Tag Archives: Ryne Harper

2019 Recap: Game Ninety

MINNESOTA 5, CLEVELAND 3 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Friday, July 12.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 1-for-4 with a home run (his seventeenth) and a walk.  Mitch Garver was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fourteenth.

Pitching stars:  Trevor May retired all four men he faced, striking out two.  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Taylor Rogers struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Mike Clevenger struck out six in five innings, giving up one run on four hits and two walks.  Jose Ramirez was 2-for-4.  Carlos Santana was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twentieth.

The game:  Cruz hit a two-out home run in the first inning to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  The Indians got a man to second base in each of the first two innings but did not break through until the fourth.  Santana homered to lead off the inning and tie the score.  Jason Kipnis walked and an error put men on first and third.  They were still on second and third with two out, but Roberto Perez singled to drive in two and give Cleveland a 3-1 lead.

It looked for a while like that might hold up.  The Twins put men on second and third with none out in the fifth, but a ground out and two strikeouts ended the inning.  They had men on first and second with one out in the sixth, but a double play ended that inning.

Then came the seventh.  An error and a walk put men on first and third with two out.  Max Kepler came up and hit a ground ball to shortstop.  He was called out at first and it looked like yet another Twins threat had come to nothing.  But the Twins challenged and a replay review determined that Kepler was safe, making the score 3-2.  Jorge Polanco then swatted a two-run double and the Twins had a 4-3 lead.  A Garver home run in the eighth made it 5-3.  The Indians did not get a man past first base after the fourth inning.

WP:  Littell (2-0).  LP:  Oliver Perez (2-2).  S:  Rogers (13).

Notes:  Marwin Gonzalez was in left, replacing Eddie Rosario.  Luis Arraez was at second base in place of Jonathan Schoop.  Ehire Adrianza was at first base, replacing C. J. Cron.

Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .386.  Polanco was 1-for-4 and is batting .311.  May has an ERA of 2.94.  Harper has an ERA of 2.84.  Rogers has an ERA of 1.73.

Just looking at the printed play-by-play, it seems like a very quick hook for Kyle Gibson.  They don't appear to have been hitting a lot of balls hard off him, and he certainly wasn't getting much help from his defense.  I'm not second-guessing the decision, because a) there are always things you can't tell from the printed play-by-play and b) it clearly worked.  The Much Maligned Twins Bullpen pitched 5.1 scoreless innings and really never even allowed Cleveland to put together a threat.

The quick hook showed that Rocco was not looking at this as just another game.  He thought it was an important game for the Twins to win, and he was going to give them every chance to win it.  It was a risk, because if the Twins hadn't come back he'd have used four or five relievers in a loss, which of course hurts you for the next game.  He had the advantage of a fully rested bullpen after the all-star break, but it was still a gamble that he won.

I think he was right to not look at it as just another game.  We said going in that by Sunday night the Twins' lead would either be 2.5, 4.5, 6.5, or 8.5 games, and that's obviously a big spread.  We can eliminate the "2.5" now, and that's a very good thing.  We'd all love to have it be one of the bigger numbers, but even if it's 4.5 it's not going to feel like things are falling apart, the way it would have had the Indians gotten a sweep.  With Odorizzi and Berrios pitching the next two games, the Twins should have a good chance to win at least one of them.  Of course, with Bauer and Bieber going, the Indians probably feel the same way.

One thing I like about Rocco is that he doesn't feel a need to make big announcements about what he's doing.  He just does it.  Rogers is clearly the closer now, even if he's not being used in the "traditional" way, but Rocco has never said he's the closer.  Littell is clearly a one-inning guy now (he's pitched one inning in each of his last six appearances), but Rocco has never said he's a one-inning guy.  He just uses him that way.  If you don't make an announcement about it, then you don't feel locked in to doing it that way.  You also don't have to explain to anyone if you do something differently from what you've announced.  Of course, you have to get players to buy in to the fact that they aren't going to know exactly what their role is every day, but Rocco seems to be able to do that, at least so far.

Record:  The Twins are 57-33, in first place in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 129-33!

2019 Recap: Game Eighty-five

MINNESOTA 4, OAKLAND 3 IN OAKLAND (12 INNINGS)

Date:  Wednesday, July 3.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 3-for-5.  Mitch Garver was 2-for-6.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-5 with a home run, his twelfth.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson pitched six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks and striking out five.  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Ryne Harper struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning.  Blake Parker struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up a hit and two walks.  Taylor Rogers struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Mike Fiers pitched six innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and no walks and striking out four.  Ramon Laureano was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his fourteenth) and a walk.  Robbie Grossman was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Liam Hendriks struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

The game:  Khris Davis reached on an error to start the bottom of the second.  Mark Canha walked and Laureano hit a three-run homer, and that quickly the Athletics led 3-0.  Oakland had chances to add to their lead, but could not take advantage of them.  Marcus Semien opened the third with a double but did not score.  Laureano and Grossman led off the fourth with singles but a force out and a double play ended the inning.  Still, the Athletics led 3-0 through five.

