Saturday's game was essentially a bullpen game for the Twins. Brian Duensing wasn't quite as good as his line score suggests — those two HBPs added to the stress — but five innings of two-run ball is good enough for a spot start. (That's two decent spot starts for Duensing, albeit against light-hitting lineups; maybe it's time to put him in the rotation and see what happens.)
But then we saw Bobby Keppel and Jesse Crain, each of whom had trouble throwing strikes. Twelve strikes of 24 pitches for Keppel, eight strikes in 15 pitches for Crain. They combined to pitch one inning of four runs, granting that the runs charged to Crain scored while Jose Mijares got out of the bases-loaded mess Crain left him.
Keppel's ERA in July was 6.75. His ERA in August is also 6.75. There's a trend here. Ron Coomer kept assuring us Saturday that Keppel's two-seam fastball is a "weapon." But if he can't throw strikes with it, it's a gun pointed backwards.
And Crain ... Dick Bremer said he's pitched well since his return from rochester. Then FSN put up the numbers, which showed Crain with a 4.40 ERA since his return, and Bremer started amending his earlier statement.
Crain did enter Saturday's game with an August ERA of 3.00 (nine innings). Now it's 4.82.
Of course, if Gomez catches that popup, only one run gets charged to Crain ... but that would be more a credit to Mijares' work than Crain's.
Two basic conclusions, neither new: 1) The Twins have Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares in front of Joe Nathan, and everybody else in the bullpen is suspect and
2) The easiest way to win a baseball game is often to let the other team lose it. Both teams tried hard to lose that one, but the Royals are "better" at that.
Twenty votes in the question of current interest in the Twins:
10 (50 percent) are interested now strictly for Mauer and Morneau; seven (35 percent) are interested in the season to the end no matter what; two (10 percent) still hold out hope for the postseason; and one (5 percent) says bring on football.
Ah, the wonders of a self-selecting audience.
New poll up.