MINNESOTA 3, LOS ANGELES 2 IN MINNESOTA (12 INNINGS)
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: Sano, Buxton, Rosario, 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.