The Twins then pecked away, as Dazzle likes to say.  Singles by Jonathan SchoopMax Kepler, and Garver produced a run in the sixth.  Singles by Arraez and Ehire Adrianza were followed by an error to make the score 3-2.  Polanco hit a two-out homer in the eighth to tie it 3-3.

Each team missed chances in the extra frames.  Oakland started the tenth with two walks but did not score.  The Twins had men on first and third with one out in the eleventh and did not score.  The Twins broke through in the twelfth, though.  Byron Buxton and Kepler drew one-out walks and Garver followed with an RBI single to give the Twins their first lead at 4-3.  A double play took them out of the inning.  Would the lead hold up?

Obviously it did, but the Athletics made it interesting.  Matt Chapman reached on an error to start the inning.  With one out, Jurickson Profar singled, sending Chapman to third, but Profar was thrown out trying to make second, so there were two down with the tying run ninety feet away.  He stayed there, as Canha struck out to end the game.

WP:  Parker (1-2).  LP:  Blake Treinen (2-3).  S:  Rogers (11).

Notes:  Arraez is now batting .431 in sixty-five at-bats.  I wonder what the record is for highest batting average in your first sixty-five at-bats.  Polanco is down to .318.  Harper has an ERA of 2.88.  Duffey is at 2.33.  Rogers' ERA is 1.93.

Arraez was in left field, and while I still don't like playing infielders in the outfield I gather he's done okay there.  Of course, you'll put up with less defense from a guy who bats .431.  Adrianza was at shortstop, with Polanco the DH and Nelson Cruz out of the lineup.

In the second inning, I don't think many people would've predicted that Gibson would get through six without giving up any more runs.  He didn't exactly dominate, but he got by.  The Much Maligned Bullpen came through with six shutout innings, although they didn't exactly dominate, either.  The Oaklands went 1-for-15 with men in scoring position.

I am pleased to see Liam Hendriks pitching well.  I still feel like the Twins didn't give him much of a chance, although I have to admit that he didn't do much with the chances they did give him.  When the Twins waived him after the 2013 season, I doubt that anyone in the front office thought he'd still be pitching in 2019, but here he is.  Good for him.

The Twins made two more errors last night.  I don't have time to go back and count, but they've made an awful lot of errors in recent weeks.  I don't know what happened to that excellent defensive team we had the first couple of months of the season, but I sure wish they'd come back.  Injuries have played a part, of course, but that's not a complete excuse.

The Twins still managed to avoid losing three games in a row.  Of course, it's been about three weeks since they won three in a row.  It would sure be nice to see them put together a little winning streak here before the all-star break.

Record:  The Twins are 54-31, first in the American League Central, seven games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 131-31!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-eight

MINNESOTA 9, TAMPA BAY 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, June 25.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.  Willians Astudillo was 3-for-4 with a double.  Mitch Garver was 3-for-5 with a home run (his twelfth), two runs, and three RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-3 with a home run (his thirteenth) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson struck out seven in seven innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and a walk.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition star:  Willy Adames was 2-for-2 with a home run, his eighth.

The game:  Nobody got on base until Rosario led off the bottom of the second with a double.  With two out, Astudillo delivered an RBI single to put the Twins up 1-0.  In the second, Schoop led off with a home run.  Jorge Polanco and Garver followed with singles, and with one out Rosario and C. J. Cron came through with RBI singles, making it 4-0.  The Twins poured on some more in the fourth.  Astudillo led off with a double and Miguel Sano singled.  With one out, Schoop walked to load the bases, Garver hit a two-run single, Nelson Cruz singled to re-load the bases, and Rosario singled home another run to give the Twins a 7-0 lead.  They got one more in the fifth on a hit batsman, a single, a walk, and a sacrifice fly.  It was 8-0 through five.

The Rays got on the board in the sixth when Adames led off with a home run.  They somewhat got back into the game in the seventh.  With two out, Travis D'Arnaud singled, Joey Wendle doubled, Michael Brosseau doubled home two, and Brandon Lowe hit an RBI triple, cutting the margin to 8-4.  That was as close as they would get, however, as Tampa Bay went down in order in the eighth and ninth.  The Twins added a run in the eighth on Garver's home run.

WP:  Gibson (8-4).  LP:  Blake Snell (4-7).  S:  None.

