Tag Archives: Eddie Rosario

2019 Recap: One Hundred Twenty-five

CHICAGO 6, MINNESOTA 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Monday, August 19.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 3-for-5 with a double.  Eddie Rosario was 3-for-5.  Jake Cave was 2-for-4.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a home run (his eighteenth), a double, three runs, and two RBIs.  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-5.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-5.

Pitching stars:  None.

Opposition stars:  Ryan Goins was 3-for-4 with two runs.  Jose Abreu was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his twenty-seventh.  Ivan Nova pitched 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on ten hits and one walk and striking out two.

The game:  The Twins once again scored early.  Arraez and Polanco started the first inning with back-to-back doubles and Cruz followed with a single, putting the Twins up 2-0.  They missed a chance to add to the lead in the second, putting two on with two out but failing to score.  It cost them, because in the third singles by Matt Skole, Yolmer Sanchez, and Goins and a three-run homer by Abreu put the White Sox ahead 4-2.

The Twins put two on with two out in the fourth and did not score.  They had men on second and third with one out in the sixth, but the contact play cost the Twins again, as Sano was thrown out at the plate on a grounder to third.

In the seventh, Tim Anderson doubled, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a squeeze bunt to make the score 5-2.  Polanco hit a home run in the  bottom of the seventh to cut the margin to 5-3 and give the Twins some hope.  The hope was quickly dashed, however, as Chicago got the run back in the eighth.  Goins singled, Jon Jay walked, and Eloy Jimenez singled to make the score 6-3.

The Twins did threaten in the ninth.  Singles by ArraezCruz, and Rosario cut the lead to 6-4 and brought the winning run to the plate with two out.  But Sano struck out, and the game was over.

WP:  Nova (9-9).  LP:  Kyle Gibson (11-6).  S:  Alex Colome (24).

Notes:  Max Kepler was held out of the game, presumably due to lingering effects of his heat-related illness Sunday.  That means the Twins went with an outfield of Rosario-Cave-Marwin Gonzalez.  That's not a good defensive outfield.  It's hard to tell whether it made any difference--no defense can stop a three-run homer--but it certainly didn't help.

Cruz returned to the lineup as the DH.

Arraez is now batting .348.

Gibson pitched 6.2 innings, giving up five runs on six hits and one walk and striking out four.

This was not the way the start of the "soft spot in the schedule" was supposed to go.  Still, it's not realistic to expect the Twins to win every game, even against bad teams, and if the Twins win the next two to take the series, that would be an acceptable outcome.  It also seems like, as much as anything, the Twins simply had some bad luck.  They out-hit the White Sox 15-8.  They had twelve singles, two doubles, and a home run.  They also drew a walk.  And they were 3-for-9 with me in scoring position, so it's not like they weren't producing in the clutch.  Yet, they managed to score only four runs.  That's not very easy to do.  It's frustrating, but it's baseball, and it happens.  I'll go out on a limb, though, and predict that if the Twins get fifteen hits again tonight they will score more than four runs.

Record:  The Twins are 76-49, in first place in the American League Central, two games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 113-49!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Twenty

MILWAUKEE 6, MINNESOTA 5 IN MILWAUKEE

Date:  Wednesday, August 14.

Batting stars:  Mitch Garver was 1-for-5 with a home run, his twenty-third.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-sixth) and a walk.  Miguel Sano was 1-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-first) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Sam Dyson struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Trevor May struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up a walk.

Opposition stars:  Eric Thames was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.  Trent Grisham was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his second), a walk, and two runs.  Keston Hiura was 2-for-4 with a walk.

The game:  It looked good for quite a while.  Garver led off the game with a home run and Rosario hit a two-out homer to give the Twins a 2-0 lead in the first inning.  The Brewers got one back in the bottom of the first when Grisham singled, Yasmani Grandal walked, and Hiura delivered an RBI single.

Each team scored once in the third.  Sano hit a one-out homer in the top of the inning.  In the bottom, a one-out single by Hiura and two-out singles by Lorenzo Cain and Thames made the score 3-2.

