But Thursday's game might be the exception. It's not just that the defense, which I have been increasingly criticizing as the season progresses, submerged into utter incompetency (merely following the trend line). It's that the pitching staff has utterly been blown apart.
|Scott Baker (no goatee)|
Scott Baker went just two innings because of elbow pain. He received a cortisone shot after the game for what is described as tendinitis. That means he's unlikely to make his next scheduled start.
Nick Blackburn, who was to have started today, pitched an inning Thursday. Brian Duensing, who was to have started Sunday, pitched two innings. Now Blackburn is to pitch Sunday and emergency call-up Matt Fox is to start tonight.
Jeff Manship went four innings, 65 pitches. He's certainly not available for a couple of days at least, and might be the guy who takes Baker's start. (Or maybe Kevin Slowey will, as he may come off the DL early next week.)
Jesse Crain went two innings, 40 pitches. He has now pitched four times in five days, and Aaron Gleeman notes that over the past month, Ron Gardenhire's used him at a 100-plus appearance pace. If that hasn't already taken a toll — he's already allowed more runs in September than he did in all of August – it will.
Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes didn't pitch Thursday. Capps, who had pitched the previous two days, was "sore," and Fuentes has been nursing a bad back.
|Matt Guerrier: ERA since|
July 1 is 6.46
Randy Flores also pitched in all three games, although at four batters faced he's hardly doing the heavy lifting that Crain and Guerrier are.
Jon Rauch has pitched two days running, 21 pitches on Thursday.
Gardenhire handles his pitching staff under the premise that pitchers can handle frequent work in short bursts. Rare is the Twins relief pitcher under his regime who averages more than an inning per game. Guerrier is at 60.1 innings in 63 games; Crain 58.2 innings in 62 games, Rauch 49.2 in 49 games ...
But there's a limit to everything.
Besides Fox, the Twins have called up Rob Delaney and Alex Burnett. Only Fox will need a roster move, as he's not on the 40-man roster.