Games » Minnesota TwinsSep28
Last night, Sean O’Sullivan got away with juggling live wolverines, running chainsaws and rusty razor blades. He dealt with more jams than the Smuckers marketing department. He pitched six innings and had the leadoff man on five times, but the only damage was a leadoff walk that scored in the fifth inning.
In his last two starts, O’Sullivan is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA but had the leadoff man on 10 times. Sean continues to battle no matter the situation, but you gotta think those battles would be a lot easier if he weren’t walking leadoff batters when he has a big lead.
Defense and its unseen cost…
O’Sullivan’s battles would also be easier with better defense. Josh Fields made an error in the first that probably cost Sean nine extra pitches. (You’ve got to say “probably” because you can’t say with certainty that if the play had been made, everything that followed would’ve remained the same.)
Anyway, Josh’s error on the game’s leadoff batter, Denard Span, meant Sean had to face the Twins’ 4-hole hitter, Jason Kubel. Jason saw those nine pitches before grounding out.
In the fourth inning, Yuniesky Betancourt missed a chance at a double play when he rushed the throw and missed O’Sullivan covering first base…and missing O’Sullivan’s not that easy. He’s constructed along the same lines as a deluxe Frigidaire. That play cost Sean another six pitches.
I’m no rocket scientist, but I’m almost positive 9+6=15, and 15 is the average number of pitches per inning. So those two plays cost O’Sullivan one inning of pitching. That puts the bullpen in play sooner and can cost you a ballgame. Fortunately, Blake Wood and Greg Holland were lights-out and the offense scored a week’s worth of runs.
The butterfly effect…
You know that theory, right? A butterfly flaps its wings in Jakarta and a Royals pitcher gives up a bomb to Jim Thome? (OK, maybe I don’t have that just right, but they made a movie starring Ashton Kutcher about it, so you KNOW it’s good science.)
Basically, one thing affects another. An error in the first gets the bullpen up sooner in the seventh and costs you a win in the ninth. (It’s why you keep a scorebook, so you remember all this stuff.)
Well, the butterfly effect was on full display with Jarrod Dyson. He led off the game with a walk, got Mike Aviles two fastballs because they were afraid Dyson was going to steal, Aviles singled, Billy Butler struck out, Dyson and Aviles stole second and third and then, with a runner on third, Twins pitcher Nick Blackburn didn’t want to bury a pitch. Kila Ka’aihue got a change-up high in the zone and launched it for a three-run homer.
One thing affects another.
Another example: Second inning, one down, Betancourt on third and Lucas May on first. Dyson hit a grounder to second baseman Matt Tolbert (double-play ball, right?), but May did his job and got into shortstop Nick Punto, who was already in a rush because of Dyson’s speed.
May broke up the double play, which kept the inning alive, Betancourt scored, Dyson stole second, Blackburn was freaked that he was going to steal third, tried to pick him off, threw the ball into center field, which put Dyson on third and meant Blackburn once again didn’t want to bury a pitch. That meant Aviles got a fastball up, doubling and scoring Dyson.
If you’re still awake after all that, I hope I’ve made my point:…wait a minute…I think I’ve forgotten it…oh, yeah…one thing affects another…and that means you can’t look at one statistic and say for certain what it means.
Aviles and Ka‘aihue got clutch, extra-base hits, but they got them because Dyson is fast. Betancourt and Dyson scored runs, but they did so because May broke up a double play.
The butterfly effect: A cartoonist watches baseball and a day later, several people are bored.