Wetmore: 5 thoughts on the rotation order, pine tar, and Escobar
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins lost Wednesday to Dodgers, who picked up their 10,000th win in franchise history. That's a cool accomplishment. Only the Giants, Cubs and Braves are part of that exclusive club, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Here are 5 thoughts from Wednesday's game, with a Twins focus because the Dodgers already got their paragraph.
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. Sam Fuld started in centerfield and Aaron Hicks sat with righthander Zach Greinke on the mound. It's the second time since the Twins claimed Fuld that Hicks was benched against a tough righthander. They've played together three times in those six games.
2. Lefty Kris Johnson will be the 26th player added for Thursday's doubleheader. He'll start the second game after Mike Pelfrey gets the start in game one. Meaning if you had tickets and got rained out Tuesday, you'll see the player who completed the Justin Morneau trade between the Twins and Pirates.
In 22 Triple-A innings, Johnson has 20 strikeouts and eight walks, a 1.18 WHIP and an ERA of 2.86.
He already was on the 40-man roster, which likely factored heavily into the Twins' decision. Other pitchers on the 40-man man who are not on the extended roster are Logan Darnell, Edgar Ibarra, Trevor May, Ryan Pressly and Brooks Raley.
"He was the recommended guy, even before he was one of the guys whose turn was coming around," Gardenhire said of Johnson.
The alternative, Gardenhire said, would have been to start Sam Deduno in Sunday's game. That would require not using him in the bullpen until then, which Gardenhire said is unfavorable.
"The reason we did it this way is so we don't have to take one of our bullpen guys and start them. We don't know what's going to happen in the next three days. Getting to Sunday and just bringing someone in -- this leaves our bullpen alone. ... We just backed everybody up in the rotation."
That means Ricky Nolasco will pitch Friday, Kevin Correia will pitch Saturday and Phil Hughes will pitch Sunday. From there, the rotation lines up on regular rest.
That, of course, assumes each game is played. We'll see if the weather allows for that the rest of the week.
"If we have another rainout we're definitely going to have to make an adjustment," Gardenhire said, which could mean a roster move.
3. Jason Kubel made a diving catch to take a base hit from Andre Ethier and end the Dodgers' bases-loaded threat in the third inning. Gardenhire said recently that Kubel's fielding doesn't get enough credit. I wrote a few days ago about his glove and more specifically, his range.
This diving catch was similar in that Kubel made a nice play, but the dive probably will cause some observers to overrate the play.
Kubel came charging in and at a slight angle to his left (basically toward the shortstop from left field). He made the sprawling catch at an important time to take keep Ethier off the base paths and the Dodgers from scoring. The Twins trailed just 2-1 at the time.
It's fair to give credit to Kubel for the catch, but also remember that it was on a ball that someone with, say, Aaron Hicks' range might catch standing up.
Kubel has proven so far to be a respectable fielder in left.
4. MLB commissioner Bud Selig said earlier this week that baseball will wait until the end of the season to decide how the sport should handle pine tar for pitchers. It's a poorly kept secret that many pitchers use pine tar or other substances to improve grip while on the mound. Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda brought the issue into the limelight last week when he blatantly smeared pine tar on his neck - the second game which his use of a foreign was painfully obvious to TV viewers - and was ejected and suspended 10 games.
What does it mean that baseball might be willing to change the rules? Well, not much, according to Gardenhire.
"It's been done our whole life, it's not like it's new," Gardenhire said of pitchers using substances for grip during the game. "It's not like the guys have never done this so, 'Oh boy, we get to do something different. It's a big deal that the commissioner is talking about legalizing it for a grip. Because hitters get grips. ... Grips are important in the game and like I said, it's not anything that new to us."
It's all part of the code of baseball.
"I don't want my pitchers checked so I don't check other people unless they put it on their neck," Gardenhire said, partly in jest. "I think everybody in baseball knows the unwritten rules and we all try to abide by them."
5. Eduardo Escobar set a career high with four hits Wednesday. He went 4-for-4 and made an error in the fourth inning. On the error, Escobar circled a ball to his right and skipped the throw to first baseman Joe Mauer. Mauer played back on the hop instead of lunging out to scoop it, and as a result, got an in-between hop that handcuffed him a little bit. Escobar deserves the error, but you'd like to see the first baseman make the play.