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!