Category Archives: 2019 Twins Game Recaps

2019 Recap: Game Fifty-five

TAMPA BAY 14, MINNESOTA 3 IN TAMPA BAY

Date:  Thursday, May 30.

Batting stars:  Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-3.  Jason Castro was 2-for-3.

Pitching star:  Mike Morin pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Avisail Garcia was 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, and three runs.  Tommy Pham was 2-for-2 with a double, a walk, and two runs.  Brandon Lowe was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.  Austin Meadows was 2-for-5 with a double, two runs, and four RBIs.  Christian Arroyo was 2-for-5 with two doubles, two runs, and two RBIs.  Charlie Morton pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits and no walks and striking out six.

The game:  Well, it was good for two innings.  In the bottom of the third, a single and two walks loaded the bases and Meadows delivered a three-run double.  A single, a double, and a single made it a six-run inning, leaving the Twins down 6-0.  The fourth was no better:  a single, a double, two singles, a walk, and two doubles added up to five runs and a score of 11-0.

The Twins scored single runs in the fifth and sixth, but the Rays came back with three in the seventh.  The Twins added one more in the eighth.  Yes, this is a much less thorough recap of the game than we typically do, but there seems no point in going into detail on this one.

WP:  Morton (6-0).  LP:  Martin Perez (7-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Adrianza was at shortstop in place of Jorge Polanco, who was not feeling well.  Marwin Gonzalez was at third base in place of Miguel Sano.  Luis Arraez was at second base in place of Jonathan Schoop, who was used as the DH.

Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .375.  Morin has an ERA of 0.87.

A baseball season is long.  One hundred sixty-two games.  Out of that many games, you're bound to have a clunker in there once in a while.  The trick is, of course, to not have very many of them.  If you do, that's a problem.  For now, though, the thing to do is simply to turn the page and move on.

It seems, though, that we should acknowledge the service done by Zack Littell last night.  Yes, his line looks terrible:  eight runs on ten hits and one walk in 4.1 innings.  But the point is that he pitched 4.1 innings.  Even when he was getting hit hard, he was not afraid to throw the ball over the plate.  That kept his pitch count low enough that he was able to fill 4.1 innings, saving the rest of the bullpen.  He actually settled down to pitch fairly well after the fourth.  I'm not saying he deserves to be player of the game or anything--in fact, as suggested in the game log, his reward may well be a ticket back to Rochester.  Still, the job he did may be important in the next couple of games, and it should be appreciated.

Also, kudos to Rocco Baldelli for leaving Littell in the game to pitch those 4.1 innings and save the bullpen.  It's one of those things that seems obvious, but it's amazing how many major league managers don't see it.  Many managers, including some recent Twins managers, would've thought they had to take Littell out in the fourth, and then would've burned through three or four relievers in a game the Twins weren't going to win anyway.  Good job by Rocco for not doing that.

After a horrible April, Adrianza is batting .313/.393/.521 in May.  If you throw out the 0-for-16 that he started May with, those numbers go to .469/.526/.694.  Obviously he's not going to sustain either of those sets of numbers.  But his season numbers are now .256/.351/.415 which, while they'd be career highs, do not seem so unsustainable.  At any rate, he's sure making those of us, including me, who were calling for the Twins to release him look pretty stupid at the moment.

It should be noted that the Twins still have the best record in baseball, and we have Jose Berrios going tonight.  Plus, Cleveland lost, so we still lead the division by 9.5 games.  That makes it a little easier to turn the page and move on.

Record:  The Twins are 37-18, first in the American League Central, 9.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 144-18!

2019 Recap: Game Fifty-four

MINNESOTA 5, MILWAUKEE 3 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, May 28.

Batting stars:  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run, his seventeenth.

Pitching stars:  Devin Smeltzer struck out seven in six shutout innings, giving up three hits and no walks.  Matt Magill pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Zach Davies pitched six shutout innings, giving up five hits and two walks and striking out four.  Yasmani Grandal was 2-for-4 with a home run (his eleventh) and a triple.  Ryan Braun was 2-for-4 with two doubles.  Keston Hiura was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, his third.

The game:  Each team wasted a leadoff extra-base hit in the second, as Grandal tripled leading off the top of the inning and Sano doubled to start the bottom half.  The Twins put two on with one out in the third on singles by Astudillo and Polanco.  Braun doubled to lead off the fourth and again to lead off the seventh.  Still, the game remained scoreless through six and a half.

In the bottom of the seventh, Castro led off with a single and a fielder's cholce-plus-error put men on second and third with none out.  Max Kepler delivered a two-run double to put the Twins on the board.  With one out, C. J. Cron doubled in a run and Rosario hit a two-run homer to put the Twins up 5-0 and seemingly in control of the game.

"Seemingly" because the Brewers came right back in the eighth.  Hernan Perez led off with a single and Hiura hit a two-run homer to cut the lead to 5-2.  Grandal led of the ninth with a home run to make it 5-3.  That was it, though, as two relievers retired the next three batters to end the game without the tying run coming to bat.

