Every Thursday, the Getting Blanked crew makes a prop bet of sorts with one another having something to do with baseball games over the weekend. Of the three competitors, whoever wins the prop bet is able to dole out a punishment on the colleague of their choice. This week’s punishment was watching and recapping Tuesday night’s Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox game. We call this #PropHate.
The Flowery Languaged Narrative
As the Chicago White Sox dig their malnourished and calcium depleted claws into the American League Central standings with the hope of remaining relevant enough to play meaningful games three months from now, the Minnesota Twins’ expectations for this season have already been snuffed like a candle put out by its own melted wax.
Could this rag tag roster, constructed for its grit and determination, find redemption for their lost season with a single heroic effort against the White Sox and starting pitcher Gavin Floyd?
A.J. Pierzynski knew first.
During his many years in Major League Baseball, the veteran catcher assigned to be battery mates with Floyd last night has developed a sixth sense for these things, and he would’ve known before the first pitch of the game that something wasn’t working for the right handed starter. He could’ve told you before it happened, maybe not in specifics, but he knew that his pitcher was going to get hit hard last night. It was his duty to guide him through what was bound to be a rough outing and protect him from the oncoming storm.
Sometimes the winds are just too strong, and last night they blew open the game on Floyd and Pierzynski.
The Twins took advantage of the faltering pitcher early, sending the entire lineup to the plate in the second inning. Alexi Casilla put his team on the board with a two run double. Jamey Carroll and Denard Span followed with run-scoring singles to give Minnesota a 4-1 lead over Chicago.
After a respite in the third inning, the Twins delivered the White Sox a death certificate with five more runs in the fourth inning, all scored with two out. After intentionally walking Joe Mauer, Floyd watched as Josh Willingham willed a ground ball past shortstop Alexei Ramirez to drive in two runs. The very next pitch that the Chicago starter threw, which would be his last of the evening, was met by Justin Morneau’s bat just over the plate. It wasn’t spotted again until it landed over the right field fence.
Minnesota starter P.J. Walters effectively shut down the White Sox from there, finishing what he started with a line that included only five hits, two walks and a career high eight strike outs.
The Win Expectancy Graph
This is what a monstrously lopsided and incredibly dull game that mercifully didn’t drag on too long looks like:
The first two runs of the game for Minnesota, scored on the Casilla double, were the only ones that the Twins truly needed. The rest was gravy … really, really boring gravy.
What The Pitcher Threw
For all the good found in Walters’ pitching line last night, I’d be slow to call it a dominant performance. His four seam fastball and sinker averaged less than 89 miles per hour, and despite accounting for 60% of his repertoire, the two pitches only induced a single swinging strike. What Walters did use well was his off speed pitches, throwing a slider against righties and a change up against lefties.
However, I wonder to what degree the effectiveness of these pitches was helped out by the score line though, as after the fourth inning, the members of the White Sox lineup not named Adam Dunn seemed to swing at just about everything, as evidenced by Walters averaging less than ten pitches per inning before the ninth.
The Interesting Thing You Probably Didn’t Know
Walters has faced Carlos Lee of the Houston Astros on two separate occasions. Both engagements resulted in grand slams.
The Shamsky Award
Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.
Gordon Beckham, buoyed mainly by his first inning home run, increased his team’s win probability by 10%. He was one of only three batters to have a positive WPA.
What My Dogs Thought Of The Game
They were asleep from the first to third inning, woke up in the fourth to drink some water, went back to sleep and didn’t wake again until the top of the ninth. They were as relieved as me when the game finally ended, as it meant that I would take them outside.
The Aggravating Thing That The Broadcasters Did
This week’s #PropHate punishment was to not only watch this game, but do so on WGN where broadcaster Hawk Harrelson would be holding court. I use the term court because it makes me think of a jester, which in turn makes me think of a clown, which is probably best describes what Harrelson is.
For those unfamiliar, the Chicago White Sox broadcast team of Harrelson and Steve Stone have a reputation for unabashed homerism. While this seems to be the foundation for the brunt of complaints against them, and the cause of their last place ranking in the FanGraphs broadcaster rankings (TV) poll, the shtick doesn’t bother me all that much.
It’s more blatant than most regional commentators, as Harrelson will, without shame, drop “us” and “we” and “good guys” while referring to the White Sox, but it also seems more honest. For the most part, broadcasters attempt to maintain an air of unbiased commentary when the very fact that they cover all the games of one team makes such a delusion impossible.
Having said that, I don’t care much for Harrelson.
His shtick is one thing, but it too often enters into the realm of gimmick, most especially including his use of the phrase “he gone” to describe ever single instance of a Chicago pitcher striking out a member of the opposition. It’s reminiscent of that time you laughed at something a four year old said. The kid picked up on the fact that you found it amusing, and then didn’t stop saying it ever again for the rest of his life.
The Aggravating Thing That The Manager Did
Earlier, I mentioned that walking Mauer led to five runs being scored in the fourth inning. In my mind, minimizing runs allowed is far more important than risking a specific number of runs scoring at such an early juncture in the game. I don’t really get it.
I forgot how big Joe Mauer is. Watching him crouch behind the plate when Eduardo Escobar was at the plate was especially hilarious because from his knees the 6’5″ catcher was just as tall as the exaggerated on paper 5’10″ infielder standing up in the batter’s box.
Orlando Hudson appeared for the first time as a member of the Chicago White Sox last night. He smiled almost the entire time, and after his ninth inning single, any time the camera was on him, he was talking … probably in the direction of Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, but more likely just talking to no one in particular.
I can sort of understand why the Twins probably thought that they’d be better than they are this season. With Mauer behind the plate and Morneau playing first full time, the addition of Willingham would give the team one of the better middle of the orders in baseball. Unfortunately, Mauer has only played 20 games at catcher, Morneau has spent time on the Disabled List and Willingham’s excellent play makes us wonder if he’ll merely be used as a trade chip.
Relying on P.J. Walters as one of your team’s starting pitchers is likely a sign that an element of your planning for the year went horribly awry.
Despite tonight’s offensive outburst and good pitching results, I’d be fine not having to watch another Minnesota Twins game for the rest of the season.