Samuel Deduno pitched incredibly well last night. He dealt seven spectacular innings against the Mariners en route to a 10-0 Twins victory. It was exactly the kind of starting pitching effort that the Twins have cried out for all year long. Unlike a typical Twins’ start, Deduno’s did not result in a large number of runs being scored or an even higher number of hits. In fact, Deduno allowed a grand total of zero runs, and only two Mariners recorded hits. He also struck out nine batters and, even more surprisingly, walked none. We’ve seen flashes of brilliant “stuff” from Deduno before, but this is the first time that his fluttery fastball and evil curveball have actually produced swings and misses on a regular basis.
With his sixth quality start out of 10, Deduno has officially proven that he deserves at least a shot to compete for a rotation spot next year. That said, we shouldn’t get too excited; he was, after all, facing the Mariners. Yes, the M’s have been playing well lately, but they are still a truly terrible hitting club. It’ll be interesting to see if Deduno can follow this start up with another good one.
In other news, Twins owner Jim Pohlad gave an interview to ESPN 1500 last week, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s worth doing so. Pohlad addressed quite a few big picture issues, including how he plans to keep the Twins out of a permanent spiral of losing and his desire to keep Terry Ryan around. But the most interesting tidbit as far as I’m concerned is his comment about manager Ron Gardenhire’s future. When asked if Gardenhire’s job is in jeopardy:
“Pohlad said he “can’t foresee” a managerial change at this particular moment, but he also acknowledged he couldn’t foresee Smith losing his job at this time last year.”
If you take him at his word, it sounds positive for Gardenhire, but I think it’s actually a pretty tepid defense of the Twins’ manager. For one thing, general managers and owners almost never say right out that they plan to fire their manager during the season (for good reason; it would create an awful distraction, and the manager would have very little incentive to want to manage the rest of the season). For another thing, his phrasing was quite vague, and comparing Gardenhire’s situation to Smith’s is ominous at best. As I noted last week, I think a managerial change would be good for this club. Replacing Gardenhire probably would not have the slightest effect on the team’s win-loss record, but it would signal a desire for change, and it could give fans a much needed incentive to buy tickets.
On the lighter side, I invite you to take a look at Nick Blackburn‘s Wikipedia page. Most of it is standard Wikipedia stuff, and pretty accurate. You get a quick description of his early life and college pitching, and a season-by-season summary of Blackburn’s career with the Twins. And then there’s the last section of the page, which talks about Blackburn’s pitching style. That’s where I found this gem that nearly made me spit out my coffee:
“When pitching at his best, he can locate all five of his pitches for strikes, which can make him nearly unhittable”
Nearly unhittable? You really have to wonder if the person who wrote that has ever seen Blackburn pitch. Either that, or none of us have seen Blackburn’s best before, which makes me a little sad. I’m sorry we missed out on the unhittable Blackburn all these years. As it is, Blackburn’s best year in MLB was 2009, when he posted a respectable 4.03 ERA and won 11 games. He was a perfectly serviceable starter, but still completely hittable, allowing an AL-high 240 hits. Blackburn at his best got a ton of groundball outs and a few timely double plays, but even then his style led to a fair number of hits.
If any of you reading this have some extra time on your hands, you should try to see what other completely made-up Twins-related information you can get past the Wikipedia folks. Perhaps someone can add a blurb about Drew Butera‘s quest for the AL Batting Title or former Twin Delmon Young‘s charity work to support religious tolerance.