Notes:  Polanco was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .326.  Garver is batting .305.  Harper has an ERA of 2.27.  Duffey has an ERA of 1.90.

Astudillo was in right field, with Kepler in center and Jake Cave on the bench.  Cave came in to play center field in the fifth after Kepler was hit in the elbow by a pitch.*  X-Rays were negative, but he will have an MRI today.  Presumably even if we get good news he will miss a couple of days.  Byron Buxton is eligible to come off the Injured List, but has not yet done so.  I'm glad they're being careful with him, but his wrist injury was apparently worse than we were initially led to believe.  If Buxton doesn't come back that pretty much leaves the Twins with three outfielders, and that's counting Astudillo as an outfielder.  It would not be surprising to see the Twins bring up an outfielder from Rochester.

*Please, Kepler did not get "beaned in the elbow".  A bean ball has a specific meaning.  It means to throw at someone's head, the "bean".  Saying he got "beaned in the elbow" is saying he got hit in the head in the elbow.  It makes no sense.  Now get off my lawn!

I don't know where this Twins team was for the last week and a half, but it was good to get them back.  Stringing hits together, getting a couple of long balls, getting good starting pitching for six innings, even getting good relief pitching.  One game doesn't mean much, of course, but we can hope this Twins team sticks around for a while.

Record:  The Twins are 51-27, in first place in the American League Central, 8.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 135-27!

2019 Recap: Game Sixty-seven

MINNESOTA 10, SEATTLE 5 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, June 13.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 3-for-4 with a home run (his twelfth), a walk, two runs, and three RBIs.  Ehire Adrianza was 3-for-5.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4 with a double.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with a double.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-6 with two runs.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer, his fifteenth.

Pitching stars:  Michael Pineda pitched 5.2 innings, giving up one run on two hits and two walks and striking out four.  Ryne Harper pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Yusei Kikuchi pitched five innings, giving up one run on six hits and two walks and striking out four.  Daniel Vogelbach was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Kyle Seager was 2-for-5 with a double.  Dylan Moore was 1-for-1 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs.

The game:  The  Twins loaded the bases with none out in the second and did not score.  At the time it was a big missed opportunity, although it turned out not to matter.  Cruz homered with one out in the third to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  It stayed 1-0 through five.  In the sixth, Vogelbach had an RBI single to tie it 1-1.

It didn't stay tied long.  The Twins exploded for six runs in the bottom of the sixth to take control of the game.  Max Kepler walked, Adrianza singled, and a pickoff error gave the Twins the lead.  A wild pitch and a fielder's choice made it 3-1.  Byron Buxton walked and Polanco singled, again loading the bases.  With one out, Cruz delivered a two-run single.  With two out, Schoop walked and Kepler came through with a two-out single.  The Twins scored six runs without hitting a homer and led 7-1.

They would add three more in the seventh on a Polanco RBI single and Cron's two-run homer to go ahead 10-1.  The Mariners scored two in the eighth and two in the ninth off the back of the Twins bullpen to make the final score look better.

WP:  Harper (2-0).  LP:  Brandon Brennan (2-6).  S:  None.

Notes:  Gonzalez was in left field in place of Eddie Rosario.  Adrianza was at third base in place of Miguel Sano.  Cron batted second in the order, with Gonzalez batting fourth.

Polanco is batting .338.  Harper has an ERA of 1.95.  Mike Morin struck out the only man he faced and has an ERA of 1.29.

With all the runs, we should not forget the good game pitched by Pineda.  Oddly, he had gone six starts in a row giving up exactly three earned runs, which seems like it might be a record of some kind.  Yesterday, however, he gave up just one in 5.2 innings.  Ideally, he'd have been able to at least complete the sixth, but you don't expect "ideal" from the back end of the rotation.  If he could do this every time, you'd take it and be very happy.

The Twins scored six in the sixth without hitting a home run.  My guess is that this may be the biggest inning they've had all year without a homer.  The home runs are fun, and I'm all for them, but it's also good to be able to score runs in other ways.  The more ways you have to score, the more you're likely to score.

Fernando Romero, the latest "fresh arm for the bullpen", faced four batters yesterday and retired exactly none of them.  This was the entirely foreseeable result of bringing a man to the majors who has done nothing to show that he belongs there, simply because the letter "P" appears next to his name on the roster sheet.  I'm not a big fan of carrying thirteen pitchers, but I would complain less about it if the thirteenth pitcher could actually pitch.  If the thirteenth pitcher is of the Chase De Jong/Andrew Vasquez/Austin Adams variety--someone you can't even trust to fill an inning of a blowout--then he's worthless.  You might as well have the extra position player, someone who might actually be able to contribute something.

