August 12, 2013
...wait a minute. Who is Andrew Albers? Baseball-Reference says that Albers grew up in Sasketchewan, attended college at the University of Kentucky, and was drafted in the 10th round of the 2008 draft. After just 5 games in the San Diego system, he was released. He played baseball in 2010 with Les Capitales de Quebec of the Canadian-American Association, an Independent League. He caught the eye of the Twins, and since 2011 has been inching up the farm system. Not exactly a traditional pedigree, and when you look at his stuff, you can understand that. His fastball tops out in the high-80s, and his breaking stuff isn't exactly plus. In 5 seasons in the minors, he's struck out 7.7 per 9 inning, which is pretty low considering that he has been old at just about every level.
So a 27-year-old rookie with marginal stuff should be a recipe for a Cleveland blowout victory. Nope. Albers threw 8.1 shutout innings against the Royals in his MLB, and tonight he topped his debut despite only striking out two batters. The Indians were off balance all game, and when they did hit the ball hard, it was either right at a Minnesota fielder or the fielder made an outstanding play. This game was "pitch to contact" taken to extremes, and it somehow worked.
So the winning run was scored two pitches into the bottom of the first. Danny Salazar threw a low-90s fastball up in the zone to Brian Dozier, and the Minnesota second baseman pounded the ball out of the park. Salazar would allow another home run in the second when Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run bomb. That was it for the scoring. Because Salazar had gone over 100 pitches his last time out, he was on an strict pitch count. After a particularly difficult fourth inning, Terry Francona pulled him. The Tribe bullpen held the Twins in check over the final five innings, but thanks to Albers and the Minnesota defense, there was no chance of a comeback today.
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