Tag Archives: Marwin Gonzalez

2019 Recap: Game Sixty-six

SEATTLE 9, MINNESOTA 6 IN MINNESOTA (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Wednesday, June 12.

Batting stars:  MIguel Sano was 2-for-4.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with a home run, his eighth.  Mitch Garver was 2-for-5.  Byron Buxton was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his ninth.  Max Kepler was 1-for-5 with a home run, his sixteenth.

Pitching stars:  Jose Berrios pitched 6.2 innings, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks and striking out six.  Ryan Eades struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  Daniel Vogelbach was 4-for-5 with a home run, his seventeenth.  Mallex Smith was 3-for-6 with two doubles.  Omar Narvaez was 2-for-4 with a double.  Dee Gordon was 2-for-5 with two doubles and two runs.  Shed Long was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer and a walk, scoring twice.  Tommy Milone struck out six in six innings, giving up three runs on four hits and no walks.

The game:  It was a pitchers' duel for seven innings.  The Mariners had runners all over the place for seven innings, but only scored when Vogelbach hit a leadoff home run in the sixth.  The Twins tied it 1-1 when Gonzalez homered with one out in the eighth.

The Mariners appeared to take control of the game with a five-run eighth.  A walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly scored the first run. A single, an error, and a three-run homer by Long scored four more.  It was 6-1, and it looked like the Twins were done.

Twins batters had other ideas.  Kepler homered with one out, and the Twins then put together four singles, with RBIs going to Garver and Gonzalez, to cut the lead to 6-4.  They struck again in the ninth, as Sano led off with a single and Buxton hit a two-run homer to tie it 6-6.

But as quickly as the Twins got back into the game, they got back out of it in the tenth.  A ground-rule double, a walk, and a bunt put men on second and third with one down.  The Twins then made three errors, leading to three runs, and the game was gone.

WP:  Anthony Bass (1-1).  LP:  Tyler Duffey (1-1).  S:  Roenis Elias (6).

Notes:  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-5 and is batting .339.  Garver is batting .321.  Mike Morin retired the only man he faced and has an ERA of 1.32.  Ryan Eades has an ERA of zero.  The three runs against Duffey were all unearned, so his ERA is now 2.29.

It would seem that there is plenty of blame to go around for this one.  The batters made a nice comeback, but for seven innings they did nothing against a couple of undistinguished pitchers.  The bullpen melted down in the eighth, but Eades came in to right the ship and the tenth inning can't be entirely blamed on Duffey.  The defense, normally reliable, let the team down in both the eighth and the tenth.  They say that you win as a team and you lose as a team, and the Twins lost as a team last night.

The exceptions are Eades, as mentioned above, and Berrios.  Berrios allowed nine baserunners, but only one scored.  It was mentioned that on the radio that he is stranding runners at a 78% rate, and that went up last night.  I wonder if he's trying to pace himself, only going max effort when there are men on base.  I'm not sure that allowing this many baserunners is sustainable for a season, but it's working for him so far.

I suspect one reason the Twins struggled against Milone is simply that you don't see pitchers like that much any more.  With all the emphasis on power arms, a soft tosser who can hit his spots and mix his pitches can be pretty effective, just because you rarely face pitchers like that.  Ryne Harper probably benefits from that, too.  I understand the preference for hard throwers, and as a general rule I agree with it.  Sometimes, though, we need to remember that the point is to get batters out, and any way you can do that is a good way.

Anyway, turn the page, put it in the rearview mirror, etc.  Cleveland lost yesterday, too, and we're still tied for the best record in the league.  As I heard someplace, you can't win them all.

Record:  The Twins are 44-22, first in the American League Central, 10.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 140-22!

2019 Recap: Game Fifty-nine

CLEVELAND 5, MINNESOTA 2 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Tuesday, June 4.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a home run (his seventh) and a double.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eighteenth.

Pitching star:  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Francisco Lindor was 3-for-3 with two home runs (his ninth and tenth) and a double.  Roberto Perez was 1-for-3 with a home run, his eighth.  Jake Bauers was 1-for-3 with a home run, his sixth.  Shane Bieber struck out seven in seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk.

