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 Cruz, Rosario, 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!