NEW YORK 3, MINNESOTA 2 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Tuesday, July 16.
Batting stars: C. J. Cron was 2-for-4 with two doubles. Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4. Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-2 with a home run (his fifteenth) and a walk.
Pitching stars: Michael Pineda pitched six innings, giving up three runs (one earned) on six hits and no walks. Zack Littell pitched a perfect inning. Blake Parker pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and two walks.
Opposition star: Michael Conforto was 4-for-4.
The game: The Twins gift-wrapped a pair of runs for the Mets in the first. With men on first and second and one out, a passed ball moved them both into scoring position. A sacrifice fly scored one, a wild pitch moved the other runner to third, and an error scored him. It was 2-0 New York after a half inning.
The Twins wasted a one-out double by Cron in the second but got on the board in the third thanks to a Schoop home run. They tied the game in the fifth, but missed a chance for more. Rosario led off with a single and Cron doubled, putting men on second and third with none out. A ground out made it 2-2 and a strikeout and an intentional walk to Schoop put men on first and third with two down. Schoop was then caught stealing on what was assumed to be a misbegotten double steal attempt on which Cron failed to move from third.
The tie lasted all the way until the next time the Mets batted. Amed Rosario doubled with one out in the fifth and scored on Conforto's two-out single to put New York up 3-2. And that's where it stayed. The Twins had men on first and second with none out in the fifth and loaded the bases with two out in the ninth, but could not bring home the tying run.
WP: Luis Avilan (2-0). LP: Pineda (6-5). S: Edwin Diaz (21).
Notes: Max Kepler was in center and Marwin Gonzalez in right with Byron Buxton moving to the IL. Jonathan Schoop was injured in the ninth, and there has been no word on his condition at this writing.
Rosario and Cron both returned to the lineup from the IL and did well. Buxton was put on the IL and Mike Morin was DFA's to make room. Morin had actually pitched quite well for the Twins, although his last outing hurts his numbers significantly. One assumes someone will pick him up.
Jorge Polanco was 0-for-4 and is batting .307. Over his last thirty games, he has batted .255/.302/.372. Over his last fifteen games, it's .229/.280/.343.
Littell has now gone nine appearances (ten innings) without giving up a run.
At this point, it becomes reasonable to ask: which is the real Twins team? Is it the team that roared out to a 47-22 record through June 15? Or is the team that has stumbled and bumbled its way to a sub-.500 record since then? The defense has become increasingly unreliable--it seems we have an error or two almost every game, plus last night we threw a passed ball and two wild pitches into the mix. The offense has been inconsistent. The pitching hasn't been terrible, but it hasn't been good enough to overcome the other problems. We keep waiting for the Twins to break out and start playing well again, and maybe they will. But it's been over a month now, and we're still waiting. We have to consider the possibility that the Twins team we're seeing now is the Twins team we're going to see for the rest of the season.
Record: The Twins are 58-35, first in the American League Central, five games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We'll just have to settle for 127-35!