First Pitch - 12:05 CDT
This has been one of those rare and eventful spring weekends when Passover, Easter, my birthday and unofficial weed day all align on the calendar. On top of that, we enjoyed our first day of the year above 70 degrees here in the Twins Cities, reaching a sunny 78 above zero yesterday. What's more, after a Friday rain-out the Twins won both ends of a Saturday double header against Baltimore, the first in a 6-5 squeaker that saw Jose Berrios pick up his third W of the season despite not having his best stuff, and the second a 16-7 laugher in which the Twins tied a team record for most home runs in a game*. All in all, the twin bill was as sweet, savory and satisfying as a big platter of Boog's barbecue. The end of the night witnessed the Twins perched atop the AL Central and the Orioles inhabiting a blogger's abode in the basement of the AL East.
Today's tilt features two northpaws on the mound as the Twins look to complete a sweep of the rather hapless Orioles, sending Kyle Gibson to the dirt pile for his fourth start and in search of his first decision of the season. After an impressive campaign last year (10-13, 3.62 ERA, 3.8 WAR) that saw him consistently attack the strike zone and challenge hitters, Gibson seems to have reverted to his nibbling ways. To be fair, I thought he got a bit squeezed by a tight strike zone in his last start, but he also failed to adjust to the indented corners the umpire established right off the bat. Nobody doubts that Gibson has major league stuff at this point, but to my view he needs to take a lesson from a hurling Gibson of yore, wrinkle his brow, fix a steely glare in his eye, throw the living fire out of the ball and work hitters hard inside with far more frequency. Baltimore sends Dylan Bundy to the hill today. In four previous starts he's compiled a record of no wins and two losses and a robust 7.79 ERA, but he has notched 22 strikeouts. So break out the brooms and let's git 'er done, boys. Play ball!
* A preponderance of early-season dingers has many observers of the game speculating that Rawlings is once again manufacturing baseballs with a tad more juice in them this year.