With one out in the top of the fourth, Max Kepler walked, Jonathan Schoop doubled, and Kyle Gibson walked to load the bases.  Garver struck out, but Jorge Polanco came through with a two-run single to put the Twins up 5-2.  Milwaukee again got one back in the fifth when Mike Moustakas doubled and scored on a Thames single.

The score stayed 5-3 until the eighth.  Ryan Braun led off by reaching on a Polanco error.  Hernan Perez singled and Grisham followed with a three-run homer, giving the Brewers their first lead of the day at 6-5.  The Twins tried to rally in the ninth.  With two out, walks to PolancoSano, and Rosario loaded the bases.  Unfortunately, Matt Albers then found the strike zone again and retired C. J. Cron on a deep fly to center to end the game.

WP:  Junior Guerra (6-3).  LP:  Sergio Romo (2-1).  S:  Albers (4).

Notes:  Kepler remained in center and Marwin Gonzalez in right with Byron Buxton out.  Schoop was at second base rather than Luis Arraez, who was used as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.  Arraez went 0-for-1 and is batting .348.

It's probably past time to admit that Gibson is never going to take that step forward and become a top pitcher.  He is what he is--an average major league starting pitcher--and as he approaches his thirty-second birthday it's unlikely that he'll ever be more than that.  That's not a criticism, exactly.  There's value in being an average major league starting pitcher.  Teams have missed the playoffs because they didn't have one.  But I think a lot of the frustration with him comes from people thinking that he could be better than that and that he ought to be better than that.  It's just not likely to happen.  It's time to simply accept what he is.

We've discussed the number of winnable games the Twins have lost this season.  The term "winnable game" is not easy to define.  The only way to really know how many the Twins have lost would be to go back through all their games, and even then the definition would be somewhat subjective.  And yes, one of the reasons that they've lost more winnable games this year is that they've played more winnable games--there haven't been that many times when they've been blown out.  Still, if you want to be a top team, you have to win a pretty high percentage of your winnable games.  That's the only way you get a good won-lost record, and that's the way we determine what teams are the top teams.  Every time you lose one of those winnable games, it costs you.

The good news, though, is that the Twins are still a half game up on Cleveland.  They don't have to win a specific number of games or achieve a certain winning percentage to win the division.  They just need to win one more game than Cleveland does in the last forty-two games of the season.  We'll see if they can.

Record:  The Twins are 72-48, in first place in the American League Central, a half game ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 114-48!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Nineteen

MINNESOTA 7, MILWAUKEE 5 IN MILWAUKEE

Date:  Tuesday, August 13.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his fourteenth) and two runs.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and two runs.  Mitch Garver was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer, his twenty-second.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up an unearned run on six hits and four walks and striking out three.  Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Sam Dyson pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless inning.

Opposition stars:  Yasmani Grandal was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his twentieth) and a walk.  Manny Pina was 2-for-4 with a double and a hit-by-pitch.  Keston Hiura was 2-for-4 with a walk.

The game:  Each team missed chances early.  The Brewers had men on first and third in each of the first two innings and did not score.  The Twins put men on first and second with one out in the second and did not score.  In the third, however, Max Kepler led off with a walk and Garver followed with a two-run homer.  With one out, Rosario walked, went to third on a Miguel Sano single, and scored on a ground out to put the Twins up 3-0.

Milwaukee again put two men on in the third and did not score.  They got on the board in the fourth, though.  Hernan Perez got a one-out single.  Chase Anderson's bunt should have resulted in an inning-ending double play, but an error instead put men on first and third with one out.  A force out brought home a run, cutting the lead to 3-1.  The Brewers again missed a chance in the fifth, as they failed to do anything with a leadoff double.

The Twins got an insurance run in the seventh, as Gonzalez singled, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Ehire Adrianza's pinch-hit double.  It was 4-1 and looking good for the visitors.  In the bottom of the seventh, however, Hiura led off with a single and scored on a Christian Yelich double.  Catcher's interference put men on first and second and Grandal delivered a three-run homer, giving Milwaukee its first lead at 5-4.  Suddenly, things weren't looking so good for the visitors after all.

