Friday, September 4, 2009

The bad loss blues

It was one of Tom Kelly's managerial mantras: Momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher.

In their first game after Wednesday's ninth-inning implosion, the Twins had Carl Pavano (above). Momentum was not on their side.

The game stories all duly note that the third-inning error, a key play in the game, was charged to Orlando Cabrera, but the stone-cold fact of the matter was that Cabrera's throw was where it was supposed to be. It was Pavano who wasn't there because he stood on the mound admiring the ground ball too long. (It is simple justice that the runs were charged as earned.)

And as far as holding runners on — forget it. Pavano led the AL in stolen bases allowed (29) coming into the game; Cleveland stole another Friday. I think I've seen Joe Mauer attempt one throw with Pavano pitching; as Bill Freehan, the Tigers' standout catcher of the 1960s, once said of baserunners running wild with Mickey Lolich pitching, "There's not a hell of a lot I can do without the baseball."

So OK, Pavano isn't particularly adept at those aspects of pitching. Man's 33 years old, and if he hasn't learned after 200-plus major league starts to hold runners and cover first base, he's not going to now.

The Twins as a whole weren't particularly adept at any aspect. Four errors and just six hits.

Meanwhile the Tigers won — just as he did last year for the Twins in September in Tampa Bay, Adam Everett had a big RBI base hit — so the Twins are six games out and sinking fast in the AL Central.

Back on July 19, the Twins — having won their first two games of a long post-All Star Game road trip — lost a 12-inning affair to Texas because knuckleballer R.A. Dickey decided to try to trick a good hitter with his fastball. The next day was the bizzare 14-13 loss in Oakland in which Nick Blackburn, with considerable help from Brian Duensing, Bobby Keppel and Jose Mijares, turned a 12-2 lead into a deficit and an out of position umpire blew a call from there to Seattle to end the game.

The Twins wound up going 3-7 on that road trip.

Back in May, the 15-17 to be precise, the Twins lost three straight one-run games in Yankee Stadium, two of them in extra innings. They then went to Chicago, where the starting pitchers put up three clunkers in a row, extending the losing streak to six. They went 1-6 on that road trip.

At least it's Scott Baker on Saturday.

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