All that remains is to have the looming, inevitable series occur at Target Field.
The bats have to come alive.
Pineda. Mills. Let's do this.
All that remains is to have the looming, inevitable series occur at Target Field.
The bats have to come alive.
Pineda. Mills. Let's do this.
Sorry, gang, Labor Dayin' it up over here so I don't have a lot of time for this. Obviously, I want the Twins to win today, but Plouffe(!) with a Dobnak beard would be pretty sweet.
If the Twins win less than 4 of 5 from the Tigers I will shave the @Dobnak_ into my facial hair.
— Trevor Plouffe (@trevorplouffe) September 4, 2020
Hope you all are keeping it low and lazy!
Eddie Moore (1899)
Danny Kaye (1913)
Mike Fornieles (1932)
Chuck Cottier (1936)
Satch Davidson (1936)
Curt Flood (1938)
Carl Morton (1944)
Billy Grabarkewitz (1946)
Sachio Kinugasa (1947)
Scott McGregor (1954)
Dave Geisel (1955)
Brady Anderson (1964)
Mike Lieberthal (1972)
Wandy Rodriguez (1979)
Michael Pineda (1989)
Entertainer Danny Kaye was one of the original owners of the Seattle Mariners.
Satch Davidson was a National League umpire from 1969-1984.
Sachio Kinusaga played in 2,215 games in Japan from 1970-1987.
Six players born on this day made their major league debuts in 2017: Jaycob Brugman, Max Fried, Jarlin Garcia, Kyle Martin, Alex Mejia, and Gift Ngoepe. I don't know, but I suspect this may be a record.
We would also like to wish a happy birthday to Scot's oldest son.
Date:: Sunday, September 1.
Batting stars: Nelson Cruz was 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Luis Arraez was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs. Jake Cave was 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5.
Pitching stars: Michael Pineda struck out nine in six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk. Sergio Romo pitched a perfect inning and struck out one. Brusdar Graterol pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.
Opposition stars: Brandon Dixon was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. Jordy Mercer was 2-for-4 with a home run, his seventh. Victor Reyes was 2-for-4.
The game: Neither team did much in the first inning, but that changed quickly in the second. With one out, Miguel Sano walked, Arraez doubled, and Jake Cave delivered a two-run single. Willians Astudillo was then hit by a pitch and Jason Castro had an RBI single to make it 3-0. With two out, RBI singles by Polanco and Cruz built the lead to 5-0.
The Tigers got one back in the bottom of the second on doubles by Dawel Lugo and Dixon. Neither team did much in the third and fourth, but each team scored one in the fifth. The Twins got their run when Arraez singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on an Astudillo single. In the bottom of the fifth Dixon walked, went to third on a pair of wild pitches, and scored on a Reyes single, leaving the score 6-2. Mercer homered in the seventh to cut the margin to 6-3.
The Twins put it out of reach in the eighth. Astudillo was again hit by a pitch. There was still a man on first with two out, but singles by Polanco, Cruz, and Rosario brought home two runs and put the Twins up 8-3. The Detroit threatened in the ninth, getting one-out singles by Dixon and Mercer, but a double play ended the game.
WP: Pineda (11-5). LP: Spencer Turnbull (3-14). S: None.
Notes: Max Kepler was in center field in the absence of Byron Buxton. Buxton did come in to play defense in the ninth. Jake Cave was in right field, but moved to center when Kepler came out of the game in the seventh. LaMonte Wade took over in right field, and Cave came out of the game when Buxton came in. Astudillo started at first base, but was replaced by C. J. Cron in the eighth.
Arraez is batting .333. Cruz is batting .309. Polanco is batting .302.
Graterol made his major league debut and has an ERA of 0.00. Time will tell, but who knows? Maybe this game will be remembered as the game in which Graterol began his major league career. He struck out one batter, gave up one solid hit and one infield hit, and got a man to hit into a double play. He also threw one to the backstop in an obvious effort to show the Twins brass he belongs on this pitching staff. I hope next year he'll be given a chance to start, but I'm fine with him being in the bullpen for the rest of this season.
The Twins scored eight runs without a bomba. Maybe they said and I missed it, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's the most runs they've scored this season without hitting a home run in the game. I have nothing against home runs, but it is nice to be able to put up a big number without them, too. It seems to me that the more ways you have that you can score runs, the more likely you are to score runs. A team that can score by playing big ball and by playing small ball should score more runs than a team that can only do one of those things, no matter how good they are at the one thing they can do.
