Category Archives: 2019 Twins Game Recaps

2019 Recap: Game Ninety-five

MINNESOTA 6, OAKLAND 3 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, July 18.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-1 with a three-run homer, his twenty-first.  Mitch Garver was 1-for-4 with a home run, his sixteenth.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eighteenth.  Luis Arraez was 1-for-2 with a double and two walks.  Miguel Sano was 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson struck out seven in seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits and no walks.  Taylor Rogers pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Ramon Laureano was 3-for-4 with two runs.  Jurickson Profar was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his fourteenth.  Mike Fiers pitched 6.1 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks and striking out four.

The game:  The Athletics put men on first and third with two out in the second, but there was no score until the third, when Sano walked, went to second on a Jake Cave single, took third on a bunt, and scored on a wild pitch.  Oakland immediately tied it in the fourth, as Laureano singled, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Khris Davis double.

The Twins missed a chance in the fifth, putting men on first and second with none out and running themselves out of the inning.  It looked like it would be costly, as the Athletics took the lead in the sixth.  Laureano singled with one out and Profar hit a two-out two-run homer, putting Oakland up 3-1.  But in the seventh, Arraez hit a one-out double, Sano walked, and Rosario, pinch-hitting for Cave, hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 4-3 lead.

Oakland got a pair of one-out singles in the eighth, but a strikeout and a fly out ended the inning.  The Twins then got some insurance, as Garver and Cron each homered to make it 6-3.  The Athletics went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Gibson (9-4).  LP:  Yusmeiro Petit (2-2).  S:  Rogers (14).

Notes:  Max Kepler was in center field and Cave in right, with Byron Buxton still out.  Marwin Gonzalez was in left, replacing Rosario.  When Rosario entered the game, he went to left, with Gonzalez in right.  Arraez was at second base with Jonathan Schoop still out.  Ehire Adrianza was at shortstop, replacing Jorge Polanco.

Arraez raised his average to .382.  Rogers has an ERA of 1.61.

The Twins made two more errors, although this time none of them led to runs.  Everyone keeps saying, "Well, Buxton's out", but Buxton isn't going to stop infielders from booting grounders or throwing the ball away.  Anyone who says, "Defense doesn't go into a slump" hasn't been watching the Twins lately.

But, all's well that ends well.  Gibson pitched a good game--not dominating, but seven innings, three runs, six hits, no walks is something you'd take from him every time.  Rogers remains outstanding.  Arraez had another good game.  And Rosario, well, what more can you say?

And Miguel Sano has quietly been batting very well lately.  He was 1-for-2 last night and he drew two walks, both of which led to runs.  He's only batting .236 on the season, which isn't great, but his OBP is .324.  Since June 27, when he went 0-for-7 in the eighteen inning game, he's batting .340/.436/.702.  A productive Sano would be really helpful over the last two and a half months of the season.

Record:  The Twins are 59-36, in first place in the American League Central, four games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 126-36!

2019 Recap: Game Ninety-four

NEW YORK 14, MINNESOTA 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Wednesday, July 17.

Batting stars:  Mitch Garver was 2-for-3 with a home run (his fifteenth) and a walk.  Nelson Cruz was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eighteenth.

Pitching star:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk and striking out four.

Opposition stars:  Amed Rosario was 4-for-4 with a home run (his tenth), a triple, a walk, four runs, and three RBIs.  Adeiny Hechevarria was 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs.  Dominic Smith was 2-for-3 with a home run (his ninth), two runs, and four RBIs.  Todd Frazier was 2-for-5.  Pete Alonso was 1-for-6 with a two-run homer (his thirty-first) and two runs.  Jason Vargas pitched six innings, giving up three runs on five hits and a walk and striking out four.  Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.

The game:  It was a good game until suddenly it wasn't.  The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the second when Max Kepler hit a one-out double and Miguel Sano came through with a two-out single.  The lead did not survive the next half-inning, as Rosario homered with one out in the third to tie it 1-1.  Cruz put the Twins in front 2-1 with a one-out homer of his own in the bottom of the third, but the lead again did not survive the next half-inning.  The Mets loaded the bases with none out on an error, a single, and a hit batsman.  A double play scored the tying run, although it also enabled the Twins to escape without further damage.  The Twins got the lead back in the fifth when Garver hit a one-out home run.

