Category Archives: 2015 Twins Game Recaps

Game 130: Twins 7, Astros 5


That sound emanating from downtown Minneapolis on Sunday was one huge sigh of relief following not just a good performance, but a dominant performance from Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Ervin Santana, who pitched 7 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks.

That sigh no doubt came from Twins manager Paul Molitor and pitching coach Neil Allen, who would be faced with a difficult decision if Santana had another poor outing with Tyler Duffey pitching well and Phil Hughes ready to come off the disabled list pretty soon.

That sigh no doubt also came from the Twins bullpen, who did not have to come into a game before the seventh inning for the first time since August 20.

In fact, that sigh no doubt came from the position players as well as the victory got the Twins to .500 in August, which gave the team just its second nonlosing month of the season. The Twins went 21-7 in May but had losing records in April, June and July.

That sigh also no doubt came from Twins fans as Trevor May got a strikeout to end the game after the Astros came storming back with two outs in the 9th on a long three-run homer and a two-run homer to reduce a 7-run lead to 2, but May made sure that the Astros would not get the tying run to the plate and that closer Glen Perkins would not be forced to come into the game.

But maybe the biggest sigh of relief came from the Twins' front office, who saw Santana finally pitch like the pitcher they thought they were getting when they signed him to the richest free agent contract in franchise history.  Santana's 10 strikeouts were a season high for Twins pitchers, topping the 9 strikeouts done by Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes and twice by Trevor May, who was the last Twins pitcher to have a 10 K, 0 BB game, on Sept. 14, 2014. That of course was the last time a Twins pitcher had 10 Ks in a game period.

I almost forgot one other sigh of relief, which was the one coming from the emergency responders and medical staff at Target Field once they realized no one had been hit by the screaming line drive hit by Miguel Sano into the left-field stands. A few more of those, and people will be pining for netting placed in front of the outfield stands. Forget about extending it around foul territory.

Game 128 recap: No Mauer, No Sano, No Problem. Twins 3 Astros 0

Joe Mauer  was getting a day off (He has played in 125 of 128 games and only batting .231 against Scott Kazmir) and Miguel Sano getting a day off because of a tender hamstring. Well, the regulars and fills in made do and scored enough runs to get the Twins another win this week.

Eduardo Nunez replaced Sano and he hit a home run and got another RBI on a fielder choice (and really a nifty play by Jose Altuve. Made the stop deep to his right and threw an off balance throw to get Nunez by a half step). Torii Hunter drew a bases loaded hit-by-pitch to get the other run.


Kyle Gibson was OK, going 5 2/3 scattering 4 hits, issuing 4 walks, and striking out 4. The bullpen then went to work with Glen Perkin coming in the game in the 7th and striking out two. He looked like his pre-All Star Game form striking out two. Trevor May's assortment of 95 mph fast balls and dipsy-do curveballs pitched a clean 8th. Kevin Jepsen made things hairy in the 9th but got enough outs to preseve the shutout.


-The Twins won a game despite only getting 3 hits. Two of those hits were for extra bases.

-Eduardo Nunez had a "whoopsie" moment when he tossed a ball towards first base and it ended up somewhere near the State Fair.

- After getting swept by New York the Twins have won 7 of the last 8 games.

- Kevin Jepsen notched his 4th save in a Twins uniform. Other notable pitchers  4 saves: John Candelaria, Hector Carrassco, Mark Portugal, Pete Filson.

- Kyle Gibson made his 67th career start as a Twin. That is 38th on the Twins list. If he pitches one more full season, he will crack into the Top 25. I find that fascinating because to me it goes to show how much roster turnover the Twins have had. Although Nick Blackburn made 137 starts and is 16th on that list, so sometimes stability is not the best.


Game 127 Recap: Rays 5, Twins 4

Well, shoot.

It hurts to lose a winnable game.  It was all right there for the Twins.  They led 4-2 after four innings and 4-3 through five.  But then Tommy Milone was perhaps left in a bit too long, the score was tied, and then Kurt Suzuki, who we're constantly told is a really good defensive catcher, allowed a passed ball to score what turned out to be the tying run.

It hurts to lose a winnable game.  The Twins, who had been so good with men in scoring position throughout the winning streak, went 1-for-6 in that situation last night.  Had they managed one more hit with men in scoring position, they might have won the game.

It hurts to lose a winnable game.  But on the other hand, during the winning streak, they won some losable games, too.  At some point, it was probably bound to even out.  It might have been easier to take if the winning streak had ended with an 8-2 loss, but the result in the standings would've been the same.

Still, a 6-4 road trip against three fairly good teams is nothing to be ashamed of.  We come home to play another good team, the Houston Astros.  There's a sentence I didn't expect to write this season.  Kyle Gibson, who has been alternating good and bad games, goes for the Twins.  He'll face Scott Kazmir, who's having an excellent year and who handled the Twins pretty easily the last time he faced them.  It won't be easy, but we know how it's going to come out.  Tonight we start our season ending thirty-five game winning streak!  We'll just have to settle for 100-62!