I know wins and losses are not a good way to judge a starting pitcher. It does, however, say something about your ball club when you have a pitcher in your rotation whose record is 3-14.
Record: The Twins are 84-52, in first place in the American League Central, 5.5 games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 110-52!
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 Polanco, Cruz, 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 Buxton. Gonzalez 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!
Date: Tuesday, August 20.
Batting stars: Nelson Cruz was 4-for-5 with a home run (his thirty-third), three doubles, three runs, and three RBIs. Max Kepler was 2-for-5 with a home run (his thirty-fourth), three runs, and three RBIs. Eddie Rosario was 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer (his nineteenth) and two runs.
Pitching stars: Michael Pineda pitched seven innings, giving up four runs on six hits and no walks and striking out four. Trevor May pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.
Opposition stars: Tim Anderson was 2-for-4 with a home run (his thirteenth), a double, two runs, and two RBIs. Jose Abreu was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, his twenty-eighth.
The game: It didn't look good early. The Twins did nothing for the first two innings, as their first six batters were retired on just twenty-one pitches. In the third, Yolmer Sanchez singled and scored on a two-out double by Anderson. Abreu followed with a two-run homer and the White Sox quickly took a 3-0 lead.
Mitch Garver led off the bottom of the third with a double, but with two out he had only gotten as far as third base. Kepler solved that problem, hitting a two-run homer to get the Twins back into the game at 3-2. In the fourth, Cruz led off with a home run, tying the score 3-3.
The Twins took control in the fifth. The first two batters went out, but Jake Cave singled and Kepler reached on an error. Jorge Polanco was hit by a pitch, putting the Twins in the dreaded bases loaded situation. But Cruz said, "Fear not" and belted a two-run double. Rosario followed with a two-run single and the Twins led 7-3.
Anderson homered leading off the sixth, cutting the margin to 7-4, but that was as close as Chicago would come. The Twins put it away in the eighth. Cruz led off with a double and scored on Miguel Sano's double. Luis Arraez singled, putting men on first and third, and later stole second, moving men to second and third with two out. Marwin Gonzalez was intentionally walked, and again the Twins came through with the bases loaded. This time it was pinch-hitter C. J. Cron delivering a three-run double. He would score on Kepler's double and Polanco then hit a two-run homer. It was 14-4, and that's where it would stay.
WP: Pineda (9-5). LP: Reynaldo Lopez (7-11). S: None.
Kepler returned to the lineup in center field, with Jake Cave in right in the continued absence of Byron Buxton. Gonzalez was at first base in place of Cron. Cron remained in the game after his pinch-hit and played first, with Gonzalez moving to right field.
Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .346. Cruz raised his average to .303, the first time he's been over .300 since May 6.
The Twins did not throw any wild pitches, and they were not charged with any errors, although there were at least two that could have been scored. Still, I guess it's progress. I know there's a lot more to defense than not making errors, but most of the errors have been on routine plays, and coupled with wild pitches and baserunning mistakes, it just leads to an overall sloppiness of play that I find annoying. They've been able to hit enough to overcome it most of the time, and they did so again last night, but it still bothers me.
There was some discussion in the game log about Rocco making an unnecessary pitching change in the eighth, bringing in Sergio Romo with two out and none on with the Twins holding a three-run lead. I would tend to agree that the change was unnecessary, but on the plus side: a) Romo got the job done, b) he only threw three pitches, so he should be fine to pitch today, and c) there's an off day tomorrow, so he'll have at least one day where he won't pitch. So, even if it was unnecessary, it looks like there's no harm done.
Cruz has to be having one of the best seasons a thirty-nine-year-old ever had. I'm sure Barry Bonds has him beat, and there are probably a few others, but there can't be very many. He is batting .303/.390/.667, for an OPS of 1.057. He has thirty-three home runs. And he's not wearing down as the season goes on--granted that he missed some time, but August is so far his best month of the season. It's pretty incredible.
Record: The Twins are 77-49, in first place in the American League Central, three games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 113-49!
The return of Big Mike. Cleveland recently came into Arlington and took it to the Rangers. I’m hopeful (though with some reservations) that the Twins realize their potential tonight.