And to be honest, the twelfth pitcher, Matt Magill, hasn't gotten much accomplished lately, either.  He did well Tuesday night, but in his last five appearances he has pitched 4.2 innings and allowed twelve runs (eleven earned) on twelve hits and five walks.

I'm sure the front office is aware of the problem--it would be hard for them not to be.  And I'm sure they're working on it.  One of the nice things about having an eleven game lead in the division is that they don't have to feel like they have to make a move right now.  They can wait and try to get the player(s) they want on favorable terms.  Whether they'll actually be able to do that is another question, but the point is that there's no reason to panic and make a move just to make a move.  It's much better to wait and make a good move than to do something now just so they can say they did something.

Record:  The Twins are 45-22, first in the American League Central, eleven games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 140-22!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-nine

MINNESOTA 16, LOS ANGELES 7 IN LOS ANGELES

Date:  Thursday, May 23.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 5-for-6 with a home run (his thirteenth) and two doubles, scoring three times.  Max Kepler was 3-for-5 with a home run (his tenth), a double, a walk, and a stolen base, scoring four times and driving in two.  Eddie Rosario was 3-for-6 with a home run (his fourteenth), scoring twice and driving in two.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-3 with a home run (his ninth), a double, and a walk, driving in three.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his third and fourth) and a walk, driving in three.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-5 with two home runs (his ninth and tenth) and four RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched five innings, giving up two runs on six hits and four walks and striking out three.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning, striking out one.  Tyler Duffey struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Tommy La Stella was 2-for-5 with a grand slam, his twelfth homer.  Luis Rengifo was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Brian Goodwin was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fifth.  David Fletcher was 1-for-5 with a home run, his fourth.  Taylor Cole pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out two.

The game:  The Angels threatened in the first, putting men on second and third with one out, but a strikeout and a ground out ended the inning.  The Twins broke it open in the second.  Singles by Rosario and Cron were followed by a wild pitch, putting men on second and third.  A sacrifice fly brought home the first run, Sano walked, and Schoop hit a three-run homer to make it 4-0.  With two out, Kepler doubled and Polanco hit a two-run homer to make it 6-0.  In the third, homers by Cron and Sano increased the Twins' lead to 8-0.

Los Angeles made a comeback attempt in the bottom of the third.  Fletcher hit a one-out homer and Mike Trout followed with a double-plus-error.  He scored on a ground out to cut the lead to 8-2.  A pair of singles and a walk off of suddenly wobbly Twins starter Perez loaded the bases, but he came back to strike out Kole Calhoun to end the inning.  In the fifth the Angels got a pair of one-out walks and a two-out infield single, again loading the bases for Calhoun, but he hit into a force out to end the inning.

The Twins put it out of reach for good after that.  In the sixth Kepler drew a two-out walk, stole second, and scored on Polanco's double.  In the seventh, Cron hit a one-out double.  With two -out, Sano and Schoop hit back-to-back homers, Willians Astudillo walked, and Kepler homered, putting the Twins up 14-2.  Rosario homered in the eighth to make it 15-2.  In the ninth, Kepler singled, Ehire Adrianza walked, and Rosario had an RBI single to make it 16-2.

Los Angeles did get some runs in the ninth to make the score look better.  Goodwin led off with a home run.  Walks to Trout, Dustin Garneau, and Jonathan Lucroy loaded the bases and La Stella hit a grand slam to cut the margin to 16-7.  A two-out single by La Stella chased Austin Adams from the game, and Mike Morin retired Zack Cozart on a ground ball to end the contest.

WP:  Perez (7-1).  LP:  Matt Harvey (2-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Kepler was in center and Marwin Gonzalez in right, with Byron Buxton on the bench.  Luis Arraez was the DH.  Willians Astudillo caught and batted ninth, taking Buxton's place as the second leadoff man.

Arraez was 0-for-3 with a walk and is batting .467.  Polanco is batting .345.  Perez has an ERA of 2.95.  Harper's ERA is 1.69.  Morin has an ERA of 1.08.

Perez has been substantially less awesome in his last three starts.  He has pitched 16.2 innings and allowed six runs, which isn't bad, but he's also allowed fifteen hits and ten walks.  He obviously wasn't going to keep it going as well as he had, but the walks, especially, are not a good trend.

Nothing personal, but if Austin Adams can't protect a fourteen-run lead for one inning he really doesn't have a place on a major league baseball team.  You might as well have an extra position player.

I feel like I should be saying more about all the home runs, but I don't really know what to say about except that it's fun to see.  It was nice of them to do it in a day game while I was on the road, so I could enjoy all the homers live.

