TwinsTakes on the 2016 Minnesota Twins – Season Review

TwinsTakes on the 2016 Minnesota Twins - Season Review

The 2016 Minnesota Twins. It’s finally over.

The 2016 Minnesota Twins were the worst team in all of baseball and the worst team in the history of the Twins franchise. So yeah, it’s a good thing that it’s over. There’s not a lot of positives you can take from being the worst team in baseball. That We’ll try to find the few positives of having this kind of season. Look at the bottom of the cover picture, that’s the Twins 2016 season game-by-game with the upward lines (green) being wins and the downward lines (red) being losses. Don’t look too long, though. Depression might set in.

The Bad, The Worse and The Ugly

After an 83-79 season in 2015 where they missed the playoffs by 3 games, you’d think a team could build off that, right? For some reason, the 2016 Minnesota Twins couldn’t get it done. They couldn’t get out of a losing funk that started with the first series in Baltimore and would last for the majority of the season. It started badly. It got worse and it was ugly.

They’d end up losing their first 9 games. Surprisingly, the pitching wasn’t that bad in that stretch, at least collectively. They had a staff ERA of 4.20 in those games but the offense would only score a total of 14 runs in those 9 games. There is no possible way to win if you score 1.5 runs/game and give up 4.2 runs/game. Throw away that recipe. It doesn’t sound good or look good. I don’t want to know how it smells or tastes.

Most people considered the Twins season done after that start but I still had hope. I’m a positive person and with 153 games left in a season, I thought this team still had a chance to be competitive. They’d win their next 4 games in a row then proceed to win only 4 of their next 21 games. That 4-game winning streak would equal their longest winning streak of the season, something they’d do 2 more times. Their longest losing streak was 13 games. They would also have a 7-game and an 8-game losing streak to add to that opening season 9-game streak. That’s 37 losses right there.

Is it Contagious?

There’s a saying in baseball, “good hitting is contagious.” First of all, the word contagious rarely means anything good. If you hear someone might be or is contagious, you don’t usually run to that person and see what they have because it might be something good. “Hey, I heard you were contagious. What do you have? Dangit, now I’m sick and contagious, too.” So, when I think of the word contagious in baseball, I would think of something like bad hitting, bad pitching and losing.

It has been said a few times that “losing a disease.”* I believe losing is contagious. A losing team will find ways to lose. They’ll lose games in some of the craziest ways because they’ve been losing. If the slightest thing happens in a game to turn the tides, it’s like here we go again. You can see teams start to hang their heads. The good teams find ways to get over those things and stop losing.

"Losing is a disease" from The Natural

*”Hobbs, get back in here!”

This Twins team was in a losing funk most of the season, losing games they should have won for whatever reason. Was the reason because they were a losing team and just couldn’t get out of that losing mode?

If you look at the 1st month of the season, if the offense would’ve scored more than 3 runs a game, who knows what could’ve happened. After that first month, the Twins offense scored 642 runs in 138 games. That comes out to 4.65 runs per game. That’s enough to win games as long as you have good pitching but, as Twins fans know, the Minnesota Twins haven’t had good pitching for quite awhile now.

The 2016 Twins didn’t respond to one loss with a win until July 5th vs Oakland. It took until game 83, over half the season, for this team to not lose consecutive games after losing one game. The very next day they won consecutive series for the first time. Not surprisingly, that’s when they were playing their best baseball of the season. In the month of July, they went 15-11, scored 144 runs (5.54/game) and only gave up 111 runs (4.27/game.)

Talk about your outlier month of baseball

2016 Minnesota Twins Season Win/Loss Splits

If you kept watching all season long, you probably know what also happened about that time that might have gotten the team going a little before July. Brian Dozier began his historic career tear of hitting the baseball better than he ever has before.

History with a Bat

Think of this, through April & May, Brian Dozier was hitting .202/.294/.329 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 21 runs, 35 hits, 7 doubles, 5 home runs, 3 stolen bases and 18 walks with 35 strikeouts. That’s about as ugly as it gets from one of the players you are counting on to be productive and lead your team. It may have been historically bad, actually. I don’t want to look.


