The past couple of years have been a struggle for P.J. Walters. He spent most of that time in the minors with brief stints in the Majors with the St. Louis Cardinals and then with the Toronto Blue Jays. Over that span he started all of 4 games posting an ERA of around 8.00.
In 2012 he got another shot, this time with the Minnesota Twins and their questionable pitching staff. Walters went 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 6 starts at AAA Rochester and when the Twins moved Liriano to the bullpen and sent Valencia down to the minors, it was Walters’ time once again for the call – up.
This time he’s making a statement that he’s here to stay. His first start went well going 6 inn, giving up 2 ER and picking up 5 k’s. He got the loss in that game as the Twins couldn’t get any offense going against Toronto that night. His next start he picked up his first win of the season, where he went 6.1 inn, gave up 3 ER on 4 hits.
That brings us to last night’s game in Chicago where P. J. took the hill against the White Sox. Ron Gardenhire was just hoping he’d be able to go deep enough into the game to give the overused bullpen some rest. Little did he know that Walters would end up being the first Twins’ starter this year to record an out in the 8th inning and shortly after, become the first to complete a game.
”My bullpen was smiling when they came in shaking hands. We haven’t seen that very much around here,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ”(Walters) ate up a whole ballgame’s worth of innings, which really helps your bullpen out. We’ve really been beat up out there.”
It was a very cool scene to see the starting pitcher shake hands with his catcher and teammates after the game. It’s something that is definitely rare in this day and age of pitch counts, big money contracts and Tommy John surgery. Now days, a pitcher has to be almost perfect to go the whole game.
Walters was almost just that. He threw 110 pitches in 9 innings, allowing just 2 ER and striking out 8 en-route to his 2nd win of the season.
It also helped that the bats came alive with Justin Morneau hitting a 3 run bomb and Willingham and Casilla each picking up 2 RBI’s. That kind of run support can be very encouraging for a pitcher and Walters took advantage of that by doing his job keeping the lead.
In a season where there hasn’t been much for Twins fans to be excited about, P. J. Walters gave them something to cheer for, and perhaps, a little hope that there’s a chance for the Twins to turn things around this year.
About the Author
Written by Mike Schlottman
Mike is graduate of St. Olaf College and has been blogging about the Minnesota Twins since 2012.