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Walks + Home Runs = Ugly Pitching

While last night's 4-3 loss was closer than many recent Twins performances in Yankee Stadium, a disturbing early season trend continued for the Twins on the mound. As Nick Nelson noted last night, it wasn't so much the two home runs allowed by Scott Baker, as it was the Mark Teixeira hit by pitch (preceding Alex Rodriguez' 2-tun homer in the first) and Nick Swisher's leadoff walk (prior to Jorge Posada's 2-run homer in the second) that provided New York with two additional "freebie" runs and enough cushion to hold on at the end.

Perhaps it's just early season jitters and a few bad outings over a small four game sample size, but at this point the Twins have given up a league leading 20 walks (and two hit by pitch) over only 33 innings. Yes, the Yankees are known for working the count and being patient, but three of the games were against the free swinging Toronto Blue Jays, a team that finished near the bottom of MLB in walks last year. Combine that with nine home runs allowed, 4th in MLB behind Boston (11), Detroit (10) and Milwaukee (10), a total of only 11 runs scored over four games, and you get the makings of an ugly 1-3 start to the season.

Considering that the Twins pitching staff led MLB with only 383 walks allowed (well below Philadelphia's 416) last season, I expect some improvement as the starters find their grooves. But for a staff that is prone to giving up the long ball, especially on the road (90 road HR allowed was third most in MLB last year), expect continued ugly results if the walks continue.