It was a rough night for the Twins, and Carl Pavano in particular. Pavano got absolutely pounded by the White Sox, allowing 15 hits in 6+ plus innings of work. I almost had the feeling Livan Hernandez was back as the balls kept falling in. Somehow Pavano had actually only thrown 87 pitches before he was removed with nobody out in the seventh. I'm sure Ron Gardenhire wanted to save the bullpen after Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker's short outings the previous two nights, but at that point enough was enough, despite the relatively low pitch count.
A lot of people will point to the fact that so many batted balls fell in for hits and say that Pavano was a victim of an unlucky BABIP this afternoon. And of course he was--you don't give up 15 hits without getting unfortunate, no matter how badly you're pitching. But I don't like to blame bad performances on BABIP in such a small sample, especially when Pavano wasn't fooling anybody on his pitches yesterday. In a case where there really are a bunch of bloops and bleeders that find holes I might point it out, and there were certainly some of those, but balls were flying all over Target Field while Pavano was out there.
Pavano's feat, however, is pretty rare. It's not easy to give up 15 hits, because most managers will have seen enough well before the pitcher gets to that point. In fact, only 21 pitchers have allowed at least 15 hits in a game since 1990 (3 of them allowed 16), making it rarer than a no-hitter over that span. Pavano was able to do it because of his low pitch count and, considering the hit total, low number of runs allowed. In fact, Brad Radke is the only pitcher to ever allow at least 15 hits with fewer pitches (86) than Pavano. Now, they haven't always recorded pitch counts, so I don't know how many years back it goes, but it's still impressive. Pavano kept his pitch count low by walking no one, one of only three players to allow 15 hits and walk no one in a game since 1990. Radke is also the other one to accomplish that.
Meanwhile, Nick Punto injured himself in the game, and is currently doing his best Carl Pavano circa 2005-2008 impression. He was placed on the disabled list and Matt Tolbert (a.k.a. Nick Punto Lite or Black Holebert) was recalled from AAA. Punto's now missed time on four separate occasions in 2010: the second half of April, about a week in late May, the past few weeks, and now this time. With J.J. Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Justin Morneau, Alexi Casilla, and Tolbert also unable to play for various amount of time, it's meant a lot of shuffling around the infield for the whole year. Let's hope everyone can get healthy for the stretch run, especially Morneau.