Tag Archives: Blake Parker

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 Eighty-five

MINNESOTA 4, OAKLAND 3 IN OAKLAND (12 INNINGS)

Date:  Wednesday, July 3.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 3-for-5.  Mitch Garver was 2-for-6.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-5 with a home run, his twelfth.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson pitched six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks and striking out five.  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Ryne Harper struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning.  Blake Parker struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up a hit and two walks.  Taylor Rogers struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Mike Fiers pitched six innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and no walks and striking out four.  Ramon Laureano was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his fourteenth) and a walk.  Robbie Grossman was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Liam Hendriks struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

The game:  Khris Davis reached on an error to start the bottom of the second.  Mark Canha walked and Laureano hit a three-run homer, and that quickly the Athletics led 3-0.  Oakland had chances to add to their lead, but could not take advantage of them.  Marcus Semien opened the third with a double but did not score.  Laureano and Grossman led off the fourth with singles but a force out and a double play ended the inning.  Still, the Athletics led 3-0 through five.

The Twins then pecked away, as Dazzle likes to say.  Singles by Jonathan SchoopMax Kepler, and Garver produced a run in the sixth.  Singles by Arraez and Ehire Adrianza were followed by an error to make the score 3-2.  Polanco hit a two-out homer in the eighth to tie it 3-3.

Each team missed chances in the extra frames.  Oakland started the tenth with two walks but did not score.  The Twins had men on first and third with one out in the eleventh and did not score.  The Twins broke through in the twelfth, though.  Byron Buxton and Kepler drew one-out walks and Garver followed with an RBI single to give the Twins their first lead at 4-3.  A double play took them out of the inning.  Would the lead hold up?

Obviously it did, but the Athletics made it interesting.  Matt Chapman reached on an error to start the inning.  With one out, Jurickson Profar singled, sending Chapman to third, but Profar was thrown out trying to make second, so there were two down with the tying run ninety feet away.  He stayed there, as Canha struck out to end the game.

WP:  Parker (1-2).  LP:  Blake Treinen (2-3).  S:  Rogers (11).

Notes:  Arraez is now batting .431 in sixty-five at-bats.  I wonder what the record is for highest batting average in your first sixty-five at-bats.  Polanco is down to .318.  Harper has an ERA of 2.88.  Duffey is at 2.33.  Rogers' ERA is 1.93.

Arraez was in left field, and while I still don't like playing infielders in the outfield I gather he's done okay there.  Of course, you'll put up with less defense from a guy who bats .431.  Adrianza was at shortstop, with Polanco the DH and Nelson Cruz out of the lineup.

In the second inning, I don't think many people would've predicted that Gibson would get through six without giving up any more runs.  He didn't exactly dominate, but he got by.  The Much Maligned Bullpen came through with six shutout innings, although they didn't exactly dominate, either.  The Oaklands went 1-for-15 with men in scoring position.

I am pleased to see Liam Hendriks pitching well.  I still feel like the Twins didn't give him much of a chance, although I have to admit that he didn't do much with the chances they did give him.  When the Twins waived him after the 2013 season, I doubt that anyone in the front office thought he'd still be pitching in 2019, but here he is.  Good for him.

The Twins made two more errors last night.  I don't have time to go back and count, but they've made an awful lot of errors in recent weeks.  I don't know what happened to that excellent defensive team we had the first couple of months of the season, but I sure wish they'd come back.  Injuries have played a part, of course, but that's not a complete excuse.

The Twins still managed to avoid losing three games in a row.  Of course, it's been about three weeks since they won three in a row.  It would sure be nice to see them put together a little winning streak here before the all-star break.

Record:  The Twins are 54-31, first in the American League Central, seven games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 131-31!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-two

MINNESOTA 4, BOSTON 3 IN MINNESOTA (17 INNINGS)

Date:  Tuesday, June 18.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 4-for-8 with three doubles.  Max Kepler was 3-for-5 with a home run (his eighteenth) and three RBIs.  C. J. Cron was 2-for-5 with two walks and a hit-by-pitch.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-7.

Pitching stars:  Michael Pineda pitched six innings, giving up one run on five hits and one walk and striking out five.  Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.  Taylor Rogers struck out two in a perfect inning.  Tyler Duffey struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.  Blake Parker pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one.  Matt Magill struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up three hits and a walk.  Zack Littell struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  Brock Holt was 3-for-7 with a double.  Rafael Devers was 3-for-8 with a home run (his twelfth) and two RBIs.  Andrew Benintendi was 3-for-8 with a stolen base, his eighth.  Jackie Bradley was 2-for-5 with a hit-by-pitch.  Christian Vazquez was 2-for-7.  Xander Bogaerts was 2-for-8 with a double.  David Price pitched five innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out two.  Josh Taylor struck out four in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.  Hector Velazquez pitched four innings, giving up one run on three hits and no walks and striking out three.

