Tag Archives: Tyler Duffey

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-five

MINNESOTA 8, KANSAS CITY 7 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Friday, June 21.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 3-for-5 with a stolen base (his third) and two RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs.  Max Kepler was 2-for-5.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-5 with a home run, his sixteenth.  Miguel Sano was 1-for-5 with a home run, his eighth.

Pitching stars:  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning.  Taylor Rogers pitched two shutout innings.

Opposition stars:  Cheslor Cuthbert was 3-for-4 with a home run (his fourth, a double, two runs, and four RBIs.  Jakob Junis struck out eight in six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks.  Jorge Soler was 1-for-3 with a home run (his twenty-first) a walk, and two runs.

The game:  In the bottom of the first, a pair of walks put men on first and second with two out.  Cuthbert then doubled home one run, an error allowed a second run to score, and Martin Maldonado's RBI single made it 3-0 Royals.

The Twins came back.  Cron homered leading off the second to make it 3-1.  In the fifth, Schoop led off with a single.  He was still on first with two out, but then Nelson Cruz walked and Rosario delivered an RBI single to make it 3-2 and put men on first and third.  Rosario then stole second and Cruz was able to score on a throwing error, tying the score 3-3.

It didn't stay tied long.  In the bottom of the fifth Whit Merrifield walked and Nicky Lopez was hit by a pitch.  A pair of strikeouts gave hope that Martin Perez might get out of the inning, but Cheslor Cuthbert, whose name sounds like he ought to be sitting around the smoking room of the Drones Club having a drink with Bertie Wooster rather than playing major league baseball, hit a three-run homer to put Kansas City back up 6-3.

The Twins again battled back.  In the seventh, singles by Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco were followed by a wild pitch, putting men on second and third with none out.  Cruz then delivered a two-run single to cut the margin to 6-5.  In the eighth, Sano led off with a home run to tie the score.  Pinch-hitter Mitch Garver walked and was replaced on the basepaths by pinch-runner Willians Astudillo.  Singles by Schoop and Kepler gave the Twins the lead 7-6.  Men were on second and third with none out.  Twice the Twins put the contact play on only to have their batter hit back to the pitcher, putting men on first and third with two out.  Rosario came through, however, getting a run-scoring single to give the Twins an insurance run at 8-6.

They needed it, as Soler led off the bottom of the eighth with a home run.  Cuthbert then singled, but Rogers came into the game at that point.  There was a scare in the bottom of the ninth, when an error by right-fielder Astudillo put the tying run on base with one out, but a line drive double play ended the game.

WP:  Ryne Harper (3-0).  LP:  Jake Diekman (0-5).  S:  Rogers (9).

Notes:  Polanco is batting .326.  Duffey has an ERA of 1.99.  Harper gave up a run in one inning and has an ERA of 2.35.  Rogers' ERA is 1.91.

Kepler was again in center, with Jake Cave in right.  Garver pinch-hit for Cave in the eighth inning, with Astudillo coming in to play right in the bottom of the eighth.

Martin Perez continues to struggle.  He hasn 't posted a game score above fifty since May 17.  In that span, he has posted an ERA of 5.66.  Whatever magic he had since mid-April to mid-May is gone.  We may be approaching the time to give Devin Smeltzer or someone else a shot at the fifth starter position.

For all the criticism of Sano, it's worth noting that Cave is 0-for-15 with eight strikeouts since coming back.  I understand that the expectations for the two are far different, but their outs count exactly the same.  Sano at least has the ability to hit the long ball, as he did last night to tie the score.

I love Harper, but he's been struggling in June.  Mainly, he's been hurt by the home run ball.  In eight innings he's given up four runs and three of them have been home runs.  At least they've all been solo homers, which as we all know don't hurt you.

In the Twins' recent down stretch, which to me started with last weekend's Kansas City series, they are 4-4.  It seems to me that a down stretch during which you still play .500 ball is a good sign.  Yes, it's helped that they've played the Royals in several of those games.  Still, I see no reason to think they won't start to play better again, and they're weathering the stretch of worse play pretty well so far.

Record:  The Twins are 49-26, first in the American League Central, nine games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 136-26!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-two

MINNESOTA 4, BOSTON 3 IN MINNESOTA (17 INNINGS)

Date:  Tuesday, June 18.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 4-for-8 with three doubles.  Max Kepler was 3-for-5 with a home run (his eighteenth) and three RBIs.  C. J. Cron was 2-for-5 with two walks and a hit-by-pitch.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-7.

