Monday, September 23, 2019

Magic number: Three

My wife and I scooted up to Target Field for the home finale, where I enjoyed a bratwurst with kraut and some bombas from Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz. And where I chafed at way too many walks late in the game.

Martin Perez started for the Twins. The lefty, I noted at the start, was just 14 outs away from the 162 it takes to qualify for the ERA title. Well, he's only got seven of those outs, so he's still short of that accomplishment, and I'm really not sure what to make of his season.

The good: He's 10-7 and set a career high in strikeouts. He's stayed healthy enough to pitch (no stints on the injured list.) His strikeout-to-walk ratio and his strikeout rate are career bests.

The bad: His ERA inflated to 5.13 Sunday. He hasn't gotten an out after the sixth inning since June. He has just 10 quality starts in his 27 starts.

The Twins have a contract option on him, and I have assumed all season that unless injury strikes they will bring him back for 2020. I'm not so sure that will happen.

The Twins staked him to a 6-0 lead in the first inning, and he strove mightily to give that lead back. I'm quite sure Rocco Baldelli didn't want to yank him in the third inning, but Perez really gave him no choice. He never walked anybody, but he didn't miss any bats either.

Which led to the walkfest late. Baldelli burned through Zack Littell, Tyler Duffey and Trevor May just to get through the sixth inning. Then it was Cody Stashak for the seventh and Brusdar Graterol for the eighth as the Twins opened the margin.

Those five relievers got 17 outs, 11 on strikeouts, with both Duffey and Graterol fanning all three men they faced. They allowed one run, and it was unearned (yet another throwing error by Jorge Polanco.)

For that matter, the Twins bullpen struck out three more men in the ninth, but Fernando Romero and Sergio Romo walked five also. That was a really long and boring inning -- eight hitters, none of whom put a ball in play. Baseball fever 2019 -- Catch it.

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