But the Twins would not be denied.  Rosario led off the eighth with a double and Sano walked.  The next two batters went out, but Gonzalez came through with a three-run homer for the Twins, putting them up 7-5.  Dyson and Romo came in to slam the door and make it a Minnesota victory.

WP:  Duffey (2-1).  LP:  Drew Pomeranz (2-10).  S:  Romo (19).

Notes:  It remained Kepler in center and Gonzalez in right, with Byron Buxton remaining out.

Luis Arraez was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .350.

Perez got through six innings and gave up just an unearned run.  It wasn't pretty, as the Brewers had a threat in pretty much every inning.  For the game, Milwaukee stranded twelve runners and went 1-for-12 with men in scoring position.  It's hard to tell whether Perez actually pitched better or just got lucky.  Whatever it was, though, we'll take it.

It may well be that this is well-known and I just missed it (I went to bed before the ninth), but I don't know why Romo was used to close the game rather than Taylor Rogers.  I saw a game story that said Rogers was "apparently unavailable", but it didn't say why.  It worked out, but the Twins definitely need a healthy Taylor Rogers coming down the stretch.

This felt like a really big win for the Twins.  Yes, momentum is as good as the next day's starting pitcher, and if the Twins go on to lose five of the next six this game won't mean much of anything.  But when the Twins lost the lead in the seventh, a lot of people (including me) thought, "Here we go again".  Another winnable game lost.  Another game blown by the bullpen.  Couple that with Cleveland appearing to come back on Boston, and it looked like the Twins would lose yet another game in the standings.  Instead, they gained a game and find themselves back in first place.  Time will tell how big this game actually was, but it feels pretty big right now.

Record:  The Twins are 72-47, first in the American League Central, a half game ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 115-47!

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 Seventy-nine

MINNESOTA 6, TAMPA BAY 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Wednesday, June 26.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-2.  Luis Arraez was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs.

Pitching star:  Taylor Rogers retired all four men he faced.

Opposition stars:  Austin Meadows was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Kevin Kiermaier was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his ninth.  Tommy Pham was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twelfth.  Willy Adames was 1-for-4 with a home run, his ninth.

The game:  The Twins opened the scoring in the first inning.  Arraez led off with a walk.  With one out, the Twins got singles from CruzRosario, and C. J. Cron, plus a wild pitch, to take a 3-0 lead.  It didn't stay 3-0 long, as Meadows walked to start the second and Kiermaier hit a one-out two-run homer to cut the lead to 3-2.

It stayed 3-2, with neither team doing a lot on offense, until the sixth, when Pham homered with one out to tie the score 3-3.  Adames hit a one-out homer in the seventh to give the Rays their first lead at 4-3.

Then came the bottom of the seventh.  Jason Castro got an infield single and Jake Cave reached on an error, putting men on first and second with none out.  Jonathan Schoop failed to get a bunt down and struck out, but Arraez singled to load the bases.  Jorge Polanco popped up for the second out, but there's no need to fear, Nelson Cruz is here.  Cruz hit a bases-clearing double to give the Twins the lead at 6-4.  Tampa Bay could get only a one-out single in the eighth after that.

WP:  Trevor May (3-1).  LP:  Charlie Morton (8-2).  S:  Taylor Rogers (10).

Notes:  Arraez started the game at third base in place of Miguel Sano.  The starting outfield, from left to right, was Willians Astudillo-Rosario-Cave.  Then, of course, Rosario was injured running the bases in the third inning.  Sano came into the game at third base, with Arraez going to left field, Cave moving to center, and Astudillo moving to right.  In the eighth, Max Kepler came into the game in center field, with Cave going to right, Astudillo moving back to left, and Arraez going to third base, with Sano coming out of the game.

Arraez was put into the leadoff spot, and apparently the pressure did not bother him.  He is now batting .452.  Polanco was 0-for-4 and is batting .321.  Jake Odorizzi allowed three runs in 5.1 innings and has an ERA of 2.73.  Ryne Harper retired both men he faced and has an ERA of 2.23.  Rogers now has an ERA of 2.04.

