MINNESOTA 6, DETROIT 4 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Sunday, April 14.
Batting stars: Eddie Rosario was 3-for-4 with a home run (his third), two runs, and two RBIs. Mitch Garver was 2-for-3 with two doubles. Byron Buxton was 2-for-4 with a double. Nelson Cruz was 2-for-4. Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4. C. J. Cron was 1-for-3 with a home run.
Pitching stars: Jose Berrios struck out seven in 6.2 innings, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk. Taylor Rogers struck out two in a scoreless inning. Trevor Hildenberger struck out both batters he faced.
Opposition star: Daniel Norris pitched three innings, giving up one run on six hits and no walks and striking out two.
The game: The Tigers opened the game with back-to-back singles but did not score. The Twins got on the board in the bottom of the first. Max Kepler led off with a double and Cruz hit a one-out single, putting men on first and third. Rosario singled in a run and another scored on a ground out, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.
It didn't last long. In the top of the second, Ronny Rodriguez doubled and Gordon Beckham hit a two-run homer, tying the score 2-2. The tie didn't last long either, though. In the bottom of the second, Garver and Buxton doubled to put the Twins up 3-2. In the third, Rosario doubled and Cron hit a two-run homer to make it 5-2 Twins.
It stayed there until the seventh. The Twins threatened in the fourth, but a double play prevented them from scoring despite getting three singles. Rosario led off the seventh with a home run, increasing the lead to 6-2.
The Tigers got back into it in the eighth. Jeimer Candelario singled, Miguel Cabrera walked, and Christin Stewart doubled, making the score 6-3 and bringing the tying run up to bat with none out. John Hicks struck out, but Grayson Greiner singled to make the score 6-4. A hit batsman loaded the bases, but a popup and a ground up kept the score at 6-4 Twins.
The Tigers threatened again in the ninth. JaCoby Jones led off with an infield single and Candelario walked. Miguel Cabrera struck out, but Stewart walked to load the bases. Hildenberger then came in to strike out Hicks and Greiner to preserve the victory for the Twins.
WP: Berrios (2-1). LP: Jordan Zimmerman (0-2). S: Hildenberger (1).
Notes: Garver is batting .500. Polanco is batting .383. Buxton is batting .324. Cruz is batting .320.
Berrios has an ERA of 2.30. Trevor May, despite allowing two runs in a third of an inning today, has an ERA of 2.84. Rogers has an ERA of 1.17. Blake Parker is at 1.69. Hildeberger has an ERA of zero.
Hicks struck out five times in today's game. Is that the Platinum Sombrero? It's not good, whatever it is. I understand that the only other player to strike out five times in a game against the Twins is Reggie Jackson. Normally being on a list with Reggie Jackson would be a good thing, but not this time.
Despite Rocco Baldelli's statement that there are not defined roles, it's clear that he's using Parker as the closer. I'm fine with him not making that announcement. If you never say he's The Closer, then you don't have to explain why he's not the closer if the need arises to take him out of that role, which it appears that it might. As to why Parker is the closer, I really don't have much of a clue, but for the most part the Twins have gotten away with it.
Hildenberger's role seems to be The Guy Who Comes In To Pitch With The Bases Loaded. That would seem to me to be a much more difficult role than The Closer. If I recall correctly, he's succeeded at it three out of four times, which strikes me as pretty darn good. He sure came through with a couple of clutch strikeouts in this game. I know Hicks and Greiner aren't exactly Ruth and Gehrig, but in a situation where just a bloop single ties the game, those are some big strikeouts to get.
The Twins made a number of excellent defensive plays in this game. There's not much more to say about that, other than that it sure is fun to be watching a good defensive team again. Berrios benefited from that excellent defense. He didn't appear to be sharp early, and was bailed out by his defense a couple of times, but of course still pitched a fine game.
Record: The Twins are 8-4, in first place in the American League Central, 1.5 games ahead of Cleveland and Detroit.
Projected Record: We're still on track for 158-4!