Ron Gardenhire faced a tough decision after the seventh inning of today’s game. Starter Kevin Slowey had just finished seven no-hit innings (with a little help from Jason Kubel and Jason Repko). He was at 106 pitches, and his control was starting to waver a bit (he had walked the leadoff batter and hit Mark Ellis in that inning). Oh yeah, and Slowey had just skipped a start because of elbow inflammation. Actually, it doesn’t look like that difficult of a decision after all. In this case, Gardy was perfectly justified in yanking the starter. If Slowey were particularly dominant (he wasn’t, walking three while striking out five), or if he weren’t coming off an elbow problem, he absolutely should have gotten the chance to finish his no-hitter. The Twins are currently locked in a tight pennant race, and Gardy needs to be more concerned with getting the win than any starter’s personal accomplishments. He also needs to think about what is best for the team in the long term, and that certainly doesn’t include risking Tommy John surgery for one of its more promising young starters. Apparently, Slowey thought his manager made the right decision, telling ESPN1500’s Phil Mackey:
“I think more than anything I was encouraged,” Slowey said. “I was encouraged by the way it was presented to me, I was encouraged by the fact that (manager Ron Gardenhire) and (pitching coach Rick Anderson) care a whole lot more about me as a person and as a pitcher in the long-term than they do about winning one game, or having one accomplishment. I think that says a lot about them, and it says a lot about our organization.”
Yes, I would have loved to see Slowey throw a no-hitter. And yes, I was upset when Jon Rauch promptly allowed back-to-back doubles to spoil both the no-no and the shut out. But, as a fan, I want to see my team dominate for a long time, not just one game in August. The Twins will need Slowey to pitch well during the stretch run and into October. They cannot risk losing him to injury just so he can get his name in the history books.