Now look at the rest of his season:

Brian Dozier Monthly Splits from June 2016 to October 2016

In almost every month after that horrid start, he had almost the same numbers, if not more, as he had in the first TWO months of the season. He always had more extra-base hits, home runs and RBIs (minus July.) In 109 games, he scored 83 runs, had 130 hits with 28 doubles, 5 triples, 37 home runs, 82 RBIs and 15 stolen bases with 43 walks and 113 strikeouts. Too bad it came in the worst season of his team’s history. Could the Twins trade Brian Dozier after that kind of a comeback? Should they?

The Changing of the Guard

Depending on how you feel about this franchise and how it’s been managed since the ‘91 World Series, maybe this is what this team needed to finally make a change from the old school ways that may have put them in this mess in the first place.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan was fired in July. Later, we found out the Twins were searching for a presidential-level executive who will have authority over all baseball decisions and that person would hire the next General Manager. Are the Twins finally making the move to the modern day development of a baseball organization? It appears so.

On October 3rd, the Twins announced the hiring of Derek Falvey as their new Chief Baseball Officer. Mr. Falvey comes from the Cleveland Indians organization of which he has been a part of for 9 years. Hired in 2007 as an intern, he assisted in amateur and international scouting for 3 years then spent 2011 as the assistant director of baseball operations. He was then named the director of baseball operations where he focused on player personnel and acquisitions. He held that role until he was named assistant GM last year.

He has helped the Indians in all areas of baseball operations and also assists manager Terry Francona and his staff on a daily basis. Francona has called him a rising star but the thing that should get Twins fans excited is when Francona said this, “Over the course of time, because he’s a hardworking kid, he made it his, probably his passion, to understand pitching and the delivery…”

Pitching is the Minnesota Twins greatest need and has been for a long time. It is why they’ve had to resort to signing free agent pitchers like Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana. Obviously, that hasn’t worked out well. Any Twins pitcher should be excited about this as well. They should all get a fresh start because they will be looked at from the perspective of new eyes of a person who has helped the Cleveland Indians achieve success with its pitchers in a variety of ways.

Closing Time

I’ve probably spent too much time talking about the 2016 Twins season. Now, you don’t have to go home but you can’t watch Twins baseball for awhile. Even though it was hard to watch Twins baseball this season, it was still Twins baseball and I’ll miss it until next April 3rd when they open the 2017 season at home against the Kansas City Royals.

Heck, I’ll miss it until Pitchers and Catchers report in February, until the winter meetings or until 5 days after the World Series ends and free agency begins sometime in the first week of November. This might be the most interesting offseason in Twins history because of the change at the top and what’s to come with a new General Manager, a new coaching staff, new acquisitions, possible trades and the beginning of a new era of Twins Baseball!

Thanks for reading our TwinsTakes! We’d love to see your TwinsTakes too so let us know what you think in the comments, on Twitter or on our facebook page.


Did you like this? Share it:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted in Baseball News and Happenings, Minnesota Twins, My Twins Takes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TwinsTakes on Trading Brian Dozier

Should the Minnesota Twins Trade Brian Dozier?

Should the Minnesota Twins Trade Brian Dozier?

I threw out a question the other day on Twitter asking if the Minnesota Twins should look into trading Brian Dozier while he’s hot. I got several responses ranging from absolutely to not a chance. Bear with me and see if you agree that Trading Brian Dozier might be a good thing for the Twins.

The Minnesota Twins are in a spot where they should think about improving this team in any way possible. They have prospects that are ready or very close to ready for a shot at significant playing time on the Twins roster.

One of them is Jorge Polanco and he’s been playing 2nd base for basically the entire time he’s been with the AAA club this season, 48 out of 49 games. The other game he started at SS and he had an error in that game. He has 5 errors at 2nd base this season.

He’s better defensively at 2nd base than he is at SS but that can probably be said about most shortstops since 2nd baseman are closer to 1st and they usually have more time to make a shorter throw to 1st than a SS does.

