Minnesota Twins-Toronto Blue Jays: Echoes of 2008
One of the memorable features of the Twins' 2008 campaign was their long roadtrip designed to lighten the burden on the city while the Republican National Convention was in town.
The Twins rolled into Toronto exhausted from two weeks worth of games and jetlagged from their stops on the west coast, and it really showed. The Jays swept the Twins, kicking them out of Canada for good with a 9-0 win in the finale.
The Twins have not beaten the Blue Jays since Carlos Silva overcame Frank Thomas' 500th career home run to beat the Jays 8-5 on June 28, 2007. It looked for six innings like the Twins would finally break their curse Monday night, but it was not to be.
Kevin Slowey was not sharp. He gave up 13 hits in his 5.1 innings, but until Lyle Overbay roped a two-run homer into the seats in the sixth, he was near a quality start.
Slowey relied on the Twins infield defense to keep him in the game, and they obliged, turning three double plays in the game to end innings that looked like they were heading into oblivion.
He left the game with a lead, and a line that ought to remind Twins fans of Livan Hernandez last year: 5.1IP, 13H, 5ER, BB, 2K. Slowey, like Glen Perkins in his last start, took plenty of hitters to two strike counts, only to end up with runners on base because he couldn't quite finish them off.
Still, even if Slowey wasn't sharp, the bullpen has to take the blame for this loss. The offense broke out of their weekend malaise to score six runs, which would have been good enough had the bully held down their end of the deal.
Matt Guerrier and Craig Breslow carried the next 1.1 innings well, but Luis Ayala's batting practice fastballs failed him and the runner he inherited scored.
Ayala probably should have been pulled after he got the last out in the seventh, but Gardy stuck with him and that decision proved poor at best.
The Jays lead off the eighth with a double, then a home run to give them their first lead since they lead 1-0.
Losses like this can be hard to learn from, other than the lesson every fan learned long ago: Losing sucks.
Still, with games like Monday's, if nothing is gained, then its like losing twice, so here's what I picked up while trying to pretend I didn't care that the game had just slipped away.
- R.A. Dickey's spot on the team is safe. The knuckleballer threw 1.1 innings of one-ht relief, the only pitcher in the game to go more than an inning without giving up a run.
- Which means either Philip Humber will test waivers or Brian Duensing is headed back to AAA. Even though Humber hasn't been great, the smart money is on the Twins being too risk averse to let Humber go.
- Jesse Crain is the de facto set-up man in Gardy's book right now. He could have gone in for Ayala if a short-relief right-hander is what the situation called for. Just like Joe Nathan never moved a muscle, Jesse Crain sat perched on the pine. He wasn't going in.
- The Twins are the model of a .500 team without Joe Mauer. They have the pieces to win any given game, but no one dependable enough to carry the load nightly. Nights when the offense produces six XBH must be translated into wins.
- Though Delmon Young played reasonably well tonight, he needs to make better use of his playing time or he'll need a tweezers and a good friend to get all the splinters out of his kiester. If the Twins want a low OBP guy to swing at the first pitch he sees, they'll at least choose the one with Gold Glove defense.
That's all for tonight. The Twins will look to end this three game skid, as well as their 10 game skid against the Jays, tomorrow night. Glen Perkins delivered the Twins best start of the season to date, he may need to do so again if the Twins are to snap their funk.
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