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Random Rewind: 2016, Game Twelve


Date:  Sunday, April 17.

Batting stars:  Trevor Plouffe was 3-for-4 with a double and a walk.  Oswaldo Arcia was 3-for-5 with a walk.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-4 with a double.  Joe Mauer was 2-for-4 with two walks.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits and two walks and striking out four.  Kevin Jepsen pitched a perfect inning, striking out one.  Trevor May pitched a perfect inning, striking out two.  Michael Tonkin struck out four in two perfect innings.

Opposition stars:  Nick Tropeano pitched 5.2 innings, giving up one run on five hits and two walks and striking out three.  Fernando Salas struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up a walk.  Albert Pujols was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer, his second.

The game:  Yunel Escobar led off with a walk and Pujols hit a two-out two-run homer in the first inning, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead.  For a while it looked like that would be enough, as the Twins managed just one single in the first three innings.  In the fourth, however, Sano and Plouffe hit back-to-back doubles to get the Twins on the board at 2-1.  The Twins got a pair of two-out singles in the sixth, but nothing came of it.  In the seventh the Twins got three two-out singles, but Eduardo Nunez was thrown out trying to score from second on the last one, so the score remained 2-1 heading to the eighth.

Sano and Plouffe opened the inning with back-to-back singles, putting men on first and third (Byron Buxton had pinch-run for Sano).  Arcia hit into a double play, but it scored a run to tie it 2-2.  The Twins loaded the bases in the ninth but did not score, sending the game to extra innings.

The pitchers were in control until the bottom of the twelfth.  Mauer led off with a walk.  Buxton bunted into a forceout, but it had the advantage of making Buxton the runner.  He stole second with two out and Arcia delivered a run-scoring single to put the Twins in the win column.

WP:  Tonkin (1-0).  LP:  Cory Rasmus (0-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  John Ryan Murphy was behind the plate in place of Kurt Suzuki.  Eduardo Nunez was at shortstop.  He and Eduardo Escobar shared the position, with Escobar playing more games there (71-51), but Jorge Polanco took over the position in August.

Oswaldo Arcia was in left in place of Eddie Rosario.  Rosario was planned to be the regular left fielder, but he missed time due to injury and also filled in at center, as he did in this game, due to the ineffectiveness at bat of Buxton,   Robbie Grossman actually spent the most time in left field, 75 games to 57 for Rosario.

Sano was in right field.  You probably remember the brilliant plan of the Twins' brain trust to put him out there regularly.  Plouffe was the incumbent third baseman and the Twins refused to either trade him or move him to another position.  I know Twins fans loved Plouffe, and I liked him, too, but he was nothing special as a ballplayer and certainly not worth forcing Sano to the outfield.  Had they traded him prior to the season they might have gotten something worth having for him--not a superstar or anything, but a useful player of some sort.  As it happened, he had a mediocre season for a terrible team, he became a free agent after the season, and the Twins got nothing for him.  Thank you, Terry Ryan.  Max Kepler would eventually take over in right field.

I always love the extreme batting averages you get early in the season.  Nunez was batting .556--he would finish at 2.96.  Mauer was batting .372--he would finish at .261.  Plouffe was batting .302--he would finish at .260.  On the low end, Murphy was batting .056--he would finish at .146.  Rosario was batting .146--he would finish at .269.  Buxton was batting .154--he would finish at .225.  Brian Dozier was batting .167--he would finish at .268.  ByungHo Park was also batting .167--he would finish at .191.  Sano was batting .179--he would finish at .236.  The Twins batted .251 as a team, eleventh in the league.  Boston led at .282, fifteen points higher than second-place Detroit.

Dozier led the team with 42 home runs.  Sano was second with 25.  Remarkably, the Twins had eleven players with double-digit home runs:  Kepler 17, Plouffe 12, Park 12, Nunez 12, Mauer 11, Grossman 11, Buxton 10, Rosario 10, and Kennys Vargas 10.  The Twins hit 200 home runs, which was eighth in the league.  Baltimore led with 253, thirty more than second-place Seattle.

Ervin Santana was the ace of the staff despite a 7-11 record, as he posted an ERA of 3.38 and a WHIP of 1.22.  The rest of the rotation was, well, not good:  Tyler Duffey, 9-12, 6.43, Gibson, 6-11, 5.07, Ricky Nolasco, 4-8, 5.13, Jose Berrios, 3-7, 8.02, Tommy Milone, 3-5, 5.71, Hector Santiago, 3-6, 5.58, and Phil Hughes, 1-7, 5.95.  They weren't all in the rotation at the same time, obviously, but I don't have the time or, frankly, the interest to figure out all the comings and goings of the rotation that year.  Other than Santana it was pretty much garbage in, garbage out.

They did have a few decent pitchers in the bullpen, at least.  Brandon Kintzler had 17 saves and posted an ERA of 3.15.  Ryan Pressly was 6-7, 3.70 with a save.  Taylor Rogers was 3-1, 3.96.  On the other hand, Kevin Jepsen, who was supposed to be the closer, went 2-5, 6.16.  He did get seven saves.

