Tag Archives: C. J. Cron

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Thirty-nine

BOSTON 6, MINNESOTA 2 IN BOSTON

Date:  Wednesday, September 4.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his twenty-eighth.

Pitching stars:  Cody Stashak pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.  Brusdar Graterol pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk.

Opposition stars:  Eduardo Rodriguez struck out eight in seven shutout innings, giving up five hits and four walks.  Mookie Betts was 4-for-5 with two home runs (his twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth) and five RBIs.  Christian Vasquez was 2-for-4 with a double.  Brock Holt was 2-for-4.

The game:  Betts led off the bottom of the first with a home run, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.  The Twins put men on first and third with two out in the second but could not score.  With one out in the bottom of the second, Vazquez singled, Jackie Bradley walked, and Betts homered again, putting Boston up 4-0.

The game was basically over at that point, because the Twins could not score against Rodriguez.  They threatened in the fourth, opening the inning with two singles, but a double play ended the threat.  The Red Sox added two more in the sixth, as Holt led off with a single, Mitch Moreland walked, Vasquez doubled, and Betts delivered a one-out single.

The Twins got on the board in the eighth, as Nelson Cruz singled and Rosario hit a two-run homer.  All that did was avoid a shutout, though.  They got a pair of one-out walks in the ninth, but a double play ended the game.

WP:  Rodriguez (17-5).  LP:  Jose Berrios (11-8).  S:  Brandon Workman (11).

Notes:  Max Kepler remains in center with Byron Buxton on the bench.  Jake Cave was in right field.  Kepler left the game with an injured chest, according to the play-by-play.  I don't know anything about what happened or how serious it is.  Willians Astudillo was behind the plate.

Luis Arraez entered the game as a defensive replacement and walked in his only time to the plate, so his batting average remains .343.  Cruz was 1-for-5 and is batting .308.  Jorge Polanco was 0-for-4 and is batting .302.  Graterol has an ERA of zero in two games.

You never like to lose, of course, but the loss in itself is not a big deal.  The Twins have won nine of eleven--you're not going to win them all.  Rodriguez is a good pitcher--the Twins aren't the first team he's shut down and they won't be the last.  It happens.

The concern, though, is the continuing question of "What's Wrong With Jose Berrios?"  Rocco tried to pass it off as just getting beat by one great player, Betts, which I might be able to buy if this was just a random bad game.  It's clearly not.  His average game score for the six starts prior to this one was thirty-six, and while I don't have access to last night's game score I don't think it helped that average much.  He hasn't had a good game since July 31, when he dominated a bad Miami team.

My guess--and I emphasize that's all it is--is that he's hiding an injury, and that it's working about as well as it usually does.  Again, I have no solid evidence to support that.  It just seems like the majority of the time, when a good player suddenly isn't, there's a physical reason why.  If so, then ten out of ten for being a tough guy and a gamer, but minus several hundred for good sense.  The way he's pitching now the Twins have to score about ten runs to win, and not even the Twins can do that consistently.

The Twins basically have about three and a half weeks to figure this out.  They can win the division without a healthy and effective Berrios, but they can't win in the playoffs without him.  As it stands right now, the Twins basically have two reliable starters--Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda.  I know they won in 1987 with two reliable starters, but it wasn't easy then, and with the extra levels of playoffs it's pretty much impossible now.  The only way you can do it is if you have such an awesome and resilient bullpen that you can consistently go to it in the third or fourth inning and win, and while the Twins bullpen has been better it's not in that category.  The only way the Twins have a chance in the post-season is if Jose Berrios pitches like he did in the first four months of the season.  The Twins have the rest of this month to figure out how to make that happen.

Record:  The Twins are 86-53, in first place in the American League Central, 5.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 109-53!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Thirty-three

MINNESOTA 10, CHICAGO 5 IN CHICAGO

Date:  Thursday, August 29.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 3-for-5 with a home run (his twenty-second), a double, two runs, and three RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 3-for-5.  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.  Jake Cave was 2-for-5 with two home runs, his sixth and seventh.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-5.

PItching stars:  Jose Berrios struck out eight in six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks.  Randy Dobnak pitched three innings, giving up two unearned runs on five hits.

Opposition stars:  Jose Abreu was 4-for-5 with two doubles.  Eloy Jimenez was 2-for-5.  Josh Osich struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.  Jace Fry pitched two perfect innings and struck out one.

