KANSAS CITY 4, MINNESOTA 1 IN KANSAS CITY
Date: Thursday, June 20.
Batting stars: C. J. Cron was 2-for-3 with a walk. Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eleventh.
Pitching star: Kohl Stewart pitched four shutout innings, giving up two hits and no walks and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Glenn Sparkman pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits and one walk and striking out three. Jorge Soler was 2-for-3 with a walk. Lucas Duda was 2-for-4. Nicky Lopez was 2-for-4.
The game: Polanco homered in the first inning and it looked like it might be a big night for the Twins. Instead, it was the only run they scored. The Royals came right back in the bottom of the first, Their first three batters reached base: Whit Merrifield doubled, Lopez singled, and Alex Gordon doubled to give Kansas City a 2-1 lead. Duda had an RBI single later in the inning to make it 3-1 Royals. They added a run in the fourth on a Martin Maldonado RBI double.
Meanwhile, the Twins weren't really doing much of anything at bat. They got a pair of two-out singles in the fourth, putting men on first and third, but Jonathan Schoop fanned to end the inning. They got a couple of harmless singles later in the game, but their last ten batters were retired. Kansas City only got two hits after the fourth inning as well, but they already had all the runs they needed.
WP: Sparkman (2-3). LP: Jake Odorizzi (10-3). S: Ian Kennedy (9).
Notes: Jake Cave was in right field, with Max Kepler remaining in center. Luis Arraez was at shortstop, with Polanco at DH and Nelson Cruz on the bench. Willians Astudillo was at third base, with Miguel Sano on the bench. Mitch Garver started at catcher but left the game in the eighth, with Astudillo moving to catcher and Sano entering the game at third.
Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .375. Polanco is batting .325. Odorizzi gave up four runs in four innings and has an ERA of 2.58.
Odorizzi had his second poor start in a row. He hasn't been dreadful, but he certainly hasn't been good. There's some regression to the mean, but that's a phrase that describes things without actually explaining them. Either he was just lucky before and his luck has run out, he's doing something differently from what he was doing before, or the Royals figured out what he was doing and adjusted to it. The Twins need him to be, not necessarily a Cy Young winner like he was through his first thirteen starts, but a good, reliable pitcher.
The batters have also been in a slump. But just like "regression to the mean", "in a slump" describes without explaining. Again, it's either a matter of luck, their doing something differently, or other teams have adjusted. My opinion, as I said the other day, is that we have too many batters who are trying to hit home runs on every pitch. Nothing wrong with home runs, but some pitches are not capable of being hit out of the park. My unsolicited amateur advice is to get back to just trying to hit the ball hard and let the home runs take care of themselves.
The baseball season is long. You're going to have times when you're not playing well, for a variety of reasons. It's not as much fun when it happens, but it does. It happens to every team. You just have to keep the faith and ride it out. The thing not to do is to go all StatFreak when we hit one of those times. If we do that, we're no better than Yankee fans.
The Twins again try to avoid losing three in a row, this time with Martin Perez on the mound. That doesn't fill me with confidence, but hey, the guy is 7-3. Maybe he's due. Maybe tonight the Twins break out of their slump and score ten runs. After all, it's baseball. All kinds of things are possible.
Record: The Twins are 48-26, first in the American League Central, nine games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We'll just have to settle for 136-26!