2019 Recap: Game Fourteen

TORONTO 6, MINNESOTA 5 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, April 16.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a home run.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-3 with a home run (his third) and a walk, scoring twice.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his fourth.

Pitching star:  Tyler Duffey struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Eric Sogard was 3-for-5 with two runs.  Justin Smoak was 1-for-3 with two walks and two RBIs.  Randal Grichuk was 0-for-2 with three walks and two runs.

The game:  The Twins threatened in the second, getting one-out singles from Gonzalez and Jake Cave, but did not score.  They got on the board in the third, however, as Polanco hit a two-out home run that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.

Twins starter Kyle Gibson sailed through the first five innings, giving up just one hit.  He hit the wall in the sixth, however.  Danny Jansen led off with a single and Sogard doubled.  Freddy Galvis struck out, but a walk to Grichuk loaded the bases and Smoak delivered a two-run single that put the Blue Jays up 2-1.  Ryne Harper came in and got Teoscar Hernandez to fly out, but then gave up RBI singles to Rowdy Tellez and Alen Hanson to make the score 4-1.

The Twins came right back in the bottom of the sixth.  Walks to Max Kepler and Polanco opened the frame, and Rosario followed with a three-run homer to tie the score 4-4.  Unfortunately, the tie was also short-lived.  Trevor May started the inning for the Twins.  A Sogard single and walks to Grichuk and Smoak loaded the bases with two out.  The Twins brought in their designated Bases Loaded Pitcher, Trevor Hildenberger, but this time he could not get it done.  Hernandez singled, scoring two runs and putting Toronto back on top 6-4.

To their credit, the Twins did not roll over.  Gonzalez started the ninth with a home run to cut the lead to 6-5.  Nelson Cruz walked, but a force out and a strikeout left C. J. Cron on first with two out.  Byron Buxton delivered a double to deep left, but Cron was thrown out trying to score from first and the game was over.

Notes:  Polanco is batting .415.  Mitch Garver was 0-for-1 and is batting .407.  Harper gave up a pair of run-scoring singles, but neither run was charged to him, so his ERA is still zero.  Hildenberger and Duffey, who was making his season debut with the Twins, also have ERAs of zero.

Rosario was the DH in this game, with Jake Cave in left and Cruz on the bench.  Willians Astudillo was at first base, with Cron on the bench.  Ehire Adrianza was at second base, with Schoop on the bench.  While this may have been overdoing it a little, I like the fact that Rocco is using his entire roster.  Yes, it lessens your chances of winning that particular game, but it keeps everybody fresher, more rested, more ready to play, and should result in more wins down the line.  That's the theory, anyway.

I don't know if anyone has been able to discern any particular pattern in who catches each game.  I haven't had time to examine it--is he using certain catchers with certain pitchers, going by opposing pitcher matchups, or what?  I think there must be a pattern--I don't believe Rocco's just choosing at random.  I just don't know what it is and haven't had time to try to find out.

I wasn't able to pay attention to last night's game, so I don't know if we had Nibbly Gibson or not.  If we did, it was pretty darned effective nibbling for five innings.  I know the e coli excuse starts to wear thin for people, but it's a pretty severe thing, and some people take longer to recover from illness than others.  Given that he was cruising for five innings and then just suddenly lost it in the sixth, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that fatigue might have been a factor.

On the play at the plate to end the game--well, again, I wasn't watching at the time, and it's pretty easy to second-guess after you know the outcome.  As a general principle, though, I don't have a problem with aggressive baserunning, as long as there's a reasonable chance for success.  Sometimes you have to force the other team to make a play.  When you do, sometimes they'll be able to make it.  And when that happens, you just give them credit and move on.

No team ever went through the whole season without a two-game losing streak, and the Twins won't be the first.  The trick is to keep the losing streaks short.

Record:  The Twins are 8-6, in second place in the American League Central, a half game behind Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 156-6!

Happy Birthday–April 17

Alexander Cartwright (1820)
Cap Anson (1852)
Tom Needham (1879)
Jake Daubert (1884)
Buzz Arlett (1912)
Solly Hemus (1923)
Tsutomu Wakamatsu (1947)
Denny Walling (1954)
Craig Worthington (1965)
Marquis Grissom (1967)
Gary Bennett (1972)
Ryan Raburn (1981)
Jed Lowrie (1984)
Deolis Guerra (1989)

Alexander Cartwright was instrumental in developing the rules for the game of baseball.

Buzz Arlett was a star in the low minors from 1934-1941, and probably would have been for several more years had World War II not intervened.  He had a career average of .319 with a slugging average of .480, but never played above Class C.

