Category Archives: 2015 Twins Game Recaps

Game 149: Twins 8, Angels 1

Just when I think I'm out, they reel me back in.

Okay. That's probably overstated. While the Twins looked very good today in ending a five-game losing streak, I doubt too many fans got too excited over salvaging the final game of an important four-game home series. Unless the Twins go on a serious hot streak to end the season, I imagine most of us will look at Saturday's doubleheader sweep by the Angels as when  we realized that getting into the postseason probably wasn't in the cards this year. The Twins did get back to a tie with the Angels in the standings, but they're still 2 1/2 games back of the Astros with only 13 games left in the season. If the Astros go 6-6, the Twins will have to finish 9-4 just to tie them.

But fans should be excited. Not so much for this season but for the seasons ahead. It should be readily apparent that this team is much better than it was at the beginning of the season.

And I'm not just talking about Miguel Sano. Certainly he's probably the biggest reason. The Twins haven't had a power hitter so feared at least since Justin Morneau took a knee to the helmet in Toronto. And maybe not since Harmon Killebrew left for one sad season in Kansas City. Sano and the Killer certainly have the most similar of skillsets in huge power, great patience and the ability to thrill fans even with one of their numerous strikeouts. Sano showed the power on Saturday with a monster game-tying home run in the 7th inning. On Sunday, he showed his great eye at the plate with two more walks, plus he added a single.

Twins fans expected Sano to burst onto the scene sometime this season, but it is doubtful anyone could see Sano being so good, so fast. Fans also were expecting to see the rotation ace and a great all-around centerfielder and leadoff hitter to emerge from the minors as well. They just didn't expect it to be Tyler Duffey and Aaron Hicks.

Duffey has pretty much come out of nowhere to clearly be the Twins' best starting pitcher at this point. He leads the Twins starters in ERA and xFIP and his K rate of over 8 is the best the Twins have seen since Francisco Liriano was traded to the White Sox. Duffey may not be a "true ace," but if the Twins have 5 Duffeys, they would be tied with the Yankees for second-best xFIP for starters in the AL.

What's made his emergence even more exciting is that so little was expected of him coming into this season. MLB Pipeline had him ranked the Twins' 14th-best prospect and Aaron Gleeman had him ranked 31st. When he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, Duffey was considered a Twins typical college pitcher draft pick with great control and not great stuff. Duffey started this season in AA and now Twins fans are pinning their hopes on him being at the top of the rotation in a run for the postseason.

Duffey was a stopper on Sunday, dominating the Angels in seven shutout innings. He only allowed three hits: a bunt and 2 slow dribblers up the middle. He also struck out 7. Maybe the most exciting thing about Duffey is there is little mystery about him. When he gets to two strikes, he's going to his curveball, and it doesn't seem to matter. Batters find it really hard to hit and even harder to lay off. As long as he continues to mix in an occasional two-strike 93-94 mph fastball in there, he'll continue to have great success as long as he's consistently ahead in the count.

As for Hicks, there was a lot of people doubting his ability to hit at the major league level as well. After being the Twins' Opening Day centerfielder the previous two seasons, he began this year in AAA while the Twins used a combination of Jordan Schafer and Shane Robinson in center. With top prospect Byron Buxton looming in AA, the present and future did not look good for Hicks.

However, he got off to a great start and earned a promotion at the beginning of May. While his hitting had improved on his first two disastrous seasons, he still had a disappointing .563 OPS. However, he had home runs in back-to-back games the next two days and took off from there. Since July 4, Hicks has a .793 OPS. He showed his great all-around play Sunday with two walks and a nice sliding catch in the first inning. Perhaps most impressive were his two hits, both from his weaker left side. The first hit he pulled a fastball on the inside corner to right field. The second was an RBI single up the middle on a low and away changeup. The old Aaron Hicks never would have been able to get both of those hits from the left side.

If the Twins are to really turn this ship around and be a consistent contender, they need more of these type of surprises.

