Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Article: Where Are We Now? (152 Down, 10 To Go)

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:29 AM
On Wednesday, the Twins lost in New York to the Yankees (Rinse. Repeat.) Fortunately, the Twins got help from the American League Central...
Full topic ›

Should the Twins offer Mauer a Koivu-like extension?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:27 AM
Wild GM made a shrewd move I thought giving Koivu an extension at an affordable price in a cap-driven world.   No cap in baseball. N...
Full topic ›

Article: MIN 12, DET 1: Once Again, The Twins Bounce Back

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:44 AM
That’s more like it! After a demoralizing sweep, the Twins opened up a stretch in which they’ll face the Tigers in seven of their final 1...
Full topic ›

Article: Game Thread: Twins @ Tigers, 9/21@6:10pm CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:44 AM
New York was absolutely no fun at all, but it’s ok… we got time to have some fun yet. We have a 4-game series in Detroit that begins toni...
Full topic ›

Just One Of 162, But Twins Win Felt Big

To make too much of any one game is silly. We all know it’s just one game. One out of 162. Despite that knowledge, on several levels, the Twins 7-1 win on Opening Day against the Kansas City Royals felt important. It felt important on a number of levels. Let us count the ways.
Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn, USA Today
While no one will say it, it was clear in spring training that the Twins wanted to get off to a good start in 2017. That showed in their Opening Day roster configuration. It was an early pitcher's duel, but it was an important game for the Twins to try to find a way to win.

And they did.

First of all, it was Opening Day. Opening Day is always special and deserves to be treated as such. We’ve been waiting since last September for “real” baseball games. Baseball is back, so there should be renewed hope and optimism.

Joe Mauer started on Opening Day for the 13th time in his career, tying Harmon Killebrew with the most in team history. He batted fourth, something that he has been doing the last couple of weeks in spring training.

Paul Molitor announced on Sunday that he planned to start all four left-handed hitters despite talented left-hander Danny Duffy starting for the Royals. Why? Right or wrong, you just start your regulars on Opening Day, unless you have a predetermined platoon. That made for quite the challenge because Duffy was on his game. He was good. The lineup will likely be different against lefties going forward, and that will be fun to see, but for this game, it worked.

The Twins hadn’t won an Opening Day game since Livan Hernandez led them to a win in 2008. That’s eight straight Opening Day losses. All of those seasons, it was “just one game” too, but it’s always nice to get off to a good start and set a tone the first game. But it’s just another negative statistic that ends.

It is also nice to get a nice win in front of the home crowd. 39,165 fans came out to Target Field in large part because it was Opening Day. While there will be a severe drop in attendance when the Twins take the field again on Wednesday against the Royals, seeing the team win and put up some runs will hopefully create some excitement and encourage fans to come back.

Despite 17 Quality Starts in 2016, Ervin Santana went just 7-11 a year ago. He rarely gave up many runs, but either the offense wouldn’t score for him or the bullpen blew small leads.

That’s how the game looked to be going again on Monday. When Santana walked off the mound, having struck out three in the top of the 7th inning, the score was tied 1-1. Lefty Matt Strahm, the West Fargo native who gave up just three earned runs in 22 innings late last year, came in. Jorge Polanco blooped a single just outside the infield. Max Kepler beat out a bunt (after review). Eddie Rosario laid down a very nice sacrifice bunt. Brian Dozier was intentionally walked, without being pitched to, something we’ll have to get used to. Robbie Grossman walked in a run.

Peter Moylan was brought in and got Byron Buxton to strike out for the second out of the inning. Another pitching change and lefty Travis Wood came in. Joe Mauer walked in another run to make it 3-1. Miguel Sano walked to make it 4-1. Jason Castro slapped a single to left to drive in Grossman and Mauer and make it 6-1. Jorge Polanco hit his second single of the inning. This one drove in the Twins seventh run.

Not one hard hit ball. But that’s OK. We’ll take that as Twins fans. They showed a good approach. They showed patience at the plate. They didn’t try to do too much. They took what they were given and came through against the Royals bullpen.

Fun fact… after posting a 1.23 ERA in 22 innings last year for the Royals, Matt Strahm starts his 2017 season with a 108.00 ERA after today’s outing. Note that he is going to be just fine. His stuff is electric, and it’s not like the Twins hit him.

We know that individual pitcher Wins are an overrated stat, but it is a stat that people pay attention to. Ervin Santana pitched very, very well, and he was rewarded with a Win.

