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.