In what may have been a surprise to many, the Twins managed five earned runs against Roy Halladay yesterday and, even more surprisingly, still unfortunately lost. The Twins offense wasn't too great, getting only eight hits and grabbing two of those runs on a fifth inning blunder by Halladay and catcher Greg Zaun. However, the offense did enough to put the Twins in position to win.
Obviously, the Twins pitching is where things truly went wrong. Starting pitcher Kevin Slowey wasn't particularly great, giving up five runs, with four of them earned, in five innings of work. Although he had a pretty good debut, Slowey now has started five games and managed to get past the sixth inning in none of them. Two have been good starts and three have resulted in four or more runs allowed in 5 1/3 innings or less. Worst of all, Slowey allowed two home runs on the night, giving him a total of nine allowed in only 27 1/3 innings. Giving up a dinger every three innings is certainly not a positive trend.
None of those are great signs for the future. However, Slowey did show a couple good signs last night: he had no walks and he had five strikeouts. A 15/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27 1/3 innings isn't fantastic, but it is pretty good for a rookie and it shows that while Slowey is struggling at times, he is showing signs of improvement. For those who might think that Slowey is doing what the Twins were afraid he'd do (at the beginning of the season, when they imagined he couldn't do any better than say Sidney Ponson or Ramon Ortiz), it is important to take notice the areas in which Slowey is doing well.
Of course, Slowey did not pitch the Twins into a loss, but rather left the game with a tie of 5-5 after five innings. It was Matt Guerrier who gave up the big two-run home run to Matt Stairs to give the Jays the lead again. Naturally, it's quite difficult to get on Guerrier too much, as despite the three runs he allowed last night, he still has a 2.00 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP, a .181 BAA, and only two home runs allowed in 45 innings.
The conclusion here appears to be that it's difficult to blame anyone for the loss, but clearly the Twins pitchers didn't quite do their job. The offense wasn't great, but they posted enough runs against Halladay, a very good pitcher, to get a victory. Thankfully, Guerrier is not likely "falling back to Earth" and Slowey is showing signs of improvement. Let's just hope that Scott Baker, whose last start was decent enough, continues to show improvement and work the ball inside. Otherwise, we might see Frank's No. 500 too soon.