The game:  The Red Sox got on the board in the fourth inning when Mookie Betts walked, stole second, and scored on a two-out single by Devers.  The Twins got the run back in the bottom of the fourth when Rosario hit a two-out double and scored on a Cron single.

The Twins should have taken the lead in the sixth.  Mitch Garver led off with a double and Nelson Cruz singled him to third with none out.  But Garver was picked off third by the catcher and Rosario fouled out.  The Twins still had a chance, as Cron was hit by a pitch and Kepler walked to load the bases, but Miguel Sano fanned to end the inning.  The Red Sox immediately made them pay, as Devers led off the seventh with a home run to give Boston a 2-1 lead.

The Twins tied it up in the eighth.  Walks to Garver and Cron put men on first and second with two out and Kepler delivered an RBI single to make the score 2-2.  It stayed there for a while.  Boston threatened in the tenth and twelfth and the Twins also threatened in the twelfth, but there was no more scoring until the thirteenth, when Betts led off with a home run.  But Kepler led off with a home run in the bottom of the thirteenth to once again tie the score, and the teams played on.

The Red Sox again threatened in the fourteenth, getting leadoff singles from Holt and MIchael Chavis.  A bunt (!) moved them to second and third, but nothing came of it.  In the fifteenth Rosario led off with a double but was doubled off second on Cron's liner.  In the top of the seventeenth, Benintendi singled and got to third on a stolen base-plus-error with none out, but a strikeout and two ground outs ended the inning without a score.

Finally came the bottom of the seventeenth.  Luis Arraez had a one-out single and went to third on Rosario's double.  Cron was intentionally walked, and Kepler again came through with an RBI single to win the game for the Twins.

WP:  Littell (1-0).  LP:  Brian Johnson (1-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Marwin Gonzalez was again in right field, with Kepler starting the game on the bench.  Jake Cave was in center field.

Arraez entered the game as a pinch-runner in the twelfth and went 1-for-2.  He is batting .385.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-8 and is batting .326.  Garver was 1-for-7 and is batting .301.

Ryne Harper gave up a run in an inning and has an ERA of 2.17.  Rogers has an ERA of 2.03.  Duffey has an ERA of 2.08.  Mike Morin gave up a run in an inning and has an ERA of 1.65.

Garver was rightly criticized for getting picked off in the sixth.  I also wonder why he did not dive back into the base, rather than going in standing up.  But additionally, I wonder what the third base coach was doing.  With a shift on and the third baseman playing well off the bag, this was obviously a planned play.  It seems like the third base coach should be watching for that and make sure the runner is aware of it.  Instead, it appeared that he became a spectator.

Watching part of the game last night, it seems to me that several Twins batters (not just Sano) have gotten a little homer-happy.  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against home runs and I'm not calling for a return of the piranhas.  But I saw several batters trying to jerk every pitch out of the park in situations where a single would've served us quite admirably.  This may be something that the batting coach needs to address.

Lost in the long game is the fact that Pineda had his second good start in a row.  Over those starts, he has pitched 11.2 innings and given up two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out nine.  He only threw eighty pitches last night, so it seems like he could've gone a seventh inning.  Perhaps the Twins are still trying to be careful with him.  But he hasn't had a really bad game in a month and a half and his ERA has fallen steadily from a peak of 6.21 to 4.76.  I'm not nominating him for the Cy Young Award, but he's kept us in the game for eight starts in a row, and has done more than that in his last two.

The much maligned (and properly so) Twins bullpen pitched eleven innings and gave up just two runs.  Further, both the runs came on solo homers, and we all know those don't hurt you.  I won't be surprised if we bring up a "fresh arm for the bullpen", but only three of the eight relievers used threw more than eighteen pitches, so I assume most of them could pitch again tonight if needed.

Each team completely emptied its bullpen, using eight relief pitchers.  Presumably, once the last guy came in he was in for the duration, unless the game had gone twenty-four innings or something.  At that point, the teams would've had to decide whether to use a starting pitcher in relief or use a position player.  That would've been interesting, but I'm fine with winning in the seventeenth instead.

It should be noted, as I'm sure it was numerous times during the game, that the Twins still have not lost three games in a row this season.

Record:  The Twins are 48-24, first in the American League Central, ten games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 138-24!

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-five

MINNESOTA 9, TORONTO 1 IN TORONTO

Date:  Wednesday, May 8.

