With a score like 16-3 and with a total of 23 hits by the opposing team, you aren't left with too much time to consider the offensive woes that continued last night. Yes, Jered Weaver stifled the Twins for seven innings, allowing a one run on Torii Hunter's solo home shot, but that clearly isn't the story. Considering such a terrible overall pitching performance, it's often hard to pinpoint who to blame for the loss.
Of the four Twins pitchers who pitched last night, only Pat Neshek didn't give up a run. Boof Bonser departed from his recent hot streak by giving up 12 hits and 6 earned runs over 5 1/3 innings while only striking out one hitter. Bonser didn't walk anyone, but he also gave up two home runs, after three straight starts without giving one up. Ramon Ortiz came in to replace Bonser, but Ortiz was just as horrible and hittable in relief as he was as a starter in May, as he gave up four hits, two runs, and a walk in 1 2/3 innings while throwing just 21 strikes on 38 pitches.
Though both Bonser and Ortiz were pretty bad, neither was even as unwatchable as Jason Miller. Miller had a few scoreless appearances after his recent call-up, but he showed the kind of batting practice stuff he has in full view last night. Miller managed to get only one out while walking two, serving up two home runs (including a grand slam), giving up of seven hits, and surrending a grand total of eight runs. Suddenly, his ERA sits at 18.00. Yikes.
FSN announcers Bert and Dick tried to make it seem as if things weren't going Miller's or the other Twins pitchers' way, suggesting that "everything was falling for the Angels," as if they were getting bloop hit after bloop hit. However, when you walk two batters, give up three doubles, and give up two home runs, you are clearly getting hit very hard. Consider this: in the 1/3 inning Miller pitched, he gave up more extra-base hits to the Angels then Bonser did in 5 1/3 innings.
While I believe that Bonser will bounce back, the performances of Ortiz and Miller clearly indicate the holes the Twins have currently in their bullpen. As long as Ortiz is pitching in blow-out games as a mop-up guy, I won't be concerned about him getting knocked around every few days. However, while it isn't clear what Miller's role is yet, this game should make it apparent that he can't be trusted to get out important outs. While Carmen Cali isn't close to a dominant lefty, he might offer a better lefty arm out of the 'pen then Miller seems to be able to.
It may seem that I'm being a bit harsh on Miller. Its true that he has a 3.34 ERA in 517 2/3 minor league innings with 507 strikeouts. Miller also had a 1.30 WHIP in that time, mainly due to the 199 walks he also administered. Miller may be useful in good time, but he has not shown particularly great stuff since being called up. More than suggesting that Miller isn't much of a pitcher, it's more notable to notice that the Twins bullpen has been left with only a few reliable options in Neshek, Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, and usually Juan Rincon. That, of course, is more than many bullpens have, but it still means that things might get dicey now and then when the team has to call on Ortiz, Miller, or Cali for that matter, who will most likely get knocked around sometime in the near future.
Unfortunately for the Twins, things won't get significantly easier in tonight's game. With youngster Scott Baker on the mound facing off against Kelvim Escobar, who has a 6-3 record and a 3.00 ERA this year, things seem to be in Angels' favor. Good news for the Twins and their fans that they probably won't be giving up 16 runs against tonight.