Updated: July 9th, 2014 1:04am
Wetmore: 5 thoughts on another duel, an unlikely homer, and the derby

Wetmore: 5 thoughts on another duel, an unlikely homer, and the derby

Audio Clip
7/7/2014
Sports Over Beers, episode 23. Dave St. Peter on the All-Star Game
Twins President Dave St. Peter joins the Sports Over Beers podcast to talk about this year's All-Star Game at Target Field. The best events of All-Star week, the concert at TCF Bank Stadium, the color run, the parade down Nicollet Mall, the Futures Game, the Home Run Derby and the rest of the party. Are there tickets available for any of the events for the week? Where can fans go to find tickets or seating for any of the All-Star events? How will the Twins and the city of Minneapolis benefit from hosting All-Star week at Target Field? Glen Perkins and Kurt Suzuki will be in the game, but several others with Twins ties will be involved, too. What upgrades have the Twins made to Target Field to make the All-Star Game as good as it can be? -- How were season ticket sales affected by the All-Star Game, and how will that change once the game is a thing of the past? What is St. Peter most looking forward to? (AllStarGame.com.) -- Also, from Mason's Barre in downtown Minneapolis, Phil Mackey and Derek Wetmore have a couple Shock Tops and chat about their expectations for the All-Star Game. What do you want to see in this year’s game and surrounding events (read: party)? Does Justin Morneau stand a chance to make it in the Final Vote? #VoteMorneau. Did Brian Dozier get robbed? How cool is it that Pat Neshek made it? Special thanks to Mason's Barre and Shock Top.
[Click to listen]
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by Derek Wetmore
1500ESPN.com

Phil Hughes was back to dominating and Casey Fien got an important double play in the eighth inning. They combined with closer Glen Perkins for a shutout Tuesday, as the Twins beat the Mariners, 2-0.

This column presents 5 thoughts from Tuesday'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).

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1. Brian Dozier was selected to the home run derby Tuesday, so the Twins will have a hometown representative. I didn't select Dozier to my fake derby team, in part because he was left off the All-Star roster, and I didn't give him a hometown boost. But he's certainly a deserving candidate, especially when you consider some of the elite power hitters either are hurt or turned down an invitation.

Dozier went 0-for-3 Tuesday with a sacrifice fly.

The final derby entrant for each league will be announced Thursday.

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2. Sam Fuld hit a wall-scraping home run Tuesday, his first since joining the Tiwns. It was enough offense for Hughes and the Twins bullpen, even if it isn't enough to convince the derby committee to add Fuld to the American League squad.

Fuld hit a home run earlier this season to right field at Target Field while a member of the Oakland A's. Tuesday's makes two for the year and eight for his career in 978 plate appearances.

Amusingly, Fuld glanced over his shoulder after he rounded second base, seemingly checking to make sure the ball actually cleared the wall.

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3. Fuld's home run broke a 13-inning scoreless streak for Minnesota. A large chunk of that was thanks to Hisashi Iwakuma, who was great Monday. But the Twins' bats have gone quiet lately. After opening the season by getting on base better than any team in the Majors, Minnesota entered Tuesday 14th in the MLB in on-base percentage (.319), and 26th in baseball in home runs with 66.

For the sake of comparison, the Pirates lead the Majors in OBP (.334) and the Blue Jays lead in home runs (115).

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4. Hughes was outstanding Tuesday. He threw 71 of his 94 pitches for strikes (76 percent), and worked ahead of 23 of the 29 batters he faced with strike one. He had eight strikeouts and no walks, which is just the third time this season he's had that many punch outs without walking a batter.

Here's a quick breakdown of his strikeouts:

Batter

Result

Pitch type

Michael Saunders

Called

Cutter

Kyle Seager

Called

Cutter

Logan Morrison

Swinging (2-3)

Curve

Mike Zunino

Swinging

Fastball

Dustin Ackley

Foul tip

Cutter

Zunino

Swinging

Fastball

Morrison

Swinging

Cutter

Zunino

Foul tip

Fastball

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5. Hughes was lifted after just 94 pitches with his shutout still intact. He allowed back-to-back singles with one out in the eighth inning to bring up lefty Robinson Cano as the potential go-ahead run. Ron Gardenhire summoned righthander Casey Fien from the bullpen.

In that situation, I would have been tempted to go the lefthander Glen Perkins to get Cano with the game on the line. I wouldn't ask Perkins for a five-out save, I'd just have him face Cano and lefty Kyle Seager in the eighth. Assuming the team's best reliever gets out of that situation with the lead preserved, there is not another hitter in the Mariners lineup to fear, meaning another reliever could pitch the 9th inning.

But Fien got perhaps the biggest ground ball of the night, when Cano grounded to Brian Dozier at second and Dozier made a fine play to turn a double play to escape the inning unscathed.

James Jones was the runner on first, and Dozier had to run in to field Cano's grounder. Jones, trying to stall to allow Cano time to get down the first base line, had stopped and was retreating toward first. Dozier tagged him with the ball in his bare hand and then flipped it to Chris Colabello at first in time to get Cano. Perkins pitched a perfect 9th inning for his 21st save.

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
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