Okay, right, he got shelled. But how?
The simple answer is that Glen Perkins couldn't hit the strikezone with his changeup or breaking ball, but then again he only threw seven of those pitches. He threw 29 fastballs, and 18 of those actually were strikes...which isn't a bad percentage.
What happens when a pitcher can't throw anything but his 90-mph fastball for strikes is simple: when the hitters catch on, it turns into batting practice. The five sliders were busting right-handers inside, not because they broke that way but because that's just where they ended up. They were straight, 83 mph pitches that ended up an average of 25 inches from the edge of a normalized strike zone.
But it wasn't the lack of other pitches being thrown for strikes that tipped the Rays' hitters off...it was the lack of other pitches, period. By the time Evan Longoria launched his first-inning homer into the stratusphere, only 16 pitches had been thrown; 14 were fastballs. Either something was up with Perkins from the start of the game, where he knew did didn't have his best stuff, or there was simply something wrong with him. Blister, nail problems, sore wrist, elbow or shoulder, Perkins grooved six fastballs to Longoria in a row. You might guess it's just bad scouting or bad pitch selection by the manager or catcher, but I have to believe that a guy with stuff like Perkins isn't voluntarily volleying fastball after fastball to a dangerous hitter unless there's something wrong.
The five runs the offense managed to pull off in the top of the 9th inning last night was dynomite, and maybe it's a little bit of karma coming back to do the team a favor, but those kind of bail outs are few and far between. Minnesota will have to be better on the mound and in the batter's box tonight if they want to take two in a row from Tampa. It's just one and a half games separating us from the White Sox, so let's take some advantage.
After last night, I have to say that on many levels it was just good to get a win. A nice night by Philip Humber, a big night at the plate from Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel finally blasted another home run and still might hit 20 this year, and Carlos Gomez flashed a little more brilliance in center field. There were plenty of positive things to take from last night. It'd just be nice if we could find out whether there was truly something wrong with Perkins.