WP:  Magill (1-0).  LP:  Alex Claudio (0-1).  S:  Ryne Harper (1).

Notes:  Cron was the DH in this game, with Marwin Gonzalez at first base.  Byron Buxton was injured in the second inning trying to catch Grandal's triple, which resulted in multiple position changes.  Kepler moved from right to center, Rosario moved from left to right.  Gonzalez moved from first to left, and Willians Astudillo entered the game at first base.  In the seventh, Jason Castro came out of the game for pinch-runner Ehire Adrianza, which led to Astudillo going behind the plate and Adrianza taking over first base.

Polanco is now batting .335.  Smeltzer has an ERA of zero.  Magill has an ERA of 1.42.  Blake Parker gave up two runs on three hits in an inning and has an ERA of 1.96.  Taylor Rogers gave up a run on one hit in two-thirds of an inning and has an ERA of 2.38.  Harper retired the only man he faced and has an ERA of 1.61.

Buxton does not appear to be seriously injured, and in fact wanted to stay in the game.  Reports this morning are that he has a bruised right knee.  You can't fault the Twins for being careful with him.  Today's off day will help, but he might well sit out a day or two.  Fortunately, it does not appear that it will be any more than that.

I don't think you can say enough about how well Smeltzer pitched.  Six shutout innings.  Seven strikeouts.  Three hits.  No walks.  From a guy who had made all of four starts above AA.  What impressed me most--other than his stat line--is that he wasn't afraid to throw the ball over the plate.  He's never walked many guys--his walks per nine in the minors is 2.0--but still, a guy with this little experience is likely to be nervous and start nibbling.  It didn't happen.  Even after someone hit the ball hard, he came right back and threw strikes to the next batter.  Each time he gave up a hit, he came back to strike out the next batter.  I don't fault Rocco for taking the six innings and getting him out of there, but he threw only 69 pitches in six innings, 53 of them strikes.  He retired the last eight batters he faced.  There's no obvious reason he couldn't have pitched seven or even eight innings.

I would not have pulled Rogers with two out in the ninth.  Yes, Perez had doubled off him the night before, but that doesn't convince me that Rogers couldn't have gotten him out last night.  I'll say this for Rocco, though--for all the talk about him being The Millenial Manager, he's shown he really couldn't care less about helping any individual's stat line.  He pulled Rogers when he was one out away from a save.  He pulled Jose Berrios in the fifth inning with a big lead, rather than leave him in to try to get the win.  And you remember that he pulled Jake Odorizzi in the first inning when he had given up just two runs at the time he was taken out.  You can agree or disagree with those individual moves, but the point is that Rocco has on several occasions sent a message that he doesn't care about your feelings or your stat line.  He's not concerned with who gets the W or the S.  He's concerned that the team gets the W, and he's going to do what he thinks is most likely to make that happen.  It seems to me that's a pretty good message to send.

I have nothing to say about this that hasn't already been said, but I feel like the recap would not be complete if I did not point out that we are now exactly one-third of the way through the season, the Twins are twenty games over .500, and they have a ten game lead in the division standings.

Record:  The Twins are 37-17, first in the American League Central, ten games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 145-17!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-nine

MINNESOTA 16, LOS ANGELES 7 IN LOS ANGELES

Date:  Thursday, May 23.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 5-for-6 with a home run (his thirteenth) and two doubles, scoring three times.  Max Kepler was 3-for-5 with a home run (his tenth), a double, a walk, and a stolen base, scoring four times and driving in two.  Eddie Rosario was 3-for-6 with a home run (his fourteenth), scoring twice and driving in two.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-3 with a home run (his ninth), a double, and a walk, driving in three.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his third and fourth) and a walk, driving in three.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-5 with two home runs (his ninth and tenth) and four RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched five innings, giving up two runs on six hits and four walks and striking out three.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning, striking out one.  Tyler Duffey struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Tommy La Stella was 2-for-5 with a grand slam, his twelfth homer.  Luis Rengifo was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Brian Goodwin was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fifth.  David Fletcher was 1-for-5 with a home run, his fourth.  Taylor Cole pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out two.

The game:  The Angels threatened in the first, putting men on second and third with one out, but a strikeout and a ground out ended the inning.  The Twins broke it open in the second.  Singles by Rosario and Cron were followed by a wild pitch, putting men on second and third.  A sacrifice fly brought home the first run, Sano walked, and Schoop hit a three-run homer to make it 4-0.  With two out, Kepler doubled and Polanco hit a two-run homer to make it 6-0.  In the third, homers by Cron and Sano increased the Twins' lead to 8-0.

Los Angeles made a comeback attempt in the bottom of the third.  Fletcher hit a one-out homer and Mike Trout followed with a double-plus-error.  He scored on a ground out to cut the lead to 8-2.  A pair of singles and a walk off of suddenly wobbly Twins starter Perez loaded the bases, but he came back to strike out Kole Calhoun to end the inning.  In the fifth the Angels got a pair of one-out walks and a two-out infield single, again loading the bases for Calhoun, but he hit into a force out to end the inning.

