All posts by Twayn

Bats: Right Throws: Right

2019 Game 118: Cleveland at Minnesota

Starting Lineups

Win Probability: 59.9%

The Twins pumped the brakes on their four-game skid with a rain-delayed win over Cleveland last night. Jake Odorizzi stepped up as the stopper, tossing five and two-thirds scoreless innings. Even the bullpen got into the act, giving up just one run over the remainder of the game. I have to say that while it's been hard to watch the team play what we now consider sub-par baseball for the past month, and especially hard to watch Cleveland loom larger and larger in the rearview mirror, I still think this team is fundamentally sound. Yes, the offense needs to be more productive in the early innings and more clutch with RISP in the late innings. The starting rotation needs to be more efficient and go an inning or so deeper into games to take pressure off the bullpen. And the bullpen itself needs a zero tolerance policy - we will only tolerate putting zeros on the board.

We have Berrios starting today, Cleveland has recent AAA call-up Aaron Civale taking the ball. That and home field advantage probably account for our high win probability. Play ball!

2019 Game 111: Royals at Twins

Starting Lineups

Win Probability: 60.5%

Twins Hall of Fame weekend wraps up today with the team holding a chance to sweep the Kansas City Royals. Even though the rain delayed last night's game and ceremony, and the speeches were pretty bad, it sure was fun seeing that panoply of former Twins stars lined up on the field.

Jake Odorizzi was scheduled to start for the Twins but he's been scratched from the lineup. Instead we'll get another outing from Devin Smeltzer (0-1, 2.91 ERA) and the Bomba Squad will face Brad Keller (7-10, 4.01 ERA). Play ball!

2019 Game 105: Us and Them

Starting Lineups

Win Probability: 59%

The ten game lead on Cleveland that the Twins enjoyed two months ago had been whittled down to eight games just one month ago. In the past month of games, Cleveland has slashed that lead to just one game. The Twins vaunted offense remains potent (despite last night's ass-battery), the starting pitching remains mostly competent if no longer outstanding, but the bullpen continues to vex. I mean, when Taylor Rogers breaks your heart twice in one week, it might be time to re-evaluate your emotional entanglements. If nothing else, the worrisome collapse of a double digit divisional lead down to a single game helped spur the front office into action and pick up Sergio Romo from the Marlins. Carlos Torres was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Romo. So long, Carlos, we hardly knew ye. The brain trust has until Wednesday afternoon to make any additional moves that could impact the roster for the playoffs. Now, I keep hearing from the mouthpieces that the Twins, despite their precipitous fall in the standings, are playing with a lot of confidence right now. That's good. But maybe it's time to also play with a little bit of fear and loathing, and more competence than the Twins have shown in recent days. Were I Jonathan Schoop, for instance, I think I would have burned that glove with the hole in it and gotten myself a new one by now.

So, cue the Mighty Mouse theme song, because today the Twins have Kyle Gibson (9-4, 4.24 ERA, 109 K) on the mound to start the game. The Nibbler is our last best hope for maintaining sole possession of first place in the AL Central by the end of the day. Him and the offense, which went MIA on the south side last night. Oh, and the Kansas City Royals. But that's it, just Kyle Gibson, the Twins offense, and the Kansas City Royals. The White Sox send right-hander Dylan Covey (1-6, 6.04 ERA, 31 K) to the hill today. In short sample size theater, Schoop is two for three and hitting .667 against Covey, Garver (not in the lineup) hits him at a .500 clip, and Max Kepler averages .444 against him in nine at bats. So, 58 games to go and Cleveland is hot on our heels and breathing down our necks. Hold onto your butts, citizens, this ride might get a little rough. Play ball!

2019 Game 88: Oakland White Pachyderms vs. Minnesota Doppelgangers

Starting Lineups

Win Probability: 54.2%

Around the eighth inning last night I thought I'd be writing about how the Twins have a chance to win this four-game series with Oakland today. Instead, because Taylor Rogers chose an inopportune time to have a very rare bad outing, we're hoping to salvage a split and maybe get a game back in the standings from Cleveland. Such are the vagaries of baseball. I can't say that I've been overly impressed with the Twins' overall performance since the All-Star break. They've been adequate at best. But then again, they spent the first half of the season setting very high expectations for the second half that they just haven't managed to equal yet. In some ways, I think a hard-fought race for the division title would be good for this team, a crucible in which they temper their skill and desire into hardened competitive advantage for the postseason. On the other hand, I'd be fine with the Twins going on a month-long winning streak and putting another ten games or so between their tail feathers and Cleveland's beak.

