Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Revere, Neshek and a pennant race

The Twins' win Tuesday night mathematically eliminated the Kansas City Royals. That just made official what was known all season, of course.

Beyond the obvious implications in the Twins' drive for the divisional crown — now up 4.5 games on the White Sox — there were two things about the game that stood out to me.

1) Ben Revere made his first appearance. He pinch hit in the eighth inning for Denard Span and finished out the blowout win in center field.

Pat Neshek gets the last out on a pop-up:
Finally, a strike and an out.
Not an overwhelming debut. He struck out on four pitches — the last a breaking ball that appeared be well off the plate — and had just one routine chance in the field.

Revere was called up (and Matt Fox jerked from the major league roster) to provide speed and outfield defense off the bench in this final month, but Ron Gardenhire had bypassed opportunities to use him in those roles in close games. I assume Gardy was waiting for a low-press spot to get Revere's feet wet and that now the manager will begin to use him.

If not, what's the point of bringing him up?

2) Pat Neshek struggled in his mop-up chores of the ninth inning. It wasn't just that he walked two and gave up a hit and a meaningless run. Nor even that he barely threw more strikes than balls (13/12).

It's that nothing registered above 86 mph on the Target Field radar gun, and most of what he threw was 81 or 83 mph.

Before his injury and Tommy John surgery, Neshek threw in the low 90s. That velocity wasn't there earlier this season, and it wasn't there last night. Unless and until it returns, his career is in jeopardy. Certainly he's not in position to be a postseason factor this year.

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