Wetmore: 5 thoughts, Kevin Correia looks safe, Trevor May looks ready
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A.J. Pierzynski drove a fly ball left field for a sacrifice fly that turned out to be the only run scored Monday as the Red Sox beat the Twins, 1-0. Twins starter Kevin Correia pitched six innings and allowed just the one run, but Rubby De La Rosa was better for Boston. The Twins mustered just one hit through seven innings and couldn't push across a run in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. Brian Dozier struck out swinging to strand three runners and end the eighth inning.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Monday's game.
As always, feel free to ask any questions or make any observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. Tony Gwynn passed away Monday after battling cancer. He was 54.
What a terrific hitter Gwynn was throughout his 20-year Major League career, spent entirely with the Padres. Gwynn hit .338/.388/.459 with a .370 weighted on-base average, 132 weighted runs created-plus. He mostly hit singles and doubles, but he was one of the best in his generation at avoiding outs. That's a valuable skill. In particular, this fact struck me as impressive about Gwynn's career: in 10,232 plate appearances, he struck out just 434 times and walked 790 times. His 3,141 hits are 19th on the all-time list.
2. Kevin Correia looked in danger of losing his spot in the starting rotation just two starts ago. But he was effective against the Red Sox on Monday, his second consecutive good outing. He scattered five hits and allowed one earned run with a walk and two strikeouts. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire backed Correia after a crummy start June 5 against the Brewers, despite seemingly better alternatives at Triple-A Rochester. Since that start, Correia has pitched 12 innings and allowed just one run on 11 hits, with two walks and three strikeouts.
3. Trevor May was sensational Monday for Rochester against Boston's Triple-A affiliate, Pawtucket. May (7-4) got the win after allowing just three hits and two walks and an earned run over 8 1/3 innings. He struck out 11.
While Correia has bounced back recently, Sam Deduno's rotation spot should be handed over to May. That would take some shuffling. The Twins have not yet announced Thursday's starter, but it will not be May, since that would be very short rest. The Red Wings have a handful of other pitchers -- Alex Meyer, Yohan Pino, Logan Darnell and Kris Johnson -- who have pitched well this season.
4. Although there's an incredible amount of luck involved, Danny Santana has put together an impressive start to his career.
Santana strikes out almost four* times as often as he walks, and doesn't hit for much power at all. That's nitpicking, of course, because he is batting .340/.382/.447, which is an excellent batting line through his first 111 plate appearances.
Yes, he's been remarkable at the plate since his call-up to the Twins. It also should be noted, though, that he's vastly outperforming his minor league track record, and his batting average when he puts balls in play is .423, a rate well above where he can be expected to finish the season. (Yasiel Puig owns the highest current batting average on balls in play [BABIP] among hitters who qualify for the batting title. His .389 mark is more than 30 points lower than Santana's and perhaps itself unsustainable.)
Still, it's a hot start and Santana has been a welcomed boost to the Twins lineup. Here's how it compares with two young phenoms, Puig and Mike Trout.
Trout first arrived in mid-2011, but he exploded onto the scene at the end of April 2012. So his first 112 plate appearances don't jump off the page.
Mike Trout: 112 plate appearances, five home runs, 18 runs, 23 strikeouts, 7 walks. .216/.277/.412.
Puig, on the other hand, exploded onto the scene right out of the gates.
Yasiel Puig: 112 plate appearances, eight home runs, 21 runs, 22 strikeouts, 4 walks. .443/.473/.745.
Here is Sanata's line so far:
Danny Santana: 11 plate appearanes, two home runs, 12 runs, 23 strikeouts, 6 walks. .340/.382/.447
I'm not making any tacit suggestion with this comparison -- Santana more than likely will not be the caliber of player either Puig or Trout has become. To me, this is merely an interesting comparison of the start of Santana's career with two of baseball's most fascinating young players.
*Santana has struck out in 20.7 percent of plate appearances and walked in 5.4 percent, meaning he has struck out 3.8 times for each walk he has drawn.
5. Kendrys Morales failed to reach based Monday for the first time in a game since the Twins signed him.
Entering Monday, Morales was 9-for-25 in his six games with the Twins. Frankly, his strong start surprised me because I underestimated his ability to jump in and face Major League pitching in the middle of the season without the benefit of spring training or any in-game pitching, for example, in the minor leagues.
He's proven so far to be a nice addition to the lineup.