Stats & Info: Steve Trachsel

The Minnesota Twins are slowly but surely recovering from a terrible start and they have no one but their starters to thank.

Scott Baker
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).
Justin Verlander
For the second time this week it appeared we would have a pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a regular season for the first time since 1973 when Nolan Ryan did so. But like Francisco Liriano on Sunday, Justin Verlander's bid at a second no-hitter ended in the eighth inning.

However Verlander finished the game notching a two-hit shutout, his third complete game of the season. More importantly he put the Detroit Tigers back in sole possession of first place in the AL Central for the first time since July 10 of last season.

While he did not complete the second no-hitter, by some measures Verlander did complete a better performance.

Game Score, a metric developed by Bill James, measures a pitcher's single-game performance based on innings pitched, runs, hits, strikeouts and walks.The average score is around 50 and most games are between 0-100.

According to this metric, Verlander scored a 94 with his performance on Tuesday. In his no-hitter earlier this season his Game Score was a 90. In fact, the 94 was the highest recorded Game Score this season.

Verlander struck out 12 batters, his 14th game with double-digit strikeouts in the last three seasons. That is tied with Jon Lester for most in the American League during that span and trails only Tim Lincecum (18) for most in all of baseball.
The Cleveland Indians missed at 24 of his pitches, the second straight start Verlander has generated that many swings-and-misses. Only two other pitchers have gotten 24 or more misses in a start this season.

With this performance Verlander passed Roy Halladay for the lead in overall swing-and-misses in 2011. Those two are at 205 and 201, respectively, more than 20 ahead of anyone else.

Not to be outdone, James Shields threw his major-league leading third shutout of the season as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox to snap their nine-game win streak.

James Shields
According to Elias, Shields is the first pitcher to throw a shutout to end a win streak of at least nine games by the opposing team since Rodrigo Lopez shut out the Oakland Athletics to end their 10-game win streak on September 3, 2003.

The last pitcher to shut out the Red Sox to end a win streak of at least nine games was Jim Abbott on August 30, 1989.

This marked Shield's second career shutout against the Red Sox. He accounts for half of the franchises career shutouts pitched against Boston. Scott Kazmir in 2006 and Steve Trachsel in 2000 each had one.

Shields' changeup continues to be his out pitch. Red Sox hitters were 0-10 with four strikeouts in at-bats ending with it. He now has 53 strikeouts with his changeup this season, seven more than any other pitcher in baseball.