Slowey tosses shutout in Twins victory
Right-hander blanks Brewers for fifth victory of season
MINNEAPOLIS -- Even after throwing a complete-game shutout on Sunday to spearhead the Twins' 5-0 win over the Brewers, Kevin Slowey said he still has a lot to learn.
And by looking at his starts this season, it's clear that he's been learning quickly.
He started the season 0-4 with a 5.49 ERA and didn't last six innings in any of those outings. But in the following four starts, he went 2-2 with a 4.88 ERA, tossing one complete game and stringing together a streak of 14 scoreless innings.
But it's in his most recent four starts where he's really put all of that knowledge to work. He's gone 3-0 and given up just three earned runs over 29 innings.
"Before the game, we talked about my misses being down and out in the strike zone. If you're going to miss with a pitch, make sure it's not a hittable miss," Slowey said. "That's what you try to do all the time and sometimes it works better than other times. That's one of the big things we concentrated on today and I think that helped us out."
Slowey may have learned the most by spending more time in Triple-A Rochester last season. He had 13 appearances for the Twins, but spent much of the season in Rochester. He was named International League Pitcher of the Year and was the Twins' 2007 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
"He understands. I think we saw him get knocked around a little bit and then he went down and understood a little bit more about what it took to be up here," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Slowey's tenure with the team last season. "You can't just pump fastballs. You have to use a mix of pitches and you have to change speeds. I think since he's come back, he's [been] very intelligent. He watches other pitchers and he learns. You expect him to get better as we go along up here."
It was Slowey's second complete game of the season, and the third by Minnesota pitcher all year. The last time the Twins had a complete-game shutout was August 31, 2007, when Scott Baker nearly no-hit the Royals.
"The key to all these young starters really is to go out and have some success, and then you see the confidence coming. Once that comes they get settled in and pitch like what got them here," pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "Probably the biggest thing is, we always say to do what got you here and sometimes they try to do too much."
Slowey clearly has gained that confidence. He cruised through the beginning of the game, retiring the first 10 Milwaukee batters before allowing a double to J.J. Hardy in the fourth inning. Slowey struck out a season-high eight batters and extended his scoreless inning streak to 16.
"It was excellent. This is what you want to do," Slowey said. "When you're growing up as a little kid, wanting to be a pitcher, you want to strike everyone out and win the World Series and throw a shutout. I got to cross that one off."
Catcher Joe Mauer said Slowey relied more on his fastball than usual, but it was his command and execution, rather than power that made him so dominant.
"Coming up, he was known for his great command and I think he's shown that the last couple of times," Mauer said. "He seems like he just keeps getting better and better."
Slowey has looked to starter Livan Hernandez for guidance throughout the season, taking advantage of the 12-year veteran's bank of knowledge.
"He's like the dad of the rotation, and rightfully so. He's been around for a long time and he's been great for a long time," Slowey said of Hernandez. "The biggest thing I think that we see as pitchers is you get guys out by leaving it down in the zone. It doesn't matter if it's 82 or 79 or 97 [mph] -- down in the zone is down in the zone.
"Watching a game and being able to chart a game and talk to him about it afterward, he will tell you to keep the ball down, that's the most important thing. To see a guy consistently go out there, not blow anyone away and still get outs all the time, you ask him how he does it and then you try to work that into what you're going to do the next day or two days after that."
The Twins' offense was able to plate five runs a day after they broke their 10-game winning streak, only scoring one run in a loss to the Brewers.
Jason Kubel continued his hot streak at the plate, driving in the Twins' first run of the game in the fourth inning. Carlos Gomez hit an impressive RBI triple into the left-field corner in the fifth, Delmon Young launched his second home run of the year in the sixth inning and Alexi Casilla doubled in the seventh to score the club's final run. Minnesota scored all of its runs with two outs.
Leslie Parker is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.