Monday, July 20, 2009

Texas 5, Twins 3 (12 innings)

There were several things about Sunday's 12-inning loss that figure to stick in the Twins' collective craw, but none more irritating than this:

The game-winning homer came off R.A. Dickey's fastball, which isn't so blinking fast.

Rule of thumb No. 1: Relief pitchers shouldn't get beat on anything other than their best pitch. For Dickey, that's the knuckleball. Now, there are exceptions. If somebody like Tony Pena Jr. is up with the bases loaded and the winning run's on third, the danger is more from a wild pitch or passed ball. But Ian Kinsler is a quality hitter.

Rule of thumb No. 2: If the knuckleball's too dangerous for a situation, Dickey ought not be pitching.

There were other irksome things:

*Francisco Liriano apparently deciding in the sixth and seventh innings that this whole strike one thing is overrated. (In the sixth inning, he threw 14 pitches. Eleven were balls, one was a called strike and the other two were hit for a fly out and a double-play grounder.)

* The run that scored on a passed ball, which may have been the result of a cross-up in signals between Joe Mauer and Liriano.

*Mauer, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer combining to go 0 for 15. (Morneau did draw two walks.)

Mauer, by the way, no longer leads the American League in batting average. He's down to .358 for the season. His average dropped 13 points in Texas (1 for 13 for the series). Ichiro Suzuki is now leading the AL at .363.

The Twins did take the series. But it was yet another winnable game that slipped away.

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