So the Twins have played the Tigers seven times and are 1-6. They're 17-9 against everyone else. They've averaged about two runs a game against the Tigers, and nearly half of the runs they've scored against them came in a 10-7 loss. They're averaging about five runs a game against everyone else. Small sample size and all, but the Tigers definitely seem to have our number, especially their pitchers.
That's too bad, because we play them about eighteen times this year. The good news is that after this week, half those games will be done. It's odd scheduling, that of your first thirty-five games over a quarter of them would be against the same team. I'm fine with the unbalanced schedule, but it doesn't have to be quite that unbalanced.
Despite the loss, there were some positives, mostly among the pitchers. Kyle Gibson had another fine outing against a pretty solid lineup. That gives him four really good starts in a row, a stretch in which he's given up three runs over twenty-eight innings. He obviously won't keep that pace up, and he'll have a bad game occasionally, but he's starting to look like he can be a good pitcher.
Blaine Boyer backed Gibson up with two shutout innings. I thought he had no business being on the roster, and I'm still not convinced, but maybe I should be. He's had ten scoreless appearances in a row, a stretch of 11.1 innings. He's given up six hits and two walks over that span. That's pretty good relief pitching. The only down side is that he's had eight inherited runners and allowed four of them to score. Of course, all inherited runners are not created equal, and I'm not going to take the time to check up on what all the situations were.
There were some complaints about Glen Perkins remaining in the bullpen during the loss. I've complained about that in the past, too, but I've somewhat changed my mind about it. Not that it would've been wrong to bring Perkins in, and I understand that it's frustrating to lose in extra innings with your best reliever not seeing the mound, but I understand the thinking to not bring him in.
Most likely, if you bring in your closer, you're only going to use him for one inning. Possibly, if a) your closer has a really quick inning and b) you take the lead in the next inning, you'll use him for a second inning, but those are two big ifs, and you might not use him for a second inning even so. Given that, in a tie game on the road, the most your closer can do for you is extend the game for another inning. Now, that's clearly not nothing--extending the game for an inning gives you another chance to win it--but it's not everything, either. Whether you take the lead or not, there's at least one more inning to play and someone else is going to have to pitch in it.
Here's what I'm saying. Suppose Perkins comes in to pitch the tenth and shuts the Tigers out. We're still tied 1-1. The Twins might have scored a run in the eleventh or they might not have--there's no way to know. But someone is going to have to pitch the eleventh, and it's probably not going to be Perkins. If the game stays tied, it's definitely not going to be Perkins, which means there's a good chance you end up in the same spot in the eleventh that you were in the tenth. If you take the lead and leave Perkins in, you're asking him to do something he's not used to doing, so you have no assurance that he'll be able to do it, plus you guarantee that he'll be unavailable tomorrow.
Again, I'm not saying it would've been a bad move to bring Perkins in. I'm saying I understand why Molitor, like Gardy before him, is reluctant to do it. And I'm not convinced that he's wrong.
So anyway, the Twins try again tonight. Ricky "Almost Good" Nolasco goes for the Twins, so they're probably going to need to score a lot of runs to win. The Tigers have Kyle Lobstein lobbing them in. He has not given up a lot of runs in any of his five starts so far (the most is four, and his ERA is 3.00). So, it could be a tough game to win. Fortunately, our boys are up to the task. Tonight we start our season-ending one hundred twenty-nine-game winning streak. We'll just have to settle for 147-15!