Another day, another blowout loss. The Twins fell to the Indians 12-2 last night thanks in large part to another horrendous outing from Livan Hernandez, their seventh loss in eight games. This team is just incredibly brutal right now. No one can hit, no one can pitch... it's bad. Anyway, here are a few random notes:
* In Wednesday night's win over the Indians, Carlos Gomez successfuly stole a base for the first time since May 25. After a quick start -- nine steals in his first 15 games -- the speedy center field had been stuck at 17 for nearly two weeks and had been caught on five consecutive attempts.
Clearly, those early dreams that Gomez would swipe 100 bases this bases this season were way off the mark, and at this point it appears that even 60 is an improbable goal. Opposing teams seem to have adjusted to his style, and he will have to make adjustments of his own to return to being a dominating threat on the bases. His 6-for-13 mark on stolen bases since the beginning of May simply isn't acceptable for a guy with his speed.
* In order to add an extra position player to their roster for the upcoming slate of interleague games which will open in Milwaukee this weekend, the Twins have decided to part ways with reliever Juan Rincon. As Aaron Gleeman noted yesterday, Rincon has seen a steady decline in essentially every important statistical category over the past four years, and after a decent start in 2008, he's been completely incapable of getting batters out lately. He had a 3.24 ERA on May 17, but in nine appearances since that point he has posted a 10.32 ERA while allowing opponents to bat .404 against him. It's a subject that most people do not wish to broach, but Rincon has just never been the same since he was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs back in 2005. (Although Judd Spicer shared some thoughts on the topic a few days ago on his exceptional blog over at City Pages.)
To replace Rincon, the Twins have elected to call up Brian Buscher, who has had a few stints with the Twins over the past couple seasons. Buscher had a breakout year in his first season with the Twins organization last year after being nabbed in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft the previous winter, and he has worked at Rochester this year to prove that his performance a year ago was no fluke. In 53 games with the Red Wings, Buscher has batted .319/.402/.514 with a nearly even 21-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Whatever adjustments he made last year, it appears that they have stuck with him.
I'm a fan of Buscher, as illustrated by the fact that I sponsored his page on Baseball Reference, and with the way Mike Lamb is struggling, I think Buscher will get every chance to gain regular playing time at third base with the Twins.
* The Twins will spend the next three days playing without a DH in Milwaukee, and my hope is that we won't be seeing Delmon Young starting in left field with Jason Kubel on the bench. This course of action would make little sense, for a few reasons. First of all, while Young continues to trudge along with an ugly 669 OPS and one home run on the season, Kubel has rebounded from a slow start to bat .303/.404/.539 with four homers since May 13. Also, the Twins are scheduled to face Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan and Seth McClung in the series, all of whom are right-handers. Kubel has posted an 805 OPS against righties this year; that figure is a demonic 666 for Demon... er, Delmon.
It seems entirely obvious that Kubel should be starting at least two, if not all three, of the games in this upcoming series. Hopefully Ron Gardenhire has the good sense to make it happen. The manager did plug in Kubel instead of Young against left-hander Aaron Laffey last night; the fact that he's abandoning his traditional righty-versus-lefty preference to get the better hitter into the lineup is a promising development, in my mind.