This one was a pitcher's duel.
Both starters pitched their hearts out today. Dontrelle Willis gets credited with a win, striking out six and walking just two over six innings while not allowing a run. Minnesota managed just four hits on the day, all off Willis, whose only hiccup this afternoon was a pair of two-out singles in the sixth. Clearly the Twins came away with nothing.
Willis threw 101 pitches, 57 for strikes, and only 44 of them were fastballs. Quite a change for a guy who'd been tossing the fastball about 74% of the time coming into the game. Hell, 14 of those fastballs came in the sixth inning. Willis had both his changeup and his slider working today, and it's obvious that he felt good thowing them.
For the Twins, Carl Pavano threw the entire game and sadly gets the loss. He didn't deserve it. Over eight innings Pavano did his job, giving his offense a chance and (just as importantly) giving his bullpen a much-needed day off. His final inning was a bit shakier than he'd been most of the day, with the Tigers mounting a two-out rally to extend their lead by a run, but it's hard to fault his performance in any way. Drew Butera's throw? Maybe we can fault that, just a little.
The umpiring crew continued to make questionable calls today, highlighted by Michael Cuddyer's infield single ground out for the second out in the top of the ninth. But ultimately, no matter how shoddy the officiating is, there's a lot of baseball that's played around those calls. The Twins didn't have many chances today, but they had a couple. And the bottom line is that the Tigers simply outplayed the Twins, thanks in no small part to a stellar performance by Willis and three scoreless innings between Joel Zumaya and Jose Valverde.
Notes, studs and duds after the jump.
- The blown call at first wasn't the fault of Paul Emmel, who was at second base today. So that's a first for the series.
- Luke Hughes will head back to Rochester on Saturday, when Nick Punto will come off the disabled list. Hughes picked up another hit today.
- The Twins' 4-5-6 hitters were 0-for-10 with a walk today.
- Butera is 1-for-8 at the dish in very limited duty this month. How long until Jose Morales is back?
- Minnesota grounded into two more double plays today.
#3: Michael Cuddyer (1-for-3, BB, -.051 WPA)
#2: Orlando Hudson (1-for-3, BB, .011 WPA)
#1: Carl Pavano (8 IP, 7 H, 5 K, 2 BB, 3 R, .049 WPA)
#1, 2 & 3: Span, Thome & Young (0-for-11, 4 K, -.351 WPA)