Big Mike FTW!?! We sure hope so.
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!
MINNESOTA 11, SEATTLE 6 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Thursday, May 16.
Batting stars: C. J. Cron was 4-for-5 with a two-run homer, his tenth. Eddie Rosario was 3-for-5. Byron Buxton was 2-for-5 with a three-run homer (his third) and two runs. Miguel Sano was 2-for-5 with two doubles. Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5. Max Kepler was 1-for-4 with a home run, his ninth, and two runs. Jason Castro was 1-for-5 with a home run (his seventh), scoring twice and driving in two.
Pitching star: Michael Pineda pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits and no walks and striking out six.
Opposition stars: Mitch Haniger was 2-for-4. Daniel Vogelbach was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his twelfth. Mallex Smith was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second. Ryon Healy was 1-for-4 with a home run, his seventh. J. P. Crawford was 1-for-4 with a home run. Connor Sadzeck pitched two perfect innings, striking out one.
The game: It was scoreless through two, but Castro changed that by leading off the third with a home run. Kepler also homered in the inning, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. Smith got one of the runs back with a home run of his own in the bottom of the third, making the score 2-1.
The Twins then broke it open with a big fourth inning. Rosario singled and Cron homered to make it 4-1. Marwin Gonzalez singled, Sano doubled, and a fielder's choice/error made the score 5-1. Buxton then hit a three-run homer to increase the lead to 8-1. The Twins still weren't done, as Kepler was hit by a pitch, Polanco singled, and an error brought home a run to make the score 9-1.
The Mariners got back-to-back homers from Healy and Crawford leading off the fifth to cut the margin to 9-3. There was no more scoring, or even threats, until the eighth, when Buxton singled, took second on a wild pitch, and score on Polanco's single.
With the score 10-3, it was deemed safe to let Tyler Duffey pitch. He retired Dee Gordon, but Haniger doubled, Edwin Encarnacion singled, and Vogelbach hit a three-run homer to cut the lead to 10-7. To Duffey's credit, he regrouped to retire the next five batters. The Twins added a run in the ninth on singles by Rosario and Cron and a double by Sano.
WP: Pineda (3-3). LP: Erik Swanson (1-5). S: None.
Notes: Sano returned to the lineup, playing third base and batting seventh. There is probably some wisdom in not throwing him into the middle of the lineup right away, although I assume he'll be put back up there at some point. Gonzalez moved to first, with Cron taking the DH spot and Nelson Cruz still out of the lineup. Jonathan Schoop batted third. He's not really an ideal third-place hitter, of course, and he didn't get the job done last night, either, going 0-for-5. Still, it didn't hurt them.
It had to feel good to Sano to get a couple of doubles in his first game back. I gather that one of them was not exactly hard hit, but still, a double's a double. One game proves nothing, of course, but at least he's off to a good start.
By game scores, last night was not Pineda's best start of the season. That would be his first start, when he pitched four shutout innings against Cleveland. I think most of us would agree that this one was better, though. He gave up a few gopher balls, but this start would be the perfect illustration of "solo home runs don't hurt you". He has gotten steadily better in his last few starts. It is to be hoped the trend will continue.
This would seem to have been a perfect game to use new Twin Austin Adams. Perhaps they wanted to give him more chance to get acclimated before using him in a game. Or, perhaps they would've used him to pitch the ninth if Duffey had pitched a clean eighth.
Over the last two weeks, the Twins have played Toronto, the Angels, Detroit, and now Seattle. Not exactly a tough schedule, but at least a couple of those teams are close to .500. Over that same time, Cleveland has played the White Sox, Oakland, the White Sox again, and now Baltimore. That's certainly no tougher schedule, and arguably an easier one. Over that stretch, the Twins have gained 2.5 games on the Indians. That strikes me as a good sign.
Record: The Twins are 28-15, first in the American League Central, 4.5 games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 147-15!
Michael Pineda (2-3, 5.35 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 40 IP, 35 K)
Erik Swanson (1-4, 6.35 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 28.1 IP, 21 K)
The 2019 MLB season debut of Miguel Sanó shifts Gonzalez to 1st and Cron to DH while leaving the remainder of the starters as expected. I believe Cruz is available off the bench too ... at least I haven't heard otherwise. I'm excited to get Miguel back with the big club, but I'm also very interested in whether a road trip can help Kepler get off the schneid.
At the risk of extreme repetition...
This team is FUN.
Great pitching, great hitting... Byron Buxton not completely sucking. It's been a delight.
You know what would be even more delightful? Another doubleheader sweep.
Pineda and Stewart haven't exactly been aces, but if you're going to toss them out there, you may as well do it against the Tigers.
Buchholz vs Pineda
Tortuga behind the dish in place of Castro and batting 7th (bumping Schoop down a spot), but otherwise the lineup looks like last evening’s successful bunch.
Pindeda’s innings pitched in his first three starts have gone 4, 5 & 6. Rocco & the Bullpen certainly wouldn’t mind if he continued that trend with 7 (or 8 or 9) innings this afternoon.
Salvage the Split!!!
Down 2-0 after two and a half. Unlucky inning for Pineda full of bloops and a potential DP ricocheting (Dazzle word!) off an umpire.
Pineda vs. Arrieta
Rough game last night. Good game for Polanco, though. Hopefully exactly one of those trends continues.
- Highest WPA, hitter: Morneau .038 (1-4, SO) | Highest WPA, pitcher: Some band-aid whose name I've already forgotten .003 (1.1 IP, ER, 2 BB)
- Lowest WPA, hitter: Cuddyer, -.138 (1-4, R) | Lowest WPA, pitcher: Baker, -.172 (6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 8 SO, 4 ER)
- Pretty much all of it.
Last night Scott Baker had a very Scott Baker-y outing. The Twins lost.
What else can I say about the game? I fell asleep after Pineda came out, it's now 2:30am, and I'm going to bed. If I've missed something important, talk about it below.
This week's View from the Ballpark might be too easy, but I like the history behind it too much to let it go.
Over the years at least two former Twins have managed here. | photo by Flickr user joshbousel
Remember, no embiggening.
Finally, the Twins get to pick on somebody their own size. The Worst Team in Baseball is 12-2
56; the Mariners, 16-23 and in last place in the A.L. West, percentage points "up" on the Bitch Sox for second worst record in the A.L.
Seattle returns home from an 0-4 East Coast (err, Bal'more and Cleveland) trip that ended with consecutive rainouts. So they should be well rested.
Scott Baker (3.71 ERA, 4.36 FIP, 3.76 xFIP, 97 tRA+, 40:15 K:BB in 43 2/3) vs.
Michael Pineda (2.84 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 3.31 xFIP, 145 tRA+, 45:13 K:BB in 44 1/3)
The 22-year old rookie right-hander Pineda has been very effective to date, echoing his minor league performance (2.49 ERA, 396:93 K:BB in 404 1/3). He's a fastball-slider guy and, according to PitchFx, Pineda has a VERY live fastball (avg 95.1 MPH), with the slider coming in at 84.7. A right-handed F-Bomb??
Oh, and in case that wasn't discouraging enough, here's some salt in your wounds from the Yahoo preview:
Minnesota outfielder Delmon Young(notes) went 1 for 12 with seven strikeouts against Toronto over the weekend in his return from rib soreness that sidelined him nearly a month. Young is a .227 lifetime hitter at Safeco Field with 18 strikeouts in 66 at-bats.
Enjoy some West Coast baseball, kids. I will be at the Girl's violin lesson for most of this one.