Friday, August 7, 2009
Losing two of three to Cleveland
This was the lead to the Star Tribune's game story after Tuesday's Twins-Indians game:
Hard to say what the Twins enjoyed more Tuesday night: Padding their statistics or browsing a schedule that shows 11 more games against this dismantled Cleveland squad.
Now's it's down to nine games, and on Wednesday and Thursday the Twins combined to score two runs against this dismantled Cleveland squad.
I shouldn't ridicule Joe Christensen (much) for assuming that the Indians would be easy pickings the rest of the way, but baseball is weird that way. Somewhere in my voluminous baseball library is a description of Sparky Anderson fretting when taking his powerhouse Cincinnati Reds of the early '70s into San Diego to face the lowly Padres; the Reds were a good bet to win 100 games in any given season, and the Padres an equally good bet to lose 100, but the Padres had a pair of good pitchers in Clay Kirby and Randy Jones, and if Kirby and Jones had good games, the Reds could lose two of three.
Department of the second-guess: Given that it was time for Joe Mauer to get a day off behind the plate – a day game after a night game and all that — it was a curious bit of timing on the art of Ron Gardenhire.
Mike Redmond (above) has extreme platoon splits — always has. This year, he's hitting .382 vs. lefties, .181 vs. righties. OK, that's not a lot of at-bats. For the last three seasons, Redmond is .350 vs. lefties, .28o vs. righties, with even steeper dropoffs in power. For his career, Redmond is at .326 vs. lefties, .269 vs. righties.
The point being: If you're going to face a lefty and a righty, and you're to play Redmond in one of those two games, it's best to use him against the left-landed starter.
Yet he sat Wednesday against lefty Aaron Laffey and started Thursday against righty Fausto Carmona. Left-handed hitters are hitting .313 against Carmona this year; righties, .230.
Now, it may be that Gardenhire didn't decide Mauer needed a break until Wednesday, when he was charged with a pair of passed balls. The fact remains that he used Redmond in the game in which he would be at the greatest disadvantage — and the following facts are that:
* Redmond went 0-for-4;
* He knows he's in trouble at the plate against Carmona;
*He was at the center of the second-inning failure to capitalize on a first-and-third, no-out situation, fingered by Gardenhire as the key to the loss.
It's tempting here to suggest that were the switch-hitting Jose Morales the backup catcher, the Twins might have won the game. On the other hand, there's no guarantee that Morales would have made the catch-and-tag play at the plate in the seventh inning that kept it a one-run game.