2011 Game 30 Recap: Twins 9, Crimson Hosiery 2

Weather: 66 degrees, partly cloudy
Wind: 21 mph, out to CF
Time: 2:37
Attendance: 37,798

Box Score

What's not to love about this game? The Twins jet into Beantown on a wing and a prayer, a wisp of momentum, and a sigh of relief that they were able to best the offensively impotent Pale Hosers in a series deuce on the South Side, a short set featuring a no-hitter the hard way that F-bomb rolled for a 1-0 win. The boys haven't exactly been swinging hot lumber lately. With Butera and Casilla mired below the Mendozza line like sloths in La Brea tar, and Morneau barely above it, and Mauer and Delmon and JI

JIM THOME bruised and benched, our lineup doesn't have the punch of a full-strength squad hitting to expectations. But you wouldn't know it tonight.

Scotty Baker, who is quietly positioning himself as a rock solid pillar in the rotation, gave the bullpen a breather, pitching eight innings and racking up the same number of strikeouts, scattering seven hits and giving up just two runs, both solo dongers off the respective ash of J.D. Drew and Adrian Gonzalez. It was no no-no that Baker threw tonight, but he did dominate the Red Sox lineup, hitting his spots (75 of his 106 pitches were strikes) and working all parts of the strike zone with a good mix of pitches. His 3.16 ERA isn't likely to stay that low with a 4.01 FIP and a fairly lucky .273 BABIP, but fundamentally Scotty Baker is Scotty Baker. He can get a lot of guys to swing and miss (7.47 K/9), but he's prone to giving up the occasional moon shot.

On the other side of the ball, young Trevor Plouffe found a convenient Rochester phone booth, stripped down to his Superman suit and flew into Boston half an hour ahead of his plane. Already anointed the Twins new starting shortstop before he took the field, Plouffe made that Gardy decision seem like a ruling from Solomon when he stroked a solo round-tripper over the Green Monster in his first major league at-bat of the year.

Plouffe led off what would be one of the Twins biggest offensive explosions of the season to date, matching Span, Cuddyer and Valencia with two hits apiece and scoring three runs. In all, the Twins stroked a dozen hits while amassing their nine runs, and were helped out heartily by two Boston errors. I know, they were doing all this in the oldest (and ugliest) bandbox in the Majors, against an aging knuckleballer who learned early on tonight that he shouldn't try to sneak a letter-high fastball down the middle by Trevor Plouffe. But they were also doing it with a leaky starting lineup plugged with three emergency Rochester call-ups.

There were other amusements to be had in tonight's tilt, if you got there early. Angel Hernandez behind the plate, always good entertainment, calling two balks - the first in the second inning on Wakefield who appeared to have Span picked off. That one prompting the ejection of Boston skipper Francona, who hurled a masticated wad of Super Bubble at the obtuse arbiter as he walked off the field after arguing the call. All in all, it was a nice Friday night win that extended the current streak to three games. And after the April we just had, it's a real spring tonic to play at least one AL East team that doesn't beat us like we stole something.

14 thoughts on “2011 Game 30 Recap: Twins 9, Crimson Hosiery 2”

  1. Does it count as a Spooky if you do it after the fact? Because I totally Spookied Plouffe's home run while watching the game on DVR. I had no way to know the outcome of the game since we just got back from Trey's tee ball game.

    Overall, a fantastic night. Twins dominate Red Sox, and every other team in the division loses, including the Sox and Indians on walkoffs to the Mariners and Angels, respectively.

  2. Overall, a fantastic night.
    Keep 'em comin' just like this boys, one foot in front of the other...
    and I agree - nice write-up twayn. I really enjoyed the truth in it, especially after having watched the game /methinks the sign of a good recap/.

  3. Missed the entire game last night while at a party at friends. They had the Cardinals tilt on the TV, and we were humorously trying to explain to other casual viewers that Garcia had a no-hitter going without actually saying "no-hitter"

    btw, an older gentleman at the party mentioned that they can no longer serve beer at Busch Stadium, because the Cardinals lost the Opener. Boooooooooo

  4. Watching Scott Baker last night, I remembered that, when I was a kid, the high fastball was considered the most important pitch for a pitcher to have. Pitchers prided themselves on their ability to throw the "high, hard one" past hitters. If you couldn't do that, well, you were probably just a junkballer who wouldn't last very long in the big leagues.

    Somewhere along the line, the high fastball fell out of fashion. Maybe it was the lowering of the strike zone, maybe it was the high homerun era of the late '90s, but pitchers were told to stop throwing high fastballs. Instead, it was constantly preached to them that they had to "keeptheballdown keeptheballdown keeptheballdown".

    What Scott Baker has shown in his last couple of outings is that there's still a place for the old high, hard one. Yes, he gives up a few home runs with it--pitchers always have--but he also gets a lot of strikeouts, popups, and harmless fly balls. He's proving that there's more than one way to succeed, that you can be a good pitcher even if you don't always keeptheballdown.

    In sports, as in life, it's seldom a good idea to try to force everyone into the same mold. It's fun to see someone be successful doing things differently. I hope Scott Baker continues to keep having success by doing it his way.

    1. Well said, Jeff A.

      I too remember, from about a bazillion Game of the Week broadcasts, pitchers who would "climb the ladder" on a batter, trying to get the batter to chase ever-higher fastballs out of the zone. It was a regular part of the repertoire of the average fastball pitcher.

      1. Anecdotally, it seems Baker gives up more homers in the middle innings, presumably after he tires and his fastball gets a little slower. There's nothing juicier than a high fastball that is not fast enough. Baker didn't seem to lose any velocity last night, even in the 8th inning. He also did a good job of occasionally throwing a ball at the knees, just so hitters couldn't completely sit on the high one.

        The first homer was on a pitch inside, just not inside enough. The second one was just a meatball over the middle. Nothing he threw high got hammered yesterday.

    2. I think you can get away with pitching high IF you can strike batters out. Last night, 8Ks. That works. But that's not pitching to contact, is it.

      1. Cliff Lee, 16 Ks, one loss last night. Not pitching to contact == loss. Q.E.D.

    3. It would make some sense that lowering the strike zone would impact the effectiveness of high fastballs, since hitters would have to chase that pitch more often if they weren't looking for it and had a strike or two on them.

    4. It seems like he gives up a lot more home runs on hanging breaking balls than anything else. His problem is he has difficulty dropping his curve out of the strike zone with two strikes. In this game, Baker's fastball was explosive. It had late movement. Most pitchers, their fastball straightens out when they get it up, but Baker's had that late life on it up in the zone. No one can get away with all high fastballs, but it's a great way to change the eye level and go for the strikeout out of the zone.

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