Tsutomu Wakamatsu was a star in Japan from 1971-1989, making the all-star team eleven times.  His career average of .319 is second to Leron Lee on the all-time list of players with at least four thousand at-bats.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–April 17

2019 Game 14: Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins

Twins and Blue Jays in game two of a 4 game tilt at Target Field. Blue Jays put up Aaron Sanchez who is 1-1 and pitched decently early in the season but still hasn't gotten out of the 6th inning. Speaking of short starts... Twins have Kyle Gibson who is 0-0 but an ERA of 7.71 and hasn't gotten out of the 5th inning yet. As usual, Gibby has looked good for a while then has one bad inning. Twins could use a good outing tonight as cracks in the bullpen starting to show up.

Game time 6:40. Beautiful night for baseball, hopefully more people show up tonight. First pitch at 6:40p.

2019 Recap: Game Thirteen

TORONTO 5, MINNESOTA 3 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Monday, April 15.

Batting stars:  Jorge Polanco was 3-for-3.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his second.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks and striking out five.  Ryne Harper struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Teoscar Hernandez was 3-for-4 with a  three-run homer.  Randal Grichuk was 3-for-4 with two doubles.  Justin Smoak was 2-for-3 with a walk and a double.

The game:  The Blue Jays got a man to second with two out in the first and with none out in the second, but could not score.  They broke through in the fourth when Smoak doubled, Hernandez singled, and Alen Hanson hit a sacrifice fly.

The Twins came back in the bottom of the fourth.  Polanco led off with a single, Eddie Rosario drew a one-out walk, and Cron hit a three-run homer to put the Twins up 3-1.

It looked like that would be enough.  Perez cruised through the fifth and sixth, although he was helped in the sixth by a strange baserunning blunder (more on that in the notes).  Harper had a perfect seventh.  It appeared that this one would go into the win column for the Twins.

It wasn't to be.  Adalberto Mejia came in to pitch the eighth and the roof fell in (if there had been a roof).  Freddy Galvis singled and Grichuk doubled.  Smoak singled home a run to make it 3-2 and Hernandez followed with a three-run homer to put Toronto up 5-3.  The Twins could do nothing in the last two innings and the game was lost.

WP:  Sam Gaviglio (1-0).  LP:  Mejia (0-1).  S:  Joe Biagini (1).

Notes:  MItch Garver was moved to the leadoff spot in the batting order.  It didn't work in this game, as he went 0-for-4, but of course that doesn't mean it was a bad move.  He's still batting .423.  I like that Rocco seems to be willing to be creative and do some things that are unconventional.  They're not all going to work all the time, but going by the book doesn't work all the time, either.

Polanco raised his average to .420.

I was pretty skeptical about Perez, but he pitched a fine game last night.  One game does not a season make, but he got out of trouble a couple of times and didn't seem at all rattled when he was in trouble.  All in all, a good performance.

That baserunning play in the sixth.  I'm still recovering from illness, so I was no longer following the game at that point.  Hernandez was on first with one out.  The play-by-play then reads "Hernandez caught stealing first, pitcher to first", which is something I don't think I've ever seen before.  I gather what happened is that both the batter, Brandon Drury, and Hernandez thought that ball three to Drury was ball four.  Drury trotted to first, Hernandez started to go to second, and was tagged out.  As Tim Kurkjian says, every time you go to the park there's a chance you'll see something you've never seen before.

The decision to go to Mejia in the eighth was unfortunate, but it was really more a product of circumstances rather than a managerial blunder.  As socal and others have pointed out, there weren't a lot of good options for Rocco.  HildenbergerRogers, and Parker had each pitched in the last two games, and I can see not wanting to use them three days in a row, especially with no off days coming up for a while.  May did not pitch two games in a row, but he had pitched Sunday and had warmed up Saturday, so I can see not wanting to use him for two innings.  Perhaps he'd have pitched the ninth had the Twins remained in the lead, but we'll never know.  Given all that, the options were Mejia and Andrew Vasquez, and Mejia certainly seems to be the better choice.

Another option, of course, would've been to leave Harper in to pitch a second inning.  We'll never know how that might have worked.  But there may be another thing playing into this, too.  Rocco is still trying to find out what some of his players can and can't do.  He needs to know if Mejia is someone he can bring into a situation like this, or if he's simply a groundskeeper.  And it's not like he brought him into the game with the bases loaded--he came in to start the inning, leading by two.  That's an important situation, of course, but it doesn't seem like he was putting Mejia into a situation that was clearly too big for him.  Mejia just didn't get the job done.

Record:  The Twins are 8-5, in first place in the American League Central, a half game ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 157-5!

Remodeled basement. Same half-baked taste.