Tag Archives: Jonathan Schoop

Bob-omb!

I figured I should write at least something on my obsession with the Twins home run record chase, but before I do, I would like to point out that the Twins staff has only allowed 195 homers this year. That's second in the AL behind Tampa, who just allowed one to the Yanks in two games.  In fact, let's look at the AL playoff teams (as of Wednesday):

Rays: 177
Twins: 195
A's: 200
Indians: 200
Astros: 226
Yankees: 244

So the Yankees have barely scored more than the Twins, give up way more homers, and have a worse ERA+.  So why have the Yankees been better?  The Yankees have given up 45 unearned runs. The Twins, 74.  Eeeg.  If the Twins lose in the playoffs because of their atrocious defense...

Anyway, back to bombas.

The Twins are up two homers with three games to go. Neither team is really playing for anything. For the Yankees to get home field, they'd have to sweep while the Astros get swept. Not likely. So it's reasonable to think both teams will be resting players. The Twins will be matching up Astudillo and Miller and Torreyes with the likes of Romine and Estrada and Wade.  And, honestly, probably Giancarlo Stanton, who needs some reps before the playoffs.  The Twins will likely play Schoop a lot, who if he can do anything it's hit bombs in low-pressure situations.

The Yanks are playing the Rangers, who have given up 17 more homers than the Royals.  The Rangers also play in a more homer friendly park.

Let's look at projected starters and their HR/9:

Rangers: Palumbo (2.6), TBD (?), Lynn (0.9)
Royals: Skoglund (1.5), Sparkman (2.1), Lopez (1.8)

I think I've finally come to the point where I'll be okay if the Twins don't get this record. Clinching the division has helped for sure. Though no promises if the Twins are leading by three homers on Sunday and the Yankees hit four.

Every time I've bitched to nibbish about the Yankees hitting homers, he has replied with "Don't worry, they've got this."

Om.

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-two

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!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Thirty-one

MINNESOTA 3, CHICAGO 1 IN CHICAGO

Date:  Tuesday, August 27.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-4.  Marwin Gonzalez was 1-for-3 with a home run, his fifteenth.  Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-4 with a home run, his nineteenth.

PItching stars:  Michael Pineda struck out eight in five innings, giving up one run on four hits and a walk.  Sam Dyson pitched a perfect inning.  Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.  Sergio Romo struck out the side in a perfect inning.  Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Lucas Giolito struck out nine in six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and three walks.  Yolmer Sanchez was 2-for-3.  Tim Anderson was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fourteenth.

The game:  The Twins put two on with one out in the first, as Jorge Polanco walked and Cruz singled, but nothing came of it.  In the second, however Gonzalez led off with a home run and Schoop hit a two-out homer, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.  Pineda got through the first three innings without allowing a hit, but that changed when Anderson led off the fourth with a home run, cutting the margin to 2-1.  The White Sox also got a pair of two-out singles in the inning, but a ground out ended the threat.

Chicago got a threat going in the seventh, getting singles from Ryan Goins and Sanchez with one out.  Matt Skole struck out and Leury Garcia lined to third to end the inning.  The Twins got an insurance run in the eighth on singles by PolancoCruz, and Eddie Rosario.  The last eight White Sox were retired and the game belonged to the Twins.

WP:  Pineda (10-5).  LP:  Giolito (14-7).  S:  Rogers (21).

Notes:  Jake Cave was in center in the continued absence of Byron BuxtonGonzalez was in right in place of Max Kepler.  Kepler pinch-hit for Gonzalez in the eighth and went to center field, with Cave moving to right.  Rosario returned to the lineup in left field.

Duffey has an ERA of 2.80.  Rogers has an ERA of 2.47.

Pineda pitched well, but threw just five innings and eighty-nine pitches when he was removed from the game.  When that decision was made, we knew that either one of our top three relievers would pitch more than one inning or that we'd see Tyler Duffey with the game on the line.  Rocco clearly decided that was a better option than trying to push Pineda into a sixth inning, and he was proven to be right.  Duffey was a little shaky, but got the job done.

Duffey has, in fact, pitched very well lately.  He hasn't given up a run in over a month.  On July 23 his ERA was 3.82 and today it is 2.80.  That's fourteen appearances and twelve innings.  He has given up just six hits and five walks.  I still not sure how much I trust him with the game on the line, but he's been getting the job done.

This felt like a big game to win.  Time will tell if it actually is, of course.  But while the White Sox are not a good team, Giolito is a really good pitcher and he had shut the Twins down just last week.  The pitching matchups for the rest of the series seem much more favorable, although as we've said many times, it's baseball and you never know.  That means the Twins should have a good chance to sweep the series.  That would be good, because Cleveland is playing Detroit, and the Indians don't seem to be having any trouble taking care of business against the weak teams of the league.  As we approach September, the Twins need to do the same.

Record:  The Twins are 80-51, 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 Twenty-two

MINNESOTA 4, TEXAS 3 IN TEXAS

Date:  Friday, August 16.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 3-for-4.  Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, his seventeenth.  Max Kepler was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his thirty-third.

Pitching stars:  Sam Dyson pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk.  Taylor Rogers struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.  Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Mike Minor pitched seven innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits and a walk and striking out five.  Nomar Mazara was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.  Willie Calhoun was 2-for-3 with a walk.

The game:  The Twins got two on in the first inning, but couldn't do anything with them.  The Rangers got two in the second, but a double play took them out of it.  The Twins broke through with one out in the fourth.  Miguel Sano reached on an error and Kepler followed with a two-run homer.  Texas immediately got one back in the bottom of the fourth on singles by Elvis Andrus and Calhoun and a wild pitch by Odorizzi.  Still, it was 2-1 Twins through four.