The game:  The Twins jumped on White Sox starter Dylan Cease right away, opening the game with five consecutive singles.  Luis ArraezPolanco, CruzRosario, and Ehire Adrianza all singled, and after a double play Cron delivered a single.  The six singles produced four runs for a 4-0 Twins lead.  Singles produced runs again in the second.  Schoop singled, Polanco walked, a wild pitch moved the runners up, and Cruz had a two-run single to make it 6-0.  In the third the Twins got impatient with singles, as Cave and Cron started the inning with home runs to increase the lead to 8-0.

Meanwhile, Chicago did nothing through the first three innings.  They threatened in the fourth.  Ryan Goins singled with one out, Abreu walked, and a wild pitch moved them up to second and third.  A pair of strikeouts followed, however, and the threat ended.  The White Sox did break through in the fifth.  Jimenez singled, Matt Skole doubled, and Yolmer Sanchez had an RBI single.  With one out, a wild pitch scored a second run, cutting the margin to 8-2.  They got one more in the sixth when Abreu doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Jimenez single, making the score 8-3.

It was pretty much over at that point.  The Twins loaded the bases with one out in the sixth and managed to score one on a sacrifice fly.  Cave homered leading off the seventh to make the score 10-3.  Chicago opened the seventh with singles by Sanchez and Adam Engel, but a line out and a double play terminated the inning.  They stated the eighth the same way, but a popup, a line out, and a ground out took care of things.

The White Sox did score twice in the ninth, mainly because Polanco temporarily forgot how to play defense.  He made two errors, allowing the first two batters of the inning to reach, and only a fine play by Schoop prevented him from making a third.  A run scored on that play and Abreu doubled home another run, but that was all Chicago got.

WP:  Berrios (11-7).  LP:  Cease (3-7).  S:  Dobnak (1).

Notes:  Arraez was at third base in place of Miguel Sano.  Jake Cave was in center in the continued absence of Byron Buxton.  Adrianza was again in right in the absence of Max Kepler.

Arraez is batting .335.

Dobnak's ERA remains at zero in seven major league innings.  He also got his first major league save.  He has been almost exclusively a starter in the minors, so the only other professional save he has came in 2017 at Elizabethton.  His rise is really rather remarkable.  He went to Alderson-Broddus College in Phillippi, West Virginia, the only major league player that school has produced.  He went undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Twins on July 31, 2017.  He made only six starts in the minors that year, five in Elizabethton and one in Cedar Rapids.  He was with the Kernels for all of 2018 and had a fine season, going 10-5, 3.14, 1.26 WHIP.  In 2019 he made four starts in Fort Myers, where he was almost unhittable, pitched in eleven games (10 starts) in Pensacola, appeared in nine games (7 starts) in Rochester, and here he is in the big leagues.  His combined minor league stats for this season are 12-4, 2.07, 0.98 WHIP.  He's twenty-four, so while there are not guarantees there's every reason to think he'll continue to improve.  A pretty cool story.

Berrios was better, although I don't think we're ready to say he's back  yet.  He did very well for four innings, then ran into trouble in the fifth and sixth.  He also managed to throw (LeBron James voice) not one, not two, not three, but four pitches to the backstop.  He did strike out eight, and again he did pitch well for four innings, so I it's progress.  Maybe some more time with Wes Johnson will lead to some more improvement next time.  We'll see.

It's a little frustrating to have won five in a row and only gained one game in the standings.  But on the other hand, think of how the Indians must feel.  They've won four of five and lost a game in the standings.  The good thing about being in first place is that we don't have to do better than Cleveland from here on out.  All we have to do is keep pace with them, and we win.

Record:  The Twins are 82-51, in first place in the American League Central, 3.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 111-51!

 

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Thirty

MINNESOTA 7, DETROIT 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Sunday, August 25.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 1-for-2 with a three-run homer (his twenty-first), two walks, and two runs.  Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer (his eighteenth) a walk, and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk and striking out five.  Cody Stashak pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Jordy Mercer was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs.  John Hicks was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.  Harold Castro was 2-for-4.

The game:  The Tigers put two men on in the second but did not score.  In the third, the Twins broke through for two runs.  Schoop walked and scored on a Mitch Garver double.  A pair of ground outs, which should have brought all kinds of joy to the old school baseball types, brought Garver home and made the score 2-0.