The Twins put it out of reach for good after that.  In the sixth Kepler drew a two-out walk, stole second, and scored on Polanco's double.  In the seventh, Cron hit a one-out double.  With two -out, Sano and Schoop hit back-to-back homers, Willians Astudillo walked, and Kepler homered, putting the Twins up 14-2.  Rosario homered in the eighth to make it 15-2.  In the ninth, Kepler singled, Ehire Adrianza walked, and Rosario had an RBI single to make it 16-2.

Los Angeles did get some runs in the ninth to make the score look better.  Goodwin led off with a home run.  Walks to Trout, Dustin Garneau, and Jonathan Lucroy loaded the bases and La Stella hit a grand slam to cut the margin to 16-7.  A two-out single by La Stella chased Austin Adams from the game, and Mike Morin retired Zack Cozart on a ground ball to end the contest.

WP:  Perez (7-1).  LP:  Matt Harvey (2-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Kepler was in center and Marwin Gonzalez in right, with Byron Buxton on the bench.  Luis Arraez was the DH.  Willians Astudillo caught and batted ninth, taking Buxton's place as the second leadoff man.

Arraez was 0-for-3 with a walk and is batting .467.  Polanco is batting .345.  Perez has an ERA of 2.95.  Harper's ERA is 1.69.  Morin has an ERA of 1.08.

Perez has been substantially less awesome in his last three starts.  He has pitched 16.2 innings and allowed six runs, which isn't bad, but he's also allowed fifteen hits and ten walks.  He obviously wasn't going to keep it going as well as he had, but the walks, especially, are not a good trend.

Nothing personal, but if Austin Adams can't protect a fourteen-run lead for one inning he really doesn't have a place on a major league baseball team.  You might as well have an extra position player.

I feel like I should be saying more about all the home runs, but I don't really know what to say about except that it's fun to see.  It was nice of them to do it in a day game while I was on the road, so I could enjoy all the homers live.

Even more notable than the eight home runs might be the fact that Astudillo drew a walk.

freealonzo linked an interesting article about Rocco in yesterday's game log.  I don't know about all the generational stuff, but I have noticed how much more complimentary Rocco is about his players compared to recent Twins managers.  It's easier to do that when you're winning, of course, but it was already clear in spring training.  Rather than looking for things to criticize or cautioning us against getting too excited when a player is doing well, Rocco actually praises them.  It seems like that would have to create a more positive environment in the clubhouse.

I also think the Twins have not received enough credit for the coaching staff they put together.  It's hard to know, from the outside, how much credit/blame to give coaches--we can see the results, but we don't know how much of it is due to the coaches versus the players themselves.  But the Twins have a substantial number of players who are doing better this year than last year, and some who are doing better than they ever have before.  It seems to me that's a pretty good indication that the coaching staff knows a thing or two.

The caution about all this, of course, is that we're still not quite a third of the way into the season.  We've all seen teams that looked like world-beaters in May but fell apart in August and September.  I don't think that's going to happen with this team, though.  That's not to say they'll win over two-thirds of their games all season.  In fact, they'll probably have a down stretch at some point--almost everyone does--and then all the so-called "fans" who delight in running their team down will be out in full force.  But unless they get a string of injuries, I don't see this team collapsing.  This is a good baseball team.

Record:  The Twins are 33-16, first in the American League Central, eight games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 146-16!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-eight

MINNESOTA 8, LOS ANGELES 3 IN LOS ANGELES

Date:  Tuesday, May 21.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 2-for-4 with a home run.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, scoring twice and driving in two.  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, scoring twice.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with a home run (his fifth) and a double, scoring twice and driving in three.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-5 with two RBIs,

Pitching stars:  Michael Pineda pitched six innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks and striking out three.  Matt Magill struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Mike Morin pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  David Fletcher was 3-for-3 with a walk.  Mike Trout was 1-for-3 with a home run (his eleventh) and a walk.  Trevor Cahill struck out five in five innings, giving up one run on two hits and two walks.

The game:  Trout homered with one out in the first inning to get the Angels up 1-0.  In the second, with two out and none on, Brian Goodwin walked, Luis Rengifo singled, Fletcher had an RBI single, and a wild pitch scored another run putting Los Angeles up 3-0.  Meanwhile, the Twins did not get a hit until the fifth inning and did not get a man past first base in that time.  It was not looking good.

No worries.  Kepler led off the sixth with a double, leading the Angels to remove starter Cahill.  Polanco followed with an RBI double and Gonzalez hit a two-run homer, tying the score at 3-3.  The Twins took control in the seventh.  Jason Castro was hit by a pitch and was on first base with two out.  Kepler then singled, Polanco had an RBI single, Gonzalez hit a run-scoring double, and Rosario delivered a two-run single, leaving the Twins ahead 7-3.  Arraez added a home run leading off the eighth.

Meanwhile, Twins starter Pineda had really settled down, allowing only one hit after the second inning.  Four relievers held Los Angeles at bay over the last three innings--their only threat was in the ninth, when they put men on first and second with two out, and nothing came of it.

