Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Picking on the Meek

Last night, the Twins' 6-1 lead was looking pretty good until Glen Perkins gave up a grand slam to Raul Ibanez and Brian Bass was stupidly allowed to come into another high leverage situation in which he, not surprisingly, quickly gave up the lead. Things deteriorated quickly, and a humiliating 10-run seventh inning ultimately led to an 11-6 Twins loss. With that, the most general and best conclusion I can make about the game is that the Twins, simply put, should be doing their jobs.

The Mariners are, at this point, more than just a bad team. They are a depressing team that has no sense of direction and that may become the first team ever to lose 100 games with a payroll north of $100 million. Of course, the Mariners aren't alone in paying for futility, as teams like the Houston Astros have paid plenty for losing and embarrassing teams.

As a team, the Mariners' hitting is pretty embarrassing, with a team .695 OPS and .259 average. One might think that with hitters like Ichiro Suzuki and Adrian Beltre this would be untrue, but those players are not having overwhelming years at all, with Suzuki's OPS at .743 and Beltre's at .756. The team's best hitter, in fact, has been Ibanez, with a .281/.347/.464 line, and he was almost traded at the deadline. The pitching, outside of Felix Hernandez and young flamethrower Brandon Morrow, has also been quite mediocre, with "standouts" like Carlos Silva and last night's starter, Miguel Batista.

What is the point? This is certainly a team that fans should expect the Twins to knock around, especially if the offense has truly improved, as some numbers suggest, and the young pitching is as good as they appear to be. While it should be expected, it still would certainly be nice to see the Twins take care of business the way they could have last night.

Perkins was having a good start, until he ran into a lot of trouble in seventh inning, resulting in the slam given up to Ibanez. In total, Perkins tossed 6 1/3 innings, giving up an ugly 12 hits and five runs with only two strikeouts and a walk. Perkins always appeared to be walking a fine line and it appears that some of his luck may have run out.

As for the offense, hits were well-distributed, with Justin Morneau picking up a two-run double as well as picking up two walks on the night, Joe Mauer picking up two hits and a run, and even Nick Punto smacking his second home run of the year along with two walks. In fact, if one thing stands out, its the patience, as the Twins picked up eight walks on the night, with even the less-patient portion of the lineup getting in on the walk-fest, with Delmon Young, Mike Lamb, and Brian Buscher taking free passes against the unfortunate Mariners staff.

With that, I now wake up roundly disappointed. The Twins offense did their job against mediocre pitching, but the Twins pitching did not. I'm afraid that, the way things look right now, it will be hard to look back on this game without thinking that Ron Gardenhire once again made the mistake of trusting Bass with a lead. However, while Bass can be blamed for giving up the lead, the Twins porous defense and pitching did nothing to stop the bleeding. A few singles, a Denard Span throwing error, and a Brendon Harris throwing error, and suddenly the Mariners had a five-run lead. Humiliating, embarrassing, and disappointing are all words that can describe last night's lost, but its just as good to say that the Twins failed to do their jobs in not doing what they should and need to be able to do: beat terrible teams.

13 comments:

Beau said...

We should try to keep in mind that no team can be expected to sweep any team. After all, the Mariners do win more than one out of every three games despite their listlessness.

If we can bounce back, shed this off, and win the next two games then I won't be worried. However, it would be nice to have a reliable bullpen arm after our ninth-inning three-out guy. Otherwise, we'd have to pull some magic tricks like we did in '87.

AprilZZ said...

I agree we can't sweep every team. It was the way we lost the game that was humiliating. Hopefully the Twins can look at last night as a wake up call that they have to play hard all game even against the worst team.
I, too, am astonished that Brain Bass sees the light of a 1 run lead game in the 7th (or 8th) inning at all. Consider these 2008 stats:
Bass 64.7 IP 41 Runs
Guerrier 59 IP 28 Runs
Crain 44 IP 21 Runs

Bass should NOT be put in the game to protect 1 run leads.

Nick M. said...

I should say that I wasn't trying to imply we should sweet. What I mean is that, against a team like the Mariners, not only should we be taking at least two out of three, but when we have a 6-1 run, we should be able to keep it and "take care of business," so to speak.

And nothing irks me more than Gardenhire's continued trust in Bass in pressure situations. Hopefully a game like this teaches him better or convinces the Twins that Bass is not major league quality.

Twin #1 said...

I don't understand either. Why would you give the ball to your worst reliever up one run in the seventh?

Also, how can you talk about guys walking who normally don't and not mention Carlos Gomez? His first since July 19th...

Nick N. said...

People can complain about Gardenhire's bullpen usage all they want, but the blame belongs on the players in last night's game. Nobody could get any Mariners out. Sure, Gardenhire could (should) have gone to Guerrier earlier, but he ended up surrendering three runs with an awful outing anyway, so it might not have made much difference.

Just a poor showing from the Twins pitchers last night.

Nick M. said...

If I missed Gomez's walk, its possible and likely because it came after I fell asleep. I unable to complete the game because of live on the East Coast and unfortunately still have to get up early through this week.

Nick is correct though to point out not all the blame can be laid on Gardy. Its tough to ignore that each bullpen member that came out in the seventh inning was quickly knocked around. In the case of such humiliating defeats, its hard to point the finger in any particular general when so many players, particularly pitchers, did not do their jobs.

toby said...

This just in from TT: If you take away the two hits to two hitters, Bass pitched perfectly.

Brendan Harris is so frustrating at shortstop. Ron Gardenhire is infinitely more frustrating at manager.

ca said...

I'm guessing (actually, feverishly hoping) that Bass wasn't Gardy's first choice in that situation. Remember, it was not a one-run game all along. The Twins were up 5, and then suddenly were only up one. It's possible that the plan was for Bass to go into the game with a big lead, but Perkins got into trouble quickly, leaving Bass as the only reliever ready to go in at the time. You could still make a case that Gardy was asleep at the wheel by not having a high-leverage guy warm, but I imagine few managers with a five-run lead would start warming up their set-up men. Of course, the way Perkins was allowing baserunners throughout the game, doing just that could have been justifiable.

My point is, I would prefer to believe that the Twins' manager was caught without a reliable reliever ready, rather than accept that he actually wanted to give the ball to Bass in a crucial spot. Maybe I'm being naive.

Anonymous said...

It is time to shake up the pen anyway. Humber (or Korecky) in. Bass out. It is August man, there is a lot on the road ball, Twins have to stay put.

toby said...

Barrett, not Korecky for me. Humber stays down to see if he's figured it out for 2-3 more starts. If he has, Perkins bullpen'd, Humber up. Perkins has worried me all year. He needs to figure out how to strike out major league hitters, because his K/BB/GB rates this year do NOT add up to near the kind of success he's had.

wwcd said...

Young team = inconsistent team.
These guys are going to thrill one night and disappoint the next. They will have hot streaks where they play over their heads and cold streaks where nothing goes right. Being in a pennant race this late in the year is a plus for the long term goal of winning the 2010WS. We're way ahead of where we should be in the standings. Enjoy (and dream of where we would be if Pat Neshek wasn't injured).

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