Because of some truly menacing weather yesterday, we get to test out the goofy new 2020 doubleheader rules. Seven inning games! What do ya know about that? Funny that they are doing an actual, non-split doubleheader, now that there aren't fans to come.
Game 1 features former Terry Ryan thirst trap Ian Kennedy squaring off against Jake Odorizzi. The Odor this far has been mostly absent, so hopefully this game will get him started off on the path he was on last season.
Game 2 is unclear thus far. Bullpen game? Berrios? Odorizzi again? Who knows? It'll be fun, either way.
Miller Huggins (1878)
Effa Manley (1897)
Wes Covington (1932)
Bill Sudakis (1946)
Lynn McGlothen (1950)
Dick Ruthven (1951)
Dave Hostetler (1956)
Jaime Navarro (1967)
Tom Quinlan (1968)
Dee Brown (1978)
Michael Cuddyer (1979)
Brian Slocum (1981)
Buster Posey (1987)
Ryne Harper (1989)
Matt Harvey (1989)
Jake Odorizzi (1990)
Effa Manley was the owner of the Brooklyn Eagles and the Newark Eagles in the Negro Leagues.
Dick Ruthven was drafted by Minnesota in the first round in 1972, but did not sign.
Brian Slocum was drafted by Minnesota in the fourteenth round in 1999, but did not sign.
We would like to wish a very happy birthday to Can of Corn.
We would also like to wish a happy birthday to Milt on Tilt. Gone but not forgotten.
Hey, all. Pretty busy today as I'm guessing you are as well. The Odoreater is up against the Zimm dog, pitching better after a recent IL stint, though he's still afflicted with being on the Tigers. Hoping for a fun-filled donger fest today!
MINNESOTA 8, CHICAGO 2 IN CHICAGO
Date: Wednesday, August 28.
Batting stars: Mitch Garver was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer (his twenty-fourth), a hit-by-pitch, and two runs. Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his twentieth and twenty-first) and four RBIs. Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a double.
Pitching stars: Jake Odorizzi struck out eight in six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks. Trevor May struck out three in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit. Cody Stashak pitched two shutout innings, giving up three hits and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Jose Abreu was 2-for-4 with a double. Tim Anderson was 2-for-4 with a double. Jimmy Cordero pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit.
The game: Doubles by Leury Garcia and Abreu put the White Sox on the board in the first inning with a 1-0 lead. The Twins came right back in the second. Eddie Rosario led off with a bloop single, Ehire Adrianza hit a two-out single, and Schoop came through with a three-run homer, putting the Twins up 3-1. They added two in the third on just one hit. Garver was hit by a pitch, Jorge Polanco doubled, and Nelson Cruz was intentionally walked to fill the bases. A force out brought home one run and an error brought home another, making the score 5-1. The Twins again loaded the bases in the fourth, getting two-out singles from Garver and Polanco and another intentional walk to Cruz, but Rosario grounded out to end the threat.
Chicago got a run back in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Yoan Moncada and Anderson singled and Eloy Jimenez walked, giving the White Sox loaded bases. They were not more successful than the Twins, getting a force out to bring home one run, but no more. Chicago put two on with two out in the fifth, but could do nothing with that, either.
The Twins put the game out of reach in the eighth. With one out, Schoop homered, Jake Cave doubled, and Garver homered, making the score 8-2.
WP: Odorizzi (14-6). LP: Ross Detwiler (2-4). S: None.
Notes: Cave was in center in the absence of Byron Buxton. Adrianza was in right in the absence of both Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez. An outfield of Rosario-Cave-Adrianza is obviously less than ideal, but the Twins don't have a lot of options. LaMonte Wade has just started a rehab assignment in Pensacola. Zander Weil is probably the next-best outfielder in Rochester, but I know nothing about his defense. The best option may be to hope Kepler and Gonzalez can bounce back quickly.
