By Joe Christensen
CLEVELAND — Kevin Slowey really only had one at-bat where he was on the defensive Saturday night. Only once did he go to a 2-0 count, and that was against Shin-Soo Choo in the fourth inning.
Choo, who has become a quietly dangerous force for Cleveland, took a good rip at the 2-0 pitch, fouling it off, and then Slowey threw another ball, making it 3-1. Travis Hafner was on second base after hitting a double, and Slowey was pitching with a three-run lead.
So in this most dire count of the evening, with Choo ready to pounce, what did Slowey throw? A change-up. Choo took another good swing, but his timing was off just enough, as he flied out to deep right field.
I asked Slowey how common it is for him to throw 3-1 change-ups. He said it was the right pitch for “a power-hitting lefty who swings very well. It’s something I need to continue to work on, to throw a pitch like that in a count like that.”
Slowey doesn’t get much practice. This year, in 113 opposing plate appearances, Slowey has reached a 2-0 count just six times (5 percent). For comparison, Francisco Liriano has reached a 2-0 count 14 times in 96 opposing plate appearances (15 percent).
That’s one reason Slowey is 3-0 with a 4.44 ERA, while Liriano is 0-4 with a 7.06 ERA.
Note: Check back for Sunday’s lineups later in the morning.
Update: The lineups have been posted. We’ll use this as the game thread, and I’ll post updates as they come.
Update: Joe Mauer had a thought Saturday night, “Maybe, they were right,” Manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Mauer felt some expected soreness in his legs, catching back-to-back games for the first time since last September. “Catcher’s butt,” Gardenhire called it.
So it sounds like Mauer will go back to the original plan and return to the Twins for Friday’s game against Kansas City. He’ll catch Monday and Tuesday for Class A Fort Myers, and be the DH on Wednesday. Thursday is a day off for the Twins and Fort Myers, giving Mauer a day of rest.
Gardenhire also has said Mauer won’t be catching five games a week when he returns. He’ll probably catch two games and then sit, and those won’t be DH games, they’ll be full days off. The Twins have Jason Kubel and four other outfielders who need at-bats in the DH spot.
(*) Carlos Gomez is leading off today. With Span getting a breather, there won’t too many options. Nick Punto has led off once this year, but he is 0-for-12 against lefties.
Gomez has been sulking this week. He threw his batting gloves into the stands after striking out in his one at-bat Saturday night. Gardenhire had a little chat with him this morning. I’ll have more on this in my notebook.
Gorgeous weather again today. April in Cleveland. Who knew?
(*) By the way, check out this wild game Class AAA Rochester played Saturday, a 17-14, 13-inning loss to red-hot Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees). Each team scored one run in the 10th, 11th and 12th.
That’s eight straight losses for Rochester. Scranton is 14-1. Rochester hit six home runs, but shortstop Trevor Plouffe made a costly error with two outs in the ninth.
In the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, longtime Red Wings beat writer Jim Madelaro called it “one of the strangest, wildest, most entertaining games in Frontier Field history.”
Rochester’s bullpen is spent. Sounds like Brian Duensing and Philip Humber will both pitch today, trying to give the relievers a rest.
1. Carlos Gomez, CF
2. Brendan Harris, 2B
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Jason Kubel, DH
5. Joe Crede, 3B
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
7. Delmon Young, LF
8. Jose Morales, C
9. Nick Punto, SS
Starting pitcher: LH Glen Perkins
1. Grady Sizemore, CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Shin-Soo Choo, DH
5. Ryan Garko, 1B
6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
7. Mark DeRosa, RF
8. Tony Graffanino, 3B
9. Trevor Crowe, LF
Starting pitcher: LH Aaron Laffey
Progressive Field. First pitch: 12:05 p.m.