Pitching stars:  Michael Pineda pitched six innings, giving up one run on five hits and one walk and striking out five.  Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.  Taylor Rogers struck out two in a perfect inning.  Tyler Duffey struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.  Blake Parker pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one.  Matt Magill struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up three hits and a walk.  Zack Littell struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  Brock Holt was 3-for-7 with a double.  Rafael Devers was 3-for-8 with a home run (his twelfth) and two RBIs.  Andrew Benintendi was 3-for-8 with a stolen base, his eighth.  Jackie Bradley was 2-for-5 with a hit-by-pitch.  Christian Vazquez was 2-for-7.  Xander Bogaerts was 2-for-8 with a double.  David Price pitched five innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out two.  Josh Taylor struck out four in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.  Hector Velazquez pitched four innings, giving up one run on three hits and no walks and striking out three.

The game:  The Red Sox got on the board in the fourth inning when Mookie Betts walked, stole second, and scored on a two-out single by Devers.  The Twins got the run back in the bottom of the fourth when Rosario hit a two-out double and scored on a Cron single.

The Twins should have taken the lead in the sixth.  Mitch Garver led off with a double and Nelson Cruz singled him to third with none out.  But Garver was picked off third by the catcher and Rosario fouled out.  The Twins still had a chance, as Cron was hit by a pitch and Kepler walked to load the bases, but Miguel Sano fanned to end the inning.  The Red Sox immediately made them pay, as Devers led off the seventh with a home run to give Boston a 2-1 lead.

The Twins tied it up in the eighth.  Walks to Garver and Cron put men on first and second with two out and Kepler delivered an RBI single to make the score 2-2.  It stayed there for a while.  Boston threatened in the tenth and twelfth and the Twins also threatened in the twelfth, but there was no more scoring until the thirteenth, when Betts led off with a home run.  But Kepler led off with a home run in the bottom of the thirteenth to once again tie the score, and the teams played on.

The Red Sox again threatened in the fourteenth, getting leadoff singles from Holt and MIchael Chavis.  A bunt (!) moved them to second and third, but nothing came of it.  In the fifteenth Rosario led off with a double but was doubled off second on Cron's liner.  In the top of the seventeenth, Benintendi singled and got to third on a stolen base-plus-error with none out, but a strikeout and two ground outs ended the inning without a score.

Finally came the bottom of the seventeenth.  Luis Arraez had a one-out single and went to third on Rosario's double.  Cron was intentionally walked, and Kepler again came through with an RBI single to win the game for the Twins.

WP:  Littell (1-0).  LP:  Brian Johnson (1-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Marwin Gonzalez was again in right field, with Kepler starting the game on the bench.  Jake Cave was in center field.

Arraez entered the game as a pinch-runner in the twelfth and went 1-for-2.  He is batting .385.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-8 and is batting .326.  Garver was 1-for-7 and is batting .301.

Ryne Harper gave up a run in an inning and has an ERA of 2.17.  Rogers has an ERA of 2.03.  Duffey has an ERA of 2.08.  Mike Morin gave up a run in an inning and has an ERA of 1.65.

Garver was rightly criticized for getting picked off in the sixth.  I also wonder why he did not dive back into the base, rather than going in standing up.  But additionally, I wonder what the third base coach was doing.  With a shift on and the third baseman playing well off the bag, this was obviously a planned play.  It seems like the third base coach should be watching for that and make sure the runner is aware of it.  Instead, it appeared that he became a spectator.

Watching part of the game last night, it seems to me that several Twins batters (not just Sano) have gotten a little homer-happy.  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against home runs and I'm not calling for a return of the piranhas.  But I saw several batters trying to jerk every pitch out of the park in situations where a single would've served us quite admirably.  This may be something that the batting coach needs to address.

Lost in the long game is the fact that Pineda had his second good start in a row.  Over those starts, he has pitched 11.2 innings and given up two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out nine.  He only threw eighty pitches last night, so it seems like he could've gone a seventh inning.  Perhaps the Twins are still trying to be careful with him.  But he hasn't had a really bad game in a month and a half and his ERA has fallen steadily from a peak of 6.21 to 4.76.  I'm not nominating him for the Cy Young Award, but he's kept us in the game for eight starts in a row, and has done more than that in his last two.

