I hope everyone has had an enjoyable and agreeable Memorial Day weekend. I'm sure there will be plenty of pomp and spectacle during the actual game, but whenever you get a chance today, maybe take a moment and quietly reflect on the holiday and those whose memory it honors.
I was thinking about trying to make yesterday's game in Chicago, but other vague plans (which didn't materialize) and threat of weather kept us away. A shame as it would have been a good one.
Anyway, now that the Twins aren't playing Chicago, I can actually watch them again. Score. They leave the Prairie State with a 4-1 road trip in their back pocket, and six games at home in front of them, where they've enjoyed a .700 record (2nd in the AL).
They'll open up that homestand with 3 games against the 3rd place Red Sox. Someone posted a link recently that mirrored the exasperation this team has been causing me. They're just not supposed to be this good, you know? Regardless, I will continue to cautiously watch, and enjoy the ride.
Happy Memorial Day, you guys.
Continue reading 2015 Game 44: Boston Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins – Memorial Day Edition →
The Twins posted a nice albeit oddly uncomfortable win in their first inter-league game of the season, carpet bombing the F-Bomb by scoring early and often on Pirate's starter and former Twin Francisco Liriano. Brian Dozier led off the Twins offensive attack with a solo homer in the first. In a wild six-run second inning, Suzuki started things off by scoring on a wild pitch. Trevor Plouffe capped the inning with a two-run blast that in between saw Joe Mauer drive in three runs with a bases-clearing single. The Twins ended their scoring in the third when Suzuki crossed home on a ground-ball double play off the bat of Robinson. With eight on the board and a seven run lead after three, it seemed like the game was in the bag, but this is baseball and there would be cause for concern before this one ended.
The Pirates got on the board in the bottom of the second when Jose Tabata sort of singled on a two-out ground ball that Dozier should have handled to end the inning but didn't, allowing Jung Ho Kang to score from third base. The Bucs added another run in the fourth inning when Pedro Alvarez literally boated a blast off Nolasco over the right-field wall and into a docked runabout. With two runners in scoring position and one out in the bottom of the fifth, the Pirates chalked another run on a 6-3 putout off the bat of Kang, driving in Neil Walker. Nolaco gave up another run in the sixth inning when Walkers double to right field with runners on the corners scored Josh Harrison. With Aaron Thompson relieving in the seventh, Marte scored the last Pirate run on a Harrison single.
Damn near a quarter of the way through the season, the Twins find themselves in fairly unfamiliar territory, holding third place a half game behind the Tigers and just three games the behind division-leading Royals. I have to admit that I'm enjoying the ride so far, even as I wonder how long the engine will hold up when it's sort of low on oil and coolant, and the gas gauge is broken so I'm not sure if we're going to run out of fuel next week or next month, and at least a couple of the tires are nearly bald and could blow out any time now. There are problems with this team's pitching and defense (Danny Santana has ten of the Twins' 25 errors this year, contribution greatly to his team-low -0.7 WAR) but so far the offense has been good enough to get us where we are - five games above .500 and averaging 4.5 runs per game with a +2 differential. It ain't exactly championship caliber, but it's good enough to make things interesting and keep the puppy photographers in business for the time being.
Nolasco returns! Lucky for him, he's facing off against the worst offense in the league, so... I'm expecting good things from him. We're adjusting our criteria for "good things", given that it's Nolasco, so I'm thinking he labors through 104 pitvhes in five and a third innings, gives up 3 runs and everyone agrees that it could have been a lot worse.
Noesi takes the hill for the White Sox. He gives up lots of home runs, but that's not exactly a tool in our bag, unless Arcia or vargas gets ahold of one, so... key in on the fact that he doesn't strike many out and that he has a tendency to walk folk? Man, he's not a very good pitcher, is he.
The last time I watched a Twins game, Ricky Nolasco pitched his best game of the year, eight scoreless innings, and the Twins won, though Nolasco did not notch a Win. Nolasco will likely need to pitch just as well tonight to give the team a chance as the Diamondbacks send Josh Collmenter to the mound. Collmenter is 10-8 on the year with a 3.60 ERA and he's been dominating opponents for the last month or so. Of course, in the grand scheme of baseball this game means absolutely nothing to pretty much anybody, so we've got that going for us.
Congratulations to Kennys Vargas and Jose Berrios for winning Twins player and pitcher of the year honors, respectively. Vargas is one of the reasons I'm sort of excited for Gardenhire's last season as Twins manager next year. He hits baseballs like they stole food from his plate.
In other news, Aaron Hicks has been held out of the lineup for the last two games with a stiff back. It's our clearest indication yet that the young man possesses a spine. Now if somebody would just find his belly and light a fire in it...
Matt Shoemaker had a 5.38 ERA in 423 innings at AAA. He has a pi ERA in 117 innings in MLB. Welcome to not being in the PCL anymore.