Brian Dozier was once the SS of the future for the Twins not that long ago. He couldn’t handle the position defensively so he was moved to 2nd base and he became a great player. He just had a historic stretch in June where he had an extra-base hit in 11 straight games to set a franchise record for the Minnesota Twins.

In 27 games during the month of June, he hit .369/.435/.728 going 38-for-103 (115 PAs) with 19 of those hits going for extra bases (9 doubles, 2 triples and 8 HRs) with 19 runs scored, 3 stolen bases, 11 walks and 14 strikeouts. He was also hit by a pitch. He has started to hit the ball the other way, too.

There’s other reasons the Twins might want to try to trade #2…uhhh…too. He’s 29. He’s struggled in the 2nd half of the last two seasons. Some of that is likely due to injuries. I guess the big question is, should the Twins be trying to build around a 29-year old 2nd baseman?

That’s not the only question, though. Add in the way the Twins have played for the majority of this season. Their record has eliminated them from making anything out of this season. Doesn’t that mean they should see if the prospects are ready to make the jump?

Brian Dozier should have a lot of trade value right now because of the way he hit the ball in June. The Twins could take advantage of that and try to help a weakness, presumably pitching since that is obviously their biggest problem right now. But, of course, you try to get any kind of great prospect in a trade. The Twins have needs at other spots, too. Catcher and shortstop are certainly areas they could use a high-end prospect in, especially someone who’s almost ready.

The Other Side of the Argument

You know, the side that says the Minnesota Twins should not trade Brian Dozier and build the team around him. I get that side, too. He’s a top of the order bat with power who can steal bases, play above average defense and is one of the best baserunners in the league. He’s only 29 years old in only his 5th season in the Major Leagues and he’s on a team friendly contract for the next two seasons. He’s also becoming a leader on this team, is a great teammate and is great for the organization on & off the field.

Also, there’s the argument that the Twins need some veterans on this team. You can’t just go 100% youth movement. Sometimes that youth doesn’t work out or it takes a little longer for them to adjust to the major leagues. So, you’d have a veteran at 2nd base with Dozier, a veteran at 1st base with Mauer, an available veteran at 3rd with Plouffe (if he’s not traded) and a veteran at SS in either Nunez or Escobar.

If you take Dozier out of that mix, does it make a huge difference? It’s hard to say without actually seeing it happen and, obviously, without knowing what other moves the Twins could make in the next few weeks. If they move Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Nunez, Kurt Suzuki, Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco, that leaves a very young team.

The oldest infielder would be Joe Mauer. The oldest outfielder would be Robbie Grossman. The catcher would be Juan Centeno or John Ryan Murphy. The oldest starting pitcher would be Phil Hughes then Kyle Gibson. The oldest relief pitcher would be Glen Perkins (if healthy) then Brandon Kintzler.

Now if you trade all of those guys but don’t trade Brian Dozier, you still have a veteran leader in the infield for the next two seasons.

The Bottom Line

For me, it all comes down to if the Minnesota Twins can be competitive in the next two seasons, with or without Brian Dozier on the team. A bad 2016 makes it appear difficult to compete in 2017 but a good finish in the next 75 games could make that change. 2018 seems possible but, by that time, you would also think Jorge Polanco has shown if he can be a starter for this team. Also, prospects you get in trades could play into 2018.

My opinion is trade anyone and everyone except Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey and Jose Berrios. The Twins should be Open for Business, listening to any and every offer presented to them as they’ve said they are.

What are your TwinsTakes on the Minnesota Twins Trading Brian Dozier?

Thank you for reading Our ‘Takes! We’d love to hear Your ‘Takes!

After all, it is Our ‘Takes! Your ‘Takes!

Our 'Takes, Your 'Takes,!

Did you like this? Share it:

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Posted in Baseball News and Happenings, Minnesota Twins, Minor League Affilliates, My Twins Takes, Transactions | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

TwinsTakes Game Recap – Twins at Oakland – June 1st, 2016

TwinsTakes Game Recap - Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics - June 1st, 2016

Can the Twins win today and earn their first winning road trip of the season?