The much maligned (and properly so) Twins bullpen pitched eleven innings and gave up just two runs.  Further, both the runs came on solo homers, and we all know those don't hurt you.  I won't be surprised if we bring up a "fresh arm for the bullpen", but only three of the eight relievers used threw more than eighteen pitches, so I assume most of them could pitch again tonight if needed.

Each team completely emptied its bullpen, using eight relief pitchers.  Presumably, once the last guy came in he was in for the duration, unless the game had gone twenty-four innings or something.  At that point, the teams would've had to decide whether to use a starting pitcher in relief or use a position player.  That would've been interesting, but I'm fine with winning in the seventeenth instead.

It should be noted, as I'm sure it was numerous times during the game, that the Twins still have not lost three games in a row this season.

Record:  The Twins are 48-24, first in the American League Central, ten games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 138-24!

2019 Recap: Game Sixty-five

MINNESOTA 6, SEATTLE 5 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, June 11.

Batting stars:  Jorge Polanco was 3-for-3 with two doubles.  Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his twelfth.  Jason Castro was 1-for-3 with a home run, his eighth.

Pitching stars:  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Matt Magill pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Domingo Santana was 3-for-5 with two runs.  Mallex Smith was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.  Kyle Seager was 2-for-5.  Edwin Encarnacion was 1-for-3 with a three-run homer (his twenty-first) and two walks.  Mike Leake pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits and no walks and striking out six.

The game:  The Mariners put together a pair of two-out singles and Encarnacion hit a three-run homer in the third to give Seattle a 3-0 lead.  The Twins tied it in the fourth.  Eddie Rosario led off the inning with a double, and with two out Schoop and Castro hit back-to-back homers, tying the score at 3-3.

The Mariners got the lead back in the fifth.  A pair of walks preceded an RBI single by Dan Vogelbach to make it 4-3.  Seager's run-scoring single in the seventh increased the lead to 5-3.

The Twins took their only lead, but the only lead they would need, in the eighth.  Max Kepler and Polanco led off the inning with back-to-back doubles to cut the lead to 5-4.  Nelson Cruz walked, a fly out put men on first and third, and a wild pitch tied the score 5-5.  With two out, Marwin Gonzalez delivered a single that scored Cruz and put the Twins up 6-5.  All they needed to do was retire Seattle in the ninth to win the game.

And they did, but it wasn't easy.  Smith and Santana led off the inning with singles, putting men on first and second with Encarnacion at bat.  But he was caught looking at a third strike (the game log indicates it may not have been a correct call by the umpire), Vogelbach popped up, and Seager hit a fly to left.  Victory was ours.

WP:  Magill (2-0).  LP:  Brandon Brennan (2-5).  S:  May (1).

Notes:  Gonzalez was at first base, replacing C. J. Cron.

Polanco raised his average to .341.  Duffey has an ERA of 2.41.  Ryne Harper pitched one inning and gave up one run, making his ERA 2.03.

I don't really understand why Duffey was not allowed to go more than one inning.  Not that going to Harper is a dumb move or anything, but it means the Twins used four relief pitchers last night when they could perhaps have gotten by with three or even two.  I still don't really understand how Rocco makes his bullpen decisions.  I don't mean that as critically as it might sound--I'm sure he has reasons for what he does, and he's not obligated to explain them to me.  And I actually like that he seems to be responding to specific situations rather than just reflexively going to "the ninth inning guy" or "the eighth inning guy".  Also, I have to say that for the most part, whatever he's doing seems to be working.  The Twins have bullpen problems, but I think Rocco has made the best of the situation so far.

Martin Perez appears to have regressed to the mean.  Over his last six starts, he has an ERA of 5.59, not far off his ERA of 6.22 last season.  I don't know how to calculate FIP, but the eye test tells me he has not been particularly unlucky.  His first few starts as a Twin are looking more and more like a mirage.  If he really was doing something different, as the media kept telling us, it looks like it didn't take long for the league to figure out what it was.  He'll probably keep getting starts, though, because the Twins have nothing in AAA to replace him with other than possibly Devin Smeltzer, and there's certainly no guarantee that Smeltzer would be better.  I assume Falvey and Levine are looking for help, just as I assume they're looking for bullpen help  I have no idea what might be available or at what cost.  But the Twins need better pitching if they're going to make a deep playoff run.