It went to 5-0 in the fourth.  Miguel Sano led off the inning with a double, Max Kepler was hit by a pitch, and Cron delivered a three-run homer.  The Tigers bounced right back with two in the fifth, though.  Mercer and Hicks started the inning with doubles, making it 5-1, and a two-out single by Castro cut the margin to 5-2.

The Twins got the run back in the sixth.  Cron drew a one-out walk and with two down, Schoop hit a two-run homer, making the score 7-2.  Detroit made it somewhat interesting in the ninth.  With one out, Willi Castro singled, Mercer doubled, and Hicks singled, dropping the lead to three runs at 7-4.  The next two batters went out, however, and the victory was preserved.

WP:  Perez (9-5).  LP:  Matthew Boyd (6-10).  S:  None.

Notes:  Kepler was in center and Marwin Gonzalez in right in the continued absence of Byron Buxton.  Luis Arraez was in left in the absence of Eddie Rosario.  Arraez was 0-for-2 with a walk and is batting .335.

The Twins were out-hit in this game 9-5, and yet still won 7-4.  They drew six walks and had a hit batsman, which helped.  It also helped that of the five hits, one was a double and two went over the fence.  And it helped that the two that went over the fence came with a combined total of three men on base.  The Twins went 1-for-3 with men in scoring position.  That's a good average, but it's hard to score seven runs with only three at-bats with men in scoring position.  It worked for this game, though.  If someone has time, I'd be curious to know what some of the extremes are for that sort of thing--most runs on fewest hits, most runs with only a few at-bats with men in scoring position, that sort of thing.  Obviously, I'm not going to take the time to find out, but if someone else wanted to, that would be cool.

Now that players weekend is over, I hope someone takes those white-on-white uniforms and burns them.  I wasn't crazy about the black ones, either, but at least you could read the numbers and the nicknames on them.  The whole Players Weekend thing doesn't do much for me, but if we have to have it, let's at least do it well.  It's hard for me think how many people had to look at those white-on-white things and approve them.  I don't know what they were thinking.

A 3-3 homestand against two of the weakest teams in the league is not exactly what we hoped for.  On the other hand, it's a lot better than the 1-3 we had two days ago.  And you know, you can have all kinds of fun with artificial endpoints.  In their last six games, the Twins are 3-3.  If you look at their last ten games, they're 7-3.  If you look at their last eighteen games, they're 9-9.  If you look at their last twenty-two games, they're 13-9.  And so on.

Ultimately, the only numbers that really matter are the ones that are shown below:  their record for the season and how far ahead they are of the second place team.  As we've said before, they don't have to win a certain number of games to win the division, they just need to win one more than their nearest rival.  Right now, they've won three more with thirty-two games to play.  Those are really the only numbers that count.

Record:  The Twins are 79-51, in first place in the American League Central, 3.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 111-51!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Eighteen

CLEVELAND 7, MINNESOTA 3 IN MINNESOTA (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Sunday, August 11.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a double.  C. J. Cron was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Jose Berrios pitched six innings, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk and striking out four.  Trevor May retired all five batters he faced, striking out two.

Opposition stars:  Aaron Civale pitched six innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out five.  Carlos Santana was 2-for-5 with a grand slam (his twenty-fifth homer), two runs, and five RBIs.  Greg Allen was 2-for-5 with a home run (his third) and two runs.  Francisco Lindor was 1-for-3 with a double, two walks, and two runs.

The game:  The Indians jumped on Berrios for two runs in the first inning.  Allen hit a one-out homer, followed by a walk to Santana and a double by Yasiel Puig.  The Twins got on the board in the second, as Rosario doubled and scored on a pair of fly outs.  Cleveland got the run back in the third when Lindor doubled and scored on a Santana single.

The score was 3-1, and it stayed there for quite some time.  The Twins had a chance in the fifth, getting one-out singles from Cron and Gonzalez, but the next two batters could not get the ball out of the infield.  Each team had two on with none out in the seventh, but neither could score.

Rosario led off the ninth with a double.  With one out, Arraez had an RBI single to cut the lead to 3-2.  Cron followed with a single, putting men on first and second, and was pinch-run for with Ehire Adrianza.  Gonzalez then delivered an RBI double to tie the score, but Adrianza was thrown out trying to score from first base.  Jonathan Schoop grounded out to end the inning, but the Twins had scored two in the bottom of the ninth to tie it 3-3.

