That was the guy we've been looking for.
On Friday night the Minnesota Twins opened the second half of their season against baseball's most potent offense. Leading all of Major League Baseball in runs scored, team OPS, hits, doubles and batting average, the Texas Rangers are a formidible ballclub in that on any given night they'll throw up six or seven runs while taking a nap. Last night however, Glen Perkins just put their offense to sleep.
Staying aggressive for the duration of his six innings of work, Perkins went after the Ranger hitters, big and small alike. With Texas tied for first in the American League in strikeouts, the former Gopher was the benefactor of some aggression, which led to a number of brief plate appearances. He averaged just 14 pitches through his first five innings before slowing down in the sixth, where he managed to work himself out of a jam with Michael Young on third base and two outs.
In fact, that was the most impressive part of Perkins' start. After walking Young on eight pitches with one out, a wild pitch allowed the Texas shortstop to advance to second base. Josh Hamilton followed that up with a ground out to the right side, moving Young to third. With the Twins leading just 1-0 at the time, Perkins attacked Milton Bradley with seven consecutive fastballs, largely staying away before finally walking him on one inside. Marlon Byrd stepped in with runners on the corners, and again Perkins played the predator. Seven more fastballs were fired through the strikezone, until Byrd finally rolled over on who and grounded out to second base. It was the type of inning, and the type of reserve, that we haven't seen too often from Glen Perkins--but he stepped up his game last night.
Perkins credit part of his success to a new pitch--a slider. With his previous breaking ball, which could have been called a bit of a slurve sometimes, breaking 12-to-6, Glen felt he needed to mix in something different.
"There's things I'll try to do now that I wouldn't have tried a month ago," Perkins said. "The biggest thing is throwing the ball inside. I wasn't big on that in the minor leagues — it's a lot easier to miss over the plate. But if you stay in there, you get guys out and make guys uncomfortable."
He worked right-handed hitters inside with fastballs and sliders, recording a few outs on the new pitch. He also used his slider to break away from left-handed hitters while still using the fastball to jam them inside. Perkins changed his speeds and mixed his pitches better than I've seen him do it this year, and having that extra weapon in his arsenal certainly didn't hurt.
The offense gave him his support as well, although it took Jamey Wright to enter in relief of Kevin Millwood before the flood doors finally opened. With Millwood in trouble in the seventh, Wright entered and allowed three inherited runners to score along with one of his own. All of this before he finally induced a ground ball double play.
Alexi Casilla collected three hits, and Justin Morneau added one of his own--an impressive double. Once again it was the second half of the batting order coming through however, with Jason Kubel (also with a double), Delmon Young, Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris all notching multi-hit games. The four combined to go 10-for-16, collecting all six of the Twins RBI.
Stars of the Game
#3: Delmon Young (4-for-4, 4 singles, RBI, SB)
#2: Alexi Casilla (3-for-5, R, nice defense)
#1: Glen Perkins (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 K)