The Minnesota Twins closed out a 6-game road trip Wednesday afternoon. Pat Dean started for the Twins while Sean Manaea started for the Oakland Athletics. Pat Dean has been pitching very well since getting the opportunity to start. He was pretty good in his relief but allowed more hits in those appearances. He’s also been striking out more batters than expected as he’s not been a high strikeout pitcher since he was in the rookie leagues in 2010 and that’s mostly because he was a 21-year-old getting his feet wet as a professional pitcher in the short season leagues.

LHP Sean Manaea is a former 1st round pick of the Kansas City Royals. He helped them win the World Series by being the main piece in the Ben Zobrist trade. He was called up to the major leagues on April 29th when RHP Chris Bassitt went down with a strained right elbow. He took that spot in the starting rotation and has kept it. His first few starts were kind of rough but he’s righted the ship somewhat, going past the 6th inning in each of his last three starts. He’s been a strikeout pitcher in the minors but hasn’t developed into that kind of pitcher yet with the big club.

Minnesota Twins 1, Oakland Athletics 5
W-Manaea (2-3)L-Dean (1-2)
2B-Dozier (8)

Pat Dean wasn’t the same pitcher he’s been in his last two appearances but some plays maybe should’ve been made to help him get out of a couple jams. Sean Manaea’s final line of 6IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 BB and 8 strikeouts looks better than it was because the Twins can’t get a big hit to save their lives. They were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position (RISP) for the game and are now 83-for-380 for the season or a sparkling .218. They had the bases loaded with no outs in the 6th and all they got was their one run on a sacrifice fly.

Should we be frustrated about that? Well, it’s hard not to but, at least the Twins are putting themselves in those situations. Now, they just need to figure out how to actually start getting hits with runners on so they can capitalize in those spots. They are trying to do too much and wind up with nothing from those key at-bats.

Oakland is hot right now and the Twins did nothing to put out that fire. It’s somewhat crazy to see former Twin, 3B Danny Valencia, hitting the ball like he is right now. He’s locked in at the plate and it isn’t just against the Twins. They are just the latest victim. He’s now hitting .346/.380/.579 with 5 doubles 1 triple, 8 HRs and 21 RBIs with 8 walks and 24 strikeouts.

Up Next

The Twins have 10 straight games at home starting with 4 against the Tampa Bay Rays starting on Thursday night with:

Phil Hughes (1-7) vs Matt Moore (2-3) – Thursday at 7:10pm
Ricky Nolasco (2-3) vs Jake Odorizzi (2-3) – Friday, June 3rd at 7:10pm
Ervin Santana (1-4) vs Matt Andriese (3-0) – Saturday at 3:10pm
Tyler Duffey (2-4) vs Drew Smyly (2-7) – Sunday at 1:10pm

Did you like this? Share it:

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Posted in Baseball News and Happenings | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

TwinsTakes Game Recap – Twins at Oakland – May 31st, 2016

TwinsTakes Game Recap - Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics - May 31st, 2016

Can the Twins get back in the win column and start a new winning streak?

Winning 4 out of their last 5 games, the Minnesota Twins look to get back in the win column with Tyler Duffey on the mound. The majority of the Athletics have never faced the Twins young pitcher so will Tyler get them off-balance with the combination of his fastball and his curveball?

Eric Surkamp starts for the Oakland A’s. He’s made 5 starts this season and has only pitched past the 5th inning once and in his last two starts, he’s given up 10 runs including 3 HRs and raised his ERA from 3.68 to 6.55. This is actually his 3rd call-up to the A’s this season with 4 of his starts coming at the beginning of the season, one coming on May 11 and he was recalled today for tonight’s start.

Of course, the big news for this game is the Return of Byron Buxton, who was recalled by the Minnesota Twins last night after the Twins found out Danny Santana injured his left hamstring in yesterday’s game.