WP:  Pineda (4-3).  LP:  Luke Bard (1-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Gonzalez was the DH in this game, with Arraez manning third base and Miguel Sano on the bench.  Jason Castro caught back-to-back games, which I believe is only the fourth time all season he has done that.

Arraez is batting .583.  Polanco is batting .339.  Magill has an ERA of 1.80.  Taylor Rogers retired the only man he faced and has an ERA of 1.33.  Morin has an ERA of 1.13.

Pineda really pulled himself together after the second inning.  In the second, he looked like he was all over the place and had very little command.  I went to bed soon after that and assumed he would not be in the game much longer.  Instead, he pitched very well from innings four through six.  That makes four starts in a row in which he has pitched competently.  None of them has been outstanding--he's given up three runs in each and his highest game score is sixty-one--but he's pitching about as well as you expect a fifth starter to pitch.  There's a chance he may still improve, but if he can just stay where he is he's helping.

I said that if Arraez is going to be here he should play, and he has been, so good job Rocco Baldelli.  Of course, the fact that he's gone 7-for-12 with a home run, a double, and two walks makes it a lot easier to play him.  He won't keep that up, of course--that would be a record--but he's certainly off to a good start.

I assume it was mentioned during the broadcast, or maybe some of you even remember, but Bard is a former Twin.  He was in their system from 2012-2018, reaching Rochester in 2017.  He was chosen by the Angels in the rule 5 draft before the 2018 season but was returned to the Twins in late April.  He became a minor league free agent after the season and signed with the Angels.  He had been pitching well for them, but obviously did not do so last night.

Who'd have thought that with about thirty percent of the season gone, the Twins would be winning two-thirds of their games?

Record:  The Twins are 32-16, first in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 146-16!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-six

SEATTLE 7, MINNESOTA 4 IN SEATTLE

Date:  Sunday, May 19.

Batting stars:  Jorge Polanco was 4-for-5.  Luis Arraez was 1-for-2 with two walks.

Pitching star:  Mike Morin pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Edwin Encarnacion was 3-for-4 with a home run (his thirteenth) and a double, scoring twice and driving in three.  Daniel Vogelbach was 2-for-3 with a home run (his thirteenth) and a walk, scoring twice.  Domingo Santana was 2-for-4 with a double.  J. P. Crawford was 2-for-4 with a double.  Mitch Haniger was 1-for-3 with a two-run homers (his twelfth) and a walk, scoring twice.  Yusei Kikuchi struck out six in six innings, giving up three runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks.  Brandon Brennan struck out three in two perfect innings.

The game:  There was no real threat to score until the third inning.  Arraez had a one-out single, and with two down Polanco singled and Jonathan Schoop was hit by a pitch.  C. J. Cron fanned, however, and the inning ended.  The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Encarnacion and Santana.

The Twins took the lead with three in the fifth.  Walks to Arraez and Byron Buxton opened the inning.  An infield single-plus-error by Polanco tied the score and put men on second and third.  A ground out gave the Twins the lead and an error made it 3-1 Minnesota.

The lead didn't last long.  Crawford led off the bottom of the fifth with a double.  The next two batters were retired, but back-to-back home runs by Haniger and Vogelbach put Seattle up 4-3.  It stayed there until the seventh.  With two out, reliever Trevor May walked Haniger and Vogelbach and Encarnacion delivered a three-run homer that effectively ended the game.

To the Twins' credit, they didn't quit.  In the ninth, Ehire Adrianza got a one-out single and Arraez walked.  Polanco got a two-out single to cut the lead to 7-4 and bring the tying run up to bat.  Schoop hit a long fly to right-center, but it was caught and that literally ended the game.

WP:  Kikuchi (3-1).  LP:  Kyle Gibson (4-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Schoop was the DH, with Arraez making the first start of his major league career at second base.  Adrianza was in right field, with Max Kepler on the bench.  Willians Astudillo was the day's catcher.

Arraez is batting .500.  Polanco is up to .343.  Morin now has an ERA of 1.29.

In two games, Arraez is 2-for-4 with a double and two walks.  Two games don't mean much, but it's nice to see him get off to a good start.

The only reasons I can think of for why you'd put Adrianza in right field are a) you really want to give both Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez a day off b) you just want to see if Adrianza can play there.  I know Adrianza has been doing better lately, but I can't see any other reason why you'd put him in right field when he's never played there before.

Gibson pitched pretty well except for the fifth inning, which means he didn't pitch very well.  I don't mean to overstate that--he wasn't terrible--but still, his line was six innings, four runs, nine hits.  He didn't walk anyone and did strike out six.  It seems to me that every once in a while he simply loses command of his pitches, leading either to walks or pitches over the center of the plate.  I assume he slips into some sort of flaw in his delivery, although I have no idea what the flaw might be.