This time the lead lasted an inning and a half.  In the seventh, Rosario singled, Hechevarria doubled, and Smith hit a three-run homer to give New York a 5-3 advantage.  Then, in the eighth, the roof fell in, or it would have it Target Field had a roof.  The Mets had two on with two out and Hechevarria hit a fly ball to Eddie Rosario in left.  Rosario somehow did not catch it, allowing two runs to score.  The error was followed by a double, a single, and a home run, and the score was 11-3.  The Twins got one back in the bottom of the eighth, but as they are currently strapped with only a seven-man bullpen, Rocco had Ehire Adrianza pitch the ninth.  He allowed three more runs, leading to a final of 14-4.

WP:  Vargas (4-5).  LP:  Trevor May (3-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Max Kepler was in center and Marwin Gonzalez in right in the absence of Byron Buxton.  Luis Arraez was at second base in the absence of Jonathan Schoop.

Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 to hold his average at .307.  Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .380.

Swept.  By the Mets.  By the Mets.  A team that can barely get out of its own way.  And we got swept by them.

Yes, I know all the excuses.  These things happen in baseball, it was only a two-game series, we were using the back end of our rotation, every team goes through slumps, we've had injuries, we didn't get the breaks, blah blah blah blah blah.  The bottom line is that we still got swept by the Mets.  By the Mets.

Meanwhile, Cleveland was on the up end of a sweep.  Yes, they were only playing the Tigers.  And we were only playing the Mets.  The Mets.

Good teams take care of business and win the games they're supposed to win.  Also-rans make excuses.  The Twins have been looking an awful lot like also-rans lately.  I know, it's a long season.  But it's slipping away, and so is the Twins' lead.  I don't know what they need to do to turn things around, but they'd better figure something out, and they'd better do it soon.

Record:  The Twins are 58-36, in first place in the American League Central, four games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 126-36!

2019 Recap: Game Ninety-three

NEW YORK 3, MINNESOTA 2 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, July 16.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 2-for-4 with two doubles.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4.  Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-2 with a home run (his fifteenth) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Michael Pineda pitched six innings, giving up three runs (one earned) on six hits and no walks.  Zack Littell pitched a perfect inning.  Blake Parker pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and two walks.

Opposition star:  Michael Conforto was 4-for-4.

The game:  The Twins gift-wrapped a pair of runs for the Mets in the first.  With men on first and second and one out, a passed ball moved them both into scoring position.  A sacrifice fly scored one, a wild pitch moved the other runner to third, and an error scored him.  It was 2-0 New York after a half inning.

The Twins wasted a one-out double by Cron in the second but got on the board in the third thanks to a Schoop home run.  They tied the game in the fifth, but missed a chance for more.  Rosario led off with a single and Cron doubled, putting men on second and third with none out.  A ground out made it 2-2 and a strikeout and an intentional walk to Schoop put men on first and third with two down.  Schoop was then caught stealing on what was assumed to be a misbegotten double steal attempt on which Cron failed to move from third.

The tie lasted all the way until the next time the Mets batted.  Amed Rosario doubled with one out in the fifth and scored on Conforto's two-out single to put New York up 3-2.  And that's where it stayed.  The Twins had men on first and second with none out in the fifth and loaded the bases with two out in the ninth, but could not bring home the tying run.

WP:  Luis Avilan (2-0).  LP:  Pineda (6-5).  S:  Edwin Diaz (21).

Notes:  Max Kepler was in center and Marwin Gonzalez in right with Byron Buxton moving to the IL.  Jonathan Schoop was injured in the ninth, and there has been no word on his condition at this writing.

Rosario and Cron both returned to the lineup from the IL and did well.  Buxton was put on the IL and Mike Morin was DFA's to make room.  Morin had actually pitched quite well for the Twins, although his last outing hurts his numbers significantly.  One assumes someone will pick him up.