The game:  A walk and a single put Indians on first and second with one out in the first inning, but a popup and a line out ended the inning.  The Twins got on the board in the second when Gonzalez homered with two out.  They had a chance for more, putting men on second and third, but a popup ended the inning.

Cleveland got on the board in the third when Lindor homered.  The took the lead in the fifth when, with two out, Leonys Martin walked and Lindor hit his second homer, giving the Indians a 3-1 lead.

The Twins cut it to 3-2 when Rosario homered in the sixth.  In the seventh, however, Cleveland got back-to-back homers from Perez and Bauers to go up 5-2.  The Twins did not get a man past first after that.

WP:  Bieber (5-2).  LP:  Devin Smeltzer (0-1).  S:  Brad Hand (17).

Notes:  Nelson Cruz was back in the lineup but was rusty, at best, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.  Gonzalez was at first base, with C. J. Cron on the bench.

Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 and is batting .336.  Mitch Garver was 0-for-3 and is batting .314.  Ryne Harper pitched two-thirds of an inning with no runs, making his ERA 1.85.  Duffey has an ERA of 2.45.

Giving up five runs in 6.1 innings, you can't really say that Smeltzer pitched well.  But he really didn't pitch badly, either.  He gave up five hits--it's just that four of the five hits went over the fence.  It happens.  He walked three, which isn't as good, but it isn't terrible.  Both the game log and the few innings of the radio broadcast I was able to hear indicated that he was getting squeezed.  Unfortunately, there are umpires who seem to think it's part of their job to "make the rook pay his dues", which is yet another reason we need to use technology to call balls and strikes.  So we'll see how Smeltzer does next time.

As we said, these games are much more important to Cleveland than they are to the Twins.  If the Twins get swept, they'll still have a solid lead--they just will have missed a chance to put the Indians away.  If Cleveland loses the next two, they're in deep trouble, and even if they split the final two games they'll have missed a chance to gain significant ground.  You want to win every game, of course, but it's nice to have that cushion where you don't have to.

Record:  The Twins are 40-19, first in the American League Central, 10.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 143-19!

2019 Recap: Game Fifty-six

MINNESOTA 5, TAMPA BAY 3 IN TAMPA BAY

Date:  Friday, May 31.

Batting stars:  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-2 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch, a stolen base, and two runs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, and three runs.  Willians Astudillo was 2-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch and two RBIs.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Jose Berrios struck out eight in 6.2 innings, giving up three runs on three hits and three walks.  Taylor Rogers pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Willy Adames was 2-for-4.  Kevin Kiermeier was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his sixth.  Emilio Pagan struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up one hit.

The game:  The Twins took the lead in the first inning, when with one out Polanco doubled and Astudillo singled him home.  Schoop got to third with two out in the second, but was stranded there.  In the bottom of the second, the Rays went in front when Christian Arroyo drew a one-out walk and Kiermeier followed with a home run.  They increased the lead to 3-1 in the third when Austin Meadows walked, Adames singled him to third, and the two pulled off a double steal of second and home.

The Twins got even in the fifth.  Schoop led off the inning with a walk but was still on first base with two out.  But Polanco delivered an RBI double and Astudillo followed with a run-scoring single to make the score 3-3.  Tampa Bay put men on first and second with two out in the bottom of the fifth and the Twins put men on first and second with two out in the sixth, but the score remained 3-3 until the ninth.

Schoop led off the ninth inning by being hit by a pitch.  Byron Buxton bunted him to second and a ground out moved him to third with two down.  Polanco was intentionally walked and Astudillo was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.  Eddie Rosario then delivered a two-run single that gave the Twins a 5-3 lead.  The Rays got a two-out single in the ninth, bringing the tying run up to bat, but a ground out ended the game.

WPRogers (2-1).  LP:  Diego Castillo (1-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Polanco was feeling better, but was still not a hundred percent, so he was the DH with Gonzalez at shortstop.  Polanco raised his average to .338.  Rogers now has an ERA of 2.16.

I find it very hard to pick up any patterns in what Rocco does.  That's not to say the patterns aren't there, and maybe if I had time to study it I'd figure them out, but they're not obvious.  It's also not intended as a criticism--I don't think he's just making moves at random or anything.  But look at his use of Rogers last night.  For the last several games, when it was close late in the game, Rocco was mixing and matching his relievers, using four or five relievers for an inning or less.  Yet last night he used Rogers for 2.1 innings, even leaving him in the game in the ninth when he'd given up a hit to bring the tying run to the plate.  It's working, for the most part, and I'm sure he has reasons for what he does.  In fact, it's really kind of fun to see a manager who doesn't reflexively make the same move every time, who appears to actually evaluate each situation and think about what he wants to do.