Part of me says the Twins let a winnable game get away yesterday.  Another part says, well, you can't win them all, and taking three out of four from the Mariners in Seattle is still pretty good.  As was pointed out in the game log, the Mariners are not as bad as the Twins made them look in the first three games of the series.  Plus, Kikuchi has been pitching pretty well.  The Twins aren't the first team he's shut down, and they probably won't be the last.  So, I think we just let this one go and move on.

Record:  The Twins are 30-16, first in the American League Central, 4.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 146-16!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-four

MINNESOTA 7, SEATTLE 1 IN SEATTLE

Date:  Friday, May 17.

Batting stars:  Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-3 with a home run (his third), scoring twice and driving in two.  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with two runs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez struck out seven in 6.2 innings, giving up one run on five hits and four walks.  Matt Magill struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a walk.  Mike Morin pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Edwin Encarnacion was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.  Dee Gordon was 2-for-4.  Mitch Haniger was 0-for-1 with three walks.  Austin Adams struck out four in two perfect innings.

The game:  The Mariners threatened in the first inning, as Haniger walked and Encarnacion doubled to put men on second and third with one out, but Perez struck out Domingo Santana and Ryon Healy to end the threat.  The Twins got on the board in the third when Adrianza homered.  Seattle again threatened in the bottom of the third, as a Gordon single and a walk to Encarnacion put men on first and second with two out, but Santana hit into a fielder's choice to end the threat.

The Twins took control in the middle innings.  In the fourth, singles by GonzalezC. J. Cron, and Willians Astudillo loaded the bases with none out.  Kepler singled home one run and a one-out sacrifice fly by Adrianza made the score 3-0.  In the fifth, singles by Jorge Polanco and Gonzalez and a walk to Cron loaded the bases with one out.  A sacrifice fly-plus-error scored one and put men on second and third, and Kepler hit a two-run single to give the Twins a 6-0 advantage.

The Mariners scored their lone run in the bottom of the fifth.  With two out, Gordon singled, Haniger walked, and Encarnacion delivered an RBI single.  That was as good as it got for them, though.  The Twins added a run in the ninth when Adrianza singled and Jonathan Schoop doubled.

WP:  Perez (6-1).  LP:  Marco Gonzales (5-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  With Mitch Garver out, Jorge Polanco got the call as leadoff man.  Gonzalez was in left field with Eddie Rosario on the bench.  Adrianza was at third base with Miguel Sano at DH.  Astudillo was the catcher.

Polanco was 1-for-4 and is batting .331.  Perez has an ERA of 2.89.  Magill has an ERA of 2.00.  Morin has an ERA of 1.50.

As a starter, Perez is 4-1, 2.13, 1.00 WHIP with 34 strikeouts in 38 innings.

Over his last four games, Adrianza is 6-for-11 with two home runs, a double, three walks, and five RBIs.

The Twins again did not use Austin Adams in a blowout game.  Magill and Morin had just pitched Wednesday, so it's not like they needed the work.  I don't think they're saving Adams to fill three or four innings if the starter is pulled early, because that's not who Adams is.  He's been a reliever since 2013, and looking at his stats it looks like he's basically been a one-inning guy, maybe two at most.  If they're not going to use him to close out a blowout game, why bring him here at all?

Luis Arraez also did not play.  It's possible that they wanted to give him a day to get acclimated, since he just got here, and that he'll play tonight.  That would make some sense.  But it will make no sense if they've brought him here to sit the bench.  Granted, Arraez just turned twenty-two and he's only played three games above AA, so there could be some question whether he's ready for the majors.  But I'm not the one who decided to bring him up.  He either needs to play in the big leagues or play in AAA.  He does not need to sit for two weeks.  That does neither him nor the Twins any good.  Major league roster spots are too valuable to waste one or two on players you don't intend to use.

Record:  The Twins are 29-15, first in the American League Central, 5.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 147-15!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-three

MINNESOTA 11, SEATTLE 6 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, May 16.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 4-for-5 with a two-run homer, his tenth.  Eddie Rosario was 3-for-5.  Byron Buxton was 2-for-5 with a three-run homer (his third) and two runs.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-5 with two doubles.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5.  Max Kepler was 1-for-4 with a home run, his ninth, and two runs.  Jason Castro was 1-for-5 with a home run (his seventh), scoring twice and driving in two.

Pitching star:  Michael Pineda pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits and no walks and striking out six.

Opposition stars:  Mitch Haniger was 2-for-4.  Daniel Vogelbach was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his twelfth.  Mallex Smith was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second.  Ryon Healy was 1-for-4 with a home run, his seventh.  J. P. Crawford was 1-for-4 with a home run.  Connor Sadzeck pitched two perfect innings, striking out one.

The game:  It was scoreless through two, but Castro changed that by leading off the third with a home run.  Kepler also homered in the inning, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.  Smith got one of the runs back with a home run of his own in the bottom of the third, making the score 2-1.

The Twins then broke it open with a big fourth inning.  Rosario singled and Cron homered to make it 4-1.  Marwin Gonzalez singled, Sano doubled, and a fielder's choice/error made the score 5-1.  Buxton then hit a three-run homer to increase the lead to 8-1.  The Twins still weren't done, as Kepler was hit by a pitch, Polanco singled, and an error brought home a run to make the score 9-1.