The Twins were dead last in the league in ERA at 5.08, well behind the next worst team (Oakland, 4.51).  They were also dead last in WHIP at 1.45, again well behind the next worst team (Los Angeles, 1.39).

It's amazing how much a team's personnel changes in four years.  Granted, this was a terrible team, so there should have been lots of changes.  But of the seventeen players the Twins used in this game (six pitchers, eleven position players), only four remain with the team:  SanoBuxtonRosario, and May.

There were two future Twins who played for the Angels:  C. J. Cron and Mike Morin.

You may recall that the Twins opened with nine losses, then won their next four.  This was the third of the four wins.  It's rather remarkable that random.org got us a win out of this team.

Record:  The Twins were 3-9, in fifth (last) place in the American League Central, already five games behind Chicago.  They would finish 59-103, in fifth place, 35.5 games behind Cleveland.

The Angels were 5-7, tied for third in the American League West, 1.5 games ahead of Texas.  They would finish 74-88, in fourth place, 21 games behind Texas.

Random record:  The Twins are 54-49 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 2018, Game Six


Date:  Thursday, April 5.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-2 with a home run.  Miguel Sano was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer (his third) and a walk.  Mitch Garver was 1-for-3 with a home run.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson pitched 4.1 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on seven hits and a walk.  He threw 80 pitches.  Taylor Rogers pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up only a walk.  Addison Reed struck out two in a perfect inning.  Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Daniel Vogelbach was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Jean Segura was 2-for-4 with a stolen base.  James Paxton struck out seven in five innings, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk.

The game:  The Mariners got both of their runs in the first inning.  Dee Gordon and Segura opened the game with singles.  With one out Mitch Haniger hit what might have been a double play ball, but a throwing error brought in a run and no one was retired.  Vogelbach delivered a two-out RBI single to make it 2-0 Seattle.

Each team threatened in the second and the third, and the Mariners got a pair of one-out walks in the fifth.  It was still 2-0 until the sixth, however, when Joe Mauer led off with a single and Sano followed with a two-run homer, tying the score.  The Mariners put men on first and third with none out in the seventh but failed to score, so Garver was able to put the Twins on top in the bottom of the seventh with a home run.

Rosario homered in the eighth to make it 4-2 Twins.  Gordon walked leading off the ninth and stole second, but the next three batters were retired and the Twins had the victory.

WP:  Zach Duke (1-0).  LP:  Dan Altavilla (0-1).  S:  Rodney (1).

Notes:  Ehire Adrianza was at shortstop in place of Jorge Polanco, who was suspended for the first half of the season.  Sano was at third base.  He was the regular third baseman when he was healthy, but he was only able to play 56 games there due to injuries.  Eduardo Escobar played the most games at third with 77.  Adrianza also saw substantial time at third (28 games).

Byron Buxton was in center field.  Again, he would have been the regular there, but injuries limited him to 27 games in center.  Jake Cave played the most games in center with 70.  Max Kepler was there for 55 games and Ryan LaMarre played 34 games in center.  LaMarre was in left field in this game, with Rosario given the day off.  Rosario pinch-hit for LaMarre in the sixth inning and remained in the game in left field.

The Twins did not have a .300 hitter unless you count Willians Astudillo, who had just 93 at-bats.  Polanco and Rosario each batted .288 to lead the team.  The Twins batted .250, which was sixth in the league.  Boston led at .268.

Rosario led the team with 24 home runs.  Kepler had 20, Brian Dozier 16, Escobar 15, Logan Morrison 15, Cave 13, and Sano 13.  The Twins hit 166 home runs, twelfth in the league.  New York led the league with 267.

We went through the Twins pitching staff when we did a 2018 game about a week and a half ago, so there's no need to repeat that.  The Twins were ninth in ERA at 4.50--Houston led at 3.11, which was more than half a run better than the second place team (Tampa Bay, 3.74).  The Twins were tenth in WHIP at 1.38--Houston led there, too, at 1.10.

As you can see, the Twins were clearly not a bomba squad yet.  Still, with all four runs coming on three homers, perhaps the beginnings were there.

The losing pitcher, Dan Altavilla, was actually having a solid season out of the bullpen until he got hurt in early June and had to miss the rest of the year.  He was 3-2, 2.61, 1.26 WHIP in 22 games (20.2 innings).  He had a poor year in 2019, leading one to think he may not have been fully healthy.  One hopes he can bounce back for 2020.

The Mariners were 2-for-17 with men in scoring position and stranded 11 runners.

It seems like more than two years ago that we had these guys:  MorrisonLogan ForsytheBobby WilsonGregorio PetitJohnny FieldTaylor MotterOliver DrakeTyler KinleyDavid Hale.

Record:  The Twins were 4-2, in first place in the American League Central, one game ahead of Chicago.  They would finish 78-84, in second place, 13 games behind Cleveland.

The Mariners were 3-3, in third place in the American League West, 2.5 games behind Houston.  They would finish 89-73, in third place, 14 games behind Houston.

Random record:  The Twins are 49-48 in Random Rewind games.