I'm actually happy that the Brewers are doing well, just not so happy that they've done so at the expense of the Twins this weekend. A quarter of the way through the season, the Twins are below .500, tied for second in the division at 2.5 games back and 6 games out of the wild card hunt, which doesn't seem likely to include the AL Central at this point. Starting catcher Jason Castro is gone for the season. Joe Mauer is on the DL with a neck strain and concussion-like symptoms. Miguel Sano is also on the DL, but started a rehab assignment with Rochester yesterday. Among the healthy players, Buxton, Wilson, Morrison and Adrianza are all hitting near or south of the Mendoza line. Garver, Kepler, Dozier and Grossman are hitting .250 or below. I'm not unhappy with the quality of starting pitching, but the rotation remains fairly inefficient, notching just 210.2 innings over 39 games - just a smidgen over five inning per start (I didn't include Hughes' 2 starts because he'll never be a starting pitcher). Meanwhile, the bullpen has been just bad enough to keep us from contending in the late innings of too many games. Overall, the pitching staff sports a 4.54 ERA (96 ERA+), 4.53 FIP, 1.39 WHIP, and a 2.27 K/BB ratio. On the mound today, Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.35 ERA) takes the ball for the Twins, while Junior Guerra (3-3, 3.08 ERA) will sling for the Brewers.
Day game in progress! Get well soon, Ervin Santana!
In baseball, there are real-deals, wannabes, and has-beens. But some players fall into a different category, the what-could-have-beens. After nearly a year on the disabled list, Phil Hughes makes his return to a major league mound today. One can't help but wonder what his career would have been like had he not been plagued with injuries. When healthy, he's been very, very good, but his career feels like one long series of rude interruptions. 2014 was without a doubt his best year; he won 16 games with a 3.52 ERA and a thoroughly ridiculous 11.67 K/BB ratio while garnering seven Cy Young award votes. I'm too old and jaded to expect Hughes to return to his 2014 form, I don't think anyone does. But if he can stay healthy and throw 160 innings or so he can still be a significant rotation asset for this team. Tampa sends right-hander Yonny Chirinos to the hill, he's got an ERA of 2.70 and 15 strikeouts, but he got touched for five runs in his last outing after pitching 14.1 scoreless frames over his first three starts. Play ball!
Finally, more baseball. After a cold, wet, snowy homestand in Minnesota, the Twins go down to Puerto Rico to play to against the Cleveland [Redacted]. Besides being excited for baseball, it seems pretty cool that these two games are in San Juan. There are a number of Puerto Ricans on both teams (?? -- I didn't check Cleveland's roster) and after Hurricane Irma, any thing that brings positivity to that island is welcomed.
Jake Odorizzi versus Casey Kluber so it could very well be a pitcher's duel. Both have pitched well and have nice ERAs, Strikeouts/9 innings, etc. Couple with the fact that these two teams should be battling for the Central Division crown all year and we have a nice little series here.
Game time at 6:10p. Game on Fox Sports 1 so check your local provider for whatever channel that is.
Game two against the Astros and their murderer's row of pitchers. Dallas Keuchel has been decent this year with a 3.27 ERA and 0-1 record. He in fact responsible for half of Houston's losses this year. Jake Odorizzi on the mound for the Twins, and looking to add to his stellar opening day outing.
Game at 7:10. Will be a little warmer, but not much. Would be nice to get some hot bats to warm up the crowd.
Colon vs. Gonzalez
DAY GAME ALERT! GAME IN PROGRESS!
So yeah, not much to say today. Buxton is hurt and that is bad for the Twins and bad for baseball.
It’s May and the Twins have a winning record. Miguel Sano had a great first month and has been decent in the field (man what a rifle for an arm at third base). Polanco doing well, Buxton maybe showing some signs of life at the plate, serviceable pitching… all portend to at least some hope that we will continue to see entertaining, hopeful baseball into the Summer.
Ervin Santana has been lights out this year and brings his 0.77 ERA to tonight’s game against the Athletics and the 2017 debut of Sonny Gray. Game at 7:10p
First Pitch 1:10 p.m.
Rick Porcello (7-2, 4.04 ERA, 68 K, 1.084 WHIP)
Pat Dean (1-2, 4.75 ERA, 22K, 1.484 WHIP)
The Curse of 2016 continues for the home team with news that Phil Hughes actually suffered a compression fracture of the femur from a wicked line drive smash to the knee and not just a bruise and will be out six to eight weeks. Trevor May was also sent to the DL with a sore back, and Glen Perkins was moved to the 60-day DL after experiencing very slow progress in his rehab.
I've never in my day seen a team as snake-bit as this year's constitution of the Twins. I don't even know what to say about this team and the size of the hole they continue to dig anymore. We have 100 games left after today, and we're on pace to go 47-115 for the season, according to my Indiana algebra. For perspective, the worst season in franchise history belongs to the 1904 Washington Senators, who lost 113 games out of 157 for a .252 winning percentage. The worst Twins record on record was the 102 loss team of 1982. I guess the good news this year is we're only slightly under-performing our Pythagorean of 20-41.
The Red Sox are going for a sweep today in what will be David Ortiz's last game against the Twins. If there's any more appropriately symbolic indictment of the perennial mismanagement of the Minnesota Twins, it's David Ortiz and his career numbers (.286/.379/.551/.931/141 OPS+) standing at the plate today against a ragtag collection of Twins players struggling to prevent an historically bad losing record.
Rick Porcello on the hill for Boston against left-hander Pat Dean for the Twins. Normally I'd say "Play ball," but...
Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling.
Remember when we were joakingly discussing the possibility of Minnesota's first win coming against the Brewers because they were the first "obviously inferior" opponent on the schedule? Good times.
A win today salvages a season-split with the Sconnie's and would give the Twins their first road win of the season. It would also get them to 5 wins - the same number of W's as the Astros & Yankees (the other divisions' last-place teams).
R. Nolasco (0-0, 3.21 ERA, 8:2 K:BB, 118 ERA+, 3.25 FIP, 1.000 WHIP - 14 innings)
T. Jungmann (0-2, 9.00 ERA, 9:4 K:BB, 47 ERA+, 4.81 FIP, 1.615 WHIP - 13 innings)
.500 ball at home and .000 on the road is no way to go through a season - let's break through that barrier fellas!
So, now they're back to using position players as pitchers? But what about that nine man bullpen? In 20 1/3 innings over the last four games, 11 relievers have combined to allow 15 runs. After a stretch of games where the pitching was good enough to win some but the offense was nowhere to be seen, we've now had stretch where the pitching, both starters and relievers, are regressing while the offense is ... well ... improving.
Hopefully today, Phil Hughes (10-7, 4.14 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) is able to keep the ball in the park, pitch deep into the game, and get some offense from his offense.
His offense will be facing the reigning Cy Young winner in Corey Kluber (6-12, 3.60 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) who with 32 BB's 176 K's over 162.2 innings this year will, in all likelihood, strike out about a dozen Twins hitters today. In his last four games against Minnesota, he's 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA with 37 K's over 31 1/3 innings. Perhaps interspersed with those strikeouts will be some hits...hopefully?