The media, they are abuzz today!
From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
Hernandez is supposed to be the top pitching prospect in baseball, and he threw 97-mph strikes with a hard-snapping curveball. He's no Daffy Duck, but he is a teenager, and the Twins have lived this one-play-short scene far too often this season for at least Gardenhire's patience.
And a sixth-inning move that went unexplained publicly might be a sign that the manager's tolerance has run out.
Center fielder Lew Ford's failure to execute a routine sacrifice bunt with runners at first and second in a scoreless game cost the Twins their best scoring chance.
Ford bunted the first pitch foul and then bunted a fastball just to the left of the mound that Hernandez fielded quickly enough to get the lead runner at third on a good play. The inning fizzled after that for the Twins when Justin Morneau followed with a strikeout.
When asked about pulling Ford from the game defensively in the sixth -- and putting infielder Nick Punto in center -- Gardenhire made a reference to the hip flexor Ford has played with and then said, 'Internal stuff... . That's in this clubhouse.''
Ford was not immediately available in the clubhouse after the game. Other players suggested that more went on between the failed bunt and the bottom of the sixth inning to prompt the change.
Whatever the specifics, it seems that with less than eight weeks left in the season and the end to a postbreak free fall nowhere in sight, the manager is ready to respond swiftly to continued failures of this underperforming lineup.
Gardy, Gardy, Gardy.
You can't spend years devaluing the bunt and then get mad when some poor schmuck can't execute.
What makes me think you devalue the bunt, you might ask? Well, mostly it's the fact that the only Twin who lays down a decent bunt with any regularity is a product of another team's farm system. I figure proper emphasis on bunting technique should have resulted in a certain basic level of competence in at least a handful of players from the Twins system.
Does "the manager is ready to respond swiftly to continued failures" mean you won't be using Romero with runners on anymore? Or that, at the very least, you'll kick his ass from here to Toledo next time he plays Inflate-O-Matic with someone else's ERA?
Lohse lost his fifth decision in seven starts since posting his last victory June 2. But he pitched a strong game, too, allowing one run on four hits and two walks, with a season-high seven strikeouts.Poor Kyle. He really has been doing a lot better lately, but he's got serious run support issues.
Let's look at those last five losses:
August 9th, lost to Seattle 0-1. 7 innings, 4 hits, 2 walks, 1 run, earned.
July 30th, lost to Boston 2-6. 5 innings, 7 hits, 4 walks, 3 runs, earned.
July 24th, lost to Detroit 2-5. 6 2/3 innings, 11 hits, 3 walks, 5 runs, 4 earned.
July 14th, lost to Anaheim 2-3. 6 innings, 7 hits, 3 walks, 3 runs, earned.
July 7th, lost to Kansas City 5-8. 5 innings, 9 hits, 2 walks, 4 runs, earned.
So, he's given up 1, 3, 4, 3 and 4 earned runs going back to early July, and took a loss in every last one. Some of those outings weren't great, but they were all winnable. In each of the two no-decisions mixed in among those losses, he gave up two earned runs. In his last two wins, back in the mists of time, he gave up no more than one earned run. Is that what he has to do--keep it to one earned run or less just to have a chance?
Sad. Truly sad.
Francisco Liriano extended his scoreless streak to 26 2/3 innings as Triple-A Rochester cruised to a 7-3 victory over Ottawa in Tuesday's doubleheader opener.Le pant. Le drool. Le swoon.
Liriano (7-1) yielded four hits and three walks while fanning four over seven innings at Frontier Field. He owns a 1.46 ERA and has allowed only one run in his last 43 2/3 frames.
The 21-year-old left-hander was named the International League Pitcher of the Week for the week of Aug. 1-7, receiving the title for the second time this season since being promoted from the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats on June 16.
Oh, September can't come soon enough, can it?