Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oakland 14, Twins 13 (Monday night massacre)

I know, I know. The Twins had a 10-2 lead and you figured it was in the bag and went to bed.

And now you see this headline. Sorry.

A truly ugly game. The Twins hit four homers in the first three innings and had that 10-2 lead. Oakland's pitchers threw 214 pitches, just 123 of them strikes. The Twins drew eight walks and had seven extra-base hits.

But the pitching was sloppy and the defense was sloppy, and Ron Gardenhire compunded matters with some curious handling of his bullpen. The A's scored seven runs in the seventh inning, with a little help from Justin Morneau, who overran a foul popup. (Somehow he wasn't charged with an error, which is a blot on official scorers.)

And for all of that, the Twins came a blown call by the home plate umpire, Mike Muchlinski, from tying the game in the ninth inning. (See the photo above.)

The numbers don't lie. Not only did Nick Blackburn give up 13 hits in his five innings, he didn't strike anybody out. Highly hittable. (For that matter, none of the relievers whiffed anybody either.) Blackburn left after just 92 pitches (66 strikes) and seven runs allowed but leading 13-7.

Then came the curious bullpen stuff. The backdrop is important here. Remember, the Twins added a 12th pitcher during the All-Star break, Kevin Mulvey. He didn't pitch in the Texas series, which was understandable, because the games were close and they'd rather have Mulvey make his debut in a low-pressure situation.

Sunday's game went 12 innings. Everybody in the pen worked except Joe Nathan (who had pitched the previous two days) and Mulvey.

Brain Duensing threw 16 pitches Sunday (and was the losing pitcher). He was also up and down during the first five innings Monday. As a general rule, it's unwise to warm up a relief pitcher multiple times. Duensing warmed up Monday at least twice, maybe three times — and then Gardy brought him in.

Which makes me wonder why Mulvey's on the roster. If he's not going to be used with a six-run lead — if the manager would rather use somebody on consecutive days on multiple warm-ups — what's the point?

Duensing got four outs — and allowed four hits and two walks.

Then Gardenhire went once again to the well of Bobby Keppel. Third game in four days for Keppel — 26 pitches on Friday, 17 on Sunday. He would throw just 11 on Monday. Six balls, five strikes, and the last strike was a grand slam by Matt Holliday. (Keppel's ERA rose from 0.56 to 2.25.)

That tied it at 13. In came Jose Mijares — no argument from me on that move — and his first pitch was crushed by Jack Cust. That made it 14-13.

Mulvey wound up pitching after all, getting the last out of the eighth inning.

The came the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, Michael Cuddyer doubled. Jason Kubel was walked intentionally (Kubel was 3 for 3 with a homer and three walks). With Delmon Young up, Michael Wertz threw a pitch to the backstop. Cuddyer went not just to third but home as well. He beat the tag — clearly beat the tag — only to be called out.

Box score here.

AP story here.

1 comment:

  1. I went to bed with the score 12-2. But it gnawed at me during the night. They couldn't lose that one ... could they?

    Yeah, Cuddy was safe. And they might have come back to win it.

    But they didn't deserve to win after that.