It's funny--all during the game last night I kept believing that the Twins were going to come back and take the lead.  Whether they could keep the lead was another question, but when they were down 3-0, when they were down 4-3, when they were down 5-3, I was convinced that the offense would rally.  It's nice to be able to have that kind of confidence in the team you root for.

Record:  The Twins are 44-21, first in the American League Central, 10.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 141-21!

2019 Recaps: Game Sixty-four

MINNESOTA 12, DETROIT 2 IN DETROIT

Date:  Sunday, June 9.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 3-for-6 with a home run (his eleventh) and three RBIs.  Eddie Rosario was 3-for-6 with a home run (his nineteenth), two runs, and two RBIs.  Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and three runs.  Byron Buxton was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer (his eighth) and two runs.  C. J. Cron was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-5 with a home run, his sixth.

Pitching stars:  Jake Odorizzi struck out eight in six innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk.  Tyler Duffey struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  John Hicks was 2-for-4 with a double.  Christin Stewart was 2-for-4.

The game:  The Twins scored three in the first inning, as Jorge Polanco led off with a single, Mitch Garver had an RBI double, and Cruz hit a two-run homer.  It looked like the Tigers might get the runs right back in the bottom of the first, as Niko Goodrum walked and Stewart singled him to third, but Nicholas Castellanos hit into a double play and the damage was limited to one run, leaving the Twins up 3-1.

The Twins put the game out of reach in the fourth.  Sano led off with a home run.  Adrianza and Buxton singled and Polanco hit a sacrifice fly, making it 5-1.  Garver walked, and with two out Rosario had an RBI single and Cron hit a two-run double, putting the Twins up 8-1.

The Twins tacked on a few more.  Cruz singled home a run in the fifth, Buxton hit a two-run homer in the sixth, and Rosario homered in the seventh.  Odorizzi remained in control for six innings.  Detroit got a run off Mike Morin in the seventh but did not threaten to get back into the game.

WP:  Odorizzi (9-2).  LP:  Ryan Carpenter (1-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Adrianza was at second base, replacing Jonathan Schoop.

Polanco was 1-for-5 and is batting .333.  Garver was 1-for-4 with two walks and is batting .317.  Odorizzi has an ERA of 1.92.  Morin gave up a run in two innings and has an ERA of 1.35.  Duffey has an ERA of 2.55.

It was nice to see the boys break out like this after a rather lackluster performance Saturday.  It's been a long road trip, and it's a long season, and games like Saturday have to be expected once in a while.  But it was nice to see that it didn't continue into the next day.

Odorizzi remains on a roll.  At this time last year, he was 3-3, 4.24.  His lowest ERA in a season is 3.35, which was with Tampa Bay in 2015.  His career ERA going into this season was 3.95.  None of those numbers are terrible, but he'd been pretty much an average pitcher coming into this season, and now he's pitching like a Hall of Famer.  The odds are against him doing it all season, of course.  We can hope, however, that he has discovered something which will permanently make him a better pitcher than he was prior to this season.  Not necessarily a Hall of Fame-level pitcher, but a very good pitcher.  So far, he and Jose Berrios have been a very effective one-two punch, and are a big reason why the Twins have yet to lose more than two consecutive games.

Record:  The Twins are 43-21, first in the American League Central, 10.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 141-21!

2019 Recap: Game Fifty-nine

CLEVELAND 5, MINNESOTA 2 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Tuesday, June 4.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a home run (his seventh) and a double.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eighteenth.

Pitching star:  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Francisco Lindor was 3-for-3 with two home runs (his ninth and tenth) and a double.  Roberto Perez was 1-for-3 with a home run, his eighth.  Jake Bauers was 1-for-3 with a home run, his sixth.  Shane Bieber struck out seven in seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk.

The game:  A walk and a single put Indians on first and second with one out in the first inning, but a popup and a line out ended the inning.  The Twins got on the board in the second when Gonzalez homered with two out.  They had a chance for more, putting men on second and third, but a popup ended the inning.

Cleveland got on the board in the third when Lindor homered.  The took the lead in the fifth when, with two out, Leonys Martin walked and Lindor hit his second homer, giving the Indians a 3-1 lead.

