It looked like the Twins finally had one in the bag when Scott Baker turned a 5-0 lead against the Angels over the bullpen after seven excellent innings. It should have been the elusive third victory for Baker, who had seen the Twins score more than three runs in just three of his nine starts.
Alas, the eighth proved terribly unkind to the club once again.
Alex Burnett, Dusty Hughes and Jim Hoey combined to give up five runs in the frame, and Hoey went on to take the loss in the ninth as the Angels stormed back to win 6-5. The Twins, already with baseball’s worst record, fell to 16-33.
Incredibly, the Twins have given up 49 runs in the eighth inning of their 49 games. We’re no experts, but that’s almost like a run per game or something.
It seems likely that more changes are in store for the Twins bullpen after this one. The three pitchers who combined to blow the lead — Burnett, Hughes and Hoey — have ERAs of 7.11, 9.95 and 10.61, respectively. It’d be no surprise at all to Burnett and Hughes go down Saturday, with Chuck James and perhaps former first-round pick Carlos Gutierrez coming up to replace them. Anthony Slama is another in line for a chance.
The Twins have more problems than the pen, and the shuffling of the chairs there probably won’t do a lot of good. But they have to do something and since a long-term benching of Delmon Young probably isn’t in the cards, they’re low on alternatives.
Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman might be headed to the disabled list soon, manager John Gibbons told reporters following Friday’s rain-shortened loss to the Yankees. The righty lasted just four innings on the mound before calling it a night, and gave up five runs, six hits and two walks in a performance that Gibbons claimed was at least partially affected by recurring blister issues on his right middle finger. Now, it looks like he might be removed from the rotation for some much-needed rest and rehabilitation; if so, it’ll be his second such stint this year.
Stroman, 27, has struggled to return the kind of winning record and sub-4.00 ERA that characterized his previous seasons with the club, mostly due to the combined seven weeks he missed with blisters on his throwing hand and chronic fatigue in his right shoulder. In a recent start against the Rays, things got even more gruesome when his blister appeared to start bleeding in the middle of his outing and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm notes that the wound has constantly interfered with the right-hander’s pitch selection and delivery. When healthy, Stroman has managed a 4-8 record through 18 starts in 2018 with a career-worst 5.27 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 6.8 SO/9 in 100 2/3 innings. This will be the first year since 2015 in which he has not logged at least 200 innings in a single season.
While Stroman may not need an extended stay on the DL before he returns to the mound, it’s not clear what kind of timetable the Blue Jays expect for his recovery. He’s been the second-most valuable starter (behind the now-traded J.A. Happ) in a rotation that currently ranks 17th in the majors with a combined 4.90 ERA and 6.8 fWAR.