With the second loss of the road trip sitting no Joe Nathan's usually reliable shoulders, the Twins need to win today to salvage a series split against what should have been an inferior team. This road trip has four games remaining, and apart from Nathan the blame has to be laid solely at the feet of the ass-bats. When you struggle to scrape together four wins in 10 games (six of them against sub-par clubs), you're in trouble.
Another loss today, this time to southpaw Greg Smith, would make Obi Wan's failure complete...and the Dark Side (made up of ass-bats, bad luck and generally underwhelming play) would win, once again. As for Smith himself, he's good enough right now to issue two or three walks in six innings and still come away with a win. In fact his walk rate this season is a miserable 4.19 BB/9, but he's known to tighten it up at times, like he did when he walked just one over seven innings against the Twins on April 24th in a two-run performance. Looking at his splits he's far more effective against lefties (.219/.259/.344), as opposed to right-handed hitters (.251/.347/.407). Overall he's got some fly-ball tendencies (45.5%), but with the exception of July manages to keep the ball in the park. Once again, he's an A's pitcher with a sub-90's fastball, as well as a curve, change and slider.
Community question: With Greg Smith, what's more likely--that his 3.90 ERA is just more proof that assigning pitchers wins and losses is arbitrary (he's 6-13), or that he's just been lucky (in terms of ERA)?
The Twins desperately need a win before the White Sox decide to go on another winning streak. They've managed to lose three in a row, but Minnesota remains a half game off the pace, which is just as disconcerting as it is encouraging. At any rate, Scott Baker will run out for another Sunday afternoon contest. Baker's 0-1 in his last four starts, with a 3.33 ERA in 27 innings, 17 strikeouts and eight walks. An inconsistent pitcher in terms of strikeouts, he's historically stingy with the walks. Like Smith he's also a bit of a fly-ball pitcher (45.8%), but is an interesting study; while he keeps the ball in the park fairly well considering how many fly balls he gives up (just 9.6% of his fly-balls are homers, which is above average), he's still giving up 1.21 HR/9. To log his third consecutive quality start, Baker will need more than to just be effective...he's going to need his offense to show up.
For the A's today I'll predict: Davis (CF), Crosby (SS), Suzuki (C), Cust (LF), Sweeney (RF), Barton (1B), Gonzalez (DH), Hannahan (3B), Patterson (2B)
And for the Twinkies: Span (CF), Punto (SS), Mauer (C), Morneau (1B), Kubel (RF), Ruiz (DH), Young (LF), Harris (3B), Casilla (2B)
|2008 - Greg Smith||6-13||26||26||2||0||0||0||154.2||137||70||67||16||72||95||3.90||1.35|
|2008 - Scott Baker||7-4||22||22||0||0||0||0||134.1||132||56||56||18||31||110||3.75||1.21|