Wetmore: 5 thoughts on Gibson's latest rebound, fortune and King Felix
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The Twins jumped out to an early lead Wednesday and never relented. They beat the Mariners, 8-1.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Wednesday's game.
As always, feel free to ask questions or make 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. Endy Chavez bluffed tagging up from first base in the first inning on a ball to center field that wasn't hit all that deep. Sam Fuld doesn't have nearly the arm strength of Oswaldo Arcia or Aaron Hicks, but as a reader pointed out to me on Twitter, it might be average. From what I've seen since he's joined the Twins teams are willing to challenge his arm in center. For what it's worth, fan scouting reports on Fangraphs graded Fuld's arm strength a 55 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) in 2013. His arm accuracy received a 70. Both of those seem high to me but I'm not a scout and I've only seen a small sample of games from his career.
Fuld's return throw missed both cutoff men, but Chavez had already slammed on the brakes with plans to return to first base.
(This isn't a fair reconstruction because we have the benefit of hindsight, but if he would have taken second on Fuld, Chavez would have moved to third when Robinson Cano grounded out and perhaps scored on the wild pitch. Instead, he was stranded at third.)
2. Lefthander Kris Johnson will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester and will start Friday's game. Johnson is on the same pitching schedule as Ricky Nolasco.
Johnson made one spot start for the Twins on May 1. He gave up 4 hits in 4 1/3 inning, but he walked six batters compared to five strikeouts. The walks boosted his pitch count and he was unable to finish the fifth inning.
In Triple-A this season, Johnson is 8-4 with a 2.75 ERA in 16 starts. More importantly he has struck out 83 and walked 38 in 98 1/3 innings.
3. The Twins held the Mariners without a run for 16 consecutive innings. The Twins had endured a 13-inning scoreless streak that ended Tuesday. So Minnesota got to turn the misfortune on Seattle.
I don't buy the concept of momentum in baseball series. (As in, the Twins won 8-1 Wednesday so they have the upper hand Thursday.) The old baseball axiom is that the momentum is only as strong as the next day's starting pitcher. Well, the Twins on Thursday will send to the mound minor league journeyman Yohan Pino, while the Mariners will counter with reliever Tom Wilhelmsen.
4. The Twins are fortunate to avoid King Felix Hernandez. The Mariners reshuffled their rotation once Taijuan Walker was sent to Triple-A Tacoma. Hernandez now is scheduled to start Friday against the first-place Oakland A's. A win against that A.L. West club would mean more to Seattle than a win against the Twins.
5. Kyle Gibson was strong for 6 innings Wednesday. It was a good start coming off one of his worst of the season. Gibson has had no fewer than four total clunkers this season. That's not a technical term, but each of the starts in question lasted 3 or fewer innings and resulted in at least 5 earned runs against Gibson. In his most recent start on July 4, he gave up 5 earned runs in 2 innings to the Yankees at Target Field. On Wednesday, Gibson didn't allow a run in 6 innings. He allowed seven hits, struck out three and walked one batter.
It's a little strange he's had so many of each, but he's had more great starts than terrible ones.