It didn't stay tied long.  Taylor Rogers came in to pitch the tenth and gave up a single to Kevin Plawecki.  A walk to Lindor and a bunt single by Allen filled the bases.  Santana emptied them with a grand slam, and the game was gone.  The Twins went down on three ground outs in the bottom of the tenth.

WP:  Brad Hand (5-3).  LP:  Rogers (2-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Max Kepler remains in center field and Gonzalez played right with Byron Buxton out.  Arraez was the DH with Nelson Cruz out.  I don't know why you wouldn't rather have Arraez at third and Miguel Sano as the DH, but there you have it.

Arraez is now batting .350.  Since the last recap, Jorge Polanco fell below .300 and is batting .295.  Ryne Harper retired both men he faced and has an ERA of 2.96.  Rogers allowed four runs in a third of an inning and has an ERA of 2.68.

There seems to be a perception among Twins fans (not necessarily here) that Berrios has been somewhat of a disappointment.  Not that he's been terrible, but that he's not been as good as he should be.  It's simply not true.  Even with the terrible Atlanta game, his season numbers are 10-6, 3.29, 1.15 WHIP.  Those are excellent numbers.  He had a 2.06 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in June and a 2.43 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP in July.  Even his "bad" games (again, other than the Atlanta game) have been like yesterday--not dominant, but still keeping his team in the game.  If he's been a disappointment, it's because the expectations for him were unreasonable.  People expect him to be dominant every single time, and nobody can do that.  The Twins have some problems, but Berrios is not one of them.

It's never literally true that one play cost you a game.  There are all sorts of things that could've gone differently, and if they had the game would've been different.  Even after Adrianza was thrown out, Schoop could've gotten a hit and won the game.  The Twins could've taken advantage of their chances in the fifth and seventh, or just generally scored more than one run in the first eight innings.  Berrios could've not given up two runs in the first, putting the Twins in an immediate hole.  Rogers didn't have to give up the grand slam.  And it's also not a given that the Twins would've won it in the ninth had Adrianza been held at third--we don't know what would've happened next.  What we do know is that Adrianza was thrown out on a play where the only chance he had to score was on a Cleveland error, and that did a lot of damage to the Twins' chances.

After the game Rocco talked a lot of nonsense about how the Indians made a perfect relay.  I really can't criticize him for that.  His only other option, really, was to throw his third base coach under the bus, and that wouldn't have been a good thing to do.  I hope it was addressed privately, but public criticism would not have been helpful in this case.

So, after roughly seventy-three percent of the season has been played, Minnesota and Cleveland have exactly the same records.  How they got there may affect our perceptions and feelings, but from here on out it's basically irrelevant.  They say that a baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint, but these two teams essentially have a forty-four game sprint for the division title.  Whoever has the better record in this forty-four game "season" will win.  It's as simple as that.

Record:  The Twins are 71-47, tied for first with Cleveland in the American League Central.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 115-47!

2019 Recap: Game Ninety-five

MINNESOTA 6, OAKLAND 3 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, July 18.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-1 with a three-run homer, his twenty-first.  Mitch Garver was 1-for-4 with a home run, his sixteenth.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eighteenth.  Luis Arraez was 1-for-2 with a double and two walks.  Miguel Sano was 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson struck out seven in seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits and no walks.  Taylor Rogers pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Ramon Laureano was 3-for-4 with two runs.  Jurickson Profar was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his fourteenth.  Mike Fiers pitched 6.1 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks and striking out four.

The game:  The Athletics put men on first and third with two out in the second, but there was no score until the third, when Sano walked, went to second on a Jake Cave single, took third on a bunt, and scored on a wild pitch.  Oakland immediately tied it in the fourth, as Laureano singled, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Khris Davis double.

The Twins missed a chance in the fifth, putting men on first and second with none out and running themselves out of the inning.  It looked like it would be costly, as the Athletics took the lead in the sixth.  Laureano singled with one out and Profar hit a two-out two-run homer, putting Oakland up 3-1.  But in the seventh, Arraez hit a one-out double, Sano walked, and Rosario, pinch-hitting for Cave, hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 4-3 lead.