Even more notable than the eight home runs might be the fact that Astudillo drew a walk.

freealonzo linked an interesting article about Rocco in yesterday's game log.  I don't know about all the generational stuff, but I have noticed how much more complimentary Rocco is about his players compared to recent Twins managers.  It's easier to do that when you're winning, of course, but it was already clear in spring training.  Rather than looking for things to criticize or cautioning us against getting too excited when a player is doing well, Rocco actually praises them.  It seems like that would have to create a more positive environment in the clubhouse.

I also think the Twins have not received enough credit for the coaching staff they put together.  It's hard to know, from the outside, how much credit/blame to give coaches--we can see the results, but we don't know how much of it is due to the coaches versus the players themselves.  But the Twins have a substantial number of players who are doing better this year than last year, and some who are doing better than they ever have before.  It seems to me that's a pretty good indication that the coaching staff knows a thing or two.

The caution about all this, of course, is that we're still not quite a third of the way into the season.  We've all seen teams that looked like world-beaters in May but fell apart in August and September.  I don't think that's going to happen with this team, though.  That's not to say they'll win over two-thirds of their games all season.  In fact, they'll probably have a down stretch at some point--almost everyone does--and then all the so-called "fans" who delight in running their team down will be out in full force.  But unless they get a string of injuries, I don't see this team collapsing.  This is a good baseball team.

Record:  The Twins are 33-16, first in the American League Central, eight games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 146-16!

2019 Recap: Game Forty-one

MINNESOTA 4, LOS ANGELES 3 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, May 14.

Batting star:  Mitch Garver was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his ninth.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson pitched 5.2 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks and striking out five.  Ryne Harper pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Blake Parker pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Shohei Otani was 3-for-4.  David Fletcher was 2-for-3 with a double.  Tommy La Stella was 2-for-5.  Taylor Cole struck out four in two shutout innings, giving up two hits.

The game:  The Twins got on the board in the first inning.  Jorge Polanco got a one-out single, stole second with two out, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Eddie Rosario's single to make it 1-0 Minnesota.  It went to 3-0 in the third when Max Kepler led off with a single and Garver hit a one-out two-run homer.  The Twins added one more in the fourth when Marwin Gonzalez led off with a double and scored on Byron Buxton's two-out double to make it 4-0.

The Angels got back into the game in the sixth.  Gibson had been in control through five, not allowing a man past first base.  In the sixth, however, Luis Rengifo walked and David Fletcher doubled him home.  La Stella's single put men on first and third and a wild pitch made the score 4-2, still with none out.  Mike Trout struck out, but Otani's RBI single cut the margin to 4-3.  Andrelton Simmons then singled, but Otani was thrown out trying to go to third.  Ryne Harper then came on to retire Albert Pujols and keep the score 4-3.

Each team threatened in the seventh.  Los Angeles got a pair of singles but did not score.  The Twins got three walks and failed to score.  The Angels again threatened in the eighth.  Singles by Otani and Pujols put men on first and second with two out.  Brian Goodwin singled, but Byron Buxton threw Otani out at the plate to keep the score 4-3.  Catcher Garver was injured on the play, about which we'll say more later.  Los Angeles got a one-out walk in the ninth, but no more, and the Twins held on for the win.

WP:  Gibson (4-1).  LP:  Cam Bedrosian (1-2).  S:  Parker (7).

Notes:  With Nelson Cruz out, Willians Astudillo was the DH.

Garver is batting .329 with an OPS of 1.164.  Polanco was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .327 with an OPS of 1.010.  Harper has an ERA of 1.56.  Tyler Duffey gave up a hit to the only man he faced, but he didn't score and his ERA remains 1.42.  Mike Morin retired the only man he faced and his ERA is 2.08.  Taylor Rogers pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up a hit, but no runs, and has an ERA of 1.47.  Parker has an ERA of 1.20.

Take a look at those bullpen ERAs for a second.  The Twins bullpen has taken some criticism, and I know ERA isn't necessarily the best way to evaluate a relief pitcher, but still.  Four relievers with ERAs under two.  Morin is just barely over two, and the other two relievers are at 2.35 (Trevor May) and 2.56 (Matt Magill).  That strikes me as being pretty good.

Garver was injured when Otani slid into him in the eighth inning.  Nothing wrong with the slide or the way Garver set up--no matter how hard MLB tries to make the game safer, injuries will still happen sometimes.  Reports this morning say Garver has a sprained ankle and will be evaluated further today.  I would certainly expect him to go on the injured list.