Game 145: Tigers 7, Twins 4 (in 12 innings)

Consensus after the game seemed to be that:
a) Molitor made some curious moves re: pinch-running and defensive substitutions which came back to bite him (see socal's comments in the Game Log),
b) The Twins offense had numerous chances to put this thing away, but simply couldn't get it done (3-13 w/ RISP),
c) Jepsen was bound to blow a save with the Twins at some point - unfortunately, it came in game that was both very winnable and very important,
d) Hicks still has some work to do on keeping his head in games: he was doubled off 2nd in the 6th and didn't hit the cut-off man in the 9th, allowing the eventual tying runner to advance to 2nd.
e) Duensing sucks,
f) It's all Mauer's fault, all the time.*

And the positive:

With his solo homer off Norris in the third, Eddie Rosario became the 17th rookie to record 10 homers, 10 triples, 10 doubles and 10 stolen bases in a season. He was the first do it since Hanley Ramirez in 2006. He's also just the sixth rookie to reach those marks with at least 10 outfield assists.
-Jason Beck

They're still only 1.5 games behind Houston for the 2nd Wild Card spot, with seventeen games left and a fairly favorable list of opponents. Channeling JeffA, I'd say they're ready to start their seventeen game winning streak tonight against LAAAAA.

*even though he's reached base safely in 36-straight-games, a career high.

Game 143: Tigers 1, Twins 7

Tyler Duffy looked shaky in the 1st inning, walking two, giving up a single and uncorking a wild pitch (meh - didn't even get past Suzuki) to load the bases with one out. He then was able to coax a ground-ball double-play out of Victor Martinez to wiggle out of it. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Twins scored four runs the 1st off of Kyle Lobstein and Duffy followed that up by striking out the side in the 2nd. The offense kept up it's smoke & mirrors* assault on Lobstein, plating two more runs in in the home-half of the 2nd. Eduardo Escobar, doing everything in his power to lock himself into that SS position long-term, added a solo blast to the second deck in the 4th and was 2-4 with two RBI's and one Run in the game, upping his season numbers to .269/.310/.457. Of those currently playing every day for this club, only Sano (.956!!!) and Dozier (.774) are sporting a better OPS than EE (.767).

Turns out, the team would only need two of those first inning Runs as Duffy went 6 1/3 innings, allowing one Run on seven hits and a couple of BB's to go with seven K's. Casey Fien walked one and struck out three in 1 2/3 innings and Neal Cotts allowed one hit and struck out one to wrap up the 9th.

Oh yeah, that Mauer guy managed to go 3-5 (all well-hit balls) to get his average back above .270 (.271) on the year to lead the team** in BA. He's knocked in 60 Runs (4th on the team) and scored 60 Runs (3rd). He's currently 6th on the team with 1.5 WAR.***

Kansas City (84-59) has lost 2 in a row but still stands 9 games ahead of the Twins (75-68) in the AL Central. Houston (77-67) and Texas (76-67), currently squaring off for the AL West/WC2 spot, seem to be the more likely target(s) for Minnesota to bypass for the last playoff spot.****

*Of 13 hits, only three were of the extra-base variety: two doubles in the 1st (Mauer, Plouffe!) and Escobar's homer in the 4th, along with four BB's by the squad.

**Currently, only Dozier, Plouffe, Mauer & Hunter qualify for the batting title (3.1 PA's / team game). If he played every remaining game, Suzuki (429) needs ~3.85 PA's/game to qualify. Rosario (403) & Escobar (379) are "close," but would need to average about 5.22 & 6.48 PA's per remaining game to qualify.

***The lowest full-season WAR of his career. He had 1.5 WAR in 80 games in 2011 ... le sigh.

****The Yankees (79-64), winners of their past two (4-6 in their past 10), currently hold the first WC spot, four games ahead of the Twins.

Game 142: Twins 7, White Sox 0

Well, that was about as good as it gets.

A great formula for winning is to get the lead early and keep adding on to it and have your starter go deep without ever threatening to let the other team get back in it. The Twins did that on Sunday . The fact that it was against Chris Sale was even better.

It's really bizarre what the Twins have done to Sale this year. After all, he's a great pitcher. No, really. He is!

Only twice all season has Sale been pulled from a start before finishing 5 innings and throwing at least 95 pitches. Both times came against the Twins: on Sunday and on April 30 at Target Field when he gave up a season-high 8 earned runs in just 3 IP.

All this came a day after the Twins played their worst game of this roadtrip. Tommy Milone got knocked out early and the Twins couldn't add any more runs after basically being handed two runs early. Plus the defense had several miscues.