What Should We Expect This Time?

Byron Buxton was sent down to AAA Rochester on April 25th after hitting just .156/.208/.289 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 5 runs, 7 hits, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 2 RBIs, 2 stolen bases and 2 walks with 24 strikeouts in 45 at-bats during 17 games at the beginning of the season. Since he’s been down at AAA, he’s changed his swing mechanics and he started hitting right from the 1st game down there and he never stopped. In 29 games at AAA, Byron Buxton hit .336/.403/.603 with 39 hits, 9 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs, 14 RBIs, 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts with 11 walks and 26 strikeouts while scoring 26 runs. BOOM! WOW! Will he be able to do that up with the big boys now?

The Twins opened the scoring with back-to-back doubles from Robbie Grossman and Byung Ho Park in the top of the 2nd inning but Oakland would tie it up in the bottom of the 2nd on a Billy Burns triple that got past Miguel Sano and as he turned to his left to chase the ball, he started limping a little. He would take his next at-bat and be safe running out a double play ball but come up lame and be replaced by Oswaldo Arcia. It turned out to be a left hamstring strain. Sano was put on the 15-Day DL and the Minnesota Twins recalled OF Max Kepler from AAA Rochester. That’s the same injury that forced Danny Santana to be placed on the 15-Day DL after Monday’s game.

Danny Valencia has been on a bit of a tear lately and he was none too shy to show his former team how he’s been hitting. Danny had a couple big hits for the A’s in this game. He hit a 2-run HR (8) to right field in the 3rd that gave his team at 3-2 lead and then he hit a double (3) in the 5th that gave his team the lead again at 4-3. He’s now hitting .333/.370/.558 for the season.

Robbie Grossman did all he could do to keep the Twins in the game, doubling in the 2nd (then scoring the 1st run), 5th (knocking in the tying run) and 8th innings (later scoring to bring the game within 1 run.) Unfortunately, the Twins couldn’t come up with a big hit and couldn’t hold a lead. You can’t win that way.

Tyler Duffey had a rough night tonight to go along with his last two starts. He gave up 10 hits tonight in 4.2 innings. That means, in his last 3 starts, he has an 8.47 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP. Phil Hughes might not be in the bullpen long in that keeps up.

Minnesota Twins 4, Oakland Athletics 7
W-Dull (1-0) L-Duffey (2-4) S-Axford (1)
2B-Grossman (4,5,6), Park (7), Nunez (10), Buxton (5)

The Good

Eduardo Nunez, Joe Mauer, Robbie Grossman and Kurt Suzuki had multiple hits in tonight’s game. Byung Ho Park had a an RBI double to put the Twins in the lead in the 2nd inning. Byron Buxton looked better at the plate and hit a double but still struck out twice. We’ll see how he does tomorrow afternoon.

The Bad

Trevor Plouffe finished the month of May hitting .213/.231/.280 with 2 doubles, 1 HR, 5 RBIs and 2 walks with 14 strikeouts. Is it injury related? It could be. He may deserve some slack on the injury front. On that note, he was starting to get on a roll in April when he went down with a right intercostal strain. He even had it going a little bit in May about 4 games after being activated but he’s in the midst of a 4-for-32 slump with those 4 hits all being singles. He also has zero walks and 8 strikeouts over that 9 game span.

The Milestone, The Trivia, The Interesting?
With his hit in the top of the 9th inning,

Up Next:
MN-Pat Dean (1-1, 3.43 ERA) vs OAK-Sean Manaea (1-3, 7.03 ERA)

Can Pat Dean keep up the good/great pitching and get the Twins a winning road trip before they go home for 10 games?

Did you like this? Share it:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Baseball News and Happenings, Minnesota Twins, My Twins Takes, Schedule, Transactions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TwinsTakes Series Recap – Twins at Mariners – May 27th thru May 29th, 2016

at Seattle

Did the Twins get their 1st Road Sweep of the Season?