Bedrosian was used as the opener by the Angels and gave up one run on two hits in one inning.  It strikes me that being used consistently as an opener would be a pretty thankless job.  If you hold the other team scoreless, well, that's what you were supposed to do.  And it was the first inning, maybe two, of the game, so by the end of the game everyone's forgotten about it anyway.  And if you give up a run or two, well, who put that bum in to start the game, anyway?  Plus, you'd have the chance to get a really ugly won-lost record, because you can't possibly get the win, but it wouldn't be at all hard to get the loss.  I don't think it's a job people would be clamoring for the chance to do.

The Angels out-hit the Twins 11-7, went 3-for-4 with men in scoring position, but still lost the game.  Two double plays helped, and two outfield assists were very important, too.  I've said this before, but it is a lot of fun to watch a good defensive baseball team.

Record:  The Twins are 26-15, first in the American League Central, four games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 147-15!

2019 Recap: Game Thirty-five

MINNESOTA 9, TORONTO 1 IN TORONTO

Date:  Wednesday, May 8.

Batting stars:  Jorge Polanco was 5-for-5 with a two-run homer (his seventh) and a double, scoring twice.  C. J. Cron was 4-for-5 with a two-run homer, his seventh.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4 with a home run (his thirteenth), two runs, and three RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer, his sixth.  Max Kepler was 2-for-5 with a walk and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson struck out eleven in six shutout innings, giving up two hits and one walk.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Mike Morin pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Blake Parker pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Billy McKinney was 1-for-3 with a home run, his second.  Derek Law struck out four in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

The game:  The Twins threatened to take a big lead in the first inning.  Singles by Kepler and Polanco put men on first and third with none out.  A popup and an Eddie Rosario sacrifice fly put them up 1-0.  Cron singled and Marwin Gonzalez walked to load the bases, but Mitch Garver popped up, leaving the score 1-0.

It didn't matter.  In the second, Kepler walked and Polanco homered, making the score 3-0.  In the third, Rosario singled and Cron homered, and later in the inning Gonzalez singled and Schoop homered, making the score 7-0.  McKinney got the Blue Jays on the board with a home run in the fifth, but in the sixth Polanco doubled and Rosario homered to put the Twins ahead 9-1.

Other than the home run, the only time the Blue Jays got a man as far as second was the ninth, on a walk and a fielder's choice.  It was total dominance by Gibson and three relief pitchers.

WP:  Gibson (3-1).  LP:  Trent Thornton (0-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Garver was 1-for-5 and is batting .354.  Polanco is batting .344.  Harper has an ERA of 1.84.  Parker has an ERA of 1.54.  Morin's ERA is 3.00.

As you probably heard, Polanco is the first Twin to have more than one five-hit game in a season since Joe Mauer in 2010.

Four two-run homers in one game is probably not the record, but it would seem like it has to be at least within shouting distance of it.

Going into the Houston series a week and a half ago, I said that after the next ten games we'd have a better idea of how good the Twins are.  Well, they went 7-3 in those ten games.  Two of the losses were games started by Michael Pineda, and at that only one of them was a blowout--in the other, the Twins just ran into a really good pitcher they couldn't do much with, which happens to everybody sometimes.  It seems to me that we have to say this is a good baseball team.

That's not to say they're going to win the World Series.  I do think they're now the favorites to win the division, though.  They might not do it--it's a long season, and lots of things can happen (injuries, slumps, etc.).  But it's looking good now.  That's why I hope the front office is not willing to settle for just winning the division, and is looking for ways to improve the team so it can actually go somewhere in the playoffs.  Again, I say that not knowing what deals may be available to them.  I'm not advocating a move of the Ramos-for-Capps variety.  But I think they have a real chance this year, and you never know for sure how many of them you're going to get.  When you get one, I think you need to go for it.

Record:  The Twins are 23-12, first in the American League Central, four games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 150-12!

2019 Recap: Game Twenty-nine

MINNESOTA 8, HOUSTON 2 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, May 2.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-3 with a triple and a double.  Jason Castro was 2-for-4 with a home run (his third) and a double, scoring twice and driving in four.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Jose Berrios pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and no walks and striking out five.  Ryne Harper pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.  Trevor May pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Aledmys Diaz was 2-for-4.  Alex Bregman was 1-for-4 with a home run, his sixth.

The game:  Bregman homered with two out in the first to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.  Each team got a two-out double in the second but did not score.  In the third, singles by Tony Kemp and George Springer put men on first and second with none out, but a strikeout, a fly out, and another strikeout left them there.  Castro led off the bottom of the third with a home run to tie the score at 1-1.

The Twins took control in the fourth.  With one out, C. J. Cron walked and Marwin Gonzalez singled, putting men on first and third.  Schoop delivered an RBI single, Castro had a two-run double, Byron Buxton had a run-scoring triple, Max Kepler hit a sacrifice fly, Polanco doubled, and Nelson Cruz had an RBI double.  In all, six runs scored, putting the Twins up 7-1 and effectively ending the game right there.

