This was how it was always supposed to end.
That Philip Humber would get his, after months of skirting the law of BABIP (as in, on average, 30% of balls in play fall for hits, with little evidence that individual pitchers can influence this rate), and pilfering once scoring-rich settlements of Boston, New York, Arizona and Toronto with his low-strikeout, not-especially-great groundball ways, and plundering hapless towns such as Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles, seemingly for fun. He would have to answer for his crimes, and surely the 'Wanted' posters across the leagues that showed his glowering expression surely had his .222 BABIP entering Thursday night listed next to it, so that all on-lookers could see just how far he had stepped out of line.
103.2 IP spent on the run from the forces of regression...with the below-average White Sox defense by his side to boot.
So of course it would be the Twins, the team that won divisions with bloops from Corey Koskie, fliners from Doug Mientkiewicz, and whatever the hell it's called when Lew Ford's bat makes contact with baseballs. Surely, Humber would face justice for daring to join the selected ranks of guys who "just seem to get weak contact or something" from these famed avengers of annoying seeing-eye grounders. If they did not, Humber might spend the next week bar-hopping at the All-Star Game in Phoenix with Jair Jurrjens; ordering up shots with their bonus checks and laughing to each other about the con they couldn't believe they had the stones to attempt to pull, let alone that it was really working.
Crime just doesn't pay unless you put more thought into it, and so Humber was bloodied by the Twins for 6 runs in 3.2 IP. His final tally included 11 hits, none of which left the yard, only one went for extra bases, three didn't leave the infield, and one hit him in the foot...you know, for emphasis. Minnesota had a .579 BABIP off Humber for the night, which by my amateurish calculations, shoots his BABIP to .241 for the season. It also took his ERA over 3.00 for the year, and dealt quite a lethal blow to the dream of Philip Humber having his named called in Arizona next Tuesday as thousands in attendance rustled through their programs for an explanation, and 8 people cheered.
As preposterous as the Twins' offensive night might have been (or maybe just stringing together 10 singles seems unfathomable to us Sox fans), that .241 mark would suggest further regression ahead into the 3.50-4.00 area that Humber's FIP/xFIP resides. There's a good chance it will, but not necessarily because the minions of the laws of averages are out to get him, nor because every one of his starts for the rest of the year is against the karmically-vigilant Twins.
Philip pitched like crap tonight, lacked the command that defined his early-season runs for the 2nd straight outing, and got knocked around this time because he wasn't pitching against the Cubs. Getting shelled and going through cold periods with command and stuff can have as much say with BABIP as balls finding spots does, and Humber has avoided such struggles since the very early part of the season.
His peripherals have, and probably never will scream "Ace", but on Thursday night Humber created most of his bad luck with bad command. This isn't a case of Humber's strategy of putting a lot of balls in play backfiring as a revelation that Phil has a few bad outings in him, which is something I imagine we were always willing to accept. But we can expect better