Sunday, June 21, 2009

Astros down Twins

It was a tough loss for the Twins, as Scott Baker took a 2-run lead into the seventh and then left after allowing one run. Sean Henn couldn't strand the baserunner, and in fact allowed the go-ahead run to score on Michael Bourn's two-run homer. I know there aren't a lot of options out of the bullpen, but I think Henn should be about the last guy out there in a close game--and a runner on second in a one-run game certainly qualifies as that.

Despite some early success (9 G, 10 IP, 3 R), I was not convinced that Henn was a good pitcher. Now, in his last 4 appearances, he's pitched a total of one inning and allowed 6 runs (all earned) on three hits and three walks. Suddenly his ERA is 7.36 through eleven innings to go with an 8-to-6 K:BB ratio. He couldn't outrun his ability for too long (and only did through 10 innngs), and now his numbers are much more in line with his career track record. And you can't blame it on luck as his FIP is 5.88 (sure, lower than his actual ERA, but still pretty bad) and his BABIP of .233. Both of those are much better than his career rates, of 6.52 and .325 respectively. I was disappointed when Henn was essentially brought up to replace Craig Breslow, and it'll only make things worse if Gardy continues to trust him in tight situations.

It wasn't just the letdown by the bullpen, though; the Twins also hit 4 home runs, which would definitely make me think victory. Brendan Harris led off the game with a solo shot, Delmon Young hit his second of the year, Joe Mauer broke his career high with his 14th, and Jason Kubel hit a big two-run dinger again in the eighth inning.

For once, it seemed that Young was able to make an adjustment mid-at bat. Now, I don't claim to be an expert, but to my naked eye Young appears to dive after the same breaking pitch repeatedly in the same at bat, and miss horribly. This time, he did just that on the first pitch, only to wait on it the next time and crush it for a home run. That also gave him his third extra-base hit in the last two games, doubling his season total. Sure, the second double on Friday was a gift (Jason Michaels lost it in the lights), but he really smacked it, so you could say the Astros were lucky it was hit at somebody in the first place.

Mauer's homer came right after he attempted to bunt for a hit. That's something that I haven't seen him do yet this year, but something I remember him doing in the past. If he doesn't get on, of course you think it's a horrible idea for someone who's as good a hitter as he is. But it always seems like he gets on when he does try it. So I looked it up and in his career he is 18-for-28 on bunt hit attempts (64.3 %). That doesn't include foul bunts, but it's a pretty good percentage. This year, of 169 qualified hitters, only 13 have a better percentage, and none have more than 3 attempts. In fact, Mauer ranks 20th of 458 batters all-time in bunt hit % (only seasons after 2001 have that data), and none have as many attempts as Mauer. In fact, 14 of the 19 players ahead have 3 or fewer attempts. All in all, he's pretty good at it.

And Jose Morales FINALLY got into a game!

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