Nightly Notes: Game #117
1.) Scott Baker looked very good for most of the game, striking out 7 and giving up 7 hits and a walk in 7 innings of work. He generally scattered the hits that he allowed, and I certainly can't complain about the 2 earned runs he allowed. A couple of years ago it would have been hard to think of Baker as the veteran leader of the Twins rotation, but that's pretty much exactly what he is now. The nice thing is that I honestly feel pretty confident that he's going to pitch a dandy game every time he's on the mound.
2.) The bullpen coughed up the lead once again in the eighth inning tonight, although Adam Everett and the first base ump are also to blame. I know for some of you the solution would have been to bring in Joe Nathan, but if the rest of the bullpen can't get through one inning of work with a 2 run lead against the Royals, it's a bad sign. Nathan can't come in and pitch the last two innings of every game, and this is one of those where I would have done exactly what Gardy did and tried to get through with other pitchers. Unfortunately, things didn't work out today.
3.) It was interesting to see Mike Lamb hitting 7th and Brian Buscher hitting 8th in the lineup. Buscher quite obviously is having a much, much better season than Lamb is -- so I suspect that Lamb was hitting seventh to keep him separated from Adam Everett, who was the number 9 hitter in the lineup.
4.) Speaking of Everett, I was going to be nice today. After all, he picked up a couple of key RBI hits. Then, he made that completely inexcusable throw in the 8th that resulted in the Royals scoring the tying run when the inning should have been over. Everett was supposedly brought in for his defense, and while he's occasionally shown some range, he's been tremendously disappointing with his glove (or in this case, his arm). He had plenty of time to make one of the most routine throws a shortstop can make, and he choked. He's human, and it happens to everybody, but in that situation its inexcusable for a big league shortstop to make that mistake.
5.) Staying with the Everett theme, I have to question letting him hit in the 7th inning. He got an RBI single, so it's sort of bad form for me to complain. Was it really the right decision to let a guy who was hitting .195 entering the game hit in that situation? Unless Brendan Harris was unavailable today (which may be the case, but I hadn't heard of it), there was really no reason to let him hit there. Again, it worked out, so I can't complain too much. But either Gardy knew something that the rest of us didn't know, or he made the wrong decision and got lucky.
6.) I'm going to second guess Gardy again for something he did in the third inning. The Twins had runners at 1st and 2nd with Denard Span up and no one out. They had a 1-0 lead at that point, and Gil Meche was struggling a bit with his control. The Twins decided to have Span sacrifice the runners to 2nd and 3rd, probably because Gardy figured that Meche is a pretty good pitcher and he should play conservative to try to guarantee another run.
Here's why I disagree with the decision. First, the next batter up was Nick Punto. Now, I've been as big a defender of Punto this season as anybody, but even I don't particularly trust him to get the job done there. As it turned out, he struck out on three pitches and suddenly there were two outs in the inning. If Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau had been coming up, I might have agreed with the bunt -- but Punto has been struggling and the odds were against him delivering a big hit. Also, as I mentioned, Meche had been struggling a bit with his control. Why not let Span, a guy with a decent eye who could make Meche work for it, hit? Finally, I just have a real issue with killing your momentum when you've been getting on base and have nobody out. For me, this was not a good decision.
7.) Speaking of Span, I think the way he's been used indicates pretty clearly that there would have been no "controversy" if Michael Cuddyer had been activated tomorrow. Carlos Gomez would have been riding the pine, with Span starting in center. Today's off day for Gomez was due to Kubel having to play in the outfield since Morneau was going to DH and Lamb was at 1B -- not necessarily because Gomez needed a breather. He's clearly behind Span on the depth chart at this point, and he should be.
8.) I'm excited to see if Michael Phelps and his teammates can get him his second gold when they compete in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay tonight. My question is why the guys who are going to race in the final don't have to be the guys who qualify -- Phelps was resting when the US team qualified with a placeholder. It's not just Phelps -- two of the French swimmers who will be battling the US tonight also didn't compete in the prelim. What exactly is the justification for this free substitution?
9.) I'm a big NASCAR fan. I watch every Sprint Cup race, and at least part of most of the Nationwide Series races. Today was a horrible day for me -- I'm unbelievably sick of Kyle Busch and his punk attitude, and that's made worse by the fact that he just keeps winning. On the other side, I'm a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fan, but his crew chief was terrible today, making absolutely the wrong calls on how to run pit stop strategy (when the TV guys keep saying "this is a mistake, because" . . . and then the "because" happens, you know somebody is doing something very wrong).
10.) Yao Ming draining a three to open the US-China game this morning was great. I think the "Redeem Team" proved themselves to be a pretty formidable squad by the end, though. I'm looking for gold. With Mike Krzyzewski coaching the men's squad, is there any hope that Tennessee Volunteers coach Pat Summit, quite possibly my overall favorite basketball coach, will someday coach the women's team? I'd love to see it.
Labels: Nightly Notes