The Twins broke the hearts of Brewers fans on Tuesday, and the Brewers returned the favor yesterday. Let’s get back to the Tuesday feels.
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!
Happy Buxton day!
That's right, our long nightmare is over. Byron Buxton has returned. It's hard to overstate how much better having our favorite fleetfooted fielder back helps matters, but let me try...
With Buxton, we are basically assured of winning the World Series. Without him, we'd be hard pressed to stay out of the cellar.
Marwin is back, too, and I've got to say, he was missed quite a bit, too. Having a guy who can play six positions while providing a bit of power and fair contact skills adds a lot of value. GGettingboth of these guys back on the same day makes this team a LOT better, instantly.
As Philo noted, Berrios did his job of giving the bullpen a break yesterday, now it's time to capitalize with a nice winning streak heading into the all star game.
Date: Sunday, June 23.
Batting stars: Luis Arraez was 4-for-4 with a double. Max Kepler was 2-for-5 with a double. Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5. Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twentieth.
Pitching stars: Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit. Matt Magill pitched a perfect inning.
Opposition stars: Homer Bailey pitched 5.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk and striking out five. Billy Hamilton was 2-for-3 with two stolen bases, his fifteenth and sixteenth. Hunter Dozier was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his twelfth) and a double. Alex Gordon was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Whit Merrifield was 2-for-4. Kevin McCarthy pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two.
The game: It was basically decided in the third inning. With one out, singles by Hamilton and Merrifield put men on first and third. Nicky Lopez' bunt single scored the first run, Gordon doubled home a second, and Dozier hit a three-run homer. That quickly, the Royals were ahead 5-0 and they would stay ahead the rest of the game.
Rosario got the Twins on the board leading off the fourth. Arraez had a one-out double and Miguel Sano walked, but Jason Castro was caught looking and Jake Cave grounded out, so the score stayed 5-1. Facing some mediocre Kansas City pitchers, the Twins only got one other threat going. That came in the seventh, when Cave was hit by a pitch, Polanco had a two-out infield single, and Nelson Cruz was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Rosario hit into a force out, however, and the Twins would not threaten again. Gordon's RBI double in the bottom of the seventh completed the scoring.
WP: Bailey (7-6). LP: Michael Pineda (4-4). S: McCarthy (1).
Notes: Arraez was at second base in place of Jonathan Schoop. Kepler remained in center, with Cave in right and Byron Buxton still on the IL.
Arraez is batting .436. Polanco is batting .326. Mike Morin gave up a run in one inning and now has an ERA of 2.08.
Pineda had been pitching fairly well lately, by his standards. He pitched well in this game if you take out the third inning, which unfortunately you can't.
The Twins had nine hits, a walk, and two hit batsmen, but could score just one run. The hits were concentrated in a very few players. As you can see above, Arraez had four of them. The top two men in the Twins order, Kepler and Polanco, went 4-for-10. The three through five batters were 1-for-12, with Rosario's solo homer being the lone hit. The bottom three batters were 0-for-10. That led to eleven men being left on base.
The Twins are 5-5 over their last ten games. A year ago, we'd have looked at that as a hopeful sign, thinking that maybe the Twins were starting to build on something. This year, we're all disappointed and wondering what the Twins will do to right the ship. One thing I've noticed abut Rocco, though, is that he does not get into panic mode easily. He has faith in his players and has faith in his own decision-making ability. If he believes he has a good reason for doing something, he's not going to change his mind just because it doesn't work right away. That's a good thing, I think, as long as you don't carry it too far. It's possible for that attitude to become stubbornness, where you insist on doing things your way despite evidence that your way doesn't work. I've not noticed that in Rocco, but he's only been a manager for half a season, so I guess time will tell.
The Twins signed Cody Allen to a minor league contract the other day. He was a really good relief pitcher until a couple of years ago, when he suddenly wasn't any more. It's a low-risk move that really can only hurt you if you allow it to. What I mean is that it can hurt you if you allow him to take playing time from a more deserving player, or if you convince yourself that you don't need to do anything else, or if you bring him to the majors even though he hasn't proven he belongs there, just because of who he is. I have confidence in the current front office that they won't let those things happen. And who knows? Maybe the Twins can help him get back to being a useful reliever again. The Twins could certainly use one of those.
Record: The Twins are 50-27, first in the American League Central, eight games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We'll just have to settle for 135-27!