The Twins' 11-6 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday night was a painful one to watch for a multitude of reasons. The Twins took an early 6-1 lead and appeared to be completely in control, but a Scott Baker struggled mightily and let the Tigers back into the game. The trend of terrible officiating continued with questionable strike zone judgment and an absurdly bad call that took away an out from Denard Span and helped the Twins implode.
Nothing was more painful to watch on this night, though, than Jesse Crain. Crain entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with the bases loaded and the game tied, and with only one out. A very tough situation to walk into, to be sure. Crain was most definitely not up to the challenge. He surrendered back-to-back-to-back doubles, looking on the mound similar to a pitching coach leisurely feeding his hitters batting practice. Five runs crossed the plate while Crain was on the hill, and by the time he got out of the inning the game was out of hand. To his credit, Crain stayed in the game and at least pitched the final two innings -- conserving the team's bullpen in a lopsided loss -- but he continued to look terrible. Seemingly every one of his outs was a well-hit line drive near the warning track.
Crain now sports a 7.20 ERA in this young season, and combined with his last four outings -- in which he's allowed six runs on seven hits over four innings -- he is giving serious cause for concern. Certainly the Twins' $2 million investment in him is not looking wise right now.
The Twins' meltdown in this game was extremely unfortunate, because it overshadowed some big positives from the early innings. Chief among these positives was Luke Hughes homering in his first major-league at-bat, becoming the first Twin in over 25 years to do so. Hughes couldn't wipe the smile off his face for several minutes after rounding the bases. It was a special moment. He is a marginal prospect whose defensive shortcomings have held him back, but he has certainly demonstrated in the minors that he can hit for a power and he wasted no time displaying that power in The Show.
Sadly, the big blasts from Hughes and Jim Thome were small bright spots in an otherwise torturous game. The Twins now enter the rubber match of this series with the Tigers facing the threat of losing a series for the first time all season. They will have to hope that the Carl Pavano who takes the mound tomorrow is the one who dominated Detroit for much of last season.