MIN 7, CHW 0: Twins, Fans Flex Their Muscles in Weekend Sweep
Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsBox Score
Odorizzi: 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 62.4% strikes (58 of 93 pitches)
Home Runs: Rosario (16), Kepler (12)
Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-for-4, 2B, HR)
WPA of +0.1: Odorizzi .249, Rosario .190
WPA of -0.1: None
(chart via FanGraphs)
The Twins drew more than 3.2 million people in their first season at Target Field. Attendance increased by more than 800,000 overall, or roughly 10,000 per game, over the prior year. The prospect of being able to spend time watching a good Major League Baseball team outdoors once again really lit a fire under this fanbase.
We all know what happened after that. I think it’s fair to say Twins Territory is filled with a great number of frontrunners, and that portion of the fans has been pretty dormant. And that’s OK, there are a lot of other great summer activities to compete with baseball. But it’s clear now they've been waiting, sometimes impatiently, ready to embrace the next good Twins team.
There’s still definitely some cautious optimism in the air, not everyone is quite ready to get completely swept off their feet, but with each victory you can feel it. People are letting their guard down. They’re starting to believe. The team is the talk of the town, fans are showing up and Twins merch is being brought out from the back of closets.
The Twins got off to a slow start this afternoon. Well, I mean by their standards. They were held off the board for the entire first two innings of this game. They didn’t even have a hit!
Byron Buxton got things going with a single, then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error on the play. Max Kepler drove him home on a double, Jorge Polanco walked and Eddie Rosario blasted a three-run home run. That’s more like it, guys.
Another thing about Minnesota sports fans is once we’re invested, once the expectations are high, we’ll completely overreact to even the tiniest slip.
This past Friday, Randball’s Stu brilliantly highlighted that panic reflex in a hilarious piece titled Twins Fan Ready to Overreact to 3-Game Losing Streak. I got a good laugh at that article this week, but you’d better believe I’m gonna turn right into his fictional character Karl Paulson the minute they do lose three straight.
This is so much fun.
There might not be a better player who represents the shift in the Twins fandom experience from constant anxiety and fear for the worst to pure, unbridled joy than Jake Odorizzi. Even when he’d be pitching well last year, you just knew the wheels were going to fall off. This year, he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Odorizzi gave up just one hit and struck out nine batters over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. His ERA dropped to 2.16. The length of his starts will give your friend Jack from St. Paul something to continue griping about, but Odorizzi has been brilliant so far this season.
But what about the bullpen? DUN DUN DUUUUN! (Sorry, still no dramatic sound effects available for the game recaps, that was the best I could do. Use your imagination.)
There’s nothing that creates more cause for concern with Twins fans than the bullpen. Naturally, that’s pretty much all anybody wants to talk about these days. Well, so far so good, and Sunday was another good performance from that unit.
Max Kepler hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to provide plenty of breathing room. That certainly helped, but four relievers combined to hold the White Sox scoreless over the final 3 2/3 innings. Tyler Duffey struck out six batters over the final two innings.
Yes, that Tyler Duffey.
That’s how you know everything is coming up TC these days. Again, this is so much fun.
Postgame With Rosario
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Mon vs. MIL, 6:10 pm (Pineda-Gonzalez)
MIN 8, CHW 1: Gibby Sizzles Over 7 Solid Innings
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