9 thoughts of 9 innings of a home opening win – Minnesota Twins – Articles – Home Page

The Twins outscored the Cardinals 6-3 in their first game at Target Field on Tuesday night to go 3-1 on the season. I watched the game and wrote down a specific note or thought based on the events of each entry.

We are going to run it again.

Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

1st entry: making Martinez sweat

The end of the first was not a great display for the Twins’ offense. They missed some great opportunities. Nelson Cruz went into foul territory on a 2-0 count with two in the scoring position, and Mitch Garver later missed third at 3-1 with the bases loaded. No one hit anything particularly hard.

And yet … this lineup still made life extremely difficult for Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez, who needed 21 pitches to overcome the infield. While the Twins may have failed to cash in, it’s the kind of high-stress experience for a pitcher who can set up an entry like the second, where Minnesota took off and went through five runs.

Martinez, a very good pitcher with a career 3.36 ERA, was soon ejected from the game after just 4 2/3 innings.

2nd entry: Hip Hip, Jorge

To score the five-run burst at the bottom of the second was No. 3 hitter Jorge Polanco, who launched a two-run homer in the right field plaza. He nearly followed him with another bomb from the other side on his next at-bat, two innings later, though the Cards left fielder Tyler O’Neill was able to locate him on the warning track.

Polanco tends to get a little lost from this offense, like a steady, solid hitter in the midst of a sea of ​​flashy sluggers. He ranked sixth on the team in OPS + last year, and was a little quiet in the home stretch. It can be easy to forget that he was the only All-Star in a historic 2019 offensive.

One person who keeps an eye on Polanco’s skills at the plate is his manager.

Polanco hit the cleanup in the second game of this season in Chicago. That’s the only time since Rocco Baldelli took over as a skipper that the shortstop has hit anywhere below the third of the lineup.

Third Entry: Living on the Edge

The last time we saw Homer Bailey, it wasn’t such a pretty sight. The newly signed right-hander was knocked out in his start-up finish at Wrigley, as the Cubs took advantage of too many hitting pitches left around the belt. His official debut was a different story. While he was not immune to mistakes, Bailey was performing much better this time around, splattering the limits of FSN’s strike zone display to maximize the effectiveness of a fastball.

Here, in the third inning, he was at the height of his prowess at night, hitting his side with some stellar tone sequences. Impressively, it was his slider and not his much-hyped divider doing much of the work.

Bailey had a crisp start, allowing four hits and two walks in five innings, with four strikeouts. It is a continuation of the trend we saw in 2019, which saw a noticeable improvement in many hard contact indicators (Barrel%, Sweet Spot%, XBA, XSLG).

Attached image: baileystatcast.png

If you can keep dancing around the edges, while occasionally dropping the slowly breaking ball onto the plate to catch a batter off guard, you’re in good shape.

4th entry: Here comes the rain

It was a perfect summer afternoon for the first game at Target Field, although the Bringer of Rain made its first splash in the bottom of the room. Josh Donaldson watered the plants on the overhang in right field with an opposite shot that barely cleared the wall.

One thing that really surprised me about Donaldson is that even when it doesn’t fit, and so far he hasn’t done that much; Before the bomb, he was 2 of 11 with two singles inside the box, still putting a load on the ball.

That home run hit a mature pitch in the middle, but he didn’t really seem to understand everything. There have been a few other occasions, including his sacrifice fly earlier in the game, where the ball has been surprisingly carried away from Donaldson’s bat. This guy is as strong and powerful as advertised.

5th inning: Bailey recovers

Bailey’s only spot on the start came here in the fifth, where he left a slow-speed shot on the plate and O’Neill destroyed it for a two-run homer. After a well-hit single to open the inning, it looked like the Twins starter might be starting to lose steam. But he fastened his belt and recited three direct exits: a pop-out at first and two kills.

That’s the resistance you like to see from a starter motor. Perhaps it was more encouraging for me than his third triple K.

6th entry: Pesky Arráez

The sixth was uneventful, with Tyler Clippard coming in to pitch a clean upper half and Minnesota dropping 1-2-3 at the bottom. But a guy who was not easy was Luis Arráez. As usual.

The cheeky second baseman drove a shot to the other side and almost had additional bases, but O’Neill was able to chase him down the left with a diving grip near the line. Arráez makes pitchers and defenders work very hard to get him out. He still has to strike out through 12 plate appearances, and he’s been hitting the ball really hard. Having a player like this near the end of your lineup (he’s come seventh twice and ninth once) is an incredible advantage.

Seventh inning: Stashak and Bullpen depth

Bailey was out of the game for Minnesota after five, but the Twins had no trouble completing the remaining innings. The second out of the bullpen was Cody Stashak, who delivered his second goalless outing of the young season. With the exception of a ground ball double, Stashak was basically flawless, throwing 12 of 17 shooting pitches and retiring the team with little trouble.

Just as Arráez is a major asset at the bottom of the order, Stashak is a major asset in the middle of the bullpen. It has looked as good as the 3.24 ERA and 25: 1 K / BB ratio in last year’s MLB debut.

8th inning: Buxton drops the ball

Trevor May followed Stashak in the eighth. Leading against him was Tommy Edman, who lifted a deep fly into center field. Byron Buxton, making his first appearance of the season, ran backwards, hit the wall, and measured him. He jumped up, had it in his glove, and the ball peeked over the fence.

It was a bit strange seeing it from Buxton, for whom the spectacular has become almost routine. But among all the negative results of him chasing a ball to the wall, a solo homer with a fairly comfortable lead is one we’ll take.

It was a tough break for May, but he bounced back very well striking out the next three batters. His stuff looks absolutely dirty as he induced seven swing shots in 21 pitches.

Entry 9: Where’s Rogers?

With the exception of Rich Hill (which starts tomorrow), only two players on the active roster had yet to see the game action at the moment: Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers. Even in a save situation, though on the less intense side, the Twins’ top tier closer remained unused. Romo threw a clean ninth to close the victory 6-3.

That leaves Rogers, one of the team’s best and oldest players, as the only reliever we have yet to see. It doesn’t necessarily point to any errors in Baldelli’s judgment, as there hasn’t been a real need to turn to the team’s most influential arm, but it still seems odd that Rogers hasn’t even entered a work entry, while several others They have made multiple appearances.

Hopefully, there’s nothing physically bothering the left-hander, and all of this is situational and strategic. Through the team’s first four games in 2019, Rogers had already pitched four innings in three appearances.

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