Tagged: Kevin Slowey

Tuesday Twins OmniPost

Despite injuries hampering their starting middle infielders and having to face Kansas City’s Zack Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award Winner, the Twins soundly beat the Royals 7-3 at Target Field on Tuesday night using help freshly brought up from the farm.

Ironically, the Twins had to return to the North Star State to remove their bats from the deep freeze, their offense returning to life in Target Field, where they bashed out twelve hits and plated the most runs the Twins have scored since their May 29th game against the Rangers.
Kevin Slowey was reputedly dominant and masterful, actually perfect over the first 4 1/3 innings as he retired the first thirteen batters he faced.  He complete seven strong shutout innings, allowing only three hits while walking none.  I say reputedly, since I missed the first five innings of this game, mesmerized instead by Stephen Strasburg’s impressive debut.  
While Slowey was dominant, the Twins’ bullpen continued it’s, uh, inconsistent ways, pouring gasoline on the Royals’ barely flickering hopes, with Burnett entering a 7-0 game in the top of the eighth and proceeding to give up 2 hits and a run before handing the reins over to Jose Mijares in the ninth.  For his part, Mijares surrendered 2 hits, a walk, and two runs over two-thirds of an inning, setting up a save situation for Matt Guerrier.  Guerrier threw two pitches in one-third of an inning and managed to end the game with the tying run on-deck, thus earning a save.  Thank goodness Gardenhire didn’t put a call in for Crain.  *Shudder*
Slowey contributed a game-high .243 WPA, with Kubel, who drove in 3 runs with a double and a solo home run, added .159 WPA and Michael Cuddyer chipped in another .096 WPA.  Greinke, who has had a very tough year thus far following last year’s utterly dominant performance, ended up with -.257 WPA.  Ouch.
In other news, with the Twins’ middle infield hurting, Brendan Harris will likely see more playing time.  He has not been good at the plate so far this season.  While some of that is a function of his .193 BABIP, there are other issues as well.  Andrew at the Twins’ blog “Off the Mark” offers some semi-humorous advice on how to deal with his struggles.  It is worth a read.
While it seems like every baseball site is focused on the Nationals’ new Next Big Thing, Bryce Harper, the Twins also drafted themselves some amateur talent.
Claiming it’s “Another Arm to the Stockpile,” Over the Baggy highlights some scout-talk about the Twins first round draft pick, Ohio State University right-handed pitcher Alex Wimmers.  Twinkie Town has more writing, kind of an extended scouting report.  Aaron Gleeman also chimes in, with quotes comparing Wimmers to Brad Radke and Kevin Slowey.  (Gee, guess the Twins’ record was too good to be in a position to draft the next Stephen Strasburg, though I suppose I’d settle for the next Mike Leake.

So, Base Umpires Can’t Make Correct Calls, Right?  [Updated]

Mere hours after Detroit’s Armando Galarraga was denied a perfect game by a blown call by the first base umpire, the second base umpire in the Twins-Mariners game handed the game to the Mariners by blowing the call on a close play at second.  

Granted, the Indians runner, shortstop Jason Donald, was more out at first–that is, out by a larger margin–than the Mariners runner. shortstop Josh Wilson, was at second.  But Detroit still won the game while the Twins had what had been a tense and thoroughly entertaining pitcher’s duel taken from them by a terrible, terrible call.  The result was an infield hit.
UPDATE 1:  As Fetch of “Twinkie Talk” says in his post’s title, “That 2nd Base Ump [Dale Scott] Thanks God for Jim Joyce”, the first base umpire in the Cleveland-Detroit game. Read Fetch’s post; it’s more satisfying than mine for he doesn’t blog at MLB so he gets to use profanity.
UPDATE 2: Jon Marthaler of “Twinkie Town” nicely sets the whole scene and recounts the wretched, wretched ending of this game.   
Pinch runner Ryan Langerhans was running as soon as the ball hit the bat and amidst the confusion at second base he was able to round third and score the winning run as the Twins fell to the Mariners, 1-2.  
When even the Mariners’ broadcaster says, “Looks like the Mariners caught a break,” you know that the call was blown at second.
The trouble for me is that this was a great game, and now the Twins must scramble to come away with the series split, as they face King Felix in tomorrow’s series finale.
As indicated, this was a fantastic and well-pitched ballgame.  Both starting pitchers were exceptional, the Twins’ Kevin Slowey and the Mariners’ Cliff Lee working deep into the game and shutting down the other teams’ batters.
Seattle’s Milton Bradley essentially manufactured their sole run prior to the ninth inning when he singled, stole two bases and then scored on a Casey Kotchman sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Holding a narrow 1-0 lead, Mariner starter Cliff Lee looked as though he would cruise only to be greeted rudely by Michael Cuddyer in the top of the seventh when he sent a 1-2 cut fastball into the seats to tie the game at 1.  
The game continued with a playoff-like atmosphere, tension building each inning as it became more and more obvious that runs were going to be very hard to score.  
This atmosphere continued into the ninth inning, only to be shattered by a wretched call at second.
I am pretty unhappy about the result because the guy looked out in real-time, on what is really a routine play at second when the ball is hit up the middle to the right of the second baseman in a situation when there is runner on first. 
I guess second base umpire Dale Scott had someplace he had to be.  Oh jeez, that means he’ll be handling duties at first base in Thursday night’s game.  
In WPA news, both starting pitchers were more or less brilliant, with Seattle’s Cliff Lee contributing .314 WPA (8 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 ER) and Minnesota’s Kevin Slowey chipping in with .215 WPA (7 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 ER).  Ichiro is credited with .317 WPA on the strength of his two-out “single” that won the game, and Jose Mijares received -.395 WPA.  Mauer was the Twins’ leading hitter with .169 WPA; even though Cuddyer was 2 for 4 with a homerun accounting for the Twins’ only run, he weighed in with -.50 WPA due to stranding 3 runners on base in his two hitless at bats.  Ouch. 
The WPA contributions of Ichiro and Mijares demonstrate a possible weakness in the WPA system: it goes solely by the result rather than by the process, and umpire Dale Scott created the result.
Bad day for the men in blue.  

Slowey Solid as Twins Beat Rangers

Twins 10 Slowey.jpgKevin Slowey showed up strong and ready to battle, pitching very well last night and setting a tone the rest of the pitching staff imitated as the Twins bested the Texas Rangers in a tightly pitched contest, winning 2-1.

Slowey improved his record to 6-3, but more importantly for the Twins, he worked six and two-thirds innings, surrendering only one run.  In Slowery’s previous six starts he failed to pitch through the sixth inning.  For the season, this is only his second start in which he pitched 6+ innings. This has been a concern for Twins-watchers like Nick.

Slowey was clearly the star of the game, contributing a game-high .222 WPA in a game in which Twins’ pitchers accumulated .667 of Win Probability Added.  With the pitchers contributing such a large share of WPA, Twins hitters accomplished little, again failing to capitalize on several opportunities.  Orlando Hudson (.100) and Nick Punto (.062)  contributed the largest share in the win.  Punto being the second-highest contributing Twins’ batter proves how little the Twins’ bats produced.  (On the other hand, the Rangers’ pitchers performed very well themselves.) 
“Twinkie Talk” gets more specific.
RandBall’s Stu (yeah, that is the handle of the post’s author) at “Twinkie Town” also gets in on the Slowey-praising act, also finding the Twins’ batters’ performance underwhelming.    
Oh, yeah, in more news, the Twins get a national broadcast on Sunday night, when ESPN will air their series finale with the Rangers.  Wow, you mean ESPN realizes there are teams other than the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Mets, or Dodgers?  No way.