Batting stars:  Jorge Polanco was 5-for-5 with a two-run homer (his seventh) and a double, scoring twice.  C. J. Cron was 4-for-5 with a two-run homer, his seventh.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4 with a home run (his thirteenth), two runs, and three RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer, his sixth.  Max Kepler was 2-for-5 with a walk and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson struck out eleven in six shutout innings, giving up two hits and one walk.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Mike Morin pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Blake Parker pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Billy McKinney was 1-for-3 with a home run, his second.  Derek Law struck out four in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

The game:  The Twins threatened to take a big lead in the first inning.  Singles by Kepler and Polanco put men on first and third with none out.  A popup and an Eddie Rosario sacrifice fly put them up 1-0.  Cron singled and Marwin Gonzalez walked to load the bases, but Mitch Garver popped up, leaving the score 1-0.

It didn't matter.  In the second, Kepler walked and Polanco homered, making the score 3-0.  In the third, Rosario singled and Cron homered, and later in the inning Gonzalez singled and Schoop homered, making the score 7-0.  McKinney got the Blue Jays on the board with a home run in the fifth, but in the sixth Polanco doubled and Rosario homered to put the Twins ahead 9-1.

Other than the home run, the only time the Blue Jays got a man as far as second was the ninth, on a walk and a fielder's choice.  It was total dominance by Gibson and three relief pitchers.

WP:  Gibson (3-1).  LP:  Trent Thornton (0-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Garver was 1-for-5 and is batting .354.  Polanco is batting .344.  Harper has an ERA of 1.84.  Parker has an ERA of 1.54.  Morin's ERA is 3.00.

As you probably heard, Polanco is the first Twin to have more than one five-hit game in a season since Joe Mauer in 2010.

Four two-run homers in one game is probably not the record, but it would seem like it has to be at least within shouting distance of it.

Going into the Houston series a week and a half ago, I said that after the next ten games we'd have a better idea of how good the Twins are.  Well, they went 7-3 in those ten games.  Two of the losses were games started by Michael Pineda, and at that only one of them was a blowout--in the other, the Twins just ran into a really good pitcher they couldn't do much with, which happens to everybody sometimes.  It seems to me that we have to say this is a good baseball team.

That's not to say they're going to win the World Series.  I do think they're now the favorites to win the division, though.  They might not do it--it's a long season, and lots of things can happen (injuries, slumps, etc.).  But it's looking good now.  That's why I hope the front office is not willing to settle for just winning the division, and is looking for ways to improve the team so it can actually go somewhere in the playoffs.  Again, I say that not knowing what deals may be available to them.  I'm not advocating a move of the Ramos-for-Capps variety.  But I think they have a real chance this year, and you never know for sure how many of them you're going to get.  When you get one, I think you need to go for it.

Record:  The Twins are 23-12, first in the American League Central, four games ahead of Cleveland.

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

2019 Recap: Game Twenty-five

MINNESOTA 4, BALTIMORE 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Sunday, April 28.

Batting stars:  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with a home run (his seventh) and two runs.  Byron Buxton was 1-for-3 with a home run.  Marwin Gonzalez was 1-for-2 with two walks.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson pitched seven innings, giving up one run on three hits and no walks and striking out six.  Trevor Hildenberger pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.  Blake Parker struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition star:  Chris Davis was 1-for-2 with a home run, his third.

The game:  Jonathan Villar led off the game with a double for the Orioles but did not score.  It cost them, as Kepler led off the bottom of the first with a home run to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  It went to 4-0 in the third.  Buxton led off the inning with a home run and Kepler followed with a double.  The next two batters went out, but walks to Eddie Rosario and C. J. Cron loaded the bases and Gonzalez delivered a two-run single.

Meanwhile, Gibson was in control.  Through six innings, Baltimore only once got a man to third base.  With two out in the seventh, Davis hit a home run to cut the lead to 4-1, but that was as good as it got for them.  They got only one more hit, a two-out double in the eighth, and did not get the tying run up to bat.

WP:  Gibson (2-0).  LP:  Dylan Bundy (0-4).  S:  Parker (5).

Notes:  Mitch Garver was 0-for-3 and is batting .372.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 and is batting .337.  Hildenberger has an ERA of 1.93.  Parker's ERA is 1.08.

It came as something of a surprise to me that Kepler has seven home runs already.  He must have gotten them when I wasn't paying attention or something.  His career high is twenty, set last year.  One would think he has a good chance of bettering that this season.

This was Gibson's second consecutive solid start.  Both came against Baltimore, of course.  If he can sustain that over his next couple of outings, it will be a really good sign for the Twins' rotation.

