Wetmore: 5 thoughts on Gibson's outing, Arcia's struggles, Polanco
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Kyle Gibson pitched 8 strong innings and the Kendrys Morales drove in a run in the 9th to snap the Twins' 5-game losing streak and salvage one game against the injury-depleted Texas Rangers. The Twins won Sunday, 3-2.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Sunday'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. Chris Parmelee started in center field and batted third, which tells you everything you need to know about the state of the Twins outfield right now.
2. Kyle Gibson pitched 8 strong innings Sunday, his second start with 8 innings this season. He also pitched 8 against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 17, when he permitted just four hits and didn't allow a run. He threw 95 pitches and was relieved by Glen Perkins, who converted his 20th save by striking out the side in order on 10 pitches in the 9th inning.
3. Oswaldo Arcia's batting averaging is hovering around the Mendoza Line. It seems to me, though, like it's a very different situation from Jason Kubel's average plummeting or Pedro Florimon's never rising.
Arcia has power and has shown an ability to hit fastballs. Based on his minor league track record, I still expect that he'll be an important part of Twins lineups for years to come.
Right now, he's chasing too many pitches and is more than willing to swing through a breaking ball in the dirt.
To pull an arbitrary example, Rangers lefthanded reliever Aaron Poreda faced Arcia in the seventh inning Saturday. He got ahead of the Twins rightfielder 0-2 with fastballs. The scouting report is out on Arcia that he'll chase, and Poreda took that to an extreme. He threw a slider in the dirt and off the plate that Arcia didn't swing at. Then he threw a 97-mph fastball up and in that Arcia had to bend backward to avoid getting hit. With the count run to 2-2, Poreda again avoided the strike zone, with an outside slider that Arcia waved at for strike three. Arcia also struck out in the 9th inning against Joakim Soria on a changeup in the dirt, and in the second inning on a fastball he tipped foul into the catcher's glove.
If he keeps swinging like this, he'll certainly test the Twins' patience, but it makes sense to me to let him figure it out in the Majors. The Twins don't have great alternatives and he's already shown he can dominate the minor leagues.
4. Rookie shortstop Jorge Polanco made his first Major League start Sunday. He went 1-for-2 at the plate, with a walk, an RBI and a run scored. He also hit a ball hard to right-center field that right fielder Alex Rios ran down and caught in the gap.
4(b). Polanco may have shown his inexperience when he messed up a routine rundown play that would have ended the first inning. Adrian Beltre drove in a run with a hit to right field with two outs and Oswaldo Arcia overthrew the cutoff man in an attempt to throw out a runner trying to score from second base. Catcher Eric Fryer caught it and threw to second base, where Polanco was covering, and Beltre was caught halfway in between first and second base. That set up an easy rundown play.
After the run scores, the best-case scenario on the rundown play is to get the out; the next best outcome is chase Beltre back to first; the worst case, barring a throw into the stands, is to allow Beltre to reach second base. That's what Polanco allowed to happen, which may simply be a sign of his inexperience.
Polanco took a couple steps and threw to first base as Beltre retreated. The throw was too early (and was not a great throw), which allowed Beltre to turn around and scamper into second base before third baseman Eduardo Escobar could get there to cover the bag. In theory, Escobar, Willingham and Parmelee all could get involved in the play if it lasted long enough. But a one-throw rundown wouldn't typically allow enough time and thus second base was left uncovered after Polanco vacated.
5. Trevor Plouffe is expected to return from the disabled list Monday when he is eligible. That will push Eduardo Escobar back to shortstop, probably, and mean the Twins can send out one middle infielder. It's also possible Eduardo Nunez could return Monday when he is eligible.
Polanco and Pedro Florimon seem to be the likely roster casualties to make room for those two players.