This felt like a bigger game than it probably was.  No matter how many times we say this is a good baseball team, and no matter how much we truly believe it, there's still a part of some of us that has a hard time feeling it.  We keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the collapse to come.  We feel like the Twins' record is an illusion, that all they've done is beat up on bad teams.  That's not really true--they've actually done okay against good teams--but it's still the feeling.  Then they play a good team and get blown out, and we think, well, here we go.  A late-inning loss last night would've fed into that even more.  Again, in reality this was just one game, and I suspect the players looked at it exactly that way.  But as a fan, it felt like it was an important one to win.

Really, the criticism that "all the Twins have done is beat up on bad teams" is phony.  For one thing, beating up on bad teams is what a good team is supposed to do.  What, it would be better if the Twins were losing to bad teams?  Second, there just aren't a lot of good teams in the American League.  There are only four teams that are more than a game over .500, and one of them is the Twins themselves.  Every one of those four teams has their record because they beat up on bad teams--that's mostly who they play.

And third, it always seems like a good team has an easier schedule simply because of the way we perceive things.  If you're the Twins, and you go to play the White Sox, you think, "They're not that good.  Those are some games we should win."  If you're the Kansas City Royals, and you go to play the White Sox, you think, "This is a good, young, up-and-coming team.  These are going to be some tough games for us."  When you're a good team, there are a lot of games that seem like easy games.  When you're a bad team, every game seems like a tough game.

Record:  The Twins are 38-18, first in the American League Central, 10.5 games ahead of Chicago and Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 144-18!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-eight

MINNESOTA 8, LOS ANGELES 3 IN LOS ANGELES

Date:  Tuesday, May 21.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 2-for-4 with a home run.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, scoring twice and driving in two.  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, scoring twice.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with a home run (his fifth) and a double, scoring twice and driving in three.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-5 with two RBIs,

Pitching stars:  Michael Pineda pitched six innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks and striking out three.  Matt Magill struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Mike Morin pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  David Fletcher was 3-for-3 with a walk.  Mike Trout was 1-for-3 with a home run (his eleventh) and a walk.  Trevor Cahill struck out five in five innings, giving up one run on two hits and two walks.

The game:  Trout homered with one out in the first inning to get the Angels up 1-0.  In the second, with two out and none on, Brian Goodwin walked, Luis Rengifo singled, Fletcher had an RBI single, and a wild pitch scored another run putting Los Angeles up 3-0.  Meanwhile, the Twins did not get a hit until the fifth inning and did not get a man past first base in that time.  It was not looking good.

No worries.  Kepler led off the sixth with a double, leading the Angels to remove starter Cahill.  Polanco followed with an RBI double and Gonzalez hit a two-run homer, tying the score at 3-3.  The Twins took control in the seventh.  Jason Castro was hit by a pitch and was on first base with two out.  Kepler then singled, Polanco had an RBI single, Gonzalez hit a run-scoring double, and Rosario delivered a two-run single, leaving the Twins ahead 7-3.  Arraez added a home run leading off the eighth.

Meanwhile, Twins starter Pineda had really settled down, allowing only one hit after the second inning.  Four relievers held Los Angeles at bay over the last three innings--their only threat was in the ninth, when they put men on first and second with two out, and nothing came of it.

WP:  Pineda (4-3).  LP:  Luke Bard (1-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Gonzalez was the DH in this game, with Arraez manning third base and Miguel Sano on the bench.  Jason Castro caught back-to-back games, which I believe is only the fourth time all season he has done that.

Arraez is batting .583.  Polanco is batting .339.  Magill has an ERA of 1.80.  Taylor Rogers retired the only man he faced and has an ERA of 1.33.  Morin has an ERA of 1.13.