The Mariners got back-to-back homers from Healy and Crawford leading off the fifth to cut the margin to 9-3.  There was no more scoring, or even threats, until the eighth, when Buxton singled, took second on a wild pitch, and score on Polanco's single.

With the score 10-3, it was deemed safe to let Tyler Duffey pitch.  He retired Dee Gordon, but Haniger doubled, Edwin Encarnacion singled, and Vogelbach hit a three-run homer to cut the lead to 10-7.  To Duffey's credit, he regrouped to retire the next five batters.  The Twins added a run in the ninth on singles by Rosario and Cron and a double by Sano.

WP:  Pineda (3-3).  LP:  Erik Swanson (1-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Sano returned to the lineup, playing third base and batting seventh.  There is probably some wisdom in not throwing him into the middle of the lineup right away, although I assume he'll be put back up there at some point.  Gonzalez moved to first, with Cron taking the DH spot and Nelson Cruz still out of the lineup.  Jonathan Schoop batted third.  He's not really an ideal third-place hitter, of course, and he didn't get the job done last night, either, going 0-for-5.  Still, it didn't hurt them.

It had to feel good to Sano to get a couple of doubles in his first game back.  I gather that one of them was not exactly hard hit, but still, a double's a double.  One game proves nothing, of course, but at least he's off to a good start.

By game scores, last night was not Pineda's best start of the season.  That would be his first start, when he pitched four shutout innings against Cleveland.  I think most of us would agree that this one was better, though.  He gave up a few gopher balls, but this start would be the perfect illustration of "solo home runs don't hurt you".  He has gotten steadily better in his last few starts.  It is to be hoped the trend will continue.

This would seem to have been a perfect game to use new Twin Austin Adams.  Perhaps they wanted to give him more chance to get acclimated before using him in a game.  Or, perhaps they would've used him to pitch the ninth if Duffey had pitched a clean eighth.

Over the last two weeks, the Twins have played Toronto, the Angels, Detroit, and now Seattle.  Not exactly a tough schedule, but at least a couple of those teams are close to .500.  Over that same time, Cleveland has played the White Sox, Oakland, the White Sox again, and now Baltimore.  That's certainly no tougher schedule, and arguably an easier one.  Over that stretch, the Twins have gained 2.5 games on the Indians.  That strikes me as a good sign.

Record:  The Twins are 28-15, first in the American League Central, 4.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 147-15!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-two

MINNESOTA 8, LOS ANGELES 7 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Wednesday, May 15.

Batting stars:  Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4 with a triple.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4.  Jason Castro was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer (his sixth) and a walk.  Byron Buxton was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his second.

Pitching star:  Jake Odorizzi pitched 5.1 innings, giving up three runs on nine hits and two walks and striking out three.

Opposition stars:  Brian Goodwin was 4-for-4 with two doubles and two runs.  Tommy La Stella was 4-for-5 with a home run (his eleventh) and a walk.  Jared Walsh was 3-for-5.  Jonathan Lucroy was 2-for-4 with a home run (his sixth), a double, and a walk.  David Fletcher was 2-for-5.

The game:  The Angels threatened in the first two innings but did not score.  They started the game with a walk and a single, but a line out and a double play ended the threat.  Goodwin had a leadoff double in the second, but nothing came of that, either.  The Twins got on the board in the bottom of the second.  C. J. Cron reached on a strikeout/wild pitch, Schoop had an infield single, and Adrianza hit a two-run double to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.

The Angels immediately cut it to 2-1 in the third on La Stella's home run.  It then stayed 2-1 until the fifth, when the Twins had a big inning.  Castro walked and Buxton hit a two-run homer to make it 4-1.  With one out, Polanco tripled and scored on Eddie Rosario's double.  A wild pitch moved Rosario to third and a Willians Astudillo sacrifice fly scored him to give the Twins a 6-1 advantage.

The Angels again immediately cut it to 6-3 in the sixth when Goodwin singled and Lucroy homered.  The Twins got the two runs back in the bottom of the sixth when Adrianza singled and Castro homered.  It was 8-3 through six and it looked like it should be an easy Twins win.  Los Angeles got one in the seventh on two singles and a sacrifice fly, but it was still a comfortable 8-4 lead going to the ninth.

It got uncomfortable in a hurry.  Trevor Hildenberger started the inning and got the first out, but then gave up doubles to Goodwin and Lucroy and a single to Fletcher, making the score 8-6.  Mike Morin came in and gave up a single to Walsh.  He struck out Luis Rengifo, but La Stella singled to load the bases and Mike Trout was hit by a pitch to force in a run, cutting the margin to 8-7 and bringing up Shohei Otani.  Otani, however, grounded to short and the Twins escaped with a victory.

WP:  Odorizzi (6-2).  LP:  Trevor Cahill (2-4).  S:  Morin (1).

