For a long time, The Common Man labored under the assumption that his Twins were the worst team in baseball. And for a long time, it sure seemed like that was the case. The Twins are still have trouble cobbling together a rotation, mind you, but at least they haven't gone the route of the Rockies and simply given up entirely.
The Rockies announced on Tuesday that they were going to experiment with a four man rotation for the rest of the year, allowing starters to go just 75 pitches, while ramping up the bullpen's responsibilities (though Jim Tracy somehow thought this would reduce bullpen strain). Then last night, Todd Helton failed to touch first base on a force out with two outs and a runner on 3B in the bottom of the 9th, allowing the Phillies to come back from a run down to steal a win:
And thus did the Rox lose their 12th in 13 games.
The entire franchise is embarrassing and should cost both Jim Tracy and Dan O'Dowd their jobs. It's not that giving extensions to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez was a problem, it was locking them up for as long as they did when they didn't have to. It's not that giving Jamie Moyer a shot was a problem, it's that they didn't have anyone better to give a rotation spot to. It's not that using a four man rotation is a bad idea (just the opposite, actually), it's the process that led to it as the last remaining option that's unforgiveable. It's not that Rockies are worse on a talent level than the Twins or the Padres or the Astros. It's that they're a rudderless, chaotic, dart-throwing mess, with no semblance of a plan to either finish the season or to get better.
At least we know one thing, none of this is Michael Cuddyer's fault. That guy's a leader.
Pitcher of the Night: Justin Masterson, 9 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 R
Masterson has a big platoon split (lefties are hitting .280/.369/.401 off him this year, while he’s limited righties to .203/.281/.282), but the Reds couldn’t offer muc in the way of lefty bats, other than Joey Votto and Jay Bruce (unless you want to count DH Willie Harris and his .375 OPS this year), who Masterson held in check all night.
Hitter of the Night: Jason Heyward, 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI
Remember when Jason Heyward struggled all through last season? Yeah, TCM doesn't either. Heyward is now at .262/.340/.480 on the year and is still only 22. Like Masterson, he definitely still has a massive platoon split (.943 OPS vs. RHP, .614 vs. LHP), but Heyward seems to have finally shrugged off the injury problems that plagued him in 2012.
Defensive Play of the Night: Brendan Ryan
It’s not just the play itself, it’s how nonchalant Ryan makes it look. This was pretty much the only out Jason Vargas got all night. (Sorry, MLB is not allowing people to embed and get excited about their product again. Click on the player's name above to see it.)
Big Hit of the Night: Josh Willingham
Willingham has been a stalwart in the Twins lineup, and was basically all the offense they had last night. It was enough. (Ditto on the clicking thing from above)
Trade Bait of the Night: Kevin Youkilis, 2-3, 2B, BB, R
Boston stomped all over the Marlins last night, allowing the Red Sox to replace Youkilis after his second hit. He was replaced on the bases by Will Middlebrooks, who stuck around and homered in his next at bat, deftly illustrating why Youkilis is available in the first place.
Vin Scully-ism of the Night:
Upon Yoenis Cespedes hitting a wicked line drive to centerfield: "That is a slicing line drive into center, and a fine play by Tony Gwynn. Boy, that ball, I was going to say there was English on it. Let's just say there was Cuban on it."
Also, Cespedes' name is now officially pronounced: "Yay-Oh-Ness Cess-Pit-Ease" Vin's word is bond.
Mariners: Jason Vargas, 4.1 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 2 K, 5 HR, 10 R
Vargas is just the second pitcher to give up 10 runs in a game this season after 10 did it last year. Along the way, his ERA jumped from 3.95 to 4.66. He’s the 11th pitcher in baseball history to give up 10 runs and five homers in the same game, and he managed to do it in just 24 batters, the second fewest of all time (Frank Pastore gave up 5 homers and 10 runs in just 17 batters in 1979).
Tigers: Austin Jackson, 2-4, 2B, 1 RBI
When he went on the DL in May, Jackson was hitting .331/.414/.544. Since coming back 12 days ago, Jackson has hit .300/.404/.575. The Tigers are 7-3 in that span and have cut Cleveland’s division lead in half, to just 3 games.
Rays: Chris Archer, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 3 R, 1 ER
Chris Archer makes his Major League debut, and despite concerns about his command before the game, looked pretty damn sharp. So did Stephen Strasburg though, so Archer takes the loss. He’s not a winner.
White Sox: Gordon Beckham, 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI
Cee keeps telling The Common Man that Beckham is turning it around and is going to make something of himself one of these days. Since Beckham is a White Sock, TCM sincerely hopes not. His OBP has fallen every year since 2009, and he's at .293 now. It's too bad he can't get traded to an NL team, so TCM can start rooting for this young man to reach his potential.
Angels: Jered Weaver, 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 0 R
Oh man, Jered Weaver comes off the DL looking dominant. Yes, it was against the Giants, but don’t be a hater. OK, be that way. But still, it’s encouraging, and TCM is feeling like there’s going to be another Angels run any minute now that’ll blow the doors off the Rangers. Oh, and since we praised Bob Melvin yesterday, let’s take a moment and laud Mike Scioscia, who removed Weaver after 78 pitches in his first start back off the DL, despite having just a 3 run lead at the time. That’s called playing the long game and protecting your investment, and is some forward thinking by Scioscia (and presumably Jerry DiPoto), and shows a lot of trust in the Angels’ suddenly very strong bullpen.
Mets: Frank Francisco, 1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 R, Sv
Francisco gets his 17th save on the season, despite his 5.14 ERA. This is exhibit A in 2012 for why saves are a stupid stat.