Pineda really pulled himself together after the second inning.  In the second, he looked like he was all over the place and had very little command.  I went to bed soon after that and assumed he would not be in the game much longer.  Instead, he pitched very well from innings four through six.  That makes four starts in a row in which he has pitched competently.  None of them has been outstanding--he's given up three runs in each and his highest game score is sixty-one--but he's pitching about as well as you expect a fifth starter to pitch.  There's a chance he may still improve, but if he can just stay where he is he's helping.

I said that if Arraez is going to be here he should play, and he has been, so good job Rocco Baldelli.  Of course, the fact that he's gone 7-for-12 with a home run, a double, and two walks makes it a lot easier to play him.  He won't keep that up, of course--that would be a record--but he's certainly off to a good start.

I assume it was mentioned during the broadcast, or maybe some of you even remember, but Bard is a former Twin.  He was in their system from 2012-2018, reaching Rochester in 2017.  He was chosen by the Angels in the rule 5 draft before the 2018 season but was returned to the Twins in late April.  He became a minor league free agent after the season and signed with the Angels.  He had been pitching well for them, but obviously did not do so last night.

Who'd have thought that with about thirty percent of the season gone, the Twins would be winning two-thirds of their games?

Record:  The Twins are 32-16, first in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 146-16!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-four

MINNESOTA 7, SEATTLE 1 IN SEATTLE

Date:  Friday, May 17.

Batting stars:  Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-3 with a home run (his third), scoring twice and driving in two.  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with two runs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez struck out seven in 6.2 innings, giving up one run on five hits and four walks.  Matt Magill struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a walk.  Mike Morin pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Edwin Encarnacion was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.  Dee Gordon was 2-for-4.  Mitch Haniger was 0-for-1 with three walks.  Austin Adams struck out four in two perfect innings.

The game:  The Mariners threatened in the first inning, as Haniger walked and Encarnacion doubled to put men on second and third with one out, but Perez struck out Domingo Santana and Ryon Healy to end the threat.  The Twins got on the board in the third when Adrianza homered.  Seattle again threatened in the bottom of the third, as a Gordon single and a walk to Encarnacion put men on first and second with two out, but Santana hit into a fielder's choice to end the threat.

The Twins took control in the middle innings.  In the fourth, singles by GonzalezC. J. Cron, and Willians Astudillo loaded the bases with none out.  Kepler singled home one run and a one-out sacrifice fly by Adrianza made the score 3-0.  In the fifth, singles by Jorge Polanco and Gonzalez and a walk to Cron loaded the bases with one out.  A sacrifice fly-plus-error scored one and put men on second and third, and Kepler hit a two-run single to give the Twins a 6-0 advantage.

The Mariners scored their lone run in the bottom of the fifth.  With two out, Gordon singled, Haniger walked, and Encarnacion delivered an RBI single.  That was as good as it got for them, though.  The Twins added a run in the ninth when Adrianza singled and Jonathan Schoop doubled.

WP:  Perez (6-1).  LP:  Marco Gonzales (5-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  With Mitch Garver out, Jorge Polanco got the call as leadoff man.  Gonzalez was in left field with Eddie Rosario on the bench.  Adrianza was at third base with Miguel Sano at DH.  Astudillo was the catcher.

Polanco was 1-for-4 and is batting .331.  Perez has an ERA of 2.89.  Magill has an ERA of 2.00.  Morin has an ERA of 1.50.

As a starter, Perez is 4-1, 2.13, 1.00 WHIP with 34 strikeouts in 38 innings.

Over his last four games, Adrianza is 6-for-11 with two home runs, a double, three walks, and five RBIs.

The Twins again did not use Austin Adams in a blowout game.  Magill and Morin had just pitched Wednesday, so it's not like they needed the work.  I don't think they're saving Adams to fill three or four innings if the starter is pulled early, because that's not who Adams is.  He's been a reliever since 2013, and looking at his stats it looks like he's basically been a one-inning guy, maybe two at most.  If they're not going to use him to close out a blowout game, why bring him here at all?

Luis Arraez also did not play.  It's possible that they wanted to give him a day to get acclimated, since he just got here, and that he'll play tonight.  That would make some sense.  But it will make no sense if they've brought him here to sit the bench.  Granted, Arraez just turned twenty-two and he's only played three games above AA, so there could be some question whether he's ready for the majors.  But I'm not the one who decided to bring him up.  He either needs to play in the big leagues or play in AAA.  He does not need to sit for two weeks.  That does neither him nor the Twins any good.  Major league roster spots are too valuable to waste one or two on players you don't intend to use.

