Postgame: Two slams are historic, in a bad way
- Blog Post by: Phil Miller
- June 8, 2014 - 8:34 PM
Some leftovers from a day that started with a big signing, and ended with some big home runs:
TWO SWINGS, EIGHT RUNS: The game never seemed particularly competitive on Sunday, not with Samuel Deduno's control so far off. But it turned historic in the late innings, when Chris Carter and Jon Singleton each connected on the first grand slams of their careers. Carter victimized Brian Duensing, whose ERA spiked to 3.33, while Singleton connected off closer Glen Perkins, in the game for some apparently necessary tune-up work, since he hadn't pitched since Wednesday. Perkins' runs were unearned, due to an error by Brian Dozier.
It's just the second time in Astros history that two hitters have collected slams in the same game. Back in July 30, 1969, Dennis Menke and Jimmy Wynn hit slams in a Shea Stadium win over the soon-to-be world champs Amazin' Mets.
The Twins hadn't given up two grand slams in a game in 25 years, but this one was the third in their history. The most recent ones were hit by Corey Snyder (off Bert Blyleven) and Joe Carter (off Keith Atherton) of the Indians in an 11-6 Cleveland victory in the Metrodome on April 22, 1988.
The first instance must have been quite a game. It came in the Twins' first season in Minnesota, on May 9, 1961 at Metropolitan Stadium, when Baltimore's Jim Gentile hit a slam in the first and second innings of a 13-5 victory. Scoring on both slams was Orioles leadoff hitter, and Hall of Fame manager, Whitey Herzog. Gentile finished with nine RBIs in the game.
TIGHT ROSTER: Kendrys Morales sat in the dugout and watched Sunday's game, having been activated a few hours earlier. The Twins will have to play shorthanded for a week or two while he gets ready, meaning it's almost impossible for them to add a 13th pitcher if they need one in Toronto. But it's worth the trouble, general manager Terry Ryan said, to add a hitter like Morales. "If you've got a guy who's the ideal DH, this guy's probably him," Ryan said.
It puts the Twins in a bad spot, but they had little choice, since Morales is out of options. Some have suggested they could have signed him to a minor-league contract, but Ryan said it's unlikely baseball would have approved that arrangement, since it's an attempt to circumvent option rules. There's no such thing as a $10 million minor-league contract, he said. In addition, Morales and his agent, Scott Boras, probably would not have gone along with such a plan, because it would present a big risk of injury. If he's not on a 40-man roster and he suffers a season-ending injury, for instance, Morales would lose all the accrued service time. "It's not idea, but we'll make it work," Ryan said.
Morales, who asked for uniform No. 17 -- Pat Neshek's old number -- will take fielding practice once he's ready, too, Ryan said, and may occasionally play the position to give Joe Mauer a day off. But he will primarily serve as a designated hitter, the first time in years the Twins have had a full-time DH, more or less.
WIN OR SAVE? Despite the score, Astros' lefthander Darin Downs was eligible for his first career save on Sunday. Instead, he was awarded his first win since 2012. That's because starter Collin McHugh, the pitcher of record when the Astros took the lead for good in the second inning, didn't pitch the required five innings to earn the win. Under baseball rules, the official scorer, in this case Stew Thornley, awards the victory to the pitcher he judges most deserving.
Josh Fields relieved McHugh in the fifth inning, after the starter walked two Twins while holding a 5-1 lead. But while Fields wasn't charged with any runs, he gave up back-to-back singles that scored two runs charged to McHugh. Kyle Farnsworth only pitched one-third of an inning and gave up two runs. That left Downs, who entered the game in the seventh inning with two runners on base and the Astros leading, 9-5. Since the tying run was on deck, it was technically a save situation, and Downs quickly ended the inning with no further damage. Then he pitched the next two innings without allowing a run, making Thornley's decision relatively easy. A pitcher can't earn both a save and a win, so Downs doesn't get his first save, but he does get his first win as an Astro. It breaks a drought of 45 appearances without a victory, dating back to Sept. 18, 2012, when he was with the Tigers and relieved Max Scherzer in a 12-2 victory over the A's.
That's it from Target Field. La Velle E. Neal is already in Toronto, prepared to cover the Twins' three-game foray into Canada, normally a tough place for them to play. You can follow his blog, Twins Insider, and on Twitter @LaVelleNeal.
© 2015 Star Tribune