Coming into this road series with the Seattle Mariners, the Minnesota Twins were 4-19 away from Target Field. The Seattle Mariners just came off a 7-2 stretch that put them into 1st place in the American League West with a 28-18 record but 5 of those 7 wins came on the road. Their home record was 10-11 and they’ve been swept at home in 2 of their 7 series already this season.

Now, that shows Seattle may have been vulnerable at home but the Twins were hardly a team playing well so, anyone predicting the Twins would get their 1st road sweep of the season should’ve been promptly put in a straight-jacket and placed in a padded room. They did win their most recent game at home against KC for their 12th win of the season but they’ve been a very inconsistent team all season long. They’ve been a team other teams have feasted off of and used to get better for most of the season. Here we go…

Game 1-MN-Pat Dean(0-1) vs SEA-Felix Hernandez(4-3)

Pat Dean, 27 years old, in his 1st season in the major leagues with 3 appearances and 1 start on his major league resume facing “King” Felix Hernandez, 30 years old, in his 12th major league season with 343 starts(& appearances), a 6-time All-Star and a Cy Young Award winner* with a career ERA of 3.11 who almost certainly going to the Hall of Fame. So….who you got?

*How ‘bout this? Felix Hernandez won the American League Cy Young Award in 2010 and he wasn’t even an All-Star that season. I wonder how unusual that is. Arguably, he should’ve won the award in 2014 over Corey Kluber, too.

This 1st game would start with an Eduardo Nunez single to right field but Brian Dozier would ground into a double play and Mauer would strikeout to end that happiness. Then, on the 7th pitch in the bottom of the 1st, Franklin Gutierrez would give the Mariners a lead with a HR to right field and most Twins fans were probably thinking, “Here we go again.”

But…Pat Dean would respond and so would his team’s offense. Miguel Sano, seeing King Felix for the 1st time ever, would take the 4th pitch he saw and hit it where it can’t be caught over the left center field wall to tie the game at 1 in the 2nd inning.

The Twins would add 4 more in the 3rd inning on 5 hits (3 doubles, 2 singles & a walk) to take a 5-1 lead and Pat Dean would settle down into a rhythm getting the next 7 Mariners before allowing a leadoff triple to Robinson Cano in the 4th. He would later score on a single by Dae Ho Lee and then The Dean would respond once again by sitting down the next 11 batters before turning the ballgame over to the bullpen after the 7th inning. He would end up with 8 strikeouts on the day, 7 of them being swinging strikeouts and earn the 1st Win of his Major League career.

Minnesota Twins 7, Seattle Mariners 2
W-Dean (1-1) L-Hernandez (4-4)
2B-Santana (6), Dozier (7), Grossman (3)
HR-Sano (9), Mauer (4)

Game 2-Phil Hughes(1-7)  vs Wade Miley(5-2)

Phil Hughes had a 1-7 record going into Saturday’s game. That record would make you think he’s pitched bad most of this season but, of his 9 starts, 6 of them are quality starts (6+ innings pitched, allowing 3 or less earned runs.) The problem lately is he’s been giving up too many hits, especially HRs, early in the game, putting his team down right away. A struggling team will crack at the first sign of trouble or, at least, that’s how this team has been playing for the majority of this season.

Wade Miley struggled out of the gate this season but figured something out after his 3rd start and has wins in 5 of his last 6 starts , including a complete game shutout of the reigning champion Kansas City Royals.

The Twins would get an early lead from a Miguel Sano 2-R HR in the 1st inning, his 3rd consecutive game with a home run. That lead would be cut in half on the 3rd pitch of the bottom of the 1st when Nori Aoki took Phil Hughes deep to put the Mariners within 1 without using up an out. They would tie the game at 2 in the 2nd inning after loading the bases on a single, a walk and another single before scoring a run on a double play.

Hughes loaded the bases once again in the 3rd. This time with no outs but he was able to get out of it with no damage by inducing 3 pop flies. In the 4th, a single started the inning followed by a passed ball then another single, by Clevenger, that scored Gutierrez on an error from Danny Santana, who bobbled the ball in center field. That also allowed Clevenger to go to 2nd base. A sac bunt moved him to 3rd and he was then singled in by Aoki to make the score 4-2.

