There's nothing all that remarkable about Paul Byrd. He doesn't strike people out, he gives up a decent number of hits, and he doesn't get all that many ground balls. He throws the ball in the strike zone and lets batters hit it. That is a strategy that has historically worked for him against the Twins, as he entered last night's game with a 10-3 career record and 3.50 ERA against the hometown nine.
Yet the Twins, mired in their worst slump of the season, would have no more of that business last night. They jumped on Byrd for five runs in the third inning and got a strong start from Nick Blackburn, leading them to a victory to end their six-game skid, in spite of a scare thanks to the bullpen.
Ron Gardenhire gets a lot of credit for the way he manages the bullpen, and deservedly so, but last night I really thought he over-managed. After replacing Blackburn to start the sixth, Boof Bonser put a pair of runners on with a walk and a ground ball base hit. Yet, he came back to get an out on a liner back to the mound and then struck out Jamey Carroll on a nice breaking ball. Bonser seemed on the verge of working out of his sticky situation, but rather than allowing the former starter to try and retire Grady Sizemore and get out of the inning, Gardenhire went to Dennys Reyes. While Sizemore was hitting just .219 against lefties this season, he sported a .367 on-base percentage and 758 OPS, neither of which are really all that far below his overall marks. Admittedly, Reyes was probably a better match-up against Sizemore than Bonser -- and it was certainly tough to predict that Sizemore would rip a three-run homer off the lefty Reyes -- but I think this is a situation where Gardenhire really should have let Bonser finish the inning. The guy isn't a situational middle reliever; he's a converted starter trying to regain confidence.
Alas, Reyes let in both of his inherited runners and Bonser saw his ERA shoot up to 6.19, really through no fault of his own. It's just been that kind of season for Boof.
In any case, the rough patch between Bonser and Reyes ultimately wound up being irrelevant because Jesse Crain and Joe Nathan shut the Indians down the rest of the way while Alexi Casilla and Justin Morneau chipped in ninth inning RBIs to seal a comfortable 8-5 win.