Entering last night's game, Matt Garza had allowed just one home run in 44 innings since joining the Twins this season. Fly balls hit against him had been turning into home runs at a rate of just 2.4 percent, which was pretty clearly unsustainable (the AL average HR/FB rate is 10 percent). Because of this, I had a feeling that his home run rate would catch up with him, but I didn't realize it would happen as quickly as it did last night.
Garza surrendered a pair of two-run homers in the first inning, a solo shot in the second inning, and another two-run blast in the third, at which point he was pulled from the game. Garza's final line for the night -- 2.1 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 K -- was very similar to the brutal one he posted in his major-league debut last year (2.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2K). After last night's shelling, Garza's ERA is up from 2.05 to 3.30, and his BAA is up from .255 to .285. A rough outing, to be sure, but let's hope he can bounce back his next time out.
The offense came up mostly empty as usual, scoring just two runs over the first seven innings against the hapless Horacio Ramirez before adding a couple meaningless runs in the eighth. As I mentioned the last time the Twins faced Ramirez less than a week ago, he is one of the worst pitchers in the league. Last night's game marked the first time this season that he pitched into the eighth inning; in fact, he had pitched into the seventh only three times in 14 starts. The Twins failed to draw a single walk against him, and when they actually got runners aboard they let Ramirez off the hook with bad baserunning and a typical lack of situational hitting. Twins hitters went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and are a ghastly 4-for-43 in such situations over their past five games.
Tonight's pitching match-up is a rematch of the one that took place last Thursday, when the Twins won 6-1 to take the series in Seattle. Jarrod Washburn, who will start for the Mariners, is very much a fly ball pitcher, as he's induced ground balls at just a 38.8 percent rate this year. He also leads the league with an infield fly ball percentage of 15.7. Baker does not have enough innings to qualify for the leaderboard, but if he did, he would have the lowest GB% in the league at 33.2, and he would rank second behind Washburn in IF/F with his 14.6. In other words, don't expect a lot of balls to be smashed into the Metrodome turf tonight.