Did the Twins Miss an Opportunity to Close Out the Jays?
Last night, the Minnesota Twins fell 5-4 at the Rogers Centre to the Toronto Blue Jays. Although the Twins had one of the best bullpens in baseball last year, this season has been a different story. With an often overused, and less than reliable pitcher coming in, Ron Gardenhire and the Twins have seemed uncertain as to what they may get out of the pen.
Going into the bottom of the 9th inning last night, it seems to reason that the Twins could have used a sure thing. After doubles by Kurt Suzuki and Eduardo Escobar, the Minnesota Twins found themselves on the verge of a comeback, knotted up at 4. As the Twins headed into the bottom of the 9th, Ron Gardenhire sent Matt Guerrier back out to the mound.
After pitching around a Jose Bautista leadoff double in the 8th, Guerrier rebounded to get out of the inning. Guerrier has given up 4 runs in just over 12 innings pitched this year and has looked anything but a sure thing. While not a save situation, it was closer Glen Perkins, the owner of a 37/1 K/BB ratio, looking on from the bullpen. Guerrier proceeded to walk the leadoff batter in the 9th, Dioner Navarro, who came around to score the winning run.
The argument has been consistently made that closers are not only destined for the final three outs of a ball game in which you are leading by three or fewer runs. Unfortunately, that notion has failed to stick with many managers across the league. Last night is a perfect situation where the argument can be made that your closer, the guy you want on the mound to shut a team down, would make an appearance in the most highest leverage situation.
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Few teams have adopted the four out save, let alone two innings worth of throwing a closer, but the argument seems to make sense. The Twins had rebounded and tied up the game, had they had the opportunity to gain one more at bat, maybe they could have one. It also stands to reason that a tie game, in which a run loses it for you, is higher leverage than when trying to win up by a run.
Regardless of what the outcome would have been, Glen Perkins and the Twins could have missed out on an opportunity last night, and they now find themselves at a season worst, four games below .500.
The Twins look to get back on track tonight at 6:07pm central against the Blue Jays.