Game 77 Recap: Twins 8, Reds 5

Bedtime.

Judging from the way the game log abruptly ends, it looks like most citizens went to bed about the same time I did.  It looks like we missed quite a few runs, and some sloppy defense, but no change in the ultimate outcome.

We got the good version of Phil Hughes again last night, a version which has been coming around a lot lately.  He still gives up home runs--two of them last night--but they were solo homers, and sure enough they didn't hurt him.  If not for an error, he'd have completed seven innings and only given up two runs, which you'd take from just about anybody just about any time.  It took Blaine Boyer some time to get the door closed in the seventh, but it appears that the defense let him down as well.  On offense, Torii Hunter hit another home run, Eduardo Nunez had three hits, and Joe Mauer had two hits and a walk.

Ervin Santana pitched eight shutout innings for Rochester last night.  I've been skeptical of him, and still am, but I have to admit he's done everything he could do to show that he deserves a shot at the starting rotation.  That means someone has to go, and my guess is that it'll be Trevor May.  The question then is, what do you do with May?  Do you send him to Rochester, or send him to the bullpen?

I'd send him to the bullpen.  I understand why you might opt for Rochester--you want him to keep starting and pitching regularly--and I'm not saying that would be an outrageously stupid move or anything.  It's just not what I'd do.

For one thing, May isn't a kid any more.  He's 25, and will turn 26 in September.  How much more, really, is he going to learn from pitching in Rochester?  It seems to me that, whatever he has to learn, he's only going to learn it pitching against big leaguers.  And the only way he can do that is to stay in the big leagues.

Also, the idea that a starting pitcher has to go to the minors so he can keep starting is a relative recent one.  I remember Earl Weaver saying that the best way for a pitcher to break into the big leagues is to pitch in long relief.  That way, he can throw some innings and gain some experience without having the pressure of doing so in key situations.  It certainly doesn't seem to have hurt Johan Santana to have started his career pitching in long relief.

For another thing, it used to be that a key member of a pitching staff was the "swing man", the pitcher who could both start and relieve.  We don't see that as much today, but it seems like a pitcher like that would still be very valuable.  We hear all the time about the importance of versatility in bench players.  Why wouldn't versatility on the pitching staff be good, too?

So that's my two cents.  If Ervin Santana replaces Trevor May in the rotation, I'd like to see May in the bullpen.  The bullpen could use the help, and I think both he and the Twins will be better off with him helping the Twins win games than they will with him helping Rochester win the International League pennant.

Meanwhile, the Twins go for the series win this afternoon (actually, the game starts late this morning), with the aforementioned Mr. May going against Johnny Cueto.  Today we continue our season-ending eighty-six game winning streak!  We're still on track for 126-36!

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