Saturday, June 18, 2011
Great Scott, Twins rolling again
The Minnesota Twins are slowly but surely recovering from a terrible start and they have no one but their starters to thank.
Scott Baker struck out 10 for the third time in his career and the first by a Twins pitcher this season in a 1-0 win over the San Diego Padres on Saturday.
Baker induced a season-best 18 swings and misses and six of his 10 strikeouts came on pitches up in the strike zone. This season, no pitcher has more strikeouts which came on pitches up in the zone than Baker's 44.
It's the fourth time this season in which the Twins have won a game 1-0, the most in MLB. During the Twins six-game win streak, the starting pitcher has picked up the victory each time. All six times, the pitcher threw a quality start (at least six innings allowing three earned runs or fewer).
The Twins began June at 17-36, the worst record in the Majors. Since then, they have posted a 13-3 record, the best record in MLB. This month, the Twins have posted a 1.89 ERA, the lowest in baseball. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Twins franchise had a sub-2.00 ERA for an entire month was in April 1944 when the Washington Senators had a 1.48 ERA in eight games.
Perhaps the Twins are getting a head start on what they traditionally do under manager Ron Gardenhire, play well in the second half. Since Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002, the Twins have a .574 win percentage in games played after the All-Star break. The only American League team with a better record in that span is the New York Yankees at .627.
Speaking of recovering from a tough start, John Danks of the Chicago White Sox is also turning things around this month. He allowed one earned run in seven innings to help defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-2 Saturday.
Danks has made three starts in June and has won them all, posting a sparkling 1.22 ERA in that span. Before June, Danks was 0-8 and was the only pitcher without a victory among hurlers who made at least 10 starts (109 pitchers fit that qualifier).
Elsewhere, Mike Pelfrey pitched the fifth complete game by a New York Mets pitcher in interleague play as he allowed one run in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Pelfrey was the first Mets pitcher to throw an interleague complete game since Steve Trachsel in 2003, also against the Angels.
Pelfrey did well when he stayed out of the middle of the strike zone. On at-bats that ended on pitches inside and outside, Angels hitters were 1-for-19 (.053). When at-bats ended on pitches up and down, the Angels were no better, going 2-for-21 (.095).