In fact, this next week and a half or so will tell us a lot about just how good the Twins are.  They host Houston for four, have three in New York with the Yankees, and then go to Toronto for three.  If they can handle that stretch of games, we just may have something this season.

Record:  The Twins are 16-9, first in the American League Central, two games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 153-9!

 

2019 Rewind: Game Twenty

MINNESOTA 9, HOUSTON 5 AT HOUSTON

Date:  Monday, April 22.

Batting stars:  Jorge Polanco was 4-for-5 with a home run (his fourth) and a double, scoring twice and driving in four.  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-5.  Jason Castro was 1-for-2 with a home run and two walks, scoring twice.

Pitching stars:  Jake Odorizzi pitched 5.2 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and no walks and striking out two.  Adalberto Mejia pitched a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one.  Blake Parker pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Josh Reddick was 3-for-4.  Tyler White was 2-for-2 with a double and two walks.  Michael Brantley was 2-for-5 with a home run (his fourth) and two runs.  Carlos Correa was 1-for-5 with a three-run homer, his fourth.

The game:  The Twins took the lead in the first inning, as two-out singles by Cruz and Eddie Rosario and a two-run double by C. J. Cron gave them a 2-0 lead.  Castro led off the second with a home run, making the score 3-0.  It stayed 3-0 until the fourth, when Brantley led off with a single, went to second on a ground out, and scored on Reddick's single to cut the lead to 3-1.

The Twins seemed to take control of the game in the sixth.  Jonathan Schoop doubled and Castro walked.  With two out, Max Kepler singled, Polanco had a single-plus-error, and Cruz singled.  Four runs scored, putting the Twins up 7-1.  Brantley led off the bottom of the sixth with a homer, making the score 7-2, but the Twins still seemed to have the game well in hand.

In the seventh, however, George Springer led off with an infield single and Alex Bregman drew a one-out walk.  Brantley lined out, but Correa hit a three-run homer, making the score 7-5 and putting the Astros right back into the game.

In the eighth, Polanco took them right back out of it.  With two out and none on, Kepler walked and Polanco hit a two-run homer, making the score 9-5.  Houston did not get a man past first base after that and the victory was secured.

WP:  Odorizzi (2-2).  LP:  Brad Peacock (1-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Polanco is batting .392.  Cruz is batting .315.  Parker has an ERA of 1.23.  Harper gave up his first earned runs of the season and is has an ERA of 2.89.

Byron Buxton was caught stealing.  If I'm reading it right it's the first time he's truly been "caught stealing" in his career, in the sense of the catcher gunning him down rather than oversliding the bag.  I guess it had to come sometime.

Harper giving up runs had to come sometime, too.  Has his bubble burst, or was this just a blip?  Time will tell, but I'm hopeful.  It looks like the home run was the only ball hit hard off him.  And as great as his story has been, it wasn't realistic to think he was going to pitch all season with an ERA of zero.  I guess we'll see.

It was mentioned in the game log that perhaps Rocco is relying too heavily on Rogers and Hildenberger.  I don't think I agree.  Rogers has appeared in ten games and pitched 11.2 innings.  Hildenberger has appeared in eleven games and pitched 7.2 innings.  Given the number of off-days we've had, that doesn't seem like too much to me.  They've each pitched on consecutive days three times and never on three consecutive days.  I actually think Rocco has done a pretty good job of using his whole bullpen, including using Mejia in the eighth inning last night.  It's something to keep an eye on as the season progresses, but I really don't have a problem with it so far.

Someone said in the game log that, going into this series, they were simply hoping the Twins would take one of three.  I was pretty much in that same place.  Now, of course, we hope they will take at least two, if not more.  We'll see.

Record:  The Twins are 13-7, in first place in the American League Central, 1.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 155-7!

2019 Recap: Game Fifteen

MINNESOTA 4, TORONTO 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Wednesday, April 17.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two runs.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-3 with a walk.

Pitching stars:  Jake Odorizzi struck out six in 5.2 innings, giving up one run on six hits and a walk.  Adalberto Mejia pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit.  Taylor Rogers struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Blake Parker struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Freddy Galvis was 2-for-4.  Javy Guerra pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

The game:  The Blue Jays got on the board in the first inning, as Galvis hit a one-out single, took second on a fly out, and scored on Justin Smoak's two-out single.  The Twins came right back with two in the bottom of the first.  Max Kepler led off with a double, Polanco walked, and Cruz singled, tying the score and putting men on first and third with none out.  It looked like it could be a big inning for the Twins, but Eddie Rosario hit into a double play, taking them out of the inning but still producing the go-ahead run.