They kept playing, of course.  The Twins added a run in the fifth when Gonzalez walked, went to third on a Schoop single, and scored on a fielder's choice.  Polanco hit a one-out triple in the sixth but did not score.  Houston threatened to get back into it in the seventh.  Singles by Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick, and Diaz loaded the bases with none out.  A strikeout, a sacrifice fly, and another fly out limited the damage to one run, making the score 8-2, and neither team threatened after that.

WP:  Berrios (5-1).  LP:  Brad Peacock (2-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Polanco raised his average to .336.  Cruz was 1-for-4 with a double and is batting .302.

Even though it was a day game, Rocco did not go with any sort of B lineup.  The regulars played.  The Twins alternate their catchers quite a bit, so that's not really an issue, but there were no substitutes at any other position, either.

Eddie Rosario was 0-for-4 and is now riding an 0-for-24 streak.  He hit two balls hard, though.  I'm not too worried about him.

Berrios pitched a fine game.  It shows the difference expectations can make, though.  If Michael Pineda ever had a game like this, we'd be ecstatic.  When it's Berrios, we just kind of nod our heads.  We expect Berrios to have games like this every time out.  That's a compliment to him, but at the same time, it's something that shouldn't be taken for granted.

Since reaching a low point of .213 on April 17, Schoop has gone 17-for-50 and is now batting .278.

Entering this series, I said the next ten games would tell us a lot about how good the Twins are.  They're off to a good start, winning three of the first four.  Now, of course, we go to New York to play the Big Bad Yankees.  I have a feeling that this year things are going to be different.  I don't have a lot to back that feeling up--the pitching matchups aren't particularly favorable or anything.  But it's a new day, it's a new team, and I just think this is the year things change.  I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Record:  The Twins are 19-10, first in the American League Central, three games ahead of Cleveland.

2019 Recap: Game Twenty-three

MINNESOTA 6, BALTIMORE 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, April 26.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 3-for-4 with two home runs, his fourth and fifth.  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with a home run, his fourth.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-3 with a home run, his fourth.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run (his eleventh) and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up one run on six hits and no walks and striking out four.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning, striking out one.  Fernando Romero struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Trey Mancini was 3-for-5 with a double.  Jonathan Villar was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Gabriel Ynoa pitched 3.1 innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out one.

The game:  With two out in the first, the Twins hit back-to-back-to-back home runs, with CruzRosario, and Cron all going deep to give Minnesota a 3-0 lead.  The Twins missed a chance to add to their lead in the second, as they put men on first and second with none out and did not score.  In the third, however, Rosario singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on an error to make it 4-0.

The Orioles, who did not have a baserunner through three innings, opened the fourth with consecutive singles, but a double play took them out of the inning.  Meanwhile, Kepler homered in the fourth and Cruz hit his second homer of the game in the fifth to make the margin 6-0.

The Orioles sixth opened the same way their fourth had, with consecutive singles by Villar and Mancini.  This time there was no double play, however, and a one-out single by Dwight Smith got Baltimore on the board at 6-1.  They threatened in the eighth, as a Mancini double and two-out walks to Smith and Rio Ruiz loaded the bases.  Trevor May came in and retired Hanser Alberto on a force out.  Baltimore also put a couple of men on in the ninth but again did not score.

WP:  Perez (3-0).  LP:  Alex Cobb (0-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Mitch Garver was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .400.  Jorge Polanco was 0-for-4 and is batting .349.  Willians Astudillo was 1-for-1 as a pinch-hitter and is batting .313.  Cruz raised his average to .308.

Harper lowered his ERA to 2.45.  Matt Magill made his season debut and pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up a hit and two walks but no runs, so his ERA is zero.

As you can see, the Twins hit five solo home runs in this game.  I don't know what the record is for solo home runs in a game, but I'd think five has to be fairly close.  If you just look at most solo home runs without getting any other kind of home run, it seems like it'd be even closer.

It was kind of lost in all the home runs, and kind of discounted because they were playing the Orioles, but Perez had another fine game.  I was pretty skeptical about Perez when the Twins acquired him, and his first few relief appearances did nothing to dim my skepticism.  In his three starts, however, he has pitched very well.  He has pitched six innings in each game and has given up six runs, giving him an ERA of 3.00 with a WHIP of 1.17.  He has struck out eleven and walked just three.  We'll see if he can keep it going, but so far he's pitched quite well as a starter.

