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Saturday, October 9, 2010
Gardenhire powerless against Yankees


There is a parallel dimension -- actually, an infinite number of parallel dimensions -- in which the Minnesota Twins scored four or five runs Saturday night against the New York Yankees. In this dimension, the Twins still lost the game, because the Yankees still scored six runs.

The other big difference between that dimension and ours? In that dimension, wiseacres like me are questioning Ron Gardenhire's choice of Brian Duensing to start a game the Twins absolutely had to win (in this dimension, anyway).

Duensing posted a 2.63 ERA this season. Granted, he started only 13 games this season. But including last season, Duensing has started 22 games in the major leagues, and in those games he's 12-3 with a 2.93 ERA. You can't blame Duensing's manager for being impressed by those numbers. In this or any other dimension.

Still, it's not clear that Duensing is the Twins' third-best starter. His career strikeout-to-walk ratio is solid: 2.27. He's also left-handed, which is little help against the Yankees' right handed (and switch) hitting lineup. Meanwhile, Scott Baker entered 2010 as the Twins No. 1 starter, is a righty, and his 3.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season was the sixth best in the American League.

In a parallel dimension, the Twins picked up a couple of key hits Saturday night. They still lost, though, because Duensing gave up five runs. In that same universe, Baker actually relieved Duensing and fared quite a bit better. And guys like me wondered why Baker didn't just start the game, as his entire career suggested he should have.

In this dimension, though? The Twins could manage just one run against Phil Hughes, Kerry Wood, Boone Logan, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera. In this dimension, Gardenhire was irrelevant.