The Twins would once again respond right away. This time, Eduardo Nunez would homer to left field and he swung hard on that pitch. Brian Dozier would follow with a walk and then Joe Mauer would launch another HR to left center field just like he did the night before and the Twins led again at 5-4.

Hughes started the 5th with a flyball to center, the first inning he’d get the first batter out. Unfortunately, he allowed 2 singles to the next 2 batters and manager Paul Molitor would make a call for reliever Taylor Rogers to get the Twins out of the 5th inning. Rogers would come out to pitch the 6th and  immediately give up the tying run on a Luis Sardenas HR. A key play would be made by center fielder Danny Santana with Seth Smith on 3rd and 1 out. Nelson Cruz hit a high fly ball to left center. Danny Santana got under it but then have to adjust to his left to catch the ball and quickly make a throw home but he was still able to gun down Seth Smith at home with a perfect throw and keep the game tied at 5.

This Twins team, whoever they are, would once again respond in the next half inning. Nunez got his 3rd hit of the day to leadoff the top of the 7th. Mauer walked w/1 out, moving Nunez to 2nd and Miguel Sano would get a seeing-eye single between the SS & the 3B to score Nunez. There was no throw as Seth Smith had trouble with the ball in left field and the Twins led once again at 6-5.

The game came down to the bottom of the 9th and it would end on one of the craziest double plays you will ever see, the old 2-4-5-6 double play! The pitch from Kevin Jepsen was in the dirt. Juan Centeno blocked it well but it bounced in front of him a little so Kyle Seager broke for 2nd base. Centeno quickly picked up the ball and threw to 2B Brian Dozier. The throw beat Seager so he turned back and, knowing pinch runner Shawn O’Malley was on 3rd, Dozier chased Seager but kept an eye on O’Malley and once he got far enough away from 3rd, Dozier threw to 3B Eduardo Nunez, who tagged out O’Malley. Seager tried to get to 2nd once the throw went to 3rd. Nunez alertly threw over to SS Eduardo Escobar who tagged out Seager to end the game! WOW!

Here, see the play for yourself:

Minnesota Twins 6, Seattle Mariners 5
W-Pressly (2-3) L-Vincent (2-2) H-Boshers (1), May (4), Abad (3), S-Jepsen (5)
HR-Sano (10), Nunez (5), Mauer (5)

Game 3-Ricky Nolasco (1-3) vs Taijuan Walker (2-4)

Both starters for Game 3 have had up and down seasons. Both started pretty well, pitching alright in their first 3-4 starts but have not pitched well of late. Ricky Nolasco has been getting hit very hard for the last month or so. He has a 1.89 WHIP (Walks+Hits per Innings Pitched) in his last 24.1 innings and he just hasn’t looked sharp at all. He keeps missing with his breaking ball and his fastball and he’s missing to the batter’s advantage so it was really up in the air how he’d pitch in this game. Will the somewhat good pitching bug of the last 3 games find it’s way to Mr. Nolasco?

Taijuan Walker was 2-0 in April with an ERA of 1.44 and a WHIP of 0.960 in 25 innings. In 25 innings in May, he has an ERA of 3.96 and a WHIP of 1.16. Now that’s not that bad but in April, every one of his 4 starts were quality starts while in May, only 1 of his 5 starts were quality starts. His strike to ball ratio is right where you want it to be at 2-to-1 He’s just needed too many pitches to get through innings so he’s not able to last past the 5th.

Amazingly, the Twins would give up a run in the 1st inning again and this time it was a rocket that left the yard off the bat of Robinson Cano to make it 1-0 in the 1st pitch of his at bat. The good news is Robbie Grossman would tie the game with a HR of his own to leadoff the 2nd inning. It’s great to see the Twins respond to these early deficits but allowing early leads is not a recipe for success.

