As I was working on the preview for this game, I looked up Michael Pineda's game log, and the types of pitches he threw. Pineda has been very, very good this year - his ERA is now down to 2.45, he's striking out more than one batter per inning, and he's not allowing very many baserunners - but he's not exactly historically good. He'd thrown seven straight quality starts, but his best game score was only 67, not exactly dominant.
And still, the first thought I had was, "Boy, I hope the Twins get a hit."
They did - three off Pineda, in fact: a pair of two-out tennis-racket shots to left from Alexi Casilla and Justin Morneau, and a solid liner to center from Jason Kubel. Otherwise Pineda mowed the Twins down for seven straight innings, striking out seven and walking none. (The Twins seemed to be swinging at fastballs early in the count, in the hopes of avoiding embarrassment against Pineda's slider late in the count.)
Pineda's only blemish was the sixth, an inning that wasn't really even his fault. With two out, Luis Rodriguez (remember him?) threw wildly after Trevor Plouffe's routine grounder to short. Kubel followed with his single, and Pineda hit Morneau in the foot to load the bases. But Michael Cuddyer was up next. Michael Cuddyer does not drive runs in. He grounded to second.
As for the Mariners, Jack Cust and Justin Smoak whacked an RBI double apiece in the first two innings, and Adam Kennedy and Carlos Peguero hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth. (Peguero's was notable in that it was a liner to the right-field corner that was fair by a foot, cleared the fence by a foot, and was never more than about fifteen feet off the ground at any point.) This left Twins starter Scott Baker with a decidedly average line - eight strikeouts in six innings, but seven hits and two walks as well as four runs.
The Mariners got another run in the seventh off of Phil Dumatrait and Alex Burnett, then gifted the Twins a pair in the ninth thanks to two errors (just in case you forgot that Seattle is also terrible.) But ultimately the game was never in danger.
Here's some game notes that Jesse sent me, via email:
- Every single team in baseball has lost more games than the Twins have won.
- The last time the Twins lost more than 9 in a row was 1998, when they lost 10 in a row by losing 8-7 in ten innings...even after taking the lead in the top of the frame. The starting lineup that day: Otis Nixon (CF), Todd Walker (2B), Paul Molitor (DH), Matt Lawton (RF), Ron Coomer (3B), Doug Mientkiewicz (1B), Marty Cordova (LF), Terry Steinbach (C), Pat Meares (SS)
- That lineup looks like a juggernaut next to yesterday's lineup, as seven of those nine players were hitting better than .250. Only Dougie Baseball was below the Mendoza line. Nixon, Walker, Molitor, Lawton and Coomer all entered the day hitting at least .280.
- The Twins still have a larger number in the GB column than in the W column.
Epic, really. A few game awards after the jump.
Your three stars are... well, one star. Maybe two. We can give one to Jason Kubel for being the only decent hitter on the roster, and Justin Morneau got on base twice, so let's give him one too.
As for duds, Delmon Young is looking like he wants to find a new career, striking out three times. Drew Butera was 0-3 and is not even laughably bad anymore - he's just terrible. In fact, instead of duds, let's do this. The following players are in the major leagues but are hitting less than .200: Rene Rivera, Drew Butera, Ben Revere, Matt Tolbert, Delmon Young, Alexi Casilla.