Every member of the Twins starting outfield is now dealing with an injury.  Kepler came in for defense--maybe he'll be well enough to play today.  Maybe Byron Buxton can come off the disabled list.  Maybe, against all odds, Rosario's injury isn't that bad and he can play.  If not, though, they'd better have made a call to Rochester last night.  An Astudillo-Rosario-Cave outfield was shaky enough.  An Arraez-Cave-Astudillo outfield is simply untenable.  The Twins were lucky that it didn't particularly hurt them last night, but that kind of luck is not going to hold.

Schoop tried to bunt in the seventh inning with men on first and second with the Twins down a run.  I don't think a bunt is an obviously bad play there, but it is if you don't have a batter at the plate who can get the bunt down.  Bunting, for a big league ballplayer, should not be that hard of a thing to do, but you need to learn how to do it properly.  So, if you're going to ask players to bunt, you need to take the time to teach them to do it correctly and take the time to have them practice it regularly.  Is bunting worth the time it takes to learn to do it right?  That's a good question.  But either have players who can bunt well or don't do it.  Giving up an out to gain a base may be a questionable strategy, but giving up an out and not gaining anything is a strategy that has nothing going for it.

The Twins did not hit any home runs last night, a rare thing for this season but especially rare in a game that they won.  In a way, though, it's a good thing.  I have nothing against home runs, but it's good for a team to have more than one way it can win.  My theory for some time has been that the more ways you have that you can win, the more likely it is that you will win.  A team that can win in several ways has an advantage over a team that can only win one way.  It's good to know the Twins can beat a good team without hitting home runs.

Record:  The Twins are 52-27, first in the American League Central, 8.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 135-27!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-eight

MINNESOTA 9, TAMPA BAY 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, June 25.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.  Willians Astudillo was 3-for-4 with a double.  Mitch Garver was 3-for-5 with a home run (his twelfth), two runs, and three RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-3 with a home run (his thirteenth) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson struck out seven in seven innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and a walk.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition star:  Willy Adames was 2-for-2 with a home run, his eighth.

The game:  Nobody got on base until Rosario led off the bottom of the second with a double.  With two out, Astudillo delivered an RBI single to put the Twins up 1-0.  In the second, Schoop led off with a home run.  Jorge Polanco and Garver followed with singles, and with one out Rosario and C. J. Cron came through with RBI singles, making it 4-0.  The Twins poured on some more in the fourth.  Astudillo led off with a double and Miguel Sano singled.  With one out, Schoop walked to load the bases, Garver hit a two-run single, Nelson Cruz singled to re-load the bases, and Rosario singled home another run to give the Twins a 7-0 lead.  They got one more in the fifth on a hit batsman, a single, a walk, and a sacrifice fly.  It was 8-0 through five.

The Rays got on the board in the sixth when Adames led off with a home run.  They somewhat got back into the game in the seventh.  With two out, Travis D'Arnaud singled, Joey Wendle doubled, Michael Brosseau doubled home two, and Brandon Lowe hit an RBI triple, cutting the margin to 8-4.  That was as close as they would get, however, as Tampa Bay went down in order in the eighth and ninth.  The Twins added a run in the eighth on Garver's home run.

WP:  Gibson (8-4).  LP:  Blake Snell (4-7).  S:  None.

Notes:  Polanco was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .326.  Garver is batting .305.  Harper has an ERA of 2.27.  Duffey has an ERA of 1.90.

Astudillo was in right field, with Kepler in center and Jake Cave on the bench.  Cave came in to play center field in the fifth after Kepler was hit in the elbow by a pitch.*  X-Rays were negative, but he will have an MRI today.  Presumably even if we get good news he will miss a couple of days.  Byron Buxton is eligible to come off the Injured List, but has not yet done so.  I'm glad they're being careful with him, but his wrist injury was apparently worse than we were initially led to believe.  If Buxton doesn't come back that pretty much leaves the Twins with three outfielders, and that's counting Astudillo as an outfielder.  It would not be surprising to see the Twins bring up an outfielder from Rochester.

*Please, Kepler did not get "beaned in the elbow".  A bean ball has a specific meaning.  It means to throw at someone's head, the "bean".  Saying he got "beaned in the elbow" is saying he got hit in the head in the elbow.  It makes no sense.  Now get off my lawn!