Record:  The Twins are 29-15, first in the American League Central, 5.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 147-15!

2019 Recap: Game Thirty-six

MINNESOTA 6, DETROIT 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, May 10.

Batting stars:  Mitch Garver was 1-for-1 with a two-run homer (his eighth) and three walks, scoring twice.  Max Kepler was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eighth.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Jake Odorizzi pitched seven shutout innings, giving up one hit and no walks and striking out five.  Matt Magill struck out two in a perfect inning.  Fernando Romero pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  None.

The game:  Christin Stewart doubled with one out in the first, but did not get past third base.  That was the only baserunner the Tigers would get off Odorizzi, and the only runner they would get until the ninth.

Meanwhile, the first six Twins also went out.  After that, though, things got better.  In the third, Garver walked and Jonathan Schoop singled.  With one out, Kepler walked to load the bases and Polanco delivered a two-run double to put the Twins up 2-0.

In the fourth, Marwin Gonzalez was hit by a pitch and Garver followed with a home run, making the score 4-0.  Kepler led off the fifth with a home run to make it 5-0.  In the sixth, Gonzalez got an infield single and walks to GarverByron Buxton, and Polanco forced home a run to bring the score to 6-0.

The Tigers opened the ninth with singles by Grayson Greiner and JaCoby Jones, their first baserunners since the first inning.  A strikeout, a force out, and a lineout ended the inning and preserved the shutout.

WP:  Odorizzi (5-2).  LP:  Tyson Ross (1-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Garver is batting .364 with an OPS of 1.228.  Polanco is batting .341 with an OPS of 1.056.

Odorizzi has an ERA of 2.32.  If you could throw out the game against Philadelphia, his ERA would be 1.50.  He has not given up a run in his last three starts (twenty innings) and has struck out twenty over that span, allowing just seven hits and five walks.  Over his last five starts (31.1 innings) he has allowed three runs on twenty-one hits and six walks.  I think you could say he's on a roll.  He's obviously not going to keep that up all season--he'd win the Cy Young award unanimously if he did--but he's sure pitching well right now.

Fernando Romero is now unscored upon in his last five games.  Granted, it's only four innings, and he's allowed four hits and three walks.  Still, his ERA has come down from 11.25 to 5.62.  It's improvement.

Matt Magill is also unscored upon in his last three games (three innings).  He has struck out four and has allowed just one hit and no walks, dropping his ERA from 6.75 to 3.18.

There was a scary moment in the sixth inning when, on a play at first base, Gonzalez' head collided with the knee of Niko Goodrum.  Reports this morning are that Gonzalez has cleared the concussion protocol and is day-to-day, which is certainly good news.  I expect he won't play today, and maybe not tomorrow, but if the reports are correct and nothing else happens, he should be good to go soon.

The Twins have a record of 24-12.  That means they have won exactly two-thirds of their first thirty-six games.  Granted that it's still May, and thirty-six games represents just two-ninths of the schedule.  Granted, as well, that the Twins haven't always played the toughest schedule.  But even granting all that, winning two-thirds of your games over a thirty-six game span is an achievement.  It would be unusual for a bad team to be able to do that, even against weak competition.  Again, lots of things (injuries, slumps, etc.) can happen.  But it certainly appears that the Twins are a good baseball team this season.

Record:  The Twins are 24-12, first in the American League Central, 4.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 150-12!

 

2019 Recap: Game Thirty

NEW YORK 6, MINNESOTA 3 IN NEW YORK

Date:  Friday, May 3.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4.  Nelson Cruz was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, his sixth, and a walk.

Pitching star:  Fernando Romero pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Gary Sanchez was 3-for-4 with two home runs, his ninth and tenth.  James Paxton pitched three innings, giving up an unearned run on two hits and three walks and striking out one.  Jonathan Holder struck out two in two perfect innings.

The game:  An error and a walk put men on first and third with none out in the first for the Yankees, and Gleyber Torres hit a one-out single to put New York up 1-0.  The Twins got two singles and a walk in the second to load the bases with one out, but Ehire Adrianza hit into a double play to end the inning.  In the bottom of the inning a walk, a hit batsman, and a Luke Voit RBI single made it 2-0.  Two walks and an error loaded the bases for the Twins again with one out again in the third and C. J. Cron's sacrifice fly brought home one, but that was all the Twins could do, leaving the score 2-1 Yankees.

