The game was a bit of a roller-coaster. The Twins got five in the top of the first, and we thought it might be an easy win. Then Colorado got two in the bottom of the first, which gave us pause for thought, but still, it was a three-run lead. The the Rockies scored two more in the second, and we all went "Uh-oh". The Twins stretched the lead to two in the top of the fifth, but that lasted for all of about twenty seconds and it was back to one again. But the Twins pulled away in the late innings, built a big lead, and it turned out to be an easy win after all.
Phil Hughes was the beneficiary of the Twins runs yesterday. He did not pitch well, of course, giving him four poor starts out of five. We can say "regression to the mean", and there's truth in that, but "regression to the mean", like "law of averages", seems like one of those phrases that describes rather than explains. Yes, it was likely that Hughes would not pitch as well all season as he did for six or seven weeks there. But still, there have to be reasons why he was pitching well before and is not pitching well now. Maybe he was finishing his pitches better, maybe he was stronger, maybe the hitters weren't as well prepared for him, maybe he was getting better defense behind him, maybe he was getting more calls from the umpires, maybe he was just getting luckier. Maybe it was some other things or a combination of a bunch of things. But there have to be reasons, and I hope he and the Twins are trying to figure out what they are. If the Twins are going to avoid a post-all-star collapse this year, Hughes is going to need to pitch well.
Samuel Deduno and His Magical Zoomball put in an appearance. Roy Smalley said something to the effect that you can't teach someone to throw with the movement that the zoomball has, that you either have that or you don't. Maybe--I'm no pitching coach--but again, there have to be reasons the zoomball moves the way it does. It must have to do with the way Deduno grips the ball, or the way he releases it, or the way he snaps his wrist, or the way his elbow comes through, or his arm slot, or something. Again, maybe it's a combination of a bunch of things. But it seems like someone who understood pitching and studied video for a while would be able to figure out what it is that makes the zoomball zoom. There have to be reasons for it.
Now, even assuming you can figure out what makes the zoomball zoom, that doesn't mean you can teach it. It also doesn't mean that you necessarily want to teach it. After all, not knowing where the ball is likely to go after you throw it is not generally considered a desirable trait in a pitcher. Still, I think if I had a guy in my organization that seemed to have a live arm but who could not, for whatever reason, get major league batters out, I might take a shot at teaching him the magical zoomball. It wouldn't hurt.
So the Twins now come home from a 5-2 road trip and goes into the all-star break at 44-50. That's not great, but it's better than most of us probably thought they'd be. Every time it looks like the bottom is going to fall out and the Twins are going to go into that prolonged slump we're all expecting, they turn around and win some games again. Could that happen all year? Well, it's already happened for more than half the year, so the answer has to be yes. That doesn't mean it will, but it certainly could.
And now, we head into the four most depressing days of the summer. Tonight is the Home Run Derby, in which your correspondent has a level of interest that is roughly negative zero. Tomorrow is the All-Star Game, which is kind of fun but remains a glorified exhibition game, despite Bud Selig's pathetic efforts to try to hype it up. Then we have two full days with absolutely no major league baseball whatsoever. This is when I'm glad I follow the minor leagues as closely as I do. I'll be listening to minor league games and thinking about how the Twins are two games into their season-ending seventy-game winning streak. We're still on track for 112-50!