Notes:  With Nelson Cruz still out, Polanco was the DH and Adrianza was at short.  Willians Astudillo was at third, with Marwin Gonzalez given the day off.  It seems odd to give Gonzalez a day off with Miguel Sano presumably returning to third base soon, but then I don't know just what Rocco Baldelli might have in mind over the next few games.

Polanco raised his average to .331.

Blake Parker retired the only man he faced and his ERA is now 1.17.  Ryne Harper gave up two hits but did not allow a run in two-thirds of an inning and has an ERA of 1.50.  Morin also gave up two hits but did not allow a run in two-thirds of an inning and has an ERA of 1.80.  Matt Magill gave up a walk but no runs in two-thirds of an inning and has an ERA of 2.35.  Trevor May gave up a run on two hits in a full inning and has an ERA of 2.76.

Odorizzi did not have one of his best games, especially compared to the way he's been pitching recently.  He was constantly in trouble and finally, in the sixth, couldn't get out of it.  On the other hand, it wasn't reasonable to think he would keep pitching as well as he had been, and he got through 5.1 innings keeping the Twins in the game.  It's not what you want, but if that's as bad as it gets he'll be in good shape.  His ERA is now 2.63.

The Twins' bullpen did not have one of its best games, either, but they did do a good job cleaning up each other's messes.  They then created messes of their own, of course.  But May came in with men on first and third and one out and got out of the inning with neither runner scoring.  Magill came in with men on first and third and one out and allowed only one to score on a sacrifice fly.  Parker came in with men on first and second and two out and retired the man he faced.  Even Morin came in with men on first and second and one out and only allowed one to score.

My first thought for the ninth was that Rocco should've left Parker in.  But Parker had pitched 1.1 innings the night before, and the Twins had a four run lead.  If you can't trust Hildenberger for one inning with a four run lead there's no point in having him on the team.  As it turned out, unfortunately, you can't and there's not, at least not right now.  Hildenberger is kind of a puzzle.  He has stretches where he seems unhittable, and he has other stretchers where he seems to be throwing batting practice.  I wonder if there's some sort of flaw in his delivery that he slips into sometimes and has a hard time getting out of again.  That's just speculation, of course.  But I can't blame the Twins for wanting him to go to Rochester until he gets straightened out.

It was asked if the Twins didn't have someone in Rochester better to bring up than Austin Adams.  The answer, in my opinion, is no, they really don't.  Kohl Stewart, maybe, but I suspect the Twins want him to continue starting.  Devin Smeltzer has made two really good starts for the Red Wings, but it's only two starts, so I suspect a) they want him to get more experience before bringing him up and b) they want him to continue starting as well.  Adams appears to be a replacement-level pitcher at best.  He will presumably try to fill the Fernando Romero groundskeeper role, but I'm not sure I wouldn't rather have another position player on the team instead.

Record:  The Twins are 27-15, first in the American League Central, 4.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 147-15!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-one

MINNESOTA 4, LOS ANGELES 3 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, May 14.

Batting star:  Mitch Garver was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his ninth.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson pitched 5.2 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks and striking out five.  Ryne Harper pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Blake Parker pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Shohei Otani was 3-for-4.  David Fletcher was 2-for-3 with a double.  Tommy La Stella was 2-for-5.  Taylor Cole struck out four in two shutout innings, giving up two hits.

The game:  The Twins got on the board in the first inning.  Jorge Polanco got a one-out single, stole second with two out, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Eddie Rosario's single to make it 1-0 Minnesota.  It went to 3-0 in the third when Max Kepler led off with a single and Garver hit a one-out two-run homer.  The Twins added one more in the fourth when Marwin Gonzalez led off with a double and scored on Byron Buxton's two-out double to make it 4-0.

The Angels got back into the game in the sixth.  Gibson had been in control through five, not allowing a man past first base.  In the sixth, however, Luis Rengifo walked and David Fletcher doubled him home.  La Stella's single put men on first and third and a wild pitch made the score 4-2, still with none out.  Mike Trout struck out, but Otani's RBI single cut the margin to 4-3.  Andrelton Simmons then singled, but Otani was thrown out trying to go to third.  Ryne Harper then came on to retire Albert Pujols and keep the score 4-3.

Each team threatened in the seventh.  Los Angeles got a pair of singles but did not score.  The Twins got three walks and failed to score.  The Angels again threatened in the eighth.  Singles by Otani and Pujols put men on first and second with two out.  Brian Goodwin singled, but Byron Buxton threw Otani out at the plate to keep the score 4-3.  Catcher Garver was injured on the play, about which we'll say more later.  Los Angeles got a one-out walk in the ninth, but no more, and the Twins held on for the win.

WP:  Gibson (4-1).  LP:  Cam Bedrosian (1-2).  S:  Parker (7).

Notes:  With Nelson Cruz out, Willians Astudillo was the DH.

Garver is batting .329 with an OPS of 1.164.  Polanco was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .327 with an OPS of 1.010.  Harper has an ERA of 1.56.  Tyler Duffey gave up a hit to the only man he faced, but he didn't score and his ERA remains 1.42.  Mike Morin retired the only man he faced and his ERA is 2.08.  Taylor Rogers pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up a hit, but no runs, and has an ERA of 1.47.  Parker has an ERA of 1.20.

