ONE OUT, BUT A BIG ONE: Caleb Thielbar's contribution to the Twins' victory Sunday amounted to only six pitches -- but they were the six biggest pitches of the day. With the Twins leading 3-2 in the seventh, starter Phil Hughes was lifted after giving up two ground-ball singles. Anthony Swarzak walked Jonathan Schoop, and Thielbar was summoned to face Nick Markakis with the game on the line. Thielbar quickly got ahead of Markakis, then kept throwing low strikes until Markakis tapped one back to him, ending the inning. Hughes got the victory, Glen Perkins the save, but Thielbar, as is often the case for situational relievers, made the pitch that mattered.
GOOD SERIES FOR ROTATION: Don't discount Hughes' performance, though. The righthander was in control all day, save for one bad pitch to Nelson Cruz (and what is it about that guy in this ballpark, that every mistake ends up in the upper deck?). Ricky Nolasco, Kevin Correia and Phil Hughes all pitched effectively, and deep into the game, against the Orioles, easing the tension about the starting rotation. That's three straight solid outing for Hughes, who retired 14 straight Orioles at one point, and it's the second straight start in which he didn't walk a batter. His ERA is now below 5.00, after hanging at 7.20 through his first three starts. And perhaps the rotation is soon to become the strength that everyone thought it would be a month ago.
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