Over his last few starts we've started to see the promise in the arm of 25-year old right-hander Trevor May. On Wednesday night he put forward the best start of his career by striking out nine and holding the Red Sox scoreless over seven innings. His counterpart, familiar in the form of Rick Porcello, threw eight innings of two-run ball for Boston. It was good enough for the win on most occasions, but it wasn't on Wednesday night.
In somewhat of a departure from how he's accumulated his strikeouts this season, seven of May's nine whiffs came on fastballs up in the zone. Scott Baker had success with this strategy in 2012 and we saw Phil Hughes turn the high-heat strikeout into an art form in 2014, but it hasn't been a regular part of May's repertoire. MLB.com's game recap notes Chris Herrmann calling May's heater "a rise ball," although that hasn't been something I've seen attributed to his arsenal in the past.
The Twins wasted a leadoff double from Brian Dozier in the first inning, but Herrmann doubled home Eddie Rosario in the top of the second after Rosario had led the inning off with a single and then stole second base. An Aaron Hicks single moved Rosario to third, and he scored on a safety squeeze from Danny Santana - who put down a good-looking bunt.
It was interesting to note that in the telecast, Bert Blyleven said that Paul Molitor's willingness to put that play on meant that he had more faith in his players. His reasoning was that Molitor may not have put the safety squeeze on earlier in the season, but now that he and the players have developed a repertoire and are more familiar with each other the call was an indication of trust.
Considering who was at the plate, I'd argue it was a lack of trust. In his last 30 games Santana has hit .194. Lower that to .146 in the last 15 games and .105 in the last ten. Since last Wednesday, Santana's only hit was an infield hit in game one of yesterday's double-header. The Twins needed a run, and the way I read it: Molitor thought the team had a better chance to score the run by calling a safety squeeze than by allowing Santana to swing away.
Maybe calling it a "lack of trust" isn't accurate, but Molitor calling that play yesterday had nothing to do with additional trust, either.
Minnesota's two runs in the top of the second were the only runs scored in the game. May cruised, striking out the side in the bottom half of the inning. Boston's only two hits - of the entire game - came in the bottom of the third, but May got Brock Holt to ground out and strand both runners. From there the Twins right-hander retired every batter he faced for the rest of the contest, sitting down 13 Red Sox hitters in a row to complete seven very impressive innings.
Blaine Boyer and Glen Perkins pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings respectively, and in locking up the win the Twins move back to ten games over .500 at 31-21. Can they leave Boston with a tie by winning again today?