I don't know where this Twins team was for the last week and a half, but it was good to get them back.  Stringing hits together, getting a couple of long balls, getting good starting pitching for six innings, even getting good relief pitching.  One game doesn't mean much, of course, but we can hope this Twins team sticks around for a while.

Record:  The Twins are 51-27, in first place in the American League Central, 8.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 135-27!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-seven

KANSAS CITY 6, MINNESOTA 1 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Sunday, June 23.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 4-for-4 with a double.  Max Kepler was 2-for-5 with a double.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twentieth.

Pitching stars:  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Matt Magill pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Homer Bailey pitched 5.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk and striking out five.  Billy Hamilton was 2-for-3 with two stolen bases, his fifteenth and sixteenth.  Hunter Dozier was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his twelfth) and a double.  Alex Gordon was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.  Whit Merrifield was 2-for-4.  Kevin McCarthy pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two.

The game:  It was basically decided in the third inning.  With one out, singles by Hamilton and Merrifield put men on first and third.  Nicky Lopez' bunt single scored the first run, Gordon doubled home a second, and Dozier hit a three-run homer.  That quickly, the Royals were ahead 5-0 and they would stay ahead the rest of the game.

Rosario got the Twins on the board leading off the fourth.  Arraez had a one-out double and Miguel Sano walked, but Jason Castro was caught looking and Jake Cave grounded out, so the score stayed 5-1.  Facing some mediocre Kansas City pitchers, the Twins only got one other threat going.  That came in the seventh, when Cave was hit by a pitch, Polanco had a two-out infield single, and Nelson Cruz was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Rosario hit into a force out, however, and the Twins would not threaten again.  Gordon's RBI double in the bottom of the seventh completed the scoring.

WP:  Bailey (7-6).  LP:  Michael Pineda (4-4).  S:  McCarthy (1).

Notes:  Arraez was at second base in place of Jonathan Schoop.  Kepler remained in center, with Cave in right and Byron Buxton still on the IL.

Arraez is batting .436.  Polanco is batting .326.  Mike Morin gave up a run in one inning and now has an ERA of 2.08.

Pineda had been pitching fairly well lately, by his standards.  He pitched well in this game if you take out the third inning, which unfortunately you can't.

The Twins had nine hits, a walk, and two hit batsmen, but could score just one run.  The hits were concentrated in a very few players.  As you can see above, Arraez had four of them.  The top two men in the Twins order, Kepler and Polanco, went 4-for-10.  The three through five batters were 1-for-12, with Rosario's solo homer being the lone hit.  The bottom three batters were 0-for-10.  That led to eleven men being left on base.

The Twins are 5-5 over their last ten games.  A year ago, we'd have looked at that as a hopeful sign, thinking that maybe the Twins were starting to build on something.  This year, we're all disappointed and wondering what the Twins will do to right the ship.  One thing I've noticed abut Rocco, though, is that he does not get into panic mode easily.  He has faith in his players and has faith in his own decision-making ability.  If he believes he has a good reason for doing something, he's not going to change his mind just because it doesn't work right away.  That's a good thing, I think, as long as you don't carry it too far.  It's possible for that attitude to become stubbornness, where you insist on doing things your way despite evidence that your way doesn't work.  I've not noticed that in Rocco, but he's only been a manager for half a season, so I guess time will tell.

The Twins signed Cody Allen to a minor league contract the other day.  He was a really good relief pitcher until a couple of years ago, when he suddenly wasn't any more.  It's a low-risk move that really can only hurt you if you allow it to.  What I mean is that it can hurt you if you allow him to take playing time from a more deserving player, or if you convince yourself that you don't need to do anything else, or if you bring him to the majors even though he hasn't proven he belongs there, just because of who he is.  I have confidence in the current front office that they won't let those things happen.  And who knows?  Maybe the Twins can help him get back to being a useful reliever again.  The Twins could certainly use one of those.

Record:  The Twins are 50-27, first in the American League Central, eight games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 135-27!

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!