Saturday, September 19, 2009

Showdown, Game 1: Duensing delivers

Tragic number remains stuck on 13. Should the Twins catch the Tigers, I'll switch from the tragic number to the magic number. But we're still some ways away from that. It's a lot better to be in the Tigers' position — three game up with 15 to play — than the Twins' position.

A few comments and observations on Friday's 3-0 Twins victory:

* Brian Duensing continues to impress: 6 1/3 innings, four hits — more on that later — one walk, no runs.

Jim Leyland's explanation: "He kept us off balance, move the ball around, went in and out. Was he overpowering? No. Did he show great stuff? No. But he showed good stuff, and he showed tremendous pitchability."

Pitchability is a wonderful word. It means the ability to get hitters out. Juan Morillo, who was briefly with the Twins this season, has a 98-mph fastball, and no pitchability.

What I wonder: Did Duensing learn something about pitchability in the majors that he didn't know in the minors? Because he sure didn't do anything like his current run in Triple A.

* Ron Gardenhire's new-look lineup includes two September call-ups (Jose Morales and Matt Tolbert), his two worst defensive outfielders (Jason Kubel and Delmon Young) and an out-of-position first baseman (Michael Cuddyer). Plus two rookies (Duensing and Jeff Manship) in the rotation.

Very little of this could have been expected. Gardy appeared slow to recognize that Morales is a superior player to Mike Redmond. There has long been concern about Kubel's knees and if they can stand up to regular outfield play. It just seems odd to go with defense at third and the weakest available outfield gloves.

Some of this may have been born out of desperation. But it's working.

* Early on, Bert Blyleven was touting the Twins defense on the basis that they have the fewest errors in the league. But we saw later a reason why: The official scorers at the Dome have been trained not to charge errors.

A prime example came in the seventh inning. when Tolbert fielded a grounder by Marcus Thames and threw high to first base. It was ruled a hit. Not in my book. The pickup of the grounder was not necessarily an easy play, but once Tolbert had it in his glove, it was a routine throw, and he botched it. That was one of the "four" hits Duensing was charged with.

A similar ruling in the second inning — Young hit a grounder in the first base hole, and Miguel Cabrera made a very nice play on it — then threw the ball over the pitcher's head. Young got credit for a single, but that ruling makes no sense to me.

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