Pitching staff in shambles

I write this as the Twins are tied at one after three in the wrap-up of their revealing three-game set with the Pale Hose. For something like the eighth (ninth? tenth?) game in a row, the Twins staff is on pace to give up at least ten hits. For a squad that will live or die on the quality of its pitching, that's very troubling indeed.

Will things improve? Not if Ron Gardenhire keeps letting Johan Santana throw 120 pitches as he did Friday night. Yeah, I know Santana's work in the WBC put him ahead of schedule, but that many tosses outside in mid-April is foolhardy. The homer radio crew pooh-poohed it (over on the TV side, at least Blyleven has contrary personal experience motivating him to sneer at pitch counts), saying that Santana was flowing and that it was an "easy" 120 pitches. Right.

The next night Gardy lifts Liriano after only one inning and 14 pitches. Huh? How is the kid going to slowly build up arm strength for his inevitable ascension into the starting rotation if you give him just an inning every three or four days? Would it really have hurt for him to go out for the 8th inning with the team trailing 7-2? Getting to lock up with Thome and Konerko would have been marvelous training for the kid. Instead we got to watch Jesse Crain face Thome, with utterly predictible (boom!) results.

It is beginning to look like it might be a moot point about the Twins staying with the White Sox and Indians (and, uh, the Tigers), but if the club does rally and makes it a pennant race, the tardiness with which they have gotten Liriano ready to step in for Lohse should not be forgotten.

In fact, among the entire staff, only Santana and Liriano inspire confidence at the moment. I had to laugh at Gardy's comment in the paper today about how the Sox are getting bleeders and the Twinks are hitting shots right at people. There have been at least four occasions in the first two games where the Sox have drilled shots with men on base that Twins outfielders have caught at the warning track (or in one case prevented from going out with a leap). And don't take solace in Carlos Silva's yielding of one run through three thus far: along with the five hits the White Sox have amassed, six of their first nine outs have been fly balls. Anyone who knows Silva's m.o. knows that's when he gets the ball up that consistently, bad things are on the way.

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