Jorge Polanco was 0-for-4 and is batting .307.  Over his last thirty games, he has batted .255/.302/.372.  Over his last fifteen games, it's .229/.280/.343.

Littell has now gone nine appearances (ten innings) without giving up a run.

At this point, it becomes reasonable to ask:  which is the real Twins team?  Is it the team that roared out to a 47-22 record through June 15?  Or is the team that has stumbled and bumbled its way to a sub-.500 record since then?  The defense has become increasingly unreliable--it seems we have an error or two almost every game, plus last night we threw a passed ball and two wild pitches into the mix.  The offense has been inconsistent.  The pitching hasn't been terrible, but it hasn't been good enough to overcome the other problems.  We keep waiting for the Twins to break out and start playing well again, and maybe they will.  But it's been over a month now, and we're still waiting.  We have to consider the possibility that the Twins team we're seeing now is the Twins team we're going to see for the rest of the season.

Record:  The Twins are 58-35, first in the American League Central, five games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 127-35!

2019 Recap: Game Ninety-two

CLEVELAND 4, MINNESOTA 3 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Sunday, July 14.

Batting star:  Marwin Gonzalez was 3-for-4 with a double.

Pitching stars:  Zack Littell pitched a perfect inning.  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Tyler Naquin was 2-for-3 with a double.  Carlos Santana was 1-for-2 with a home run (his twenty-first), two walks, and two runs.  Shane Bieber struck out nine in 6.1 innings, giving up three runs on five hits and one walk.

The game:  Jose Berrios retired the first two Indians in the bottom of the first, but walks to Santana and Bobby Bradley were followed by a Jose Ramirez double, putting Cleveland ahead 1-0.  In the fourth, Jake Bowers led off with a double and scored on a Greg Allen single.  Allen went to second on a ground out and scored on Naquin's single, putting the Indians up 3-0.

It stayed 3-0 until the seventh.  Luis Arraez led off with a walk and Mitch Garver was hit by a pitch.  Singles by Gonzalez and Miguel Sano made the score 3-1 with the bases loaded.  Jake Cave was hit by a pitch to cut the lead to 3-2.  With one out, Max Kepler singled to tie it 3-3.  The bases were still loaded with one out, but a pair of strikeouts ended the inning.

It didn't stay tied long.  With two out in the bottom of the seventh, Santana homered to put Cleveland back in front at 4-3.  And that's where it stayed.  Arraez had a leadoff double in the eighth and an error started the ninth, but the Twins could not score again.

WP:  Adam Cimber (5-2).  LP:  Trevor May (3-2).  S:  Brad Hand (24).

Notes:  Arraez was at third base and Sano at first with C. J. Cron out.  Gonzalez was in left with Eddie Rosario out.  Kepler was in center and Cave in right with Byron Buxton out.

Arraez was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .385.  Jorge Polanco was 0-for-5 and is batting .311.

Arraez now has ninety-six major league at-bats.  I wonder what the record is for highest batting average in your first one hundred at-bats.

Littell has not allowed a run since the debacle in Tampa Bay on May 30, in which he gave up eight runs in 4.1 innings.  Those eight runs are the only runs he's given up in the major leagues this season.  His season ERA doesn't look very good because of that, but in fact he has gone eight consecutive appearances (nine innings) with out giving up a run and is unscored upon in nine of his ten appearances this season.

This felt like a winnable game that the Twins let slip away.  In fact, it seems like a lot of the Twins losses have been winnable games that the let slip away.  You never like to lose a game you could've won, but there's an upside to it.  There have not been that many games where the Twins got blown out this year.  Most of their losses have been games that they could've won with a few breaks or with a key hit at the right time.  It seems to me that this, too, is the sign of a good team--that the games you lost are games you could have won.

We'd love to have had the sweep, but as many pointed out, taking two out of three from the Indians in Cleveland is still pretty good.  Some of us were worried that the margin might be down to 2.5 after this series--instead it's 6.5.  We'll take it.

Record:  The Twins are 58-34, first in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 128-34!

