Saturday, July 16, 2011

One run is seldom enough

Another disaster for Matt Capps,
who now has been charged with
seven blown saves — and that doesn't
count two that Glen Perkins
bailed him out on.
The popular reaction is to blame Matt Capps for Friday night's 2-1 loss, and there is some justification for that: The Twins closer did not pitch well.

It's not just the gopher ball he threw to Eric Hosmer. It's the four-pitch walk he surrendered to the leadoff man in the ninth, which is just asking for trouble.

He was ineffective in his previous three outings at Target Field, and the fact that he fared well in Chicago in the series that led into the All-Star break doesn't hide what the home fans are seeing.

But ...

1) The Twins bullpen is not deep enough to shunt Capps into a low-leverage role. Even if Joe Nathan is capable physically of handling back-to-back(-to-back?) outings and thus of reclaiming the closer's role in full, Nathan and Glen Perkins are not bullpen enough to see this team through. If Capps isn't a third trustable arm, who is?

2) The Twins scored one run. One. Against Luke Hochever. Who entered the game with an ERA on the season of 5.46, which is about what he's done for his career (5.56), which is almost a match for what he's had against the Twins specifically (5.54).

The Twins mounted a few threats against Hochever, but never cashed in. The run they did score came on a two-out wild pitch. Minnesota's won a few 1-0 games this season, but that's a hard way to go.

So blame Capps. But save some of the blame for Alexi Casilla, and Michael Cuddyer, and Jim Thome, and Danny Valencia (who just missed duplicating Hosmer's ninth-inning home-run heroics) ... The lineup had chances for big innings, but didn't cash in.

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