Oakland got a pair of one-out singles in the eighth, but a strikeout and a fly out ended the inning.  The Twins then got some insurance, as Garver and Cron each homered to make it 6-3.  The Athletics went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Gibson (9-4).  LP:  Yusmeiro Petit (2-2).  S:  Rogers (14).

Notes:  Max Kepler was in center field and Cave in right, with Byron Buxton still out.  Marwin Gonzalez was in left, replacing Rosario.  When Rosario entered the game, he went to left, with Gonzalez in right.  Arraez was at second base with Jonathan Schoop still out.  Ehire Adrianza was at shortstop, replacing Jorge Polanco.

Arraez raised his average to .382.  Rogers has an ERA of 1.61.

The Twins made two more errors, although this time none of them led to runs.  Everyone keeps saying, "Well, Buxton's out", but Buxton isn't going to stop infielders from booting grounders or throwing the ball away.  Anyone who says, "Defense doesn't go into a slump" hasn't been watching the Twins lately.

But, all's well that ends well.  Gibson pitched a good game--not dominating, but seven innings, three runs, six hits, no walks is something you'd take from him every time.  Rogers remains outstanding.  Arraez had another good game.  And Rosario, well, what more can you say?

And Miguel Sano has quietly been batting very well lately.  He was 1-for-2 last night and he drew two walks, both of which led to runs.  He's only batting .236 on the season, which isn't great, but his OBP is .324.  Since June 27, when he went 0-for-7 in the eighteen inning game, he's batting .340/.436/.702.  A productive Sano would be really helpful over the last two and a half months of the season.

Record:  The Twins are 59-36, in first place in the American League Central, four games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 126-36!

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-seven

MINNESOTA 15, TEXAS 6 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, July 5.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 3-for-4 with a double, a hit-by-pitch, two runs and two RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 3-for-5 with a home run (his fourteenth), two doubles, two runs, and four RBIs.  Mitch Garver was 2-for-4 with a home run (his thirteenth), a double, a walk, and three runs.  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer, his thirteenth.  Luis Arraez was 2-for-5 with a home run, his second.  C. J. Cron was 2-for-5 with two doubles, two runs, and two RBIs.  Byron Buxton was 2-for-5 with two doubles and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out three.  Kohl Stewart retired all four men he faced.

Opposition stars:  Logan Forsythe was 2-for-4 with a home run (his fourth) and two runs.  Rougned Odor was 2-for-4 with a double.  Delino DeShields was 2-for-4 with a double.  Shin-Soo Choo was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer, his thirteenth.

The game:  The Twins started the scoring in the second and did so in a big way.  Garver led off with a double and scored on Gonzalez' single.  A double play made it look like the scoring might end right there, but Arraez followed with a home run, Schoop and Buxton hit back-to-back doubles, Kepler singled, and Polanco hit a two-run homer.  It was 6-0 and the Twins lead would never be threatened.

The Twins kept the scoring going.  Buxton doubled with one out in the fourth and scored on a Kepler single.  In the fifth Gonzalez was hit by a pitch and scored on Schoop's two-out two-run homer.  It was 9-0 through six.

The Rangers tried to get back into the game in the seventh.  Martin Perez, who had cruised through six innings, walked Nomar Mazara to open the seventh.  Singles by Forsythe and Asdrubal Cabrera plated one run and Odor's RBI double made it 9-2.  Ryne Harper came in and allowed a run-scoring ground out, then with two down gave up a homer to Choo, making the score 9-5.

No problem.  Garver led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run.  Gonzalez singled, Cron doubled, and Schoop delivered a two-out two-run double to make it 12-5.  Forsythe homered in the eighth to cut the margin to 12-6, but the Twins added a few more in the bottom of the eighth. Miguel Sano singled, Garver walked, Gonzalez doubled home one and Cron doubled home two.  Texas went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Perez (8-3).  LP:  Adrian Sampson (6-6).  S:  None.

Notes:  Arraez was at third base in this game, with Gonzalez in left and Sano on the bench.  Sano entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the fourth, as Nelson Cruz left the game.  According to news reports, Cruz had discomfort in his foot because his shoe was too tight.  I don't know why he couldn't simply put on a bigger shoe, but it obviously didn't matter for the outcome of the game.