That was as good as it got for them.  In the fourth New York played small ball--an error and a Cameron Maybin single put men on first and second with none out, a bunt advanced them to second and third, a wild pitch scored one, and a ground out scored another, making the score 4-1.  Sanchez homered leading off the fifth to make it 5-1 and he homered again with two out in the seventh to make it 6-1.

To the Twins credit, they didn't give up.  With two out in the eighth Jorge Polanco walked and Cruz hit a two-run homer to make it 6-3.  Gonzalez got as far as third base with one out in the ninth, but he was still there when the game ended.

WP:  Holder (2-0).  LP:  Kyle Gibson (2-1).  S:  Aroldis Chapman (6).

Notes:  Eddie Rosario was out of the lineup, with Gonzalez playing left field and Adrianza at third base.

Polanco was 0-for-3 with a walk and is batting .327.  Mitch Garver was 0-for-4 and is batting .308.  Cruz is batting .303.

I question the decision to sit Rosario down in this game.  I understand the reasoning--you're facing a tough lefty and he's been slumping.  But he hit a couple of balls hard in the last game, even though they went for outs.  I think sitting him down just gives him reasons to question himself and to think Rocco is losing confidence in him.  I'm not saying it was an obviously stupid move or anything.  I just wouldn't have done it.

The game log seems to be divided between criticism of Gibson, criticism of the defense, and criticism of the plate umpire.  I was not around for the game, so it's hard for me to say.  Gibson gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks and threw 100 pitches in just five innings, which doesn't sound good.  On the other had, three of the runs were unearned, and when you make your pitcher get four outs per inning he's going to have to throw more pitches and is probably going to allow more runs.  And Gibson is not a pitcher who can throw the ball over the center of the plate and get away with it, so if he's not getting the corners he's going to be in trouble.  Perhaps there was plenty of blame to go around, I don't know.

I think there were some positives that came out of this game, though.  The Twins never gave up any big innings, despite the errors.  In other words, they didn't collapse just because things went against them.  They had chances to score early on.  They got a couple of late runs to kind of get back into the game.  They were able to get three innings out of the tail end of the bullpen (and in fact both Mike Morin and Romero pitched pretty well), leaving the front end rested and ready for today.  This just has the feel of an ordinary baseball loss, and nothing more.

I realize that's not going to be the popular take.  The popular take is going to be "Here we go again.  Same old Twins.  The Yankees are in their heads.  They're intimidated.  The Yankees own them."  Blah, blah, blah.  And of course, people are going to keep saying that, and writing it, until the Twins do something about it.  Maybe today is the day they start doing something about it.  If they're going to win a game in this series, today looks like their best chance.

Record:  The Twins are 19-11, first in the American League Central, two games ahead of Clevelnd.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 151-11!

2019 Recap: Game Twenty-nine

MINNESOTA 8, HOUSTON 2 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, May 2.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-3 with a triple and a double.  Jason Castro was 2-for-4 with a home run (his third) and a double, scoring twice and driving in four.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Jose Berrios pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and no walks and striking out five.  Ryne Harper pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.  Trevor May pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Aledmys Diaz was 2-for-4.  Alex Bregman was 1-for-4 with a home run, his sixth.

The game:  Bregman homered with two out in the first to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.  Each team got a two-out double in the second but did not score.  In the third, singles by Tony Kemp and George Springer put men on first and second with none out, but a strikeout, a fly out, and another strikeout left them there.  Castro led off the bottom of the third with a home run to tie the score at 1-1.

The Twins took control in the fourth.  With one out, C. J. Cron walked and Marwin Gonzalez singled, putting men on first and third.  Schoop delivered an RBI single, Castro had a two-run double, Byron Buxton had a run-scoring triple, Max Kepler hit a sacrifice fly, Polanco doubled, and Nelson Cruz had an RBI double.  In all, six runs scored, putting the Twins up 7-1 and effectively ending the game right there.