2019 Recap: Game Ninety

MINNESOTA 5, CLEVELAND 3 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Friday, July 12.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 1-for-4 with a home run (his seventeenth) and a walk.  Mitch Garver was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fourteenth.

Pitching stars:  Trevor May retired all four men he faced, striking out two.  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Taylor Rogers struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Mike Clevenger struck out six in five innings, giving up one run on four hits and two walks.  Jose Ramirez was 2-for-4.  Carlos Santana was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twentieth.

The game:  Cruz hit a two-out home run in the first inning to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  The Indians got a man to second base in each of the first two innings but did not break through until the fourth.  Santana homered to lead off the inning and tie the score.  Jason Kipnis walked and an error put men on first and third.  They were still on second and third with two out, but Roberto Perez singled to drive in two and give Cleveland a 3-1 lead.

It looked for a while like that might hold up.  The Twins put men on second and third with none out in the fifth, but a ground out and two strikeouts ended the inning.  They had men on first and second with one out in the sixth, but a double play ended that inning.

Then came the seventh.  An error and a walk put men on first and third with two out.  Max Kepler came up and hit a ground ball to shortstop.  He was called out at first and it looked like yet another Twins threat had come to nothing.  But the Twins challenged and a replay review determined that Kepler was safe, making the score 3-2.  Jorge Polanco then swatted a two-run double and the Twins had a 4-3 lead.  A Garver home run in the eighth made it 5-3.  The Indians did not get a man past first base after the fourth inning.

WP:  Littell (2-0).  LP:  Oliver Perez (2-2).  S:  Rogers (13).

Notes:  Marwin Gonzalez was in left, replacing Eddie Rosario.  Luis Arraez was at second base in place of Jonathan Schoop.  Ehire Adrianza was at first base, replacing C. J. Cron.

Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .386.  Polanco was 1-for-4 and is batting .311.  May has an ERA of 2.94.  Harper has an ERA of 2.84.  Rogers has an ERA of 1.73.

Just looking at the printed play-by-play, it seems like a very quick hook for Kyle Gibson.  They don't appear to have been hitting a lot of balls hard off him, and he certainly wasn't getting much help from his defense.  I'm not second-guessing the decision, because a) there are always things you can't tell from the printed play-by-play and b) it clearly worked.  The Much Maligned Twins Bullpen pitched 5.1 scoreless innings and really never even allowed Cleveland to put together a threat.

The quick hook showed that Rocco was not looking at this as just another game.  He thought it was an important game for the Twins to win, and he was going to give them every chance to win it.  It was a risk, because if the Twins hadn't come back he'd have used four or five relievers in a loss, which of course hurts you for the next game.  He had the advantage of a fully rested bullpen after the all-star break, but it was still a gamble that he won.

I think he was right to not look at it as just another game.  We said going in that by Sunday night the Twins' lead would either be 2.5, 4.5, 6.5, or 8.5 games, and that's obviously a big spread.  We can eliminate the "2.5" now, and that's a very good thing.  We'd all love to have it be one of the bigger numbers, but even if it's 4.5 it's not going to feel like things are falling apart, the way it would have had the Indians gotten a sweep.  With Odorizzi and Berrios pitching the next two games, the Twins should have a good chance to win at least one of them.  Of course, with Bauer and Bieber going, the Indians probably feel the same way.

One thing I like about Rocco is that he doesn't feel a need to make big announcements about what he's doing.  He just does it.  Rogers is clearly the closer now, even if he's not being used in the "traditional" way, but Rocco has never said he's the closer.  Littell is clearly a one-inning guy now (he's pitched one inning in each of his last six appearances), but Rocco has never said he's a one-inning guy.  He just uses him that way.  If you don't make an announcement about it, then you don't feel locked in to doing it that way.  You also don't have to explain to anyone if you do something differently from what you've announced.  Of course, you have to get players to buy in to the fact that they aren't going to know exactly what their role is every day, but Rocco seems to be able to do that, at least so far.

Record:  The Twins are 57-33, in first place in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 129-33!