The lead lasted until the sixth.  Shin-Soo Choo led off with a double.  He had only made it to third with two out, but Calhoun then walked an Mazara delivered a two-run double, giving the Rangers a 3-2 advantage.

That lead lasted until the next half-inning.  With one out in the seventh, Gonzalez singled and Schoop followed with a two-run homer, putting the Twins up 4-3.

Texas threatened after that, but could not put the tying run across.  They had men on first and third with one out in the seventh, but a double play ended the inning.  They had men on first and third with two out in the eighth, but a strikeout ended the inning.  They got a one-out double in the ninth, but again could not score him.  The Twins held on for the victory.

WP:  Dyson (5-1).  LP:  Minor (11-7).  S:  Romo (20).

Notes:  Luis Arraez was in left field, with Eddie Rosario given the night off.  Rosario came in for defense late in the game, with Arraez moving to second and Schoop coming out of the game.  Jorge Polanco was at designated hitter in the absence of Nelson Cruz, with Ehire Adrianza playing shortstop.  Kepler remained in center and Gonzalez in right in the absence of Byron Buxton.

Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .353.  Rogers has an ERA of 2.63.

The Twins did not make any errors and only threw one pitch to the backstop.  Improvement!

The game featured a matchup between Odor and Odorizzi.  Odor walked once and flied out.

It may have been mentioned during the broadcast, but Kepler's home run gave him the record for most home runs in a season by a European-born player.  He broke the record of thirty-two set by Bobby Thomson in 1951.

When the Twins went down 3-2 in the sixth, I was confident that they were going to get the lead back.  I was not confident that they would keep it, but I was confident that they would get it back.  I can't tell you why, I just was.  And, of course, they did.

I did not hear an explanation for why Rogers pitched the eighth and Romo pitched the ninth, rather than the other way around.  There may have been some matchups that influenced Rocco's thinking.  Rocco has never said that Rogers is the closer, even though he's been using him that way.  As we observed early in the season, if you don't announce that someone is your closer, then you don't have to explain why you didn't use them in that role.

We've talked about the Twins losing winnable games.  One might say that here, the Twins won a loseable game.  The only scored two runs in the first six innings, and only had four total.  They lost the lead in the sixth.  The Rangers had men all over the bases in the last three innings but did not tie the score.  They went just 1-for-11 with men in scoring position, while the Twins went 0-for-2 in that situation.  The Twins had more runs at the end, and that's all that matters.

Record:  The Twins are 74-48, in first place in the American League Central, 1.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 114-48!

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 Rewind: Game Eighty-six

OAKLAND 7, MINNESOTA 2 IN OAKLAND

Date:  Thursday, July 4.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 3-for-5 with a double.  Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-3.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one.  Trevor May struck out three in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Chris Herrmann was 4-for-4.  Robbie Grossman was 3-for-4.  Marcus Semien was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his twelfth and thirteenth) and five RBIs.  Tanner Anderson pitched 4.2 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on nine hits and two walks and striking out three.  Wei-Chung Wang pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up no hits and a walk and striking out one.

The game:  A two-out rally in the first produced one run for the Twins.  Cruz and Luis Arraez singled and Miguel Sano walked to fill the bases and Adrianza reached on catcher's interference.  They missed a chance for more, though, when Schoop flied out.  They missed another chance in the third, when Cruz led off the inning with a single but was caught stealing.  The Twins got two more singles in the inning, but they went for naught.

The Athletics similarly missed a chance in the third, when they had men on first and third with one out, but they tied it in the fourth on singles by Khris Davis, Grossman, and Herrmann.  The Twins took the lead back in the fifth when Cruz doubled and Adrianza singled him home, but Oakland went in front to stay in the bottom of the fifth.  Semien homered to start the inning.  Matt Chapman walked, Matt Olson singled, and Davis walked.  A double play brought home the go-ahead (or go-behind, depending on your point of view) run.

It remained 3-2 until the eighth, when Oakland broke it open.  Grossman and Herrmann singled and Jurickson Profar was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.  Semien unloaded them with a grand slam, and the game was gone.  The Twins, who had not mounted a threat since the fifth, got a leadoff double in the ninth from Max Kepler, but he did not move past second.

WP:  Wang (1-0).  LP:  Jose Berrios (8-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Arraez remained in left field.  Adrianza was at first base in place of C. J. Cron.

Arraez was 1-for-5 and is batting .414.  Polanco was 0-for-5 and is batting .313.

I don't know why Rocco has suddenly decided Littell is a one-inning guy.  The whole point of putting him on the roster was to have a guy who could pitch multiple innings.  His last four games, though, he's gone one inning in each, and the game before that he went two.  To his credit, he's done well in that role.  In fact, if you throw out the awful game in Tampa Bay, he has an ERA of zero and has given up six hits and three walks in eight innings.  That's pretty good.  But he's supposed to be The Bullpen Guy Who Can Fill Up Some Innings, and Rocco's not giving him the chance to do that.

This was kind of an embarrassing loss for the Twins.  Tanner Anderson is a career nothing whose major league ERA was 6.83 going in and who wasn't any good in AAA this year either.  Yet, the Twins could manage only two runs off him in 4.2 innings, and if not for catcher's interference it would've been one.  Yes, they had nine hits, but only one of them was for an extra base.  The Twins could also do nothing with Lou Trivino (ERA 4.62) and Joakim Soria (4.76).  Plus, the Twins had their best pitcher going.  This is a game they should've won easily, and instead they lost by five runs.  Yes, this is baseball and it happens, but it's been happening a lot to the Twins lately, and it's not good.

But, there's nothing to be done about now, so we head home to take on the Texas Rangers.  Maybe Martin Perez will have a good game and the Twins can put together a few wins heading into the all-star break.

Record:  The Twins are 54-32, in first place in the American League Central, six games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 130-32!

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!