I see that Miguel Sano was hit by a pitch and was eventually replaced by Luis Arraez. I don't know whether that's something to be concerned about. Arraez was 1-for-2 and is now batting .336.
The first three batters hit Odorizzi pretty hard, but he certainly settled down after that. He allowed only three more hits and one more run over the next six innings. That's the Odorizzi the Twins need. The bullpen came through as well. Trevor May has quietly been pitching quite well over the last month. In his last eleven games (12.1 innings), he has given up just one earned run on five hits and three walks and has struck out fifteen. Other than one game against Atlanta, Stashak has also done pretty well.
In his last five games, Schoop has gone 6-for-17. That's good, but what's really impressive is that five of the six hits have gone over the fence. That's a slugging average of 1.235, which I'm pretty sure would be a record if you did it for a season. He won't do it for the season, of course, but it's a pretty good run, even in a small sample size.
Today the Twins go for the sweep. Whether they get will depend to a large extent on whether Jose Berrios can pitch like Jose Berrios. I said a couple of weeks ago that he was not one of the Twins' problems, and since then he's gone out and proven me wrong. In his four August starts, he is 0-2, 8.44, 1.97 WHIP. The Twins say it's an issue with his mechanics. Hopefully a trip to Wes Johnson's repair shop has solved his mechanical problems and he can get back to pitching the way the Twins need him to.
Record: The Twins are 81-51, in first place, 3.5 games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 111-51!
This sucks, folks.
No way around it. Yes, Cleveland has done insanely well over the past 50+ games, but a double digits lead evaporated quick enough to make my head spin. It sucks.
But! We've still got the easiest schedule in baseball going forward, and I still feel that we've got this.
One of the most important pieces moving forward toward the division title takes the hill today. Odorizzi played like a deserving all star in the first half, and has played like someone who wants to go into free agency looking for a pillow contract so far in the last month or so. That needs to turn around. We need Buxton and Cruz, but it all begins with getting better starts from our rotation.
Get it done, Odo.
The wife is on a business trip, and I've got two little rugrats, so I'll be keeping this brief. A pretty decent Braves team is coming through Minnesota starting a three game series tonight. This will be immediately followed by a four game series against the Spiders. Safe to say this will be a very important homestand. Thankfully, they started it off right with a sweep against the Royals. Let's continue the current trend.
The Twins will face a very sharp rightie (and Cy Young candidate) in Soroka tonight. The Twins counter his stinky pitches with their very own Odor Eater.
Well, that was fun! Let's do it again.
I think Gibson is a decent pitcher, but he is prone to the type of game he had last night, where he just doesn't have it. Rocco realizing that in the fourth inning and taking him out probably saved the ballgame. That's the type of good decision making that adds up over a season and becomes magnified in the postseason.
It also turned "I don't have a good feeling about this series" to "hey, this could work..."
Trying to keep the good vibes going today is Jake Odorizzi. He's taken a bit of a tumble lately, bit I'm thinking that his true self is somewhere between the truly great April and May that he had and the significantly less good June where he lost his hold on the All Star Game start and, eventually, a couple of layers of skin on one of his fingers.
We all know this series is big. A win or (dare I even a think it) a sweep puts Cleveland back in their places and (hopefully) gives them a seller's mentality here in the next few weeks.
Cleveland counters with Trevor Bauer. He's been up and down lately after his strong start. The Twins got to him last time. Hopefully, they do it again.
I've got Kepler today, btw. Go Twins!
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!
Winning series’s against the likes of Tampa Bay, Houston ... even Cleveland (and eventually New York and Boston) is what I hope to see over the remainder of the season. That being said, I certainly don’t mind another mid-season series against the Kanas City-type teams in this league - non-ass-bats make watching the individual games more enjoyable and (when they handle their business) continues their pursuit of the big prize: securing playoffs games & winning series’s in October. That said, watching career years out of our 1A & 1B starters is certainly worth the price of admission.
Odorizzi vs. Sparkman