Game 126 Recap: Twins 5, Rays 3

Okay, everyone who a week ago, when the Yankees wrapped up their sweep of the Twins, thought the Twins would go on to win their next six games on the road, raise your hands.  Okay, now put your hands down, because you know you're lying.

Continue reading Game 126 Recap: Twins 5, Rays 3

Game 124: Twins 4, Orioles 3 (12)

Just when you think you've seen everything...

I think it's safe to say the Twins have found the smoke and mirrors they seemed to misplace at the end of May. It was just four days ago the Yankees had all but ended the Twins' postseason chances. Now, four wins in Baltimore later, the Twins have vaulted past the O's and the Rays and are now tied with the suddenly reeling Angels just 1 1/2 games behind the Rangers for the second wildcard spot. Plus, the Twins are heading to Tampa to face the Rays, who are a game back of the Twins, for 3 games. The Twins have a chance at their first winning road trip since May 19-24 and have won 3 of their last 4 series, the only series wins they've had since the All-Star break.

The Twins basically did to the Orioles what the Yankees did to the Twins, although the Twins did it in completely different ways. Besides the blowout in the first game, the Twins were the better team in the later innings despite the Orioles generally having a better bullpen. The Orioles only have three losses when leading after 7 innings, and two of those losses came in this series, including Sunday's game.

However, it wasn't like the Twins hit the O's bullpen hard. The Twins tied the game in the ninth on an infield single when the pitcher failed to get over in time on a ground ball to the first baseman. Then came an infield out to advance the runner to second and a two-out ground ball in the hole between shortstop and third base to score the tying run.

The winning rally was the result of two Oriole errors and great hustle by Eduardo Escobar, who went to second base after his slow chopper went under the glove of the shortstop. He then scored when a ground ball went off the third baseman's glove and trickled into the outfield.

In Saturday's game, the Twins used a hit-and-run single, a squeeze bunt to tie the game and a two-out line-drive single to take the lead in the 7th inning. Their only other run of the game was on a roller that snuck through a drawn-in infield.

In Friday's game, the Twins used a sac fly and a pop fly that fell behind a drawn-in infield to score three runs in the eighth inning and win 4-3. The only other run of the game came on a bases loaded walk.

So it wasn't that the Twins were exactly killing the ball in the final three games after scoring 15 runs in the opener. They executed well and took advantage of Orioles mistakes to get just enough runs to win three days in a row.

The real key to the series was the Twins' bullpen. After being just awful against the Yankees, the reliever suddenly could do no wrong. On Sunday, the bullpen pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings with just four hits and two walks allowed and 7 strikeouts. For the series, the bullpen didn't allow a run in 15 2/3 innings. They had 16 Ks with just 5 hits and 4 walks allowed (0.57 WHIP). And this only included one inning from All-Star closer Glen Perkins, who had a couple cortisone shots in his neck after the end of the Yankees series.

What many Twins fans I'm sure were pleased to see was manager Paul Molitor again using his closer in a tied game on the road. This almost never happened under previous manager Ron Gardenhire over 13 seasons. He would inevitably save his closer for a save opportunity that often didn't come because a lesser reliever would lose the game. Of course, Molitor had previously tried using Perkins against the Yankees while Perkins' neck was still bothering him, so he ended up losing the game that was tied. On Sunday, Molitor not only used Kevin Jepsen, who was filling in at closer while Perkins was out, but Perkins himself, who Molitor had previously said he wanted to wait until Tuesday to get Perkins back on the mound. Perkins gave up a couple hits but kept the game tied and ended up the winning pitcher. With just about their entire bullpen used up and not wanting to overuse Casey Fien, Molitor called on starting pitcher Tommy Milone and his sub-90 mph fastball to close out the win. Milone got an assist from Byron Buxton, who made a nice leaping catch at the wall to prevent a leadoff double before Milone buckled down and struck out the next two batters with offspeed pitches, once again proving that having a "proven closer" is overrated.

What is not overrated is how much fun it is to watch Miguel Sano hit. He gave the Twins the early lead on Sunday with a two-run home run in the first inning. It was a rocket of a line drive to right-center field and may have been his most impressive home run to date, considering it was his first home run to the opposite field and the pitcher he hit it off of was nearly untouchable by the Twins after Sano's homer. He also had a double to left in the 11th inning. The Twins only had seven hits and Sano had two of them and they were the only two hit with any authority. If Sano will remember the approach that got him his home run, that could really help him cut down on his strikeouts and help him go from being a Chris Davis-type hitter to a Miguel Cabrera-type hitter.