One inning, one unearned run, one loss. Tough break for the reliever, huh?
Hardly. Allow me to summarize Lowe's night tonight:
- Falls behind Mauer 3-0, allows 3-2 deep line drive
- Intentionally walks Morneau
- Falls behind Kubel 2-0, allows 2-1 three-run homer that Gutierrez brings back from over the wall
- Throws a pitchout, allowing Rob Johnson to nab a stranded Mauer off third base on a failed suicide squeeze
- Allows 3-2 slicing line drive to left by Tolbert
- Gets Harris to fly out
Excluding the intentional walk and the pitchout, Lowe threw 17 pitches tonight and located exactly five of them inside the Gameday strike zone. In addition, he allowed a pair of line drives and a should-be home run to straightaway center while missing zero bats and getting an out recorded by his catcher.
There were a lot of people partially at fault for the outcome of the game. Wladimir Balentien misplayed both of the tenth inning line drives. Mike Sweeney flew out with the bases loaded. Adrian Beltre had an ugly strikeout with a man on third. The offense as a whole only managed four hits. But while Lowe shouldn't shoulder all of the blame for this one loss, in the bigger picture tonight served to make apparent something that's sort of been flying under the radar so far, and that's that Lowe isn't pitching anywhere close to his potential. His tRA before the night stood at 5.67, his strike rate is below average, and somehow a guy with a dynamite change, a biting slider, and a fastball that just hit 100 is missing fewer bats than Jeff Weaver. I don't know if it's fair to call Mark Lowe a problem, but right now he's pitching like it. There's just no excuse for a guy with his arsenal to look this ordinary.
On Wlad, by the way - yeah, that was really ugly, but let's not overreact. Adam Jones dropped a bunch of balls when he was still new, too. It's perfectly fair to not want to see Wlad again for a long long time, but don't hold that opinion because he misplayed one liner and had another bounce off his glove; hold that opinion because he blows. I'm glad his discipline has taken a step forward, but he's still below average in walks, strikeouts, and defense, and to date his light tower power has generated all of one home run. He really does need to be somewhere else.