The Twins cut it to 3-2 when Rosario homered in the sixth.  In the seventh, however, Cleveland got back-to-back homers from Perez and Bauers to go up 5-2.  The Twins did not get a man past first after that.

WP:  Bieber (5-2).  LP:  Devin Smeltzer (0-1).  S:  Brad Hand (17).

Notes:  Nelson Cruz was back in the lineup but was rusty, at best, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.  Gonzalez was at first base, with C. J. Cron on the bench.

Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 and is batting .336.  Mitch Garver was 0-for-3 and is batting .314.  Ryne Harper pitched two-thirds of an inning with no runs, making his ERA 1.85.  Duffey has an ERA of 2.45.

Giving up five runs in 6.1 innings, you can't really say that Smeltzer pitched well.  But he really didn't pitch badly, either.  He gave up five hits--it's just that four of the five hits went over the fence.  It happens.  He walked three, which isn't as good, but it isn't terrible.  Both the game log and the few innings of the radio broadcast I was able to hear indicated that he was getting squeezed.  Unfortunately, there are umpires who seem to think it's part of their job to "make the rook pay his dues", which is yet another reason we need to use technology to call balls and strikes.  So we'll see how Smeltzer does next time.

As we said, these games are much more important to Cleveland than they are to the Twins.  If the Twins get swept, they'll still have a solid lead--they just will have missed a chance to put the Indians away.  If Cleveland loses the next two, they're in deep trouble, and even if they split the final two games they'll have missed a chance to gain significant ground.  You want to win every game, of course, but it's nice to have that cushion where you don't have to.

Record:  The Twins are 40-19, first in the American League Central, 10.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 143-19!

2019 Recap: Game Fifty-two

MINNESOTA 7, CHICAGO 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Sunday, May 26.

Batting stars:  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with a home run (his twelfth), a double, two runs, and four RBIs.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his sixteenth.

Pitching stars:  Jake Odorizzi struck out nine in 5.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and one walk.  Tyler Duffey struck out six in two shutout innings, giving up three hits and a walk.

Opposition star:  Charlie Tilson was 2-for-4.

The game:  The White Sox put men on first and second with two out in the third, but Yoan Moncada struck out to end the threat.  With one out in the bottom of the third, Byron Buxton singled, went to third on a stolen base-plus-error, and scored on Kepler's double.  Jorge Polanco walked, and with two out Rosario hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 4-0 lead.  While you can never put a game in the bank in the third inning, it really did feel like the game was over at that point.

They kept playing, of course.  There were no threats, however, until the seventh, when Jose Abreu walked and Yonder Alonso doubled, putting men on second and third with none out.  But Eloy Jimenez lined to right, Jose Rondon fanned, and Yolmer Sanchez flied out, leaving Chicago off the board.  In the bottom of the seventh, one-out singles by Willians Astudillo and Juan Castro and a two-out home run by Kepler gave Minnesota a 7-0 lead.  The White Sox put two men on in the ninth but did not score.

WP:  Odorizzi (7-2).  LP:  Dylan Covey (0-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Marwin Gonzalez was in left field, with Rosario at DH.  Luis Arraez was at second and Astudillo at third, with Jonathan Schoop and Miguel Sano on the bench.

Arraez was 0-for-3 and is batting .389.  Polanco was 0-for-3 with a walk and is batting .335.  Odorizzi has an ERA of 2.16.  Matt Magill retired both men he faced and has an ERA of 1.54.  Taylor Rogers retired the only man he faced and has an ERA of 1.31.  Duffey has an ERA of 2.63.

With Nelson Cruz out, Rocco seems to be using the DH spot to give various starting players a rest.  That makes sense.  They don't have anyone on the bench who's really a DH-type, and they've got a couple of guys who, as Gordo used to say, "can play around", so you might as well take advantage of that.

The Twins used four relief pitchers yesterday, three of them for less than an inning.  Rocco seems to have done that sort of thing a lot lately, using multiple relief pitchers for one or two batters.  As a general rule I'm not a huge fan of that, but it certainly appears to be working.  The Twins have five relief pitchers with ERAs under two (six if you count Zack Littell).  I know ERA isn't necessarily the best way to evaluate a relief pitcher, but that still is pretty darn good.