The Twins added a run in the third.  Polanco and Cruz started the frame with back-to-back doubles, making it 3-1 Minnesota.  They got one more in the fifth.  Walks to Cruz and C. J. Cron put men on first and second with two out and Marwin Gonzalez delivered an RBI single, giving the Twins a 4-1 lead.

Meanwhile, Odorizzi was in control.  He gave up some singles, but did not allow a man past first base after the first inning.  He was still in control in the sixth, but his pitch count got up to 101, so he was removed from the game with two out.  Three relievers, listed above, came on and kept things in control, similarly not allowing a man past first base.  The Twins went on to take an uneventful (in a good way) 4-1 win.

WP:  Odorizzi (1-2).  LP:  Trent Thornton (0-2).  S:  Parker (4).

Notes:  Polanco raised his average to .429 with an OPS of 1.215.  He's obviously not going to keep that up all season, but he really has had a remarkable fifteen game stretch.  Cruz is batting .313 with an OPS of .976.  He probably won't keep that up, either, but the fall-off most likely will not be as great.  Rogers has an ERA of 1.04.  Parker has an ERA of 1.42.

This was Odorizzi's second solid start out of four, and one of the others was good until it suddenly wasn't.  He's not going to be an ace, but if he's just be a dependable pitcher who keeps the team in the game he's a valuable man for the Twins.  And looking at his record, there's no obvious reason he shouldn't be able to be that.

From the play-by-play (and from the game log), this looks like just a nice, comfortable win for the Twins.  It was only a three-run margin, but at the same time there does not appear to have been any point at which the lead was in serious jeopardy.  It seems to me that having games like this might be one of the hallmarks of a good team.  Dramatic wins are fun, pummeling the other team is fun, but just being comfortably in control all the way, even when you don't have a huge lead, strikes me as the type of game a good team has quite a number of.  Let's hope we see more of them with the Twins.

Record:  The Twins are 9-6, in second place in the American League Central, a half game behind Cleveland.  They are currently in position for a wild card spot, leading Texas by percentage points.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 156-6!

2019 Recap: Game Four

MINNESOTA 5, KANSAS CITY 4 IN KANSAS CITY (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Tuesday, April 2.

Batting stars:  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with two walks.  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-5 with a double, a walk, and three RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a double and a walk.  C. J. Cron was 2-for-5 with a double.

Pitching stars:  Jose Berrios pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and no walks and striking out four.  Blake Parker pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Adalberto Mondesi was 3-for-5 with a home run, a double, a stolen base, and two RBIs.  Martin Maldonado was 3-for-4.  Ryan O'Hearn was 1-for-3 with a home run.  Brad Keller pitched six innings, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks and striking out five.

The game:  The Royals jumped out to a 1-0 lead within the first two batters of the game, as Whit Merrifield doubled and scored on a Mondesi single.  The Twins tied it in the fourth when Eddie Rosario walked and scored from first on Cron's single.

Kansas City got the lead back in the bottom of the fourth when Chris Owings tripled and scored on a Hunter Dozier sacrifice fly.  The Twins went in front in the fifth.  With one out, Byron Buxton was hit by a pitch and Max Kepler walked.  A fly out moved the runners to second and third and Cruz delivered a two-run double to give the Twins a 3-2 lead.

The Twins missed a chance to increase the lead in the sixth when Cron led off with a double but did not advance past second.  It cost them, as O'Hearn homered in the bottom of the sixth to tie it 3-3.  The Twins missed another chance in the seventh.  Singles by Kepler and Polanco and a walk to Cruz loaded the bases with none out, but a strikeout, a liner to third, and another strikeout ended the inning with no runs scoring.  It again cost them, as Mondesi hit an inside-the-park home run with one out in the eighth to give the Royals a 4-3 lead.

The Twins tied it in the ninth.  Polanco doubled and went to third on a fly ball.  Rosario then singled him in to tie the score 4-4.  Kansas City put two men on with two out in the bottom of the ninth, but Trevor Hildenberger came in to strike out Billy Hamilton and send the game to an extra inning.

In the tenth Willians Astudillo, who had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, led off with a single.  He was still at first with two out, but Polanco singled to put men on first and second and Cruz singled to drive home the go-ahead run.  The Royals could manage only a two-out walk in the bottom of the tenth.

WP:  Hildenberger (1-0).  LP:  Brad Boxberger (0-1).  S:  Blake Parker (1).

Record:  The Twins are 3-1, in first place in the American League Central, one game ahead of Cleveland, Detroit, and Kansas City.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 161-1!