Staff Ace Phil Hughes.
Assuming that was the last we've seen of Phil Hughes for this year, he finished in style. Eight innings, one run, five hits, no walks, five strikeouts. If you go by game scores, it was (barely) his best game of the season with a score of 73. He had two 70s, three 71s, and two 72s, though, so it's not like this game stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Hughes simply had an outstanding season. The low number of walks and the strikeout/walk ratio are what gets everyone's attention, and justifiably so. But it was a fine season all-around: 16-10, 3.52, 1.13 WHIP, 186 strikeouts in 209.2 innings. It's arguably the best season a Twins pitcher has had since Johan Santana was traded. We've given the Twins front office a lot of criticism, so in fairness we need to point out that this looks like an excellent signing.
The rain resulted in Hughes not going back out to pitch the ninth, which left him one-third of an inning shy of 210 innings pitched on the season, a figure which would have given him a half-million dollar bonus. There has been much said already, and there probably will be more, about whether the Twins should go ahead and give him the bonus anyway. For whatever it's worth, here's my opinion. I will not criticize them if they don't. The deal was 210 innings, not 209.2, and the Twins did not pull any shenanigans to keep him from getting to 210 innings. It's just the way it worked out. On the other hand, if they don't give him the bonus, they'll probably get a half-million dollars worth of bad publicity for being cheapskates, and given the state of this team, they really don't need any more bad publicity. In addition, I don't know how upset Hughes will be with them if they don't pay the bonus, but he'll obviously be happier with them if they do, and it's worth something to keep your Staff Ace happy. I won't criticize them if they don't pay the bonus, but I think the smarter thing to do would be to go ahead and pay it.
I do have to feel a little sorry for Vidal Nuno, who is now 0-7 as a Diamondback. He's 0-7 with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. In eight of his fourteen starts for Arizona, he's given up two runs or fewer. In those starts, he was 0-2 with six no-decisions. He had four starts where he went seven innings and gave up two runs or fewer. In those starts, we was 0-1 with three no-decisions. He had one other start where he went six innings and gave up one run. He got a no-decision in that game. I hope the Diamondbacks front office is not thinking that he doesn't know how to win or some other nonsense.
I wonder if the possibility of holding Hughes back for the Detroit series ever crossed Gardy's mind. I'm not advocating it--the rotation worked out the way it worked out, and I really don't think they should've changed it just because Detroit is fighting for a playoff spot. It would've been nice to have Hughes for the Tigers series, but that's just not the way it happened.
The Twins do go to Detroit to close out their season with a four-game series. The Tigers hold a two-game lead over Kansas City. They'll make the playoffs regardless, but it would be fun to see the Twins play spoilers here, or at least make the Tigers back into the division title. It seems unlikely, but the Twins took two of three the last time these teams played, so you never know. Let's end the season on a six-game winning streak! We're still on track for 72-90.