That loss meant the Twins would be forced to beat Sale, one of the best pitchers in the American League, to avoid a demoralizing series loss after winning 2 of 3 in Kansas City against the AL's best team. The Twins also needed to win Sunday to go home with a winning recond on their nine-game roadtrip.

Miguel Sano had an RBI single in the first inning to give the Twins a quick lead, but the Twins didn't stop there. After Trevor Plouffe singled, Torii Hunter had an epic at-bat where he fouled off several close two-strike pitches, two a couple more close ones for balls and then a ripped a fastball into the left-center field stands for a 4-0 lead.

That was more than enough for Kyle Gibson, who had his A game on Sunday. He only allowed 5 hits and 1 walk while getting 7 strikeouts and 15 ground balls in his 7 2/3 innings. The best part was that the Twins only needed one out from Casey Fien and Kevin Jepsen and Trevor May weren't needed at all. If the want to go on a protracted run, they need to be able to get plenty of wins where they don't to use their best relief pitchers.

The bad news was Texas beat Oakland on Sunday, so the Twins remained 1 game back of the Rangers for the final playoff spot. However, who would have thought the Twins would be in such a position with just 20 games remaining. Even better, the Twins play 13 of their final 20 games at home, where they have played great all season. The win Sunday marked the end of a 25-game stretch that included 19 road games. The Twins went 15-10, although the lost a half game in the standings to Texas. However, they did pass Baltimore and the Angels in the standings.

The Twins will open their homestand against the Tigers, who split a doubleheader on Sunday with the Indians. Because of rainouts on Friday and Saturday, Justin Verlander had to pitch on Sunday and won't be available for the series against the Twins. The Tigers also traded away Twins nemesis David Price to the Blue Jays, so the Twins will face Kyle Lobstein, Alfredo Simon and TBD instead. Matt Boyd is a possibility for the third game.

While the Twins are facing the last-place Tigers, the Rangers will be playing host to the first-place Astros, who are riding high after an epic comeback against the Angels on Sunday by scoring 5 runs in the ninth to win 5-3 after there were two outs and no one on base. The Angels and the Astros are going to have a lot to say of who wins the West and wins the second wildcard. The Angels play 11 of their final 20 games against teams ahead of them in the standings. The Astros play 6 with Texas and 4 with the Angels. The Twins only play host to 4 games with the Angels after playing Detroit. After that, they'll be playing 6 with Cleveland and 3 at Detroit and finish with 3 home games against the Royals, who will more than likely be gearing up for the playoffs instead of worrying about regular-season games, although they might be battling with Toronto for the best record in the AL and homefield advantage in a possible ALCS matchup.

Game 140 recap: Twins win!

Its always fun when the Twins win.

Its a tad more fun when that win is against the White Sox.

Its even more fun when the White do White Sox things and bumble away a game against the Twins.


There was so much to like about this game. Ervin Santana went 7 strong innings. His only blemish was a 2 run home run by Adam Eaton. Trevor May pitched a strong 8th inning too.

Torii Hunter seems to be pulling out of his mid-to-late season slump by collecting two hits, an RBI, and had two outfield assists. Trevor Plouffe broke out of a long homerless drought by hitting two.


I just want to take a moment to thank Jerry Reinsdorf for keeping Robin Ventura around to manage. All he has done this year is pad the win total of our favorite team! I hope he is around for 5 more years! Since WGN does not air White Sox games anymore I dont get to see them except when the play the Twins. But from what I have seen, I have not been impressed by his teams. The players seem unenthusiastic to play the game. His bullpen management seems odd (like in tonights game when everyone could see Putnam was struggling to get the ball TO the plate let alone throw a strike, Ventura left him in there) and his in game management (in the 9th inning, Putnam was wild with Mauer getting the count 2-0, then he tossed to the IBB to fill the bases for Miguel Sano. WHAT?!).  Sometimes Paul Molitor does some curious things (like going to the Blaine Boyer well one too many times) but you can chalk it up to being a first year manager and he is trying to do a trial and error of what works and not. Ventura is in year 4. It seems like he should know how to run a baseball team.