It's been nice to see the Twins bring in some mopup relievers who can actually get the job done in the last few games.

We've reached Memorial Day, one of the traditional markers of how the season is going.  The Twins are 36-16, twenty games over  .500, and are in the lead by ten games.  I said early on that the Twins had a chance this year, but I most definitely did not expect this.

Record:  The Twins are 36-16, first in the American League Central, leading Cleveland by ten games.  They have won six in a row and eleven of their last twelve.

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

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 Fourteen

TORONTO 6, MINNESOTA 5 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, April 16.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a home run.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-3 with a home run (his third) and a walk, scoring twice.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his fourth.

Pitching star:  Tyler Duffey struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Eric Sogard was 3-for-5 with two runs.  Justin Smoak was 1-for-3 with two walks and two RBIs.  Randal Grichuk was 0-for-2 with three walks and two runs.

The game:  The Twins threatened in the second, getting one-out singles from Gonzalez and Jake Cave, but did not score.  They got on the board in the third, however, as Polanco hit a two-out home run that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.

Twins starter Kyle Gibson sailed through the first five innings, giving up just one hit.  He hit the wall in the sixth, however.  Danny Jansen led off with a single and Sogard doubled.  Freddy Galvis struck out, but a walk to Grichuk loaded the bases and Smoak delivered a two-run single that put the Blue Jays up 2-1.  Ryne Harper came in and got Teoscar Hernandez to fly out, but then gave up RBI singles to Rowdy Tellez and Alen Hanson to make the score 4-1.

The Twins came right back in the bottom of the sixth.  Walks to Max Kepler and Polanco opened the frame, and Rosario followed with a three-run homer to tie the score 4-4.  Unfortunately, the tie was also short-lived.  Trevor May started the inning for the Twins.  A Sogard single and walks to Grichuk and Smoak loaded the bases with two out.  The Twins brought in their designated Bases Loaded Pitcher, Trevor Hildenberger, but this time he could not get it done.  Hernandez singled, scoring two runs and putting Toronto back on top 6-4.

To their credit, the Twins did not roll over.  Gonzalez started the ninth with a home run to cut the lead to 6-5.  Nelson Cruz walked, but a force out and a strikeout left C. J. Cron on first with two out.  Byron Buxton delivered a double to deep left, but Cron was thrown out trying to score from first and the game was over.

Notes:  Polanco is batting .415.  Mitch Garver was 0-for-1 and is batting .407.  Harper gave up a pair of run-scoring singles, but neither run was charged to him, so his ERA is still zero.  Hildenberger and Duffey, who was making his season debut with the Twins, also have ERAs of zero.

Rosario was the DH in this game, with Jake Cave in left and Cruz on the bench.  Willians Astudillo was at first base, with Cron on the bench.  Ehire Adrianza was at second base, with Schoop on the bench.  While this may have been overdoing it a little, I like the fact that Rocco is using his entire roster.  Yes, it lessens your chances of winning that particular game, but it keeps everybody fresher, more rested, more ready to play, and should result in more wins down the line.  That's the theory, anyway.

I don't know if anyone has been able to discern any particular pattern in who catches each game.  I haven't had time to examine it--is he using certain catchers with certain pitchers, going by opposing pitcher matchups, or what?  I think there must be a pattern--I don't believe Rocco's just choosing at random.  I just don't know what it is and haven't had time to try to find out.

I wasn't able to pay attention to last night's game, so I don't know if we had Nibbly Gibson or not.  If we did, it was pretty darned effective nibbling for five innings.  I know the e coli excuse starts to wear thin for people, but it's a pretty severe thing, and some people take longer to recover from illness than others.  Given that he was cruising for five innings and then just suddenly lost it in the sixth, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that fatigue might have been a factor.

On the play at the plate to end the game--well, again, I wasn't watching at the time, and it's pretty easy to second-guess after you know the outcome.  As a general principle, though, I don't have a problem with aggressive baserunning, as long as there's a reasonable chance for success.  Sometimes you have to force the other team to make a play.  When you do, sometimes they'll be able to make it.  And when that happens, you just give them credit and move on.

No team ever went through the whole season without a two-game losing streak, and the Twins won't be the first.  The trick is to keep the losing streaks short.

Record:  The Twins are 8-6, in second place in the American League Central, a half game behind Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 156-6!