Know Thine Enemy: Bless You Boys
I don't care if it's April, June or October. It sucks to be in second place when you feel you've got the better ball club. And after last night's loss, the Twins find themselves in second place, a half game behind the Detroit Tigers. The problem has been starting pitching, an area that appeared to be a strength after the first two months of the season. In the past 11 games, the Twins have gone 3-8, with only two wins by starting pitchers (both gems from Carl Pavano) during the stretch. In the 9 games not started by Pavano, Twins starters have given up 3, 8, 7, 5, 3, 5, 5, 6 and 6 runs. Not a good recipe for winning ball games. Over the same stretch, the offense hasn't been terrible, scoring 4.0 runs per game, below the season average of 4.6. But the average is inflated by the 13-10 comeback victory in Philadephia. So the offense shares some blame, but the pitching staff has really struggled.
Fortunately for the staff, the Twins have their stopper taking the mound tonight...
Detroit Tigers @ Minnesota Twins
06/29/10 8:10 PM EDT
|Detroit Tigers||Minnesota Twins|
|Austin Jackson - CF||Denard Span - CF|
|Johnny Damon - DH||Orlando Hudson - 2B|
|Magglio Ordonez - RF||Joe Mauer - C|
|Miguel Cabrera - 1B||Justin Morneau - 1B|
|Brennan Boesch - LF||Jason Kubel - RF|
|Carlos Guillen - 2B||Michael Cuddyer - 3B|
|Brandon Inge - 3B||Jim Thome - DH|
|Alex Avila - C||Delmon Young - LF|
|Ramon Santiago - SS||Nick Punto - SS|
#53 / Pitcher / Minnesota Twins
Feb 24, 1982
|2010 - Nick Blackburn||6-5||14||14||1||0||0||0||79.2||111||55||54||14||22||26||6.10||1.67|
Oops. Nick Blackburn is on the mound tonight. I can't really add too much to Bobomojo's excellent article from this morning. It's been batting practice out there lately, as Nick has given up an astounding 111 base hits in only 79.2 innings and opposing hitters have a .337/.382/.553 line against him this season. Ouch. All three of those numbers are below Joe Mauer's .300/.378/.428 line. On a related note, his ERA is highest among all qualified pitchers in the Majors. But there's hope, at least tonight. Much has been made of Blackburn's 5-0 May and 0-4 June. But Nick has been a very different pitcher at home (3.19 ERA, 4.61 xFIP) than away (9.40 ERA, 6.02 xFIP). During May? 4 home starts, 1 away. June? 4 away starts and 1 home start (a solid 7 IP / 2 R outing against Atlanta). Hopefully a couple starts at home will help Blackburn turn around his season.
#58 / Pitcher / Detroit Tigers
Jan 15, 1982
|2010 - Armando Galarraga||3-1||8||7||1||1||0||0||44.0||38||19||18||5||12||16||3.68||1.14|
Mr. Near Perfecto. Last season, Galarraga hit the sophomore slump, posting a 5.64 ERA over 143.2 innings and starting the 2010 season in AAA. This year, he appears to have turned it around as the Tigers have won five straight starts. But the numbers tell a different story. Galarraga's xFIP is higher than last year's (5.27 vs 5.02), and it looks like his success this season is due to a very low .234 BABIP and 7.6% HR/FB, both well below career averages. I think he gets pounded tonight, starting with Denard Span (1.072 OPS against Galarrage) and Mauer (1.473).
Enjoy the ballgame, everyone. Our thoughts go out to Joel Zumaya after his horrific injury last night. I hope never to see something like that on the baseball field again.