In their last two games against the Tigers, the Twins have given up a total of two runs... and lost twice. The last time the two teams faced off, on July 1, Scott Baker was the hard-luck loser, as he delivered eight terrific innings while allowing just one run on a late solo homer by Marcus Thames but got zero run support . Last night, Matt Garza had even worse luck. In seven innings, Garza allowed just one unearned run, yet he was saddled with the loss as the Twins came up empty against Nate Robertson and the Detroit bullpen.
I was at the game, sitting in the third row behind the Tigers' dugout, so I was lucky enough to have a terrific view of Garza as he spun his gem. His fastball didn't seem to have its usual zip and he was frequently missing with his breaking balls, which explains why he collected only three strikeouts, but he still held the powerful Detroit lineup to just three hits over seven innings. That's a great sign. Sadly, because his offense could not support him with a single run, Garza now finds himself with a 0.00 ERA over 15 innings and a 1-1 record. You don't see that too often.
Last night's inept offensive performance is much less defensible than the one put forth back on July 1. In that game, the opposing starter was Jeremy Bonderman, who had good numbers on the year and had at least shown the potential to dominate. Robertson entered last night's game with a 5-6 record to go along with a 4.92 ERA and .300 BAA. He had struck out just 48 in 82 1/3 innings. For the Twins to fail to score a run against him over seven innings while collecting just three hits and striking out five times is shameful, particularly on a night where their young starter came through with arguably the best outing of his career. Seven starters in the Twins' lineup went hitless in the game. The Twins put runners on first and second with one out in the sixth only to have Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer end the inning by striking out back-to-back. Two innings later, Luis Castillo came up in the same situation and grounded into an inning-ending double play. The 4-9 hitters in the Twins' lineup went a combined 0-for-17. With games like this, it's not hard to see why I wrote up a relatively long post yesterday detailing some things the Twins can do to shore up an offense that is sorely in need of improvement.
Of course, sometimes there are things a manager can do to give his team a better chance to win. Check out the numbers for the following players versus left-handed pitchers:
Lew Ford: .250/.333/.438
Jason Kubel: .279/.340/.395
Jason Tyner: .190/.261/.190
Guess which one got the start in left field against the southpaw Robertson?