Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gardenhire's iron men

Day game after a night game, and Drew Butera had caught four in a row. But Joe Mauer's shoulder is still bothering him, and the Tampa Bay Rays run the bases too aggressively for Ron Gardenhire to tolerate having Jose Morales catch, so Butera started Thursday's nooner. (Actually, 11 a.m. in Florida.)

Which fits the ethos of the backup catcher. The criteria of resting the catcher doesn't apply to him. His father, Sal, knew about that. In 1981 the elder Butera caught 25 games in 28 days when the Twins were shorthanded behind the dish. In that span, his only days off came when the team didn't play.

So it wasn't overly surprising that the younger Butera caught Thursday. He even had an RBI double.

What DID surprise me was that Gardy brought in Jesse Crain to pitch for the fourth game in a row. Gardenhire loves to ride hot hands in the bullpen, and annually is at least among the leaders in using pitchers on back-to-back days, but four in a row was pushing it.

He had an almost-equally hot Ron Mahay warming up at the same time but brought in Crain with the bases loaded (two out) to face the switch hitting Willy Aybar. Aybar for his career is better from the left side, so that wasn't the point of bringing the righty.

Crain walked Aybar to force in a run. Then Mahay entered and perhaps demonstrated why Gardenhire has been reluctant to use him in game situations; pinch-hitter Jason Bartlett hit a grand slam to tie the game.

The Twins wound up winning anyway, with a little help from the bizarrities of Tropicana Field.

I will be very surprised if Crain pitches Friday. Or Saturday.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if anybody's noticed that Mahay is a former Royals pitcher.