2019 Recap: Game Eighty-seven

MINNESOTA 15, TEXAS 6 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, July 5.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 3-for-4 with a double, a hit-by-pitch, two runs and two RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 3-for-5 with a home run (his fourteenth), two doubles, two runs, and four RBIs.  Mitch Garver was 2-for-4 with a home run (his thirteenth), a double, a walk, and three runs.  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer, his thirteenth.  Luis Arraez was 2-for-5 with a home run, his second.  C. J. Cron was 2-for-5 with two doubles, two runs, and two RBIs.  Byron Buxton was 2-for-5 with two doubles and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out three.  Kohl Stewart retired all four men he faced.

Opposition stars:  Logan Forsythe was 2-for-4 with a home run (his fourth) and two runs.  Rougned Odor was 2-for-4 with a double.  Delino DeShields was 2-for-4 with a double.  Shin-Soo Choo was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer, his thirteenth.

The game:  The Twins started the scoring in the second and did so in a big way.  Garver led off with a double and scored on Gonzalez' single.  A double play made it look like the scoring might end right there, but Arraez followed with a home run, Schoop and Buxton hit back-to-back doubles, Kepler singled, and Polanco hit a two-run homer.  It was 6-0 and the Twins lead would never be threatened.

The Twins kept the scoring going.  Buxton doubled with one out in the fourth and scored on a Kepler single.  In the fifth Gonzalez was hit by a pitch and scored on Schoop's two-out two-run homer.  It was 9-0 through six.

The Rangers tried to get back into the game in the seventh.  Martin Perez, who had cruised through six innings, walked Nomar Mazara to open the seventh.  Singles by Forsythe and Asdrubal Cabrera plated one run and Odor's RBI double made it 9-2.  Ryne Harper came in and allowed a run-scoring ground out, then with two down gave up a homer to Choo, making the score 9-5.

No problem.  Garver led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run.  Gonzalez singled, Cron doubled, and Schoop delivered a two-out two-run double to make it 12-5.  Forsythe homered in the eighth to cut the margin to 12-6, but the Twins added a few more in the bottom of the eighth. Miguel Sano singled, Garver walked, Gonzalez doubled home one and Cron doubled home two.  Texas went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Perez (8-3).  LP:  Adrian Sampson (6-6).  S:  None.

Notes:  Arraez was at third base in this game, with Gonzalez in left and Sano on the bench.  Sano entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the fourth, as Nelson Cruz left the game.  According to news reports, Cruz had discomfort in his foot because his shoe was too tight.  I don't know why he couldn't simply put on a bigger shoe, but it obviously didn't matter for the outcome of the game.

Arraez actually lowered his average by going 2-for-5--he's now batting .413.  Polanco went up to .314.  Tyler Duffey gave up a run in two-thirds of an inning and has an ERA of 2.60.

As noted above, Perez pitched very well for six innings.  In retrospect you can say he was left in the game too long, but his pitch count wasn't high and there were no obvious signs that he was tiring.  Sometimes a guy just loses it quickly.

Stewart pitched the last 1.1 innings.  It had been widely assumed that he was going to be Sunday's starter, but that seems very unlikely now.  Maybe that never was the plan, or maybe Rocco thought it was better to save the rest of the bullpen now and figure something else out for Sunday.  The pitcher who started in Rochester Tuesday, and so would be going on regular rest Sunday, was Devin Smeltzer.  He did pretty well in his two earlier major league starts, so it would not be surprising to see him back for the Sunday start.

This was the kind of game we saw a lot the first couple of months of the season and haven't seen much lately.  Will this be the start of a hot streak?  The Twins had a game like this Saturday and we hoped it might be the start of a hot streak, but instead it was just a one-off.  So I guess we'll see.

The win guarantees that the Twins will go into the all-star break not having more than a two-game losing streak.  That's pretty remarkable.

Record:  The Twins are 55-32, first in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 130-32!

