I must say that last night's game has me a little perturbed.
It's not so much the result of the game, a 7-3 loss that pushes the Twins another game behind Detroit in the AL Central. That I can live with, because 1.5 games is not a major deficit, and the White Sox lost yet again to further help secure a guaranteed post-season spot for the Twins.
It wasn't even another inept performance for the Twins offense against Daniel Cabrera that has me concerned. The Twins hitters managed just one run on four hits in the first six innings against Cabrera, striking out seven times during that span. They did break through for a couple runs in the seventh, but it was still a highly unimpressive performance. Cabrera now has a 2.31 ERA in two starts against the Twins this year compared to 5.34 against all other opponents. This isn't exactly a new trend. Last year, Cabrera posted a 1.35 ERA in two starts against the Twins. For whatever reason, the 6'7" righthander has had the Twins' number, and that trend continued last night. Still, the Twins won't have to face Cabrera again this season and won't have to face him in the playoffs, so there's no reason to get too stirred up about that.
What has me worried is the performance of two players, both pitchers. Those players are Carlos Silva and Juan Rincon.
Silva looked absolutely awful. He didn't give up three homers to Nick Markakis this time around, but he did get shelled for five earned runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. Silva's performance was worse than his line, as he gave up several hard-hit line drives and his defense bailed him out on several occasions. The dud performance is extremely disappointing, but Silva seemed to be settling into a groove and it looked like he might be able to carry some momentum into the post-season. Now he's simply reminded us that there's no way to know what to expect when he takes the mound and on certain days he's going to get absolutely crushed. Silva was slaughtered by the Yankees in his one career post-season start, and if he has to face them in the playoffs again this season, I can't say I'll have much faith in his ability to carry the team to victory.
Rincon turned in another ugly performance last night, adding to what has been a fairly miserable stretch for him. In one inning, Rincon allowed two earned runs on four hits. Now, after posting a 5.23 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP in August, he holds a 5.58 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP in September. Rincon had strung together six consecutive scoreless appearances prior to last night's game, but he still had not looked like his usual dominant self during that stretch and it's becoming pretty clear that something is not right with him. The Twins have a deep bullpen, but Rincon was a key member of that corps and if he can't get himself back on track for the playoffs the Twins lose a major weapon in the late innings.