Game 21 Recap: Tigers 10, Twins 7

Do your job.

It was looking so good through five innings.  Phil Hughes had a shaky fifth, giving up three doubles to start the inning, but had regrouped to get out of the inning with no more damage.  The Twins had scored four in the bottom of the fifth to go up 7-3.  It looked like we were going to take the series.

Then Hughes couldn't go to start the sixth.  And Paul Molitor had a decision to make about who to bring into the game.

I remember when Tom Kelly would be asked why he brought a certain relief pitcher into the game, he would often respond by saying something like, "It was his time to pitch".  At first that mystified me.  What does that mean, "it was his time to pitch"?  Eventually, I figured out that what TK was saying is that each pitcher on the staff has a role, a job that he's on the team to do.  When the situation comes up in a game when you need that job to be done, you use that pitcher to do it, because that's why he's on the team.  If you're not going to use that pitcher in that situation, then he shouldn't be on the team in the first place, because the whole reason he's on the team is to do that job.

Some people would say that Tim Stauffer shouldn't be on the team.  But as long as he is, his job is to pitch in the middle innings when the starter can't for some reason.  That was the job that needed to be done yesterday, so Molitor brought him into the game to do it.  Two home runs and a single later, it became clear he couldn't do that job.  Before the inning was over, the game was tied.

It was still tied going to the eighth, so Molitor brough in Casey Fien, because part of his job is to pitch the eighth inning of a tie game.  He should have had a one-two-three eighth, but the Twins infield decided to give the Tigers an extra out.  Did you ever think how many more runs would be scored in a ball game if you got four outs every inning instead of three?  Well, the Tigers got four outs in the eighth, and they scored a run, going  ahead 8-7.

it's questionable whether it was really Fien's job to pitch the ninth.  On the one hand, Fien rarely pitches more than one inning.  On the other hand, it doesn't seem like asking a pitcher to throw two innings is such a reasonable request.  On the other hand, Fien was injured not that long ago.  Paul Molitor doesn't have three hands, so he asked Fien to pitch the ninth.  It's easy to second guess, of course, and maybe Fien was going to hurt his shoulder at some point anyway.  What we know, though, is that Fien did hurt his shoulder, and by the time he was removed from the game the Twins were out of it.

There were some positives.  Scoring seven runs is always positive.  Joe Mauer had three hits, raising his average to .300.  Arcia homered and so did Plouffe.  Kennys Vargas returned to the lineup and got two hits.  Blaine Boyer retired both men he faced and has actually pitched very well over the last couple of weeks, going 9.1 consecutive scoreless innings while giving up four hits and two walks.  The Twins played three very competitive games with the Tigers, winning one and being right in the other two.

So we now host the White Sox.  Trevor May goes for the Twins, and we hope the bruised elbow won't cause him problems.  It's probably either May or Milone who will leave the rotation when Ricky Nolasco comes back, so May really needs to pitch well.  He's got a tough task, because Chris Sale is scheduled to go for Chicago, and in case you haven't heard, he's pretty good.  But the Twins really have been playing better lately.  It's time to go on that season-ending one hundred-forty-one game winning streak.  We'll just have to settle for 150-12!

10 thoughts on “Game 21 Recap: Tigers 10, Twins 7”

  1. No comment on the game; it was as the recap described it (well, except I think that asking a pitcher to throw two innings is a reasonable request ... but I think that's what you meant).

    1. That was a typo, a function of writing these things at about 4:30 in the morning. What I meant to say was "It doesn't seem like asking a pitcher to throw two innings is such an unreasonble request.

      1. I figured as much - mostly I just wanted to comment because I enjoyed* the recap and wanted you to know it'd been read.

        *as much as reviewing a Twins loss - with injuries - can be enjoyable that is.

  2. Did you ever think how many more runs would be scored in a ball game if you got four outs every inning instead of three?

    No, but I will now. My other favorite baseball thought experiment is "What if the bases weren't 90 feet apart?"

    1. Tango did a thought experiment about the four outs part and came up with an estimate. Unfortunately I can't find it now.

      1. Another aspect of that is how would strategy change? Would you use more one-run strategies, because you'd have more outs to play with? Or would you use fewer, because you're likely to have to score a higher number of runs to win the game?

        1. How about combine the two - make the distance between bases further apart, AND add an out.
          Think how many more triple-plays we might see attempted!

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