Umpires have gotten a bad name around the league this year, and for good reason. They continually blow calls as if they don't want jobs next year and are eager to be replaced by technology. Meanwhile, with the occasional exception, both defenses played with the same gumption as the umpiring crew. I lost count of how many double plays were botched--a number of them by the Twins, while the one that really sticks out for the Tigers was on Delmon Young's ground ball in the 11th. Instead of ending the game, Young picked up an RBI, and we ended up going to the 13th. But in general, this was a messy game. On the field, on the score card and, most importantly for Minnesota, how in the hell they're going to stitch together a pitching staff the rest of the season much less just Friday night
Sidebar: a couple of days ago we conversed in the comment threads about what it would take for the White Sox to catch the Twins. I said the Twins would need to choke. Well, losing half of your team to injury (Morneau, Hudson, Thome and Kubel are all still out) allows us to leapfrog "choke" and go right into "death spiral" if things don't go well. This is condition red right now.
Scott Baker was lifted after two innings due to tendinitis in his throwing elbow. He received a cortisone shot and will miss at least one start. After his departure the Twins used seven more pitchers, including long man Jeff Manship (four innings), Jon Rauch, Randy Flores, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain...and then Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn.
Yes, not only did the Twins lose another starting pitcher to injury, but their long man is unavailable for Friday and two other starters pitched in relief. On top of that, Jesse Crain threw 40 pitches and won't be able to go on Friday; Matt Guerrier has thrown a lot recently and probably needs three or four days off (he'll be lucky to get two); Brian Fuentes still has a sore back; Matt Capps was unavailable Thursday due to soreness.
We'll talk about the resulting fallout, and Minnesota's options for pitching, after the jump. Ish.
With Blackburn pushed back to Sunday, Minnesota was not just looking at a (very) short bullpen on Friday but they were without a starter. Matt Fox has been called up to start on Friday, which is a start. And according to this quote (which was prior to Fox's callup), the Twins plan on calling up a couple of relief pitchers as well. Thank the baseball gods for September roster expansion.
"They're on the road at Triple-A, and we're trying to get a hold of everybody and trying to make decisions here," Gardenhire said. "So we'll have a starter for tomorrow's ballgame and a couple relievers coming up here. I can't tell you their names right now. We just don't have them."
If you read the link above, Phil Mackey does a great job of running through the Twins' options for callups. We'll annotate them here. All of these pitchers are on the 40-man roster, naturally.
Anthony Slama: Last pitched August 27
Alex Burnett: Last pitched August 27
Deolis Guerra: Out with oblique strain / been terrible
Anthony Swarzak: Threw 101 pitches on Wednesday
Glen Perkins: Pitched two innings Thursday
Rob Delaney: Threw one third of an inning Wednesday, but available
Pat Neshek: Threw 1.2 innings Wednesday, but available
Going back to the Matt Fax callup: he's had to be added to the 40-man roster. As of this writing, no move has been made to allocate his spot, but moving Justin Morneau to the 60-day disabled list isn't out of the question.
After all of this mess, the available pitchers for Friday appear to be, after the starter Fox: Rauch, Flores, hopefully Capps and then whichever two bullpen arms that get the call.
On the plus side, Kevin Slowey comes off the disabled list on Monday. If he can come back and pitch like he's capable of pitching, he couple play a massive role in the Twins' results down the stretch.
In the end I'm not sure what else really needs to be said about the game itself, other than the fact that the Twins had more than enough opportunities to win (in spite of half the team being out) and Detroit simply managed to pull one out. It was sort of like Game 163, except terribly executed, without the gravitas and the Twins lost. Boo.
Boo boo might be more accurate. Let's get to the game notes.
- Jason Kubel's wrist doesn't appear to be any better.
- Joe Mauer caught 13 innings last night, so it's not out of the question that with the injury issues up and down the lineup he gets a night at DH on Friday and again on Saturday for Pavano's start.
- Has anybody seen J.J. Hardy's arm? Please return it.
- It's been lost in all this, but on one of Minnesota's botched double plays Gardy was tossed. A lot of times a manager will do this because he wants to fire his team up, or because he adamantly believes the umpire has blown the call, but in this case he might just have been tired of watching his defense play like crap.
- Gerald Laird?!? Honestly, people.
- The Twins had 15 hits on Thursday night. They were all singles.
- Michael Cuddyer, Jose Morales and Danny Valencia each had three hits.
- Denard Span, Joe Mauer and Delmon Young were a combined 2-for-18 with a pair of walks. Ugly.
- The only Twins pitcher who wasn't charged with a run last night: Jon Rauch.
- That eighth inning still makes me cringe. After seven innings, the Twins led 7-3.
- We'll finish on a positive note: Repko's outfield assist that nailed a runner at the plate...that was nice.
All pitches not named Manship or Rauch