The Twins commence today's contest with Big Mike Pineda on the mound for the 19th time this year. While I wouldn't say I'm a fan yet, he is working hard to win me over and has shown considerable improvement over his last several starts. His ERA is down to 4.38 (104 ERA+) and in four of his last five outings he allowed just one earned run. A 4.18 FIP would suggest he's doing all that while not being especially lucky. In 98.2 innings pitched he's given up 99 hits, 16 walks, and 51 runs for a 1.166 WHIP. He's compiled 87 strikeouts and whiffs more than five batters for every free pass he hands out. Not shabby for a back of the rotation arm, I guess. But despite all the favorable numbers you can find for Pineda, he's still only managed a 0.7 WAR and -0.2 WAA for the season. Cornelius McGillicuddy's legacy counters Pineda today with Daniel Mengden's moustache (4.21 ERA). The Twins touched the right-hander for five runs over 5.2 innings just a few weeks ago. Hopefully they can improve on that today. Play ball!

2019 Game 92: Minnesota at Cleveland

Starting Lineups

Win Probability: 45.4%

Momentum is coming off the All-Star break, beating Cleveland in the first two games to start the second half, and having Jose Berrios lined up to start the third game. Not that it won't be a contest as Cleveland has Shane Bieber on the mound. The two are pretty well matched. Both have eight wins on the year, Berrios has the lower ERA (3.00 vs. 3.45) but Bieber has more strikeouts (141 to 104). The Twins' division lead is back up to 7.5 games with a chance to make it 8.5 with a series sweep. After today, the Twins and Indians meet just ten more times. The Indians were on a pretty good roll before the break, making up ground at a fairly alarming rate, and a Twins win today would put a nasty hitch in their giddy-up coming out of the second half gate. Play ball!

2019 Game 89: Rangers at Twins

Starting Lineups

Time flies when you're having fun, and I think it's safe to say that Twins fans are having a lot of fun this year. So here we are, the last game before the midsummer classic. A cavalcade of injuries and some poor bullpen performances have slowed the team's winning ways with the hometown boys only playing .500 ball over their last ten games. Cleveland has cut the Twins' 12 game lead in the division down to just 6.5 games. That is far to close to spitting distance for comfort. The Twins need to put more space between themselves and the only real competition they have for the division title. Let's not forget that in 2006, the Twins were 11 games behind Detroit heading into the All-Star break. So the second half is going to be a race, maybe a tighter one than any of us thought a month or so ago and winning the AL Central is by no means a foregone conclusion. But it would be a boring flip side to the season if we just ran away with it. I like winning, but I like the challenge and the struggle of the competition just as much.

Kyle Gibson will man the hill to start today's game for the Twins. He'll be on a short pitch count since he had to step up and throw an inning of relief in the last marathon game, so the bullpen will get the lion's share of today's pitching work. The team called up Mejia and Smeltzer from Rochester to provide some fresh arms for today's tilt. The Twins will feature two catchers in the starting lineup with Garver behind the plate and Castro taking over DH duties for a banged up Nelson Cruz. The Rangers are also going with an opening pitcher arrangement today. Jose Leclerc will start the game and then make way for left-hander Joe Palumbo, who was called up from AAA Nashville. It's been a great first half, I'm looking forward to the second. Maximilian Kepler-Różycki is going to blast one out today, maybe in his first at bat. Mark it, Dude. Play ball!

2019 Game 83: Downtowners vs. South Siders

Starting Lineups

G'day, wankers! This weekend the Twins wrapped up the first half of their season and got started on the second half, and so far it's been a fair dinkum year. It does seem odd to see the Twins so dominating when the team spent so many years without getting within a cooee of the postseason, but crikey, I could sure get used to it.

