Friday, July 06, 2007

Bombed in the Bronx

Things started out okay yesterday for Kevin Slowey. He got some early run support from the Twins' offense, and handled the Yankees in the bottom of the first. Then, after getting a pair of fly outs to start the second, Slowey was hit hard, with the following series of events taking place:

- R.Cano homered to right on a 0-1 count.
- A.Phillips doubled to right.
- On wild pitch by Slowey, A.Phillips to third.
- Cairo doubled to left, A.Phillips scored.
- Damon walked.
- Me.Cabrera homered to right on a 0-2 count, Cairo scored, Damon scored.
- Jeter infield single to first.
- H.Matsui struck out.

I like Slowey and I believe he'll have a pretty good major-league career, but right now he doesn't look like he should be up in the bigs. Since his call-up from Triple-A, Slowey's control has been about as good as advertised, but his inability to change speeds effectively has rendered him unable to keep opposing hitters off-balance and as a result many of his pitches have been getting hit a long way. After surrendering five more extra-base hits yesterday (including the two home runs), Slowey now sports a .699 opponents' slugging percentage go along with a .371 batting average against. He's shown a willingness to attack hitters, but he's giving up way too many hits and an obscene home run rate (about one dinger every 2.8 innings) which doesn't seem to be subsiding. He's given up a lot hits on 0-2 counts (including the three-run blast to Melky Cabrera yesterday) because he lacks a dominating pitch that he can put hitters away with. If Matt Garza performs well in the nightcap of today's double-header against the White Sox, I suspect we shall see Slowey returning to Rochester to work on a few things -- although judging by his performance with the Red Wings earlier this season, it doesn't seem like he has a whole lot left to accomplish down there.

Of course, Slowey was far from being the only culprit in yesterday's 7-6 loss. It was a game that the Twins had many opportunities to win. They jumped on Yankees starter Kei Igawa for five runs and got to the New York bullpen after five innings, but failed to capitalize, collecting zero runs and just one hit between the sixth and eighth innings against a relief corps that entered the game ranked ninth in the American League with a 3.97 ERA. Eventually, something had to give, and it did when Pat Neshek gave up a two-run homer to Hideki Matsui in the bottom of the eighth and the Twins' ninth-inning rally against Mariano Rivera fell short.

It was a very tough loss and it puts serious pressure on the Twins to get some wins in their weekend series in Chicago and avoid falling back near the .500 mark before the upcoming All-Star break.

3 comments:

beth said...

I think this call-up was good for Slowey. He was completely dominating in Rochester. By being up in the big leagues for a short while (I presume you've heard he was sent down yesterday), he's learned what he needs to work on. Hopefully, that's what he'll do, and his next time up, he'll know what to do and have a greater success. Most pitchers require a bit of a learning curve when moving up levels. It's been too easy for Slowey so far!

twayn said...

I think Slowey's first major league stint was pretty predictable in its outcome. He was good his first few starts, but then the advance scouting caught up to him. Word got around - the kid's always around the plate, doesn't walk many, but he doesn't change speeds much. For hitters, that translates to 'be patient and wait for the fastball over the plate.' While the Twins advertise Slowey as having all four pitches, its obvious that he needs work on his off-speed stuff. He doesn't have a Santana or even a Radke quality change, Baker and Bonser throw the curve with more break and better control, and his slider will never be compared to Liriano's. But if he can develop the changeup or the curve as an out pitch, he's got great potential to be a solid middle of the rotation starter for many years to come.

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