They kept playing, of course.  The Twins added a run in the fifth when Gonzalez walked, went to third on a Schoop single, and scored on a fielder's choice.  Polanco hit a one-out triple in the sixth but did not score.  Houston threatened to get back into it in the seventh.  Singles by Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick, and Diaz loaded the bases with none out.  A strikeout, a sacrifice fly, and another fly out limited the damage to one run, making the score 8-2, and neither team threatened after that.

WP:  Berrios (5-1).  LP:  Brad Peacock (2-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Polanco raised his average to .336.  Cruz was 1-for-4 with a double and is batting .302.

Even though it was a day game, Rocco did not go with any sort of B lineup.  The regulars played.  The Twins alternate their catchers quite a bit, so that's not really an issue, but there were no substitutes at any other position, either.

Eddie Rosario was 0-for-4 and is now riding an 0-for-24 streak.  He hit two balls hard, though.  I'm not too worried about him.

Berrios pitched a fine game.  It shows the difference expectations can make, though.  If Michael Pineda ever had a game like this, we'd be ecstatic.  When it's Berrios, we just kind of nod our heads.  We expect Berrios to have games like this every time out.  That's a compliment to him, but at the same time, it's something that shouldn't be taken for granted.

Since reaching a low point of .213 on April 17, Schoop has gone 17-for-50 and is now batting .278.

Entering this series, I said the next ten games would tell us a lot about how good the Twins are.  They're off to a good start, winning three of the first four.  Now, of course, we go to New York to play the Big Bad Yankees.  I have a feeling that this year things are going to be different.  I don't have a lot to back that feeling up--the pitching matchups aren't particularly favorable or anything.  But it's a new day, it's a new team, and I just think this is the year things change.  I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Record:  The Twins are 19-10, first in the American League Central, three games ahead of Cleveland.

2019 Recap: Game Fifteen

MINNESOTA 4, TORONTO 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Wednesday, April 17.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two runs.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-3 with a walk.

Pitching stars:  Jake Odorizzi struck out six in 5.2 innings, giving up one run on six hits and a walk.  Adalberto Mejia pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit.  Taylor Rogers struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Blake Parker struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Freddy Galvis was 2-for-4.  Javy Guerra pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

The game:  The Blue Jays got on the board in the first inning, as Galvis hit a one-out single, took second on a fly out, and scored on Justin Smoak's two-out single.  The Twins came right back with two in the bottom of the first.  Max Kepler led off with a double, Polanco walked, and Cruz singled, tying the score and putting men on first and third with none out.  It looked like it could be a big inning for the Twins, but Eddie Rosario hit into a double play, taking them out of the inning but still producing the go-ahead run.

The Twins added a run in the third.  Polanco and Cruz started the frame with back-to-back doubles, making it 3-1 Minnesota.  They got one more in the fifth.  Walks to Cruz and C. J. Cron put men on first and second with two out and Marwin Gonzalez delivered an RBI single, giving the Twins a 4-1 lead.

Meanwhile, Odorizzi was in control.  He gave up some singles, but did not allow a man past first base after the first inning.  He was still in control in the sixth, but his pitch count got up to 101, so he was removed from the game with two out.  Three relievers, listed above, came on and kept things in control, similarly not allowing a man past first base.  The Twins went on to take an uneventful (in a good way) 4-1 win.

WP:  Odorizzi (1-2).  LP:  Trent Thornton (0-2).  S:  Parker (4).

Notes:  Polanco raised his average to .429 with an OPS of 1.215.  He's obviously not going to keep that up all season, but he really has had a remarkable fifteen game stretch.  Cruz is batting .313 with an OPS of .976.  He probably won't keep that up, either, but the fall-off most likely will not be as great.  Rogers has an ERA of 1.04.  Parker has an ERA of 1.42.

This was Odorizzi's second solid start out of four, and one of the others was good until it suddenly wasn't.  He's not going to be an ace, but if he's just be a dependable pitcher who keeps the team in the game he's a valuable man for the Twins.  And looking at his record, there's no obvious reason he shouldn't be able to be that.

From the play-by-play (and from the game log), this looks like just a nice, comfortable win for the Twins.  It was only a three-run margin, but at the same time there does not appear to have been any point at which the lead was in serious jeopardy.  It seems to me that having games like this might be one of the hallmarks of a good team.  Dramatic wins are fun, pummeling the other team is fun, but just being comfortably in control all the way, even when you don't have a huge lead, strikes me as the type of game a good team has quite a number of.  Let's hope we see more of them with the Twins.