Arraez actually lowered his average by going 2-for-5--he's now batting .413.  Polanco went up to .314.  Tyler Duffey gave up a run in two-thirds of an inning and has an ERA of 2.60.

As noted above, Perez pitched very well for six innings.  In retrospect you can say he was left in the game too long, but his pitch count wasn't high and there were no obvious signs that he was tiring.  Sometimes a guy just loses it quickly.

Stewart pitched the last 1.1 innings.  It had been widely assumed that he was going to be Sunday's starter, but that seems very unlikely now.  Maybe that never was the plan, or maybe Rocco thought it was better to save the rest of the bullpen now and figure something else out for Sunday.  The pitcher who started in Rochester Tuesday, and so would be going on regular rest Sunday, was Devin Smeltzer.  He did pretty well in his two earlier major league starts, so it would not be surprising to see him back for the Sunday start.

This was the kind of game we saw a lot the first couple of months of the season and haven't seen much lately.  Will this be the start of a hot streak?  The Twins had a game like this Saturday and we hoped it might be the start of a hot streak, but instead it was just a one-off.  So I guess we'll see.

The win guarantees that the Twins will go into the all-star break not having more than a two-game losing streak.  That's pretty remarkable.

Record:  The Twins are 55-32, first in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 130-32!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-five

MINNESOTA 8, KANSAS CITY 7 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Friday, June 21.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 3-for-5 with a stolen base (his third) and two RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs.  Max Kepler was 2-for-5.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-5 with a home run, his sixteenth.  Miguel Sano was 1-for-5 with a home run, his eighth.

Pitching stars:  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning.  Taylor Rogers pitched two shutout innings.

Opposition stars:  Cheslor Cuthbert was 3-for-4 with a home run (his fourth, a double, two runs, and four RBIs.  Jakob Junis struck out eight in six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks.  Jorge Soler was 1-for-3 with a home run (his twenty-first) a walk, and two runs.

The game:  In the bottom of the first, a pair of walks put men on first and second with two out.  Cuthbert then doubled home one run, an error allowed a second run to score, and Martin Maldonado's RBI single made it 3-0 Royals.

The Twins came back.  Cron homered leading off the second to make it 3-1.  In the fifth, Schoop led off with a single.  He was still on first with two out, but then Nelson Cruz walked and Rosario delivered an RBI single to make it 3-2 and put men on first and third.  Rosario then stole second and Cruz was able to score on a throwing error, tying the score 3-3.

It didn't stay tied long.  In the bottom of the fifth Whit Merrifield walked and Nicky Lopez was hit by a pitch.  A pair of strikeouts gave hope that Martin Perez might get out of the inning, but Cheslor Cuthbert, whose name sounds like he ought to be sitting around the smoking room of the Drones Club having a drink with Bertie Wooster rather than playing major league baseball, hit a three-run homer to put Kansas City back up 6-3.

The Twins again battled back.  In the seventh, singles by Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco were followed by a wild pitch, putting men on second and third with none out.  Cruz then delivered a two-run single to cut the margin to 6-5.  In the eighth, Sano led off with a home run to tie the score.  Pinch-hitter Mitch Garver walked and was replaced on the basepaths by pinch-runner Willians Astudillo.  Singles by Schoop and Kepler gave the Twins the lead 7-6.  Men were on second and third with none out.  Twice the Twins put the contact play on only to have their batter hit back to the pitcher, putting men on first and third with two out.  Rosario came through, however, getting a run-scoring single to give the Twins an insurance run at 8-6.

They needed it, as Soler led off the bottom of the eighth with a home run.  Cuthbert then singled, but Rogers came into the game at that point.  There was a scare in the bottom of the ninth, when an error by right-fielder Astudillo put the tying run on base with one out, but a line drive double play ended the game.

WP:  Ryne Harper (3-0).  LP:  Jake Diekman (0-5).  S:  Rogers (9).

Notes:  Polanco is batting .326.  Duffey has an ERA of 1.99.  Harper gave up a run in one inning and has an ERA of 2.35.  Rogers' ERA is 1.91.

Kepler was again in center, with Jake Cave in right.  Garver pinch-hit for Cave in the eighth inning, with Astudillo coming in to play right in the bottom of the eighth.