2019 Rewind: Game Eighty-six

OAKLAND 7, MINNESOTA 2 IN OAKLAND

Date:  Thursday, July 4.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 3-for-5 with a double.  Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-3.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one.  Trevor May struck out three in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Chris Herrmann was 4-for-4.  Robbie Grossman was 3-for-4.  Marcus Semien was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his twelfth and thirteenth) and five RBIs.  Tanner Anderson pitched 4.2 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on nine hits and two walks and striking out three.  Wei-Chung Wang pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up no hits and a walk and striking out one.

The game:  A two-out rally in the first produced one run for the Twins.  Cruz and Luis Arraez singled and Miguel Sano walked to fill the bases and Adrianza reached on catcher's interference.  They missed a chance for more, though, when Schoop flied out.  They missed another chance in the third, when Cruz led off the inning with a single but was caught stealing.  The Twins got two more singles in the inning, but they went for naught.

The Athletics similarly missed a chance in the third, when they had men on first and third with one out, but they tied it in the fourth on singles by Khris Davis, Grossman, and Herrmann.  The Twins took the lead back in the fifth when Cruz doubled and Adrianza singled him home, but Oakland went in front to stay in the bottom of the fifth.  Semien homered to start the inning.  Matt Chapman walked, Matt Olson singled, and Davis walked.  A double play brought home the go-ahead (or go-behind, depending on your point of view) run.

It remained 3-2 until the eighth, when Oakland broke it open.  Grossman and Herrmann singled and Jurickson Profar was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.  Semien unloaded them with a grand slam, and the game was gone.  The Twins, who had not mounted a threat since the fifth, got a leadoff double in the ninth from Max Kepler, but he did not move past second.

WP:  Wang (1-0).  LP:  Jose Berrios (8-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Arraez remained in left field.  Adrianza was at first base in place of C. J. Cron.

Arraez was 1-for-5 and is batting .414.  Polanco was 0-for-5 and is batting .313.

I don't know why Rocco has suddenly decided Littell is a one-inning guy.  The whole point of putting him on the roster was to have a guy who could pitch multiple innings.  His last four games, though, he's gone one inning in each, and the game before that he went two.  To his credit, he's done well in that role.  In fact, if you throw out the awful game in Tampa Bay, he has an ERA of zero and has given up six hits and three walks in eight innings.  That's pretty good.  But he's supposed to be The Bullpen Guy Who Can Fill Up Some Innings, and Rocco's not giving him the chance to do that.

This was kind of an embarrassing loss for the Twins.  Tanner Anderson is a career nothing whose major league ERA was 6.83 going in and who wasn't any good in AAA this year either.  Yet, the Twins could manage only two runs off him in 4.2 innings, and if not for catcher's interference it would've been one.  Yes, they had nine hits, but only one of them was for an extra base.  The Twins could also do nothing with Lou Trivino (ERA 4.62) and Joakim Soria (4.76).  Plus, the Twins had their best pitcher going.  This is a game they should've won easily, and instead they lost by five runs.  Yes, this is baseball and it happens, but it's been happening a lot to the Twins lately, and it's not good.

But, there's nothing to be done about now, so we head home to take on the Texas Rangers.  Maybe Martin Perez will have a good game and the Twins can put together a few wins heading into the all-star break.

Record:  The Twins are 54-32, in first place in the American League Central, six games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 130-32!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-eight

MINNESOTA 9, TAMPA BAY 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, June 25.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.  Willians Astudillo was 3-for-4 with a double.  Mitch Garver was 3-for-5 with a home run (his twelfth), two runs, and three RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-3 with a home run (his thirteenth) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson struck out seven in seven innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and a walk.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition star:  Willy Adames was 2-for-2 with a home run, his eighth.

The game:  Nobody got on base until Rosario led off the bottom of the second with a double.  With two out, Astudillo delivered an RBI single to put the Twins up 1-0.  In the second, Schoop led off with a home run.  Jorge Polanco and Garver followed with singles, and with one out Rosario and C. J. Cron came through with RBI singles, making it 4-0.  The Twins poured on some more in the fourth.  Astudillo led off with a double and Miguel Sano singled.  With one out, Schoop walked to load the bases, Garver hit a two-run single, Nelson Cruz singled to re-load the bases, and Rosario singled home another run to give the Twins a 7-0 lead.  They got one more in the fifth on a hit batsman, a single, a walk, and a sacrifice fly.  It was 8-0 through five.

