Twins ace Phil Hughes was great Tuesday night in Boston. He limited the Red Sox to two runs with six strikeouts and no walks over eight innings of work, but the Twins lost, 2-1.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Tuesday'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. Hughes (7-3) improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 78:8 during Tuesday's complete-game loss. Nearly 10 strikeouts for every walk issued is filthy.
Based on expectations and hype and perception and injuries and various other reasons, we tend to think very differently of these two pitchers I'm about to compare. This season, not so much, but for their careers: Phil Hughes is Scott Baker.
2. The Hughes-Jon Lester matchup lived up to its billing as a pitcher's duel. The Twins made Lester work in the first inning. Danny Santana opened the game with a single on a line drive to cap an 11-pitch at-bat. Brian Dozier lined out on the sixth pitch of his plate appearance. Joe Mauer flied out on the fifth. Josh Willingham walked on nine pitches. Then Kendrys Morales popped out on the second pitch.
In all, Lester threw 33 pitches in the first inning. He threw 109 pitches in 6 1/3 innings, so he burned through 30 percent of his pitches in the first frame, with the Twins grinding out plate appearances.
It was apparent watching the TV broadcast that Lester, often animated on the mound, was upset by several borderline calls from home plate umpire Clint Fagan.
3. Tuesday's game featured compelling in-game interplay between Brian Dozier and Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia made an alert play in the sixth inning to retire Dozier, who apparently bunted on his own with Santana at second base. First baseman Mike Napoli fielded the ball and Lester was not going to beat Dozier to the bag. So Pedroia alertly covered first, received the flip from Napoli to retire Dozier. (The bunt advanced Santana to third and Mauer drove home Santana with an RBI double.)
Dozier got Pedroia back in the bottom of the inning. Dozier fielded a soft ground ball and made a highlight-reel scoop and throw to Mauer at first to retire Pedroia.
Pedroia and Dozier each slid head-first into first base on the particular plays I'm referencing, which is dangerous and counterproductive.
Later, Pedroia hit a near-home run off the Green Monster in left, tripped after rounding first base, and was called out following a one-man rundown. Willingham relayed the ball to Dozier, who tracked down Pedroia after he had stumbled between first base and second base. It didn't appear Dozier's tag touched Pedroia, but second base umpire Tim Welke ruled that Pedroia left the baseline to avoid the tag.
I don't know if Dozier will push Pedroia or Robinson Cano for the Gold Glove at second base, because it's difficult to gauge voters' perception. I'll be interested to see if Dozier enters the conversation, because I think he deserves to be considered.
4. Mauer drove in the Twins' only run with a double in the sixth inning. My colleague, Phil Mackey, wrote a solid piece Tuesday with all sorts of what-the-heck Mauer statistics from this season.
Among the most startling:
Mauer entered Tuesday's game against the Red Sox hitting just .137 with runners in scoring position, which is incredible for a guy who entered the season hitting over .330 in such situations.
Mauer raised that average with his sixth-inning double.
5. Oswaldo Arcia is slumping big time. He went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts Tuesday. Arcia was hitting .302/.313/.587 on June 5. Since that time, he's 2-for-32 (.063) with 14 strikeouts and five walks in 39 plate appearances.
It's always dangerous to trust samples sizes as small as 40 plate appearances, especially considering how Arcia clobbered the ball after his return from a wrist injury. Even with that in mind, Arcia has looked out of sorts at the plate at a time the Twins could use his bat in the middle of the lineup.
If you missed it: The Twins booted Sam Deduno from the rotation. Yohan Pino will make a start for the Twins on Thursday. I recently wrote about the possibility of demoting Deduno, and it makes sense for the Twins to pull the trigger on the move. Pino, who has pitched some out of the bullpen in Rochester, is a logical choice, given his minor league performance this season. But I'd be surprised if Trevor May is not in the big leagues soon, too.