Due to a pair of marathon extra-inning games this past week that pressed today's presumed starter, Kyle Gibson, into an inning of relief work and wore down the entire bullpen, the Twins reached down to Rochester and pulled up Lewis Thorpe. A native of Melbourne, Australia, Thorpe will become the eighth Bruce to play for the Twins in the team's history. Thorpe was expected to just shore up the bullpen, but those plans changed with the heavy pitching workload of the last week. Thorpe got a nice surprise following yesterday's game. His parents decided to take a chance that he'd pitch at some point this weekend, so they went walkabout, hit the frog and toad and headed for Chicago to see their ankle biter in his major league debut. In 14 starts for the Red Wings this year, Thorpe is 3-4 with a 5.71 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. The Pale Hosers send Lucas Giolito to the bump today with the series win on the line. Giolito is having an excellent year with a very mediocre team. He's compiled a 10-2 record with a 2.87 ERA and 111 strikeouts. But he's struggled in his last two starts, allowing nine runs over the course of those outings. So grab yourself a coldie from the Esky, help yourself to a sanger, and flick on the telly, mates. Play ball!

2019 Game 77: St. Paul Gophers vs. Kansas City Monarchs

Starting Lineups

Yesterday the Twins became the first American League team this season to win 50 games. Despite the recent rough patch the team has been going through, they've managed to maintain their status as the best team in the league and the distinction of not losing more than two games at a stretch. And it's not like we didn't all feel some regression to the mean creeping up on us. Odorizzi wasn't going to keep throwing endless shutout innings. The lineup couldn't keep scoring more than six runs with a couple of dingers every game. The bullpen has only so much smoke and so many mirrors. Guys are going to get banged up and go on the IL, sometimes when they've been riding a hot streak. That's the nature of a six month long season, ebbs and flows, high and lows, strikes and gutters. So yes, some ass-bats have been sneaking into the bat rack. Some gloves and arms have been temporarily cursed. There's been a higher than normal level of cerebral flatulence. But I think the Twins have shown remarkable resilience all year and will continue to do so, and we've seen a big enough sample now to know this is a good team with a good chance to make some postseason noise.

The Twins send Michael Pineda to the hill today to try to nail down the series win in this four-game set. He has not been horrible lately. In his last two starts he's thrown 11.2 innings and given up just two runs on seven hits. Homer Bailey will try to salvage a series split for the Royals. He's been a hot arm recently, throwing 13.2 shutout innings while giving up just seven hits in his last two outings. I feel like Polanco is due, so he's my stick to click pick today. Play ball!

2019 Game 70: Kansas City at Minnesota

Starting Lineups

Happy Fathers Day! I'm always reminded on this day of the two men drinking at the bar. One is commiserating at length on the pitfalls of fatherhood and proclaims finally that ten minutes of pleasure can lead to a lifetime of obligation and aggravation. The other man takes this in while staring into his drink, and after a long pause turns his head and says, "How do you make it last for ten minutes?"

The Twins wrap up Joe Mauer weekend at Target Field with a chance to sweep the beleaguered Kansas City Royals and extend their 25.5 game lead over the AL Central cellar dwellers. Watching the number retirement ceremony yesterday and seeing Joe with his little boy and the rest of his family confirmed for me that the Chairman made the right decision when he prioritized his health and family over another year of major league baseball and one last chance at a championship. I'm sure that given how the team is performing he sometimes wishes he'd given it another year, and frankly I do, too. I do think the reluctance the front office showed to even talk about a contract extension last year helped tip the scale toward retirement and like an inside fastball off the handle of the bat, that still stings a little. But in the end, we're left with a career's worth of memories (the no-look, behind-the-back crouching backhanded pick without missing a beat on a wild pitch that ricocheted straight off the sandstone backstop - I could watch that on an infinite loop). The great thing about baseball memories is that we feel them personally, we make them our own and the best ones we tuck away like treasures. We take them out from time to time to polish and admire, but we also share them freely and happily with our families and friends and other fans around the world, and that makes them even more special because they connect us in a way that transcends differences.

Jake Odorizzi proved himself human yesterday, gave up four runs and saw his ERA balloon to 2.24. Today's starter, Martin Perez, is also human but having a better year than I, for one, anticipated. He's 7-2 with a 3.97 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 70.1 innings pitched. He's served as a good pivot between our aces Berrios and Odorizzi and the less effective end of the rotation in Gibson and Pineda. The Royals today give the ball to 26-year-old Jakob Junis. The KC right-hander is probably better than his 4-6 record and 5.35 ERA, but that will happen with Kansas City's defense and offense backing you up. The Twins start today's game with a 62.6% win probability, so I believe I'll dust my broom. Play ball!