The Rays got on the board in the sixth when Adames led off with a home run.  They somewhat got back into the game in the seventh.  With two out, Travis D'Arnaud singled, Joey Wendle doubled, Michael Brosseau doubled home two, and Brandon Lowe hit an RBI triple, cutting the margin to 8-4.  That was as close as they would get, however, as Tampa Bay went down in order in the eighth and ninth.  The Twins added a run in the eighth on Garver's home run.

WP:  Gibson (8-4).  LP:  Blake Snell (4-7).  S:  None.

Notes:  Polanco was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .326.  Garver is batting .305.  Harper has an ERA of 2.27.  Duffey has an ERA of 1.90.

Astudillo was in right field, with Kepler in center and Jake Cave on the bench.  Cave came in to play center field in the fifth after Kepler was hit in the elbow by a pitch.*  X-Rays were negative, but he will have an MRI today.  Presumably even if we get good news he will miss a couple of days.  Byron Buxton is eligible to come off the Injured List, but has not yet done so.  I'm glad they're being careful with him, but his wrist injury was apparently worse than we were initially led to believe.  If Buxton doesn't come back that pretty much leaves the Twins with three outfielders, and that's counting Astudillo as an outfielder.  It would not be surprising to see the Twins bring up an outfielder from Rochester.

*Please, Kepler did not get "beaned in the elbow".  A bean ball has a specific meaning.  It means to throw at someone's head, the "bean".  Saying he got "beaned in the elbow" is saying he got hit in the head in the elbow.  It makes no sense.  Now get off my lawn!

I don't know where this Twins team was for the last week and a half, but it was good to get them back.  Stringing hits together, getting a couple of long balls, getting good starting pitching for six innings, even getting good relief pitching.  One game doesn't mean much, of course, but we can hope this Twins team sticks around for a while.

Record:  The Twins are 51-27, in first place in the American League Central, 8.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 135-27!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-seven

KANSAS CITY 6, MINNESOTA 1 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Sunday, June 23.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 4-for-4 with a double.  Max Kepler was 2-for-5 with a double.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twentieth.

Pitching stars:  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Matt Magill pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Homer Bailey pitched 5.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk and striking out five.  Billy Hamilton was 2-for-3 with two stolen bases, his fifteenth and sixteenth.  Hunter Dozier was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his twelfth) and a double.  Alex Gordon was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.  Whit Merrifield was 2-for-4.  Kevin McCarthy pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two.

The game:  It was basically decided in the third inning.  With one out, singles by Hamilton and Merrifield put men on first and third.  Nicky Lopez' bunt single scored the first run, Gordon doubled home a second, and Dozier hit a three-run homer.  That quickly, the Royals were ahead 5-0 and they would stay ahead the rest of the game.

Rosario got the Twins on the board leading off the fourth.  Arraez had a one-out double and Miguel Sano walked, but Jason Castro was caught looking and Jake Cave grounded out, so the score stayed 5-1.  Facing some mediocre Kansas City pitchers, the Twins only got one other threat going.  That came in the seventh, when Cave was hit by a pitch, Polanco had a two-out infield single, and Nelson Cruz was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Rosario hit into a force out, however, and the Twins would not threaten again.  Gordon's RBI double in the bottom of the seventh completed the scoring.

WP:  Bailey (7-6).  LP:  Michael Pineda (4-4).  S:  McCarthy (1).

Notes:  Arraez was at second base in place of Jonathan Schoop.  Kepler remained in center, with Cave in right and Byron Buxton still on the IL.

Arraez is batting .436.  Polanco is batting .326.  Mike Morin gave up a run in one inning and now has an ERA of 2.08.

Pineda had been pitching fairly well lately, by his standards.  He pitched well in this game if you take out the third inning, which unfortunately you can't.

