Wetmore: 5 thoughts, the Deduno-Pinto battery, Perkins' usage
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins won a second consecutive one-run ball game against the Mariners, when Brian Dozier belted his 11th home run of the season. Sam Deduno was good -- if wild at times -- through six innings. Brian Duensing and Jared Burton wriggled out of jams before Glen Perkins saved it for the Twins in the 9th.
Minnesota has a chance to sweep the series Sunday, but will have to go through Felix Hernandez to do so.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Saturday's game.
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. The Twins may have found a battery that works in Sam Deduno and Josmil Pinto. Deduno does not always know where his pitch will go. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say he always does not know where his pitch will go. In either case, Pinto sets up dead-center with his glove belt-high and Deduno just lets his movement take the pitch wherever it will. Pinto needs refining behind the plate, but it's not like he has to worry about pitch framing for Deduno.
Also, not to be overlooked, Pinto (Venezuelan) and Deduno (Domincan) speak Spanish as their first language.
One likely cause for concern with that tandem is Deduno's tendency to bounce and skip balls in the dirt, coupled with Pinto's blocking abilities, which are not at the level of Kurt Suzuki.
"I think Suzuki's afraid of him," manager Ron Gardenhire joked. "I think Suzuki gets the living crap beat out of him when he catches Deduno because he bounces those balls."
2. The difficult assignment of catching Deduno will be good for Pinto's development behind the plate, Gardenhire said.
"It's actually a really good thing for Pinto to catch him, because he is so tough to catch," Gardenhire said. "I think it's helping [Pinto] learn to control the ball and actually follow the ball a little bit longer into his glove. So I think it's helping him a little bit with the development of Pinto. They communicate very well together.
"I think Pinto is going to get better by being able to do something like this."
One thing Pinto likely will have to work on to become a regular catcher is calling a game. Gardenhire gave the thumbs up in that department Saturday.
"I thought the kid did a super job catching [Deduno] and calling the ballgame with him."
3. Aaron Hicks made a good read on the base paths Saturday and took an extra base. Hicks stood at first base in the fifth inning and Eduardo Escobar hit a ground ball up the middle. Second baseman Robinson Cano got his glove on it but could not corral the ball. That contact with Cano's glove slowed down the ball enough, though, that it took extra time for centerfielder James Jones to track down the grounder. Seeing this added time, Hicks alertly took third base.
He's got a long ways to go at the plate, but Hicks has good speed and made a good read on this particular play.
Not getting a double play on this play turned out to be crushing for the Mariners. The next batter, Brian Dozier, hit a 3-run home run to the left field seats.
4. Glen Perkins pitched the ninth inning and it worked out for the Twins. Given the circumstances, it could have made sense to have him pitch the eighth inning instead.
The Twins lead 4-2 in the eighth with the top of the Mariners' batting order due up at the plate.
James Jones, Michael Saunders, Robinson Cano: all lefties.
Instead, the Twins went with righthander Jared Burton for the eighth inning.
Second-guessing a manager's decision in many circumstances is an unfair practice. So this is not to say the decision on its face was wrong. I simply wonder if baseball will start to see a shift in the near future toward using a team's best pitcher for the most important outs of a ballgame, which don't always occur in the 9th inning.
Burton gave up a long home run to Michael Saunders but otherwise got through the inning unharmed.
5. It will be interesting to see what happens if a save situation materializes Sunday for the Twins. Closer Glen Perkins has pitched in three consecutive games and it would be surprising to see him so much as warm up for a fourth.
In my opinion, Casey Fien is the team's next best reliever.
Let's not forget that Felix Hernandez is starting for the Mariners, so talk of a save situation may be too presumptuous. This writer prefers to count chickens after they've hatched.