Twins 4, Athletics 2: Slowey Strikes Out Eight, Valencia Homers for the Second Game in a Row

How do you beat good pitching? In this instance, with patience and a little good pitching of your own.

Today's recap will be in the form of "Things I Learned".

  • Jack Cust was apparently told he swings through too many third strikes. So he looked at three of them today.
  • Kevin Slowey is vicious when he's on his game.
  • Landon Powell believes that hitting a home run is a double-edged sword. Sure, you're putting a run on the board, but it means you have to run...all the way around the bases.
  • Slowey's second hit of the afternoon also came off Powell, who doubled. I learned that Powell is seriously out of shape. Did anybody else see him look like he was ready to go down on one knee, or maybe lay his head on second base just for a minute to catch his breath?
  • Delmon Young has put on most, if not all, of the weight he's lost. An extra half step means he catches Powell's second ball for an out instead of letting it sneak by, and it also means he makes that catch late in the game that was two inches foul.
  • Oakland has pretty damned good pitching. So do the Twins.
  • Ben Revere CAN hit the ball out of the infield!
  • Ben Revere needs a stepladder, so he doesn't have to jump to reach those high-fives. He picked up a game-tying RBI with a groundout in the fifth, and I think I saw him jump for a couple of those congratulatory slap-hands.
  • Danny Valencia is a beast. When Dallas Braden's control started to waiver in the fifth and sixth innings, the Twins needed somebody to come up with a big hit to make him pay for all those walks, and it was Danny. His three-run bomb was a sixth-inning KO.
  • Yes, Valencia does need to be in the conversation for AL Rookie of the Year.
  • Jason Repko is a frickin' sharp-shooter. A Slowey pickoff attempt went awry in the top of the sixth, bouncing off the wall and into no-man's land near the line in right field. Coco Crisp tried to take third, but Repko bare-handed the pickup, patted his glove once, and threw a strike to Valencia at third. Do yourself a favor and watch the replay, it was awesome.
  • Unfortunately, Repko can't hit. Even with two hits today, he constantly looks like he's struggling.
  • Braden's changeup is WICKED. While Valencia homered off him in the sixth, in the fourth he was in the exact same situation: 3-1 count, one out, Joe Mauer on second and Michael Cuddyer on first. Braden threw consecutive changeups to Valencia, who was so far out in front he could have re-cocked the bat and swung again. To make it even worse, Gardy had put on a hit-and-run, which allowed Powell to gun down Mauer at third with ease to end the threat.
  • Keeping that in mind, with the bases loaded in the sixth and Valencia's homer already in the books, Braden threw four changeups in a row to Orlando Hudson, striking him out and escaping with just a three-run deficit: 74 mph, 72 mph, 71 mph and 70 mph. SICK.
  • Blyleven and Smalley had a couple of good exchanges today regarding the viewpoints of pitchers and batters in certain situations. A lot of times we get Bert's opinions, but having Smalley to bounce those thoughts off of added an interesting dimension to the conversation.
  • For as good as Braden's changeup was, Henry Rodriguez's fastball was equally as impressive. Dude throws 99 consistently. He walked Mauer, but recorded a pair of strikeouts in his inning of work.

Studs

Kevin Slowey: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 8 K, 1 BB, 2 R, .196 WPA
Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes, Matt Capps: 2.1 IP, 1 BB, .211 WPA
Danny Valencia: 2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI R, .208 WPA
Joe Mauer: 1-for-2, R, 2 BB, .044 WPA
J.J. Hardy: 0-for-2, 2 BB, good defense, .028 WPA
Jason Repko: 2-for-4, amazing assist, .011 WPA

Duds

Orlando Hudson: 0-for-4, 5 LOB, -.140 WPA
Delmon Young: 0-for-4, 5 LOB, -.173 WPA

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