Wetmore: 5 thoughts on a bullpen game, calls overturned, and Morales
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Yohan Pino twice wriggled his way out of jams and allowed one run in five innings to earn his first Major League win. He waited a long time: his fifth big league start after parts of nine seasons spent in the minor leagues with four different organizations.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Thursday'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).
If you'd like to listen to my weekly Talkin' Twins segment, I'll be on the Mackey & Judd show Friday in the 11 a.m. hour on 1500 ESPN. We'll be live at All-Star Game FanFest from the Minneapolis Convention Center. You can stream it on our website, or, if you prefer, show up at the Convention Center and say hello.
1. The Twins twice got a call overturned on the bases to pick up an extra out. Minnesota challenged a pickoff play in the first inning and had it overturned. With James Jones on first base, Yohan Pino threw over to first base seven times combined during Robinson Cano's plate appearance and Kyle Seager's. Pino's pickoff throw short-hopped Chris Parmelee, who scooped it and sweep-tagged Jones' right forearm a fraction of a second before Jones could get his hand to the bag.
The pickoff ended the inning and took the bat out of Seager's hands, so to speak. Seager hit a leadoff home run in the second inning. Of course, we can't simply take the event that happened next and surmise it would have happened had preceding events been different. Still, what if Jones hadn't been correctly ruled out at first base?
Later, Jones was called out at third base after a lengthy review. Trevor Plouffe cut off Josh Willingham's throw to the plate and returned it to third base, where shortstop Eduardo Escobar applied the tag.
I appreciate that baseball is trying harder to get these calls correct this season, rather than leave such a wide margin for human error.
2. Reliever and former close Tom Wilhelmsen started for the Mariners in a "bullpen game," where Seattle asked the relievers to patch together an entire game. He lasted 2 2/3 innings before the Mariners went back to the bullpen.
Danny Farquhar (2 innings), Joe Beimel (1 1/3), Dominic Leone (1), Charlie Furbush (1) and Lucas Luetge (1) all saw action Thursday. It's made easier by the fact the All-Star break is quickly approaching, but it's an unusual set of circumstances.
3. I've seen a number of shifts against Brian Dozier this season but none quite like what the Mariners used in the third inning.
Robinson Cano played on the left side and just behind the second base bag. The shortstop and third baseman also remained on the left side of the infield. The first baseman held on the runner, Sam Fuld at first base. That meant Dozier had the full right side of the infield with which to work. He's much more of a pull hitter, so the shift makes sense. Dozier, however, beat it in the third inning with a line drive single through the right side, approximately where Cano would have played in a regular defensive alignment.
(Dozier is hitting .407/.407/.814 when he pulls the ball, compared to .087/.082/.087 when hitting to the opposite field. Furthermore, when he hits the ball to the right side, it's a fly ball more than 70 percent of the time, and that fly ball stays in the infield more than a quarter of the time.)
Once Wilhelmsen got two strikes, Dozier fouled off a couple pitches and Wilhelmsen left a fastball on the outside corner, which allowed Dozier to "go the other way" and drive the ball to the opposite field. As Roy Smalley pointed out on the broadcast, a pitcher should pitch to the shift. So that could have simply been a mistake from Wilhelmsen.
4. Yohan Pino struck out Corey Hart with the bases loaded in the third inning. In the fifth inning, Hart cued a ball toward first baseman Chris Parmelee, who fielded it and threw to Pino covering first base. The side spin on the ball caused a strange turn in direction to Parmelee, but he made the play without incident. And once again, the Mariners left the bases loaded. Seattle went 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position in the four-game series.
5. Kendrys Morales beat up on his old club this series. The former Mariner went 5-for-15 with two doubles and 5 RBIs. He was booed in the series, and it's not terribly difficult to see why.
Speaking during his first trip to Seattle since spending one season with the Mariners, Morales, through interpreter and Twins bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar, told a group of reporters he didn't want to be in Seattle again.
"He knew it was going to be tough to look for another job, but in his heart he just didn't really want to come back here and be in the same spot," Cuellar told reporters. "He was taking his chances to see maybe something would get better."
The Twins optioned Pino after the game to make room for Friday's starter Kris Johnson.