Ricky Nolasco gave up a leadoff double in the bottom of the 2nd to Kyle Seager. He’d get moved to 3rd on a groundout and then score on a wild pitch to give Seattle another lead at 2-1. Ricky would get in a groove after that wild pitch and end up pitching 6 innings and allow only 3 hits, 1 walk and those 2 runs while striking out 7.

The Twins flashed more power in the 4th inning when Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano hit back-to-back HRs to left field to leadoff the inning and give the Twins a 3-2 lead. Byung Ho Park would also score that inning off a Juan Centeno double to the left center field wall to make it 4-2. The Twin loaded the bases in the 5th inning off a Nunez single. Dozier was hit in the head by a pitch, Nunez and Dozier would then pull off a double steal moving them to 2nd and 3rd and Miguel Sano would wind up being intentionally walked. The Twins would score only 1 run off a groundout for a 5-2 lead.

So it was up to the Twins bullpen to hold the lead. Trevor May got through the 7th with no damage after hitting a batter but inducing a double play ball to end the inning. Fernando Abad allowed a hit but got through the 8th and Kevin Jepsen came in to close out the game with a 3-run lead. He allowed a hit to Nelson Cruz to begin the inning. Strangely, on a wild pitch, Nelson Cruz did not try to advance to 2nd base and that would turn out to be a big play because Kyle Seager hit into double play to give the Mariners one last out to stay alive.

The Mariners got within one run after Adam Lind singled and advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch and Franklin Gutierrez homered to center field to make Twins fans a little nervous. Dae Ho Lee would pinch hit but Jepsen got him to strike out on a breaking ball to end the game and the Twins did get their 1st road sweep of the season.

Minnesota Twins 5, Seattle Mariners 4
W-Nolasco (2-3) L-Walker (2-5) H-May (5), Abad (4), S-Jepsen (6)
2B-Centeno (3)
HR-Grossman (2), Mauer (6), Sano (11)

The Twins get their 1st Road Sweep of the season and it’s against a 1st place team. Who would’ve thought that? Let those people out of the padded room and take off the straight-jackets! Now they head to Oakland for a 3-game series against the Athletics on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before coming home for a 10-game homestand against Tampa Bay, Miami and the Boston Red Sox.

The Good

Lots of good things happened for the Minnesota Twins this weekend, a power surge from Sano and Mauer, Eduardo Nunez keeps on hitting, a lot of good pitching from the starters and the bullpen but the best part of the sweep was the Twins looked like a different team this weekend.

They competed, battled back, responded from early deficits, made big plays at critical times and just looked like they finally believed they can win and who they were playing against didn’t matter. They had confidence in their abilities as baseball players. That’s the biggest part of winning, having that confidence that you can get it done in any situation.  The key will be continuing to play that way.

The Bad

There’s always something a team can learn from in any game or series. The Twins still struggle in bases loaded situations. It feels like we can count on one hand how many big hits this team has had with the bases loaded. The defense wasn’t always sharp so that can be improved. The pitching needs to be better right from the start of the game. Giving up the lead in the 1st inning is going to hurt you more often than not.

The Ugly

Byung Ho Park is 3-for-36(40 PA) in his last 10 games with 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 extra base hits, 2 RBIs and 2 walks with 14 strikeouts. He’s been hit by a pitch twice and has grounded into 2 double plays. That comes out to a .083/.175/.083 (AVG/OBP/SLG) triple slash. Park Bang is the sound of him hitting the bench for a break as he’s been struggling for the last couple weeks. 

Up Next:
Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics
Monday-Ervin Santana (1-3) vs Kendall Graveman (1-6)-3pm-ESPN
Tuesday-Tyler Duffey (2-3) vs Eric Surkamp (0-3)-9:05pm-FSN
Wednesday-Pat Dean (1-1) vs Sean Manaea (1-3)-2:30pm-FSN

Later, TwinsTakers! Have a GREAT Memorial Day!
Remember those who sacrificed everything for our freedom every day!

Did you like this? Share it:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Minnesota Twins, My Twins Takes, Schedule | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment