Tag: Kevin Slowey

Cleveland Indians 2012 Outlook: Nemesis, Tigers Be Thy Name

The first week of September, 2011, Tribe fans packed the Jake for three straight games to watch the Detroit Tigers bring the Cleveland Indians‘ Cinderella regular-season run to a screeching, crashing halt.

The Indians threw Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Fausto Carmona at the Tigers, but to no avail—Detroit swept Cleveland. By the time Detroit swept Cleveland in another three-game series at Comerica Park at the end of the month, all had been decided.

After last season, no Wahoo Warrior will underestimate Detroit in 2012. The Tribe’s main competition in the AL Central Division came within two games of the World Series last season and added the 2012 free-agency class’ most high-profile prize: Prince Fielder.

Additionally, Chicago and Minnesota will certainly enjoy healthier rosters in 2012, as both clubs saw their 2011 seasons marred by injury. 

If the Cleveland Indians participate in the 2012 postseason, they will have undoubtedly bested their rivals from “that state up north.” Can the Indians negate Detroit’s profligate spending through sound management and small ball?

Tigers owner and Little Caesar’s founder Mike Ilitch has made a point of demonstrating his personal and financial commitment to adding a World Series title to his four Stanley Cup rings.

Fielder provided Tigers fans with the red meat—read, instant gratification—they sought after a stinging defeat at the hands of the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. The Prince could deliver Detroiters their first World Series title since 1984.



Back in the “Fortress of Frugality,” formerly known as Jacobs Field, the Dolan family, GM Chris Antonetti, President Mark Shapiro and the gang retaliated with the only weapon on which they can rely in a small market—pitching.

To bolster their pitching arsenal, the Tribe acquired the services of veteran professional Derek Lowe as well as the new Anglophonic ambassador to the Tribe’s Spanish speakers, control-man Kevin Slowey. At first base, the Indians required an everyday player hitting above the Mendoza Line. Enter Casey Kotchman, a tested career .268 hitter.

While Tribe fans may not enjoy the big-splash, SportsCenter-worthy acquisitions of big-market clubs, they can rest assured knowing their organization has resurrected itself several times in the last decade and has learned a thing or two about developing a baseball team from the ground up.

I was in my freshman year of college in 2007, the last time the Tribe played in the postseason. Before the Red Sox broke our hearts in the ALCS, the Indians eliminated the New York Yankees.

Surrounded by Yankees fans, I relished in posting one particular note on my neighbor’s door. It outlined exactly how much the $200 million Yankees organization had shelled out for each hit, each out, each run. Obviously, I taunted him with the fractional price the $61 million the Indians had paid. 

Before long, CC Sabathia was pitching for the Yankees against Cliff Lee and the Phillies in the World Series while the Indians sat at home. As an Indians fan, you really have to pick your windows for talking trash.

Now the Indians face a hegemonic power who threatens not just to pilfer the All-Star lineup we perennially rebuild, but to dominate our division and preclude us from playoff contention for the foreseeable future.

Will the 2012 Indians and their fans rise to meet the challenge? 

You can follow Brian on Twitter @StepanekButton 

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Minnesota Twins’ Kevin Slowey: No-No and the Horse You Rode in On

How can you pull a man from a no-hitter? Ever?

You say you pulled him because his pitch count was too high and you were saving his career?

What about his possible immortality in baseball history?

I am not saying he would have pulled it off, but at least let him pitch until he gives one hit up.

Geez, if I hear another word about pitch counts I am going to puke my guts out. I know I am old school, but my God, who was the man who decided 100 pitches was all a pitcher could take?

In 1963, not when they were throwing balls of sox or pitching from 40 feet, Juan Marichal pitched a 16-inning shutout over the Milwaukee Braves, 1-0. Warren Spahn picked up the loss after going 15 innings of shutout ball.

Marichal faced 59 batters and Spahn looked at 56.

Maybe age or maturity was the factor? I don’t think so. Marichal was 25 and Slowey is 26.

Pitch count? Pitch count, is that what you said? Pitch count? I don’t want to hear pitch count ever again, do you mark me well?

Kevin Slowey was working on a no-no for the Minnesota Twins yesterday while leading the Oakland Athletics 4-0 in the seventh inning. Manager Ron Gardenhire rode out to the mound on his white horse and told the youngster that his day was done. His tryst with immortality a thing of the past.

Unfortunately for Slowey, he had reached the dreadful 100 pitch count—yea surpassed it by six.

If I were the pitcher and had any competitive bone in my body, I would have said “Hell no! You can’t be serious.”

Wonder how many pitches Marichal threw? 200-250? Oh yeah, he came back and pitched seven innings five days later.

Most pitchers don’t ever get past the fourth or fifth inning with a no-hitter intact during their careers.

Truth be told, he would have probably lost his bid the next inning, but we will never know, will we?

“We’re not going to come close to risking this guy,” Gardenhire said. “It’s the way it is. It’s sad. I’d be booing too because I want to see a no-hitter, but I also know I’m responsible for this guy’s arm.”

Letting a shutout go to the wayside is one thing—happens every week. But a no-hitter or perfect game is another animal altogether.

As Lady Fate had her way, the reliever Jon Rauch gave up a double to Cliff Pennington after striking out his first batter.

The Twins went on to win 4-2, so I guess all is well in the Twin Cities.

It was only the fourth time in 20 years that a pitcher had been relieved of his duty while crafting a no-hitter.

In 1990, Mark Langston of the California Angels was the only one of the four whose bullpen did its job and finished what he started.

So you can say what you will—arm injury, Tommy John surgery, torn rotator cuff—hell, say it all. The point is history was flirted with yesterday, and someone will have to dig through the archives to pull out the facts that Slowey was pulled while fate held her breath.

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Ron Gardenhire Pulls Twins’ Kevin Slowey After Seven No-Hit Innings

by shlepcar

I grew up in Minnesota and as a kid attended many Twins games at the old Met in Bloomington from 1977 through 1981.

I remember clearly, and somewhat sadly, being at the game in 1980 in which Twins center fielder Ken Landreaux’s 31-game hitting streak came to an end.

I remember going to the Mall of America for the first time and seeing where home plate for the Met used to be. I’d remember the games and players I liked seeing there—Bombo Rivera, Disco Dan Ford, Rod Carew—and then looking around to see a bunch of crappy mall stores. 

The Metrodome years hold some fond memories for me because the Twins won two World Series, but the place was a drag. It felt like an empty greenhouse. There became a time in 2002, though, where I’d have been content with the Twins playing there forever. That was the year Bud Selig tried, or at least professed to intend, to contract the Twins.

I was so angry at Minnesota for a while, because they were slow to approve any ballpark measures, and worse seemed to have an undying love for the Vikings—the heartbreaking, stupid Vikings! The Twins had won two World Series, and it seemed nobody cared. Of course, that was just passionate anger stemming from fear of losing my team.

The chance of it began to seem real enough that I had to entertain the idea of a life without baseball. I enjoy the Giants because I live in San Francisco and they are a National League team that doesn’t compete with the Twins, but they wouldn’t be enough. It was then that I really developed empathy for Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants fans.

When the Twins clinched the division that year, the team celebrated in the locker room with champagne while Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” played (“Don’t worry about a thing/’cause every little thing’s gonna be all right”). It was cool to see that the players cared so much.

They felt it was a mission to win, figuring that if they did, it would be that much harder for Selig and the owners to get rid of them. That mission is one of the reasons that I will always be a Torii Hunter fan. He gave a crap.

So today, eight years after almost being contracted, I went to see my first Twins game at their new stadium, Target Field. I couldn’t tell you if the food was that great, though they did have walleye and pork chop on a stick. I couldn’t tell you how their new ballpark compares to all of the other modern ones. It isn’t better than the Giants’ park, but I doubt that many are.

It is the Twins, in downtown Minneapolis, outdoors. It’s perfect.

(My uncle from Wisconsin came with me and assured me that Miller Park is better, but he also frothed at the mouth at the mere mention of Brett Favre coming back to the Vikings, so take that with a grain of salt.)

Kevin Slowey wasn’t perfect against the Oakland Athletics today, but he was really good. He threw 106 pitches in seven innings, allowing five baserunners but no hits. Clinging to a 1-0 lead, Slowey got into a little trouble in the seventh, but with two runners on and one out, he got out of it when Rajai Davis hit into double play.

There was a sustained ovation at that point, as if the crowd was finally letting themselves believe that there was now a good chance that they might be witnessing a no-hitter—something that hasn’t happened for the Twins since Eric Milton pitched one against the Angels in September 1999.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Twins opened up their lead to 4-0 after Jim Thome hit his 16th home run of the season, and 580th of his career, with two on. It was a line shot to right, and it just so happened that a guy in a Thome shirt caught the ball.

With the lead expanded, the buzz definitely built in anticipation of Slowey returning to the mound, but instead, Jon Rauch headed out there to pitch the eighth. The whole stadium was pretty confused. People were angry, and there were a lot of boos. You could see everyone looking on their iPhones and Blackberries for instant answers and finding none.

