Thursday, April 11, 2019

Babe Ruth's dead. Throw strikes.

Big picture: The Twins just finished a seven-game road trip that included five games without the DH (and without Nelson Cruz in the lineup) and emerged with a winning record. That's acceptable.

Big picture: They had a two-game series in New York facing Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard and emerged with a split. That's acceptable.

Small picture: Wednesday's loss feels inexcusable because the pitchers -- specifically starter Jake Odorizzi, rookie Andrew Vasquez and Trevor Hildenberger -- took the Twins out of it through their inability to throw strikes.

The bulk of the Twitter scorn seemed aimed at Vasquez, who was called up earlier Wednesday to replace Chase De Jong. (Once again proving that I don't understand the current front office, the Twins shipped De Jong back to Triple A after his Tuesday appearance.) Vasquez wasn't good, certainly (13 pitches for the lefty, just two strikes).

But the real villain was Odorizzi, who started the walk parade and concluded his outing by walking Syndergaard, the opposing pitcher.

Back in my youth, I read something that categorized a bases-loaded walk as a mental mistake on the basis that a major league pitcher should always be able to throw a strike. I've come to realize that that is not necessarily the case -- Jim Palmer has spent about three decades bragging that he never allowed a grand slam but conceding that he did issue some bases-loaded walks -- but walking the opposing pitcher, at least if it's not Shohei Ohtani, probably is a mental error.

My hope for Odorizzi -- who is a significant part of the Twins plans for the season -- and Vasquez -- who isn't -- is that this fiasco doesn't get into their heads. My fear, particularly with Odorizzi, is that it already has. He walked three of the seven men he faced in his previous start, he walked three in a row to finish this one, he tried mightily to throw a wild pitch and was saved on that by some sloppy baserunning by the Mets.

A case of Steve Blass Disease would be a big problem in the big picture.

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