I don't know why A-Stud didn't start on La Tortuga night, but you can't argue with the results.  I've said before that I have no idea how Rocco decides who his catcher is going to be on a given night, and that continues to be true.  I assume he has a method, that it's not just random, but he doesn't seem to want to tell anyone what it is.  And that's fine--he doesn't owe it to me or anyone else to explain how he chooses his lineup, and I haven't heard anything about any of the players complaining.  Winning helps a lot with that, of course.

One can feel a bit for the Orioles fans.  We've all rooted for some bad Twins teams, and we know it's not any fun.  But there's nothing we can do for them, just as no one did anything for us when the Twins stunk.  The Twins are doing what you're supposed to do with bad teams--take care of business and beat them.  The Orioles will be good again someday, and I'm sure they'll return the favor to us if they can.  That's just how it works.

Record:  The Twins are 14-9, in first place in the American League Central, leading Cleveland by percentage points.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 153-9!

2019 Recap: Game Twenty-one

HOUSTON 10, MINNESOTA 4 IN HOUSTON

Date:  Tuesday, April 23.

Batting stars:  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4 with two doubles.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his tenth.

Pitching star:  Ryne Harper retired both batters he faced.

Opposition stars:  Tyler White was 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs.  George Springer was 2-for-3 with two walks, scoring twice and driving in two.  Carlos Correa was 2-for-4 with a double.  Josh Reddick was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs.  Jose Altuve was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer (his ninth) and a walk.  Wade Miley struck out seven in six innings, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk.

The game:  It looked good early.  Mitch Garver led off the game with a single, Nelson Cruz drew a one-out walk, and Rosario followed with a three-run homer, putting the Twins up 3-0.  The Astros got on the board in the third, as White walked, Max Stassi singled, and Springer had an RBI single, but a double play got the inning back under control and the Twins still led 3-1.  It was just a temporary reprieve, however.  In the fifth, Reddick doubled and White singled, putting men on first and third with none out.  Stassi flied out, but Springer had a run-scoring double and Alex Bregman delivered a two-out two-run single to put Houston ahead 4-3.

Meanwhile, the Twins had not had a baserunner since Schoop led off the second with a double.  They hit some balls hard--it's not like there were helpless up there--but still, Miley closed out his evening with fifteen consecutive batters retired.  Hector Rondon came in to start the seventh and retired the first two men he faced.  Then, however, Schoop doubled and Max Kepler came through with a single to tie the score 4-4.  The Twins got men to second and third with two out, but Garver's fly to deep left ended the inning.

And then things fell apart.  Trevor Hildenberger came in to start the seventh.  A single and two walks loaded the bases with one out.  Bregman's sacrifice fly gave the Astros a 5-4 lead.  Adalberto Mejia came in to give up a run-scoring single to Michael Brantley, making the score 6-4.

It didn't get better in the eighth.  Tyler Duffey had come on to get the last out of the seventh and remained in the game.  An error and a single put men on first and third, and another error scored a run.  A passed ball put men on second and third, still with none out.  Stassi and Springer struck out, giving hope that the Twins might at least have a small chance to come back in the ninth.  That hope was dashed as Altuve hit a three-run homer to put the game out of reach at 10-4.  The Twins went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Rondon (2-0).  LP:  Hildenberger (2-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  With a lefty starting for Houston, Garver was moved to the leadoff spot, with Max Kepler batting eighth.

Garver was 1-for-4 and is batting .405.  Jorge Polanco was 0-for-4 and is batting .372.  Harper lowered his ERA to 2.70.  Hildenberger was charged with two runs on one hit and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, but his ERA is still 2.16.  All four runs off Duffey in 1.1 innings were unearned, so his ERA drops to 1.69.

Rosario's homer made him the first Twin to ever reach ten homers before May 1.  Of course, back in the day, the season didn't start until the middle of April.  Still, it's an achievement, and he deserves credit for it.

I feel like the Twins' bullpen has done fairly well overall, but when it goes south it seems to go clear to Antarctica.  Last night the relief pitchers combined to allow six runs in 2.2 innings.  Four of the runs were unearned, but that's still not good.  They walked three in that span, which obviously contributed to the troubles, especially in the seventh inning.

Twins batters did not have a lot of luck last night.  The play-by-play at b-r.com indicates five deep fly balls for outs, plus one line drive out.  That's not to say that the Twins deserved to win, but had just a couple of those hard-hit balls been hits, things might have gone differently.

It sounds like Kohl Stewart is coming up to make the start tonight against Justin Verlander.  That does not seem like a favorable matchup for the Twins, to put it mildly.  Still, it's baseball.  One never knows what might happen.

Record:  The Twins are 13-8, in first place in the American League Central, 1.5 games ahead of Cleveland and Detroit.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 154-8!