I mean, part of it is talent, or the lack of it in the Sox system. But a decent manager should be able to coax a few extra wins out of a flawed roster and it just doesnt seem like he is doing that with the Sox. But like I said, I hope he is manager for 5 more years.


Texas won so the Twins keep pace with them still 1 game back for the second Wild Card slot. The Royals lost so the Twins pull to within 10 games. The Royals magic number is 13. WE STILL HAVE A CHANCE!

Game 137: Twins 6, Royals 2

The Twins scored first in the 1st with a homerun by Aaron Hicks, his 10th of the season. KC came back to tie it at one in the home-half of the 1st, and didn't score another run until the 7th. Between those two runs, the Twins added five more, with Eduardo Escobar notching 3 hits, 3 RBI's, a 2B and a walk. Since taking over as the primary SS at the end of July, Escobar is slashing .313/.375/.565 with 19 extra base hits, 18 RBI and a 1.548 WPA. Nice.

Also kinda fun - with his homerun yesterday, Hicks is the 5th Twins player with double-digit homeruns this year, and Rosario (9), Escobar (9) and Mauer (8) are all within striking distance.

Also showing up to play was pitcher Tommy Milone who went 7 innings, allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits while striking out 4. After a rather average August (1-1, averaging only 5.1 innings per start and 2.6 ER's per start) Tommy has now put together back-to-back 7 inning starts in September, earning his 7th & 8th wins of the season and dropping his ERA to a career best 3.54.

Minnesota is 6-4 over their past 10 games, 1.5 behind Texas for the 2nd Wild Card spot (and 2 games ahead of the Angels).

Game 136: Astros 8, Twins 5

This one is going to sting for a while, at least until the next Twins win.

The Twins were on the verge of a very exciting and impressive game and series victory before it all unraveled. The Twins had their best reliever in the game at the right moment and he just didn't have it today. Pitchers have been called effectively wild, but in this game, Trevor May was ineffectively wild. He had a hard time throwing strikes, and once he did, it was hit a long ways by Jed Lowrie (?!)

The Twins will just have to look at this as an opportunity to show how resilient they are. After the Angels shut out the Rangers, the Twins remained just 1 1/2 games back of the last playoff position. Of course, it also meant the Angels are within a game of the Twins. The Twins go from the kettle into the fire now as they go to Kansas City for a three-game series to play the best team in the American League.

It's been a crazy last few weeks as the Twins have gone from nearly out of contention to right in the middle of the wildcard race, mostly on the strength of the bullpen. However, the rotation, which has for the most part been better than expected this season, was becoming a concern with a lot of short, ineffective starts. However, the Twins have now gotten back-to-back terrific starts from Ervin Santana, who's struggled the most, and Tyler Duffey, the Twins' least experienced pitcher that most Twins fans hadn't even heard of prior to this season.

Of course, now the bullpen is once again a concern with Jepsen needing help from Byron Buxton to save Saturday's game and May blowing the lead on Sunday. Meanwhile, All-Star closer Glen Perkins is out with a bad back and showing little signs of improvement.

If I had to complain about something in Sunday's game, it would have been the top of the 7th inning. FSN just put up a graphic showing how Eduardo Escobar had been the Twins' best hitter for the last couple weeks when Escobar attempted to sacrifice bunt against a pitcher he'd already homered against earlier in the game and with the 8 and 9 batters coming up and the slow-footed Trevor Plouffe on second. The Astros got the forceout at third and then Kurt Suzuki and Buxton were retired quickly to end the last chance the Twins had to break the game open. If Escobar had been able to reach base and the Twins were able to extend the inning to bring Aaron Hicks to the plate, it might have been a completely different game. Of course, Hicks hit a leadoff home run the next inning, but the Twins were trailing at that point 5-2.

The other issue was Plouffe was adamant that he was safe at third on the sacrifice attempt because Lowrie didn't have his foot on the base. The Twins apparently decided there wasn't enough video evidence and didn't challenge. However, it was a critical point late in the game. What would be the harm in challenging? If it's overturned, it would be bases loaded and no outs. If not, you just lose your challenge, but at this point in the game, you can still ask for the umps to review a play anyways whether you have a challenge or not. Plus, maybe a long challenge could throw off Dallas Keuchel. It just seemed silly to not challenge, especially with how convinced Plouffe was that he was safe.