Only after Rauch had allowed the no-hitter and shutout to lapse did word spread that Slowey was removed just as a precautionary measure. He’d missed his last start with tendinitis, and Ron Gardenhire wanted to keep him on a short leash.


Okay, I suppose it makes sense. But I gotta admit being angry about it. I just feel like year after the year the Twins find success and then tighten up. I think not letting Slowey out there can also be seen as being symptomatic of a fear-based way of managing.

I know Gardenhire says it is the smart thing—and yes, I suppose it is—but it doesn’t make the thought it conjures invalid. The Twins have faced the Yankees in the playoffs multiple times in the past seven years and lost each time, and it seems that with each meeting, the Twins seems more and more intimidated.

That’s just mainly frustration talking. I know there is a wisdom to pitch counts and protecting pitchers, especially when the guy is already dealing with tendinitis. On the other hand, there does seem to be some undercurrent of wussiness at work when managers feel comfortable pushing pitch counts as the excuse.

There is a gap between the manager and fans that doesn’t seem to be going away, no matter how logical. Something stinks about it, and I think it is that it says to the fans that the manager, and in some cases the player, doesn’t care about winning as much as the fans do.

A no-hitter in August is of course nowhere near as important as a World Series Game Seven, but you gotta wonder if Jack Morris would ever get to pitch that 10th inning today (he ended up throwing 126 pitches).

In looking up the Morris pitch count, I found a 2009 baseball preview from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which interestingly enough focuses on the differing schools of thought on pitch counts, with Slowey being the center of the article and Bert Blyleven, who defended the decision today, making a case against the pitch count police 16-and-a-half months ago.

I do wish, though, that Gardenhire would have let him go out there. Saying that there is “no chance” Slowey would’ve finished is no reason, especially when it is Gardenhire himself who makes the decision.

Gardenhire said after the game that he thinks the fans had the right to boo. If that’s the case, then he should have let Slowey out there and then gone to remove him so that Slowey could tip his cap and Gardenhire could hear the boos, not poor Jon Rauch.

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Minnesota Twins: Why Ron Gardenhire Made The Right Move

Many Twins fans are probably upset by the move Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made by pulling Kevin Slowey, but they shouldn’t be.

Here’s why: Kevin Slowey had a no-hitter through seven innings, but Gardenhire decided that was enough and pulled him. Right move? Absolutely. To all the fans feeling that Gardenhire should’ve let him go back and try for his no-hitter must know the situation that was at hand on Sunday.

How many no-hitters get broken up after the seventh? A lot. It’s a proven fact. The odds of Slowey actually throwing a no-no are against him. On top of that, Slowey had thrown 106 pitches and was coming off 10 days of rest. Gardenhire was trying to save his pitcher rather than hurt him. If the Twins weren’t atop the AL Central then I might reconsider, but the fact is that the Twins need Slowey to be at his best down the stretch for their playoff run and Gardenhire thought that was more important than a record. Well played, sir!

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Denard Span’s Trio of Triples Leads Way To Convincing Twins’ Win

Earlier today, I mentioned the Twins’ struggles in both the run scoring and run prevention departments. If this June slump continues for the rest of the season, Minnesota may struggle to eclipse the 75-win plateau. In order to get back on track, something needs to start working.

Going four-for-four with three triples last night against Detroit, Denard Span apparently got the memo.

Becoming just the third player in the past 30 years to hit three triples in a game, Span may have kicked off the long-awaited improvement that we’ve been banking on for weeks.

Before last night’s game, Span was hitting .275/.347/.367. The walk rate and on-base percentage are fine, but Span hasn’t been hitting the ball consistently or with nearly as much power as most would like.

Although Span’s ten total bases stole the national spotlight, starting pitcher Nick Blackburn’s strong outing deserves to be mentioned as well.

Typically an atrocious pitcher in the month of June, Blackburn has held true to form so far this season. Before last night’s start, Blackburn had an ERA over 12 in his June starts. After throwing seven strong innings while giving up four runs, that June ERA plummeted.

I’m still not convinced that Blackburn is capable of throwing league-average innings, but a few more starts like this would greatly ease my mind. Even with significant improvement, though, Blackburn is still the rotation’s worst starter and would be the odd man out if the Twins were to pursue a starting pitcher before the trade deadline.

Today’s rubber match against the Tigers will have a large influence on the Twins’ mood and momentum heading into the month of July. A series victory over the Tigers will give Minnesota some breathing room (albeit little) atop the AL Central, while a loss would do nothing to help remove this atmosphere of losing from the Twins’ dugout.

With Kevin Slowey (7-5, 4.79) on the mound while the Twins trot out a day-game lineup, though, I’m anything but confident.


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