I must admit; I was less than thrilled when Gardenhire elected to run out Matt Guerrier for the ninth inning on Thursday night. The score was tied, and if one run was surrendered, the Twins would have started this road trip on the wrong foot.
After thinking it over, I realized that the right decision was made. There was no other real option in the bullpen besides Nathan. I would much rather have Nathan available later in the game, if needed. It turns out that is exactly what happened.
It was a fairly large gamble, but one I would want made again in a heartbeat.
Not only did the Twins get the win, but Thursday night was a huge morale boost for Guerrier. Previous to that game, this 29-year-old reliever had turned in results that left something to be desired.
Last year, Guerrier was amazing. He never had an ERA over 2.39 and he had a sub-two ERA for the majority of the year. His WHIP is now 486 points higher, his overall ERA 2.43 points higher, and his K/SO ratio over 1.5 points higher than last year.
Simply put, Guerrier has disappointed this year.
The main reason for this drastic decrease is obviously the role he serves this year. With Neshek taking the eighth and Nathan the ninth, in 2007, Guerrier was the seventh-inning man, if he was required.
This year, Neshek is rehabbing in Fort Myers, and Guerrier has been forced to transition into the set-up role.
As a result, Guerrier is on pace to pitch nearly six less innings than 2007. While on the surface it may appear a good thing, it obviously is not.
Guerrier has been one of the main reasons for the collective whine Twins fans have made this year regarding the bullpen.
As for tonight, it turned into another great pitching duel. This time, the two participants were Glen Perkins and Joe Saunders. The latter was roughed up by Minnesota's potent offense and was removed in the sixth. The Angels' bullpen didn't stop the bleeding, as they were battered and bruised for several more runs.
This series is really having the feeling of a playoff matchup. The fact that the Rays are playing the White Sox just adds to the drama. While runs are being scored in Chicago, they were few and far between here on the West Coast. Three-Run-Jack, Adam Everett, and Denard Span changed that tonight, however.
After that fourth inning, this game turned into a Minnesota slugfest. With additional RBI from Everett and Span, the final score turned out to be 9-0 in favor of the Twins.
Yes, I know, I have been avoiding Glen Perkins. He is the obvious MVP tonight, as he went eight full-innings, scattering only five hits. When you think about it, the fact that Baker and Perkins have shut down the most powerful team in MLB for 16 innings is a minor miracle. That is all I am going to say about starting pitching tonight. More to come on that subject tomorrow.
Oh, in case you care for some reason, the White Sox lost to the Rays tonight. The Twinkies are now up by half a game in the AL Central. Let's hope it lasts.