Take a look at those bullpen ERAs for a second.  The Twins bullpen has taken some criticism, and I know ERA isn't necessarily the best way to evaluate a relief pitcher, but still.  Four relievers with ERAs under two.  Morin is just barely over two, and the other two relievers are at 2.35 (Trevor May) and 2.56 (Matt Magill).  That strikes me as being pretty good.

Garver was injured when Otani slid into him in the eighth inning.  Nothing wrong with the slide or the way Garver set up--no matter how hard MLB tries to make the game safer, injuries will still happen sometimes.  Reports this morning say Garver has a sprained ankle and will be evaluated further today.  I would certainly expect him to go on the injured list.

Bedrosian was used as the opener by the Angels and gave up one run on two hits in one inning.  It strikes me that being used consistently as an opener would be a pretty thankless job.  If you hold the other team scoreless, well, that's what you were supposed to do.  And it was the first inning, maybe two, of the game, so by the end of the game everyone's forgotten about it anyway.  And if you give up a run or two, well, who put that bum in to start the game, anyway?  Plus, you'd have the chance to get a really ugly won-lost record, because you can't possibly get the win, but it wouldn't be at all hard to get the loss.  I don't think it's a job people would be clamoring for the chance to do.

The Angels out-hit the Twins 11-7, went 3-for-4 with men in scoring position, but still lost the game.  Two double plays helped, and two outfield assists were very important, too.  I've said this before, but it is a lot of fun to watch a good defensive baseball team.

Record:  The Twins are 26-15, first in the American League Central, four games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 147-15!

2019 Recap: Game Thirty-six

MINNESOTA 6, DETROIT 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, May 10.

Batting stars:  Mitch Garver was 1-for-1 with a two-run homer (his eighth) and three walks, scoring twice.  Max Kepler was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eighth.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Jake Odorizzi pitched seven shutout innings, giving up one hit and no walks and striking out five.  Matt Magill struck out two in a perfect inning.  Fernando Romero pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  None.

The game:  Christin Stewart doubled with one out in the first, but did not get past third base.  That was the only baserunner the Tigers would get off Odorizzi, and the only runner they would get until the ninth.

Meanwhile, the first six Twins also went out.  After that, though, things got better.  In the third, Garver walked and Jonathan Schoop singled.  With one out, Kepler walked to load the bases and Polanco delivered a two-run double to put the Twins up 2-0.

In the fourth, Marwin Gonzalez was hit by a pitch and Garver followed with a home run, making the score 4-0.  Kepler led off the fifth with a home run to make it 5-0.  In the sixth, Gonzalez got an infield single and walks to GarverByron Buxton, and Polanco forced home a run to bring the score to 6-0.

The Tigers opened the ninth with singles by Grayson Greiner and JaCoby Jones, their first baserunners since the first inning.  A strikeout, a force out, and a lineout ended the inning and preserved the shutout.

WP:  Odorizzi (5-2).  LP:  Tyson Ross (1-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Garver is batting .364 with an OPS of 1.228.  Polanco is batting .341 with an OPS of 1.056.

Odorizzi has an ERA of 2.32.  If you could throw out the game against Philadelphia, his ERA would be 1.50.  He has not given up a run in his last three starts (twenty innings) and has struck out twenty over that span, allowing just seven hits and five walks.  Over his last five starts (31.1 innings) he has allowed three runs on twenty-one hits and six walks.  I think you could say he's on a roll.  He's obviously not going to keep that up all season--he'd win the Cy Young award unanimously if he did--but he's sure pitching well right now.

Fernando Romero is now unscored upon in his last five games.  Granted, it's only four innings, and he's allowed four hits and three walks.  Still, his ERA has come down from 11.25 to 5.62.  It's improvement.

Matt Magill is also unscored upon in his last three games (three innings).  He has struck out four and has allowed just one hit and no walks, dropping his ERA from 6.75 to 3.18.

There was a scary moment in the sixth inning when, on a play at first base, Gonzalez' head collided with the knee of Niko Goodrum.  Reports this morning are that Gonzalez has cleared the concussion protocol and is day-to-day, which is certainly good news.  I expect he won't play today, and maybe not tomorrow, but if the reports are correct and nothing else happens, he should be good to go soon.

The Twins have a record of 24-12.  That means they have won exactly two-thirds of their first thirty-six games.  Granted that it's still May, and thirty-six games represents just two-ninths of the schedule.  Granted, as well, that the Twins haven't always played the toughest schedule.  But even granting all that, winning two-thirds of your games over a thirty-six game span is an achievement.  It would be unusual for a bad team to be able to do that, even against weak competition.  Again, lots of things (injuries, slumps, etc.) can happen.  But it certainly appears that the Twins are a good baseball team this season.

Record:  The Twins are 24-12, first in the American League Central, 4.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 150-12!