Not sure who thought Minnesota and Cleveland would be duking it out for first place of the division, but here we are. Don't have too much time to go into the importance of these games, but I don't think I have to either.
Sonny Gray* takes the mound against the youngster McKenzie. Hopefully the Twins left their assbats at home. Here's to a good series!
(*Whenever I hear the name Sonny Gray, I sign it to the tune of "Nite And Grey".)
Oh, MLB's free game today for those not in the blackout.
You hate to say it but the Yankees have been really good this year, especially its pitching:
Team ERA: 2.74, first
WHIP: 1.04, first
Opponent average: .210, first
Twins come in feeling pretty good about themselves after winning two of three in Toronto with a depleted staff and now some players coming back from the restricted list, Covid list, and injuries. It's not a full squad yet, but getting closer.
Jamison Taillon on for the Yankees and like the rest of the staff, he's been lights out this year. Looks like the Twins will use Cole Sands with his 7.88 ERA and 1.63 WHIP tonight. Maybe both pitchers can regress to the mean and we get a Twins victory.
First Pitch at 6:40
1B - Arraez
DH - Buxton
2B - Polanco
RF - Kepler
C - Sanchez
LF - Larnach
3B - Urshela
CF - Celestino
SS - Palacios
In progress. Paddack just came out with an injury, so that's fun.
Sonny Gray returns from the IL to face his original team.
Today's cuppa rightfully calls out the ass-battery the local nine have been displaying pretty much since the season opener. We've seen a few flashes of high-octane offense here and there, but that certainly has not been the trend. Miguel Sano is batting for a paltry .091 average, and I'm tired of waiting for him to turn into the David Ortiz we didn't throw away. Today's starting lineup features four players batting below .200, and only one batting above .300, and he doesn't have quite enough at-bats to qualify for the leader boards. So yeah, it's been cold here all spring and the bats are still in hibernation, but they will wake up one of these days. I'm hoping the return of Buxton to the lineup (DH today) will provide a much-needed offensive spark.
On the mound, young Joe Ryan will take the ball for his third start this year. He's got a split win-loss record with one apiece, sports a 2.70 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and has 11 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. Not bad for a rookie. I can recall many seasons past when we collectively bemoaned the team's reluctance to rely on young starting pitchers, but this is a different FO and manager. If the Twins are to go anywhere this year, it will be on the arms of a rotation that averages just 28 years old. Here's a tip for the rookie today from an old observer of the game who turned a year older today -- don't throw a single pitch to Salvador Perez, just point to first base. Every. Fucking. Time.
At the other end of the career spectrum today, KC sends to the mound an old, familiar nemesis in Zack Greinke, who at the ripe age of 38 is pitching in his 19th major league season this year. I simply have to tip my cap and applaud a guy who has spent half his life as a major league pitcher. Zack has had no decisions in his first two starts of this campaign but brings an impressive 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP to the hill with him. He's recorded just one K in 11 innings and strikeouts aren't as much of his game as they used to be, but his VSI (veteran savvy index) is off the damn charts.
Game Time - 6:10 p.m. CT
After winning in spectacular gut-wrenching, extra-inning, bomba-blasting fashion to even the series in Boston last night, the Twins seek to win their fourth series this month by taking tonight's rubber game. Rocco seems determined to see if John Gant can be turned back into a starting pitcher after two years of bullpen duty, so he'll be pitching the initial frames for the Twins tonight. The Red Sox, 7.5 games back of the Rays and 3 behind the Yankees, are feeling the pressure to win games and at least secure a wild card berth in the playoffs. They'll be sending Chris Sale to the mound for just his third start in two years following Tommy John surgery. But they've been really good starts. He's 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 10 innings. Play ball!
That last game 82 didn't really go like the previous 6 or 7. Time to move on to game 92 today with J.A. Happ taking on Wily Peralta.
Jorge Polanco in July - .269/.304/.462
He's doing the whole "no walks, but more power" thing that he does sometimes, this right after drawing 6 walks and having two extra base hits in the last 10 games in June.
Max Kepler in July - .297/.350/.703
Any split that has Kepler hitting almost .300 is pretty remarkable. This is including his 0 for 5 yesterday.
Kenta Maeda v. Matthew Boyd
I feel like the Twins have faced Matthew Boyd at least once a week for the past 6 years (checking b-r, and ... yep this will be his 274th career start against Minnesota). He's coming off a start cut short by injury and a skipped turn in the rotation so he hasn't pitched since April 29.
Another Sunday means another rubber match for this series. I think a series win over the Tigers is a pretty reasonable aspiration.