The rookie said there is room for improvement, but manager Ron Gardenhire was delighted by Friday's effort.
OAKLAND, CALIF. - Rookie righthander Kevin Slowey tried to convince himself that his major league debut Friday against the Athletics was just like his starts at Class AAA Rochester or Class AA New Britain, where he dominated on his way to the majors.
"You try as hard as you can, but you look around and there are quite a few more people in the stands," he said. "It's a little more packed. When it comes down to it is just another game, but a game at another level."
His talents were there for all to see. The sharp sinker. The breaking ball and the changeup. And he maintained his aggressive approach to hitters, whether they were Nick Swisher or Eric Chavez.
"Slowey did super for us, just fantastic," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They fouled a lot of pitches off, but he kept pounding the strike zone and kept going."He did something [Friday] I've never seen -- a guy throw that many fastballs inside to Chavez and have him not hit him," Twins catcher Mike Redmond said. "I've never seen a guy sneak that many fastballs by him. And he got him out."
Slowey pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and went on to pitch six innings, with Chavez's opposite-field homer in the sixth the only score against him. Slowey gave up five hits and walked two while striking out three.
Two walks were a lot to Slowey in the minors as he reached three-ball counts to only 15 of the 187 batters he faced at Class AAA Rochester. "He was about what we expected," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "He kept the ball down in the zone and put up good numbers."
Slowey found out that major league hitters, especially patient Oakland hitters, have refined approaches and can extend at-bats. He needed 99 pitches to get through six innings, 66 good for strikes.
Of those 99 pitches, 73 were fastballs, 12 were sliders, nine were changeups and five were curveballs. Slowey did throw first-pitch strikes to the first nine batters he faced and 15 of the 25 batters he faced overall. Of the 26 non-fastballs he threw, nine were strikes and 17 were balls.
Slowey clearly had a problem locating his breaking balls but was able to tame a good lineup because of the movement on his sinker. Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said he expects that to change. He has seen many rookie pitchers come up nervous and not show their best stuff for a few outings. He has seen it with Matt Garza and Boof Bonser.
And Slowey, whose strength is his mental approach to pitching as much as his ability, knows he has been better.
"I felt like I was making pitches to get guys out," he said. "These guys are major league hitters for a reason. They know what it takes to foul a ball off, they know exactly what's a strike and what's not. There certainly are a lot of great things about [my] outing, but there are a lot of things I have to work on and try to eliminate some of those 20-pitch at-bats."
|Seattle - LP: C. Furbush||8||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: J. Smith||10|
|Tampa Bay - LP: J. Lueke||5||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: R. Dickey||7|
|NY Yankees||2||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Cincinnati||3||Top 5th Inning|
|Philadelphia||1||Top 7th Inning|
|Minnesota||0||Top 6th Inning|
|Oakland||1||Top 3rd Inning|
|Los Angeles||1||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Boston||0||Top 3rd Inning|
|Kansas City||1||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Arizona||0||Bottom 1st Inning|
|St. Louis - S. Miller||9:10 PM|
|San Diego - J. Marquis|
|Washington - Z. Duke||9:15 PM|
|San Francisco - R. Vogelsong|
|Chicago||0||2nd Prd 11:16|