Martin Perez continues to struggle.  He hasn 't posted a game score above fifty since May 17.  In that span, he has posted an ERA of 5.66.  Whatever magic he had since mid-April to mid-May is gone.  We may be approaching the time to give Devin Smeltzer or someone else a shot at the fifth starter position.

For all the criticism of Sano, it's worth noting that Cave is 0-for-15 with eight strikeouts since coming back.  I understand that the expectations for the two are far different, but their outs count exactly the same.  Sano at least has the ability to hit the long ball, as he did last night to tie the score.

I love Harper, but he's been struggling in June.  Mainly, he's been hurt by the home run ball.  In eight innings he's given up four runs and three of them have been home runs.  At least they've all been solo homers, which as we all know don't hurt you.

In the Twins' recent down stretch, which to me started with last weekend's Kansas City series, they are 4-4.  It seems to me that a down stretch during which you still play .500 ball is a good sign.  Yes, it's helped that they've played the Royals in several of those games.  Still, I see no reason to think they won't start to play better again, and they're weathering the stretch of worse play pretty well so far.

Record:  The Twins are 49-26, first in the American League Central, nine games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 136-26!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-four

KANSAS CITY 4, MINNESOTA 1 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Thursday, June 20.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eleventh.

Pitching star:  Kohl Stewart pitched four shutout innings, giving up two hits and no walks and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Glenn Sparkman pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits and one walk and striking out three.  Jorge Soler was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Lucas Duda was 2-for-4.  Nicky Lopez was 2-for-4.

The game:  Polanco homered in the first inning and it looked like it might be a big night for the Twins.  Instead, it was the only run they scored.  The Royals came right back in the bottom of the first, Their first three batters reached base:  Whit Merrifield doubled, Lopez singled, and Alex Gordon doubled to give Kansas City a 2-1 lead.  Duda had an RBI single later in the inning to make it 3-1 Royals.  They added a run in the fourth on a Martin Maldonado RBI double.

Meanwhile, the Twins weren't really doing much of anything at bat.  They got a pair of two-out singles in the fourth, putting men on first and third, but Jonathan Schoop fanned to end the inning.  They got a couple of harmless singles later in the game, but their last ten batters were retired.  Kansas City only got two hits after the fourth inning as well, but they already had all the runs they needed.

WP:  Sparkman (2-3).  LP:  Jake Odorizzi (10-3).  S:  Ian Kennedy (9).

Notes:  Jake Cave was in right field, with Max Kepler remaining in center.  Luis Arraez was at shortstop, with Polanco at DH and Nelson Cruz on the bench.  Willians Astudillo was at third base, with Miguel Sano on the bench.  Mitch Garver started at catcher but left the game in the eighth, with Astudillo moving to catcher and Sano entering the game at third.

Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .375.  Polanco is batting .325.  Odorizzi gave up four runs in four innings and has an ERA of 2.58.

Odorizzi had his second poor start in a row.  He hasn't been dreadful, but he certainly hasn't been good.  There's some regression to the mean, but that's a phrase that describes things without actually explaining them.  Either he was just lucky before and his luck has run out, he's doing something differently from what he was doing before, or the Royals figured out what he was doing and adjusted to it.  The Twins need him to be, not necessarily a Cy Young winner like he was through his first thirteen starts, but a good, reliable pitcher.

The batters have also been in a slump.  But just like "regression to the mean", "in a slump" describes without explaining.  Again, it's either a matter of luck, their doing something differently, or other teams have adjusted.  My opinion, as I said the other day, is that we have too many batters who are trying to hit home runs on every pitch.  Nothing wrong with home runs, but some pitches are not capable of being hit out of the park.  My unsolicited amateur advice is to get back to just trying to hit the ball hard and let the home runs take care of themselves.

The baseball season is long.  You're going to have times when you're not playing well, for a variety of reasons.  It's not as much fun when it happens, but it does.  It happens to every team.  You just have to keep the faith and ride it out.  The thing not to do is to go all StatFreak when we hit one of those times.  If we do that,  we're no better than Yankee fans.

The Twins again try to avoid losing three in a row, this time with Martin Perez on the mound.  That doesn't fill me with confidence, but hey, the guy is 7-3.  Maybe he's due.  Maybe tonight the Twins break out of their slump and score ten runs.  After all, it's baseball.  All kinds of things are possible.

Record:  The Twins are 48-26, first in the American League Central, nine games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 136-26!

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!