The Twins had nine hits, a walk, and two hit batsmen, but could score just one run.  The hits were concentrated in a very few players.  As you can see above, Arraez had four of them.  The top two men in the Twins order, Kepler and Polanco, went 4-for-10.  The three through five batters were 1-for-12, with Rosario's solo homer being the lone hit.  The bottom three batters were 0-for-10.  That led to eleven men being left on base.

The Twins are 5-5 over their last ten games.  A year ago, we'd have looked at that as a hopeful sign, thinking that maybe the Twins were starting to build on something.  This year, we're all disappointed and wondering what the Twins will do to right the ship.  One thing I've noticed abut Rocco, though, is that he does not get into panic mode easily.  He has faith in his players and has faith in his own decision-making ability.  If he believes he has a good reason for doing something, he's not going to change his mind just because it doesn't work right away.  That's a good thing, I think, as long as you don't carry it too far.  It's possible for that attitude to become stubbornness, where you insist on doing things your way despite evidence that your way doesn't work.  I've not noticed that in Rocco, but he's only been a manager for half a season, so I guess time will tell.

The Twins signed Cody Allen to a minor league contract the other day.  He was a really good relief pitcher until a couple of years ago, when he suddenly wasn't any more.  It's a low-risk move that really can only hurt you if you allow it to.  What I mean is that it can hurt you if you allow him to take playing time from a more deserving player, or if you convince yourself that you don't need to do anything else, or if you bring him to the majors even though he hasn't proven he belongs there, just because of who he is.  I have confidence in the current front office that they won't let those things happen.  And who knows?  Maybe the Twins can help him get back to being a useful reliever again.  The Twins could certainly use one of those.

Record:  The Twins are 50-27, first in the American League Central, eight games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 135-27!

2019 Recap: Game Sixty-eight

MINNESOTA 2, KANSAS CITY 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, June 14.

Batting stars:  Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-4.  Mitch Garver was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his eleventh.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson pitched eight shutout innings, giving up two hits and no walks and striking out six.  Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition star:  Brad Keller pitched seven shutout innings, giving up three hits and three walks and striking out six.

The game:  This really was an old-fashioned pitchers' duel.  There was not even a real threat to score until the fifth, when MIguel Sano reached on an error with one out and Adrianza singled.  A double play took the Twins out of the inning.  The Twins put men on first and second in the sixth when Byron Buxton was hit by a pitch and Max Kepler walked, but a strikeout, a pair of fly outs ended that threat.  In the seventh, Sano and Adrianza were again on first and second with one out, and again a double play ended the inning.

Finally, in the eighth, the Twins said, "Enough of this."  Kepler drew a one-out walk, and with two down Garver hit a two-run homer for the only runs of the game.  The Royals went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Gibson (7-3).  LP:  Jake Diekman (0-4).  S:  Rogers (7).

Notes:  Adrianza was at shortstop, with Jorge Polanco at DH and Nelson Cruz out of the lineup.

Buxton was hit on the wrist by a pitch.  Apparently he's day-to-day.  I've said this before, but I'm always worried about hand and wrist injuries in a batter.  It seems like players and teams never let them heal properly.  Everyone, including the player, says that the player can play, and in fact he can.  He just can't play well, especially at the plate.  The Twins have a big division lead and Kepler can cover center field for a while.  He's not going to be as good as Buxton there, but he'll get by.  Let's give Buxton enough time for the wrist to be fully healed before we run him back out there.

Polanco was 0-for-3 with a walk and is batting.335.  Garver is batting .318.  Rogers has an ERA of 2.17.

Gibson apparently did not have any command issues last night.  He did not walk anyone and threw just eighty-eight pitches in eight innings.  He could have pitched the ninth, but Rogers has been the Twins' most reliable relief pitcher and hasn't pitched for a while.  Plus, had Gibson started the ninth and someone reached base, Rogers would have come in anyway, and most pitchers (and managers) prefer having the reliever start the inning if possible.  So, a perfectly understandable decision and, as it turned out, a good one.

Record:  The Twins are 46-22, first in the American League Central, eleven games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 140-22!