Record:  The Twins are 9-6, in second place in the American League Central, a half game behind Cleveland.  They are currently in position for a wild card spot, leading Texas by percentage points.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 156-6!

2019 Recap: Game Fourteen

TORONTO 6, MINNESOTA 5 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, April 16.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a home run.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-3 with a home run (his third) and a walk, scoring twice.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his fourth.

Pitching star:  Tyler Duffey struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Eric Sogard was 3-for-5 with two runs.  Justin Smoak was 1-for-3 with two walks and two RBIs.  Randal Grichuk was 0-for-2 with three walks and two runs.

The game:  The Twins threatened in the second, getting one-out singles from Gonzalez and Jake Cave, but did not score.  They got on the board in the third, however, as Polanco hit a two-out home run that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.

Twins starter Kyle Gibson sailed through the first five innings, giving up just one hit.  He hit the wall in the sixth, however.  Danny Jansen led off with a single and Sogard doubled.  Freddy Galvis struck out, but a walk to Grichuk loaded the bases and Smoak delivered a two-run single that put the Blue Jays up 2-1.  Ryne Harper came in and got Teoscar Hernandez to fly out, but then gave up RBI singles to Rowdy Tellez and Alen Hanson to make the score 4-1.

The Twins came right back in the bottom of the sixth.  Walks to Max Kepler and Polanco opened the frame, and Rosario followed with a three-run homer to tie the score 4-4.  Unfortunately, the tie was also short-lived.  Trevor May started the inning for the Twins.  A Sogard single and walks to Grichuk and Smoak loaded the bases with two out.  The Twins brought in their designated Bases Loaded Pitcher, Trevor Hildenberger, but this time he could not get it done.  Hernandez singled, scoring two runs and putting Toronto back on top 6-4.

To their credit, the Twins did not roll over.  Gonzalez started the ninth with a home run to cut the lead to 6-5.  Nelson Cruz walked, but a force out and a strikeout left C. J. Cron on first with two out.  Byron Buxton delivered a double to deep left, but Cron was thrown out trying to score from first and the game was over.

Notes:  Polanco is batting .415.  Mitch Garver was 0-for-1 and is batting .407.  Harper gave up a pair of run-scoring singles, but neither run was charged to him, so his ERA is still zero.  Hildenberger and Duffey, who was making his season debut with the Twins, also have ERAs of zero.

Rosario was the DH in this game, with Jake Cave in left and Cruz on the bench.  Willians Astudillo was at first base, with Cron on the bench.  Ehire Adrianza was at second base, with Schoop on the bench.  While this may have been overdoing it a little, I like the fact that Rocco is using his entire roster.  Yes, it lessens your chances of winning that particular game, but it keeps everybody fresher, more rested, more ready to play, and should result in more wins down the line.  That's the theory, anyway.

I don't know if anyone has been able to discern any particular pattern in who catches each game.  I haven't had time to examine it--is he using certain catchers with certain pitchers, going by opposing pitcher matchups, or what?  I think there must be a pattern--I don't believe Rocco's just choosing at random.  I just don't know what it is and haven't had time to try to find out.

I wasn't able to pay attention to last night's game, so I don't know if we had Nibbly Gibson or not.  If we did, it was pretty darned effective nibbling for five innings.  I know the e coli excuse starts to wear thin for people, but it's a pretty severe thing, and some people take longer to recover from illness than others.  Given that he was cruising for five innings and then just suddenly lost it in the sixth, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that fatigue might have been a factor.

On the play at the plate to end the game--well, again, I wasn't watching at the time, and it's pretty easy to second-guess after you know the outcome.  As a general principle, though, I don't have a problem with aggressive baserunning, as long as there's a reasonable chance for success.  Sometimes you have to force the other team to make a play.  When you do, sometimes they'll be able to make it.  And when that happens, you just give them credit and move on.

No team ever went through the whole season without a two-game losing streak, and the Twins won't be the first.  The trick is to keep the losing streaks short.

Record:  The Twins are 8-6, in second place in the American League Central, a half game behind Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 156-6!