It should also be noted that Danny Duffy is tremendous and equally deserving of a Win (though he only went six innings, instead of seven like Santana). He throws a good fastball in the 92-94 mph range. However, it’s his changeup that could push him into the elite category. He’s got a really good curveball too but it’s his changeup that earned him the five year, $65 million contract extension.

Matt Belisle came on for the eighth and went 1-2-3 in his Twins debut. Brandon Kintzler came on for the ninth and got a double play ball and a groundout to end the game.

Ervin Santana gets the Win. The Offense showed up late. The bullpen did not have to be extended.

Jason Castro went 2-3 in his Twins debut, slapping two singles to left field, the second obviously being a huge one. It’s always nice to get off to a good start with a new team.

In 2015, the Twins went 0-3 to start the season and were outscored 22-1 in those games in Detroit. They won just one of their first seven games. Obviously they didn’t want to start 0-9 like they did in 2016 either. Of course, winning game one doesn’t mean they won’t be 1-9 after ten games, but getting that first win should help the Twins relax as they go into the rest of the series.

While he went 0-5 with three strikeouts in the season opener, Byron Buxton showed off his defensive prowess. Not once, but twice. He made two diving catches. The first was on a low liner off the bat of Alex Gordon. Buxton dove forward to make the inning-ending catch. A couple of innings later, he actually took a mis-step. He took one step back on a short fly ball. As he reversed direction and headed in, he nearly slipped. But then his speed took over, and he outran the ball, leaping forward to make another great catch. Patience will need to be used with Buxton’s bat. He won’t hit like he did in September all the time, but hopefully they’ll keep him in the #3 spot in the lineup and let him play.

Let’s talk a little more about the defense. The outfield is going to be terrific. Buxton made two diving catches, and he’s flanked by Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler who each have good range and strong arms too. Brian Dozier made a couple of very nice plays at second base, including a glove-flip to first base to get Raul Mondesi, Jr. by a step on a nice bunt attempt.

The question marks on defense are on the left side of the infield. Miguel Sano made two or three routine plays at third base, and he caught back-to-back high pop ups. Routine for most, though he had some issues with that last year, in Rochester and with the Twins. Jorge Polanco had a good day at shortstop. He was involved in a couple of big double plays, and he made the plays he needed to. As we’ve noted all along, if those two can make those routine plays most of the time, the Twins will be just fine.

Robbie Grossman had a two-true outcomes game today. A three-true outcomes player is a guy who hits a lot of home runs, walks, and strikes out a lot. On Opening Day, Grossman went 0-3 with three strikeouts and two walks.


Miguel Sano really struggled early in spring training, striking out a ton. Late in camp, he started making some hard contact. In Game 1, he made some really hard contact on a Danny Duffy fastball, crushing it into the left field seats. He also showed a much better eye at the plate too, which is encouraging.

How good was it to see Rick Stelmaszek throw out the first pitch? The former Twins coach (for 32 years) has been battling pancreatic cancer. But it was clear how much he was respected when you saw how many former players showed up to be on the field with him. On the field included former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire who will have surgery due to his prostate cancer and then begin treatments. Gardenhire was on the field with his new club, the Diamondbacks, on Sunday in their season opener. However, thanks to early-season scheduling, he was able to make the trip.

Also, recently-retired former Twins catcher AJ Pierzynski, who also just signed to continue to work as an analyst for Fox Sports, was also on the field. So was still-unsigned Justin Morneau. It was a great moment.

Yes, it was just one game. There are 161 left, but it was really nice for the Twins (and their fans) to get a win in their opener. At the very least, they don’t have to wait a couple of days to try to pick up that first win.

My sense in Ft. Myers, and even moreso after seeing the Opening Day roster choices, was the the Twins really don’t want to get off to a bad start. Winning Game 1 felt more important than usual. While it really wasn’t, and no one would say that it was, it really had a different feel than many Opening Days.
It’s important not to make too much of it, but it’s OK to find the positives in it. And hopefully the start of Ervin Santana will propel the rest of the rotation to want to put up strong numbers in their first starts. And hopefully putting a seven spot on the scoreboard will help relax the hitters a bit. It was a nice win to hopefully build upon. And hopefully the fans can turn their negativity into some positivity. OK, that’ll take a few more than one win, I’m sure… But you can’t win two games until you’ve won one. The Twins have won one, so now they can go after win #2.

  • Tibs, nytwinsfan, Broker and 2 others like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

76 Comments

I think E Santana will give the Twins that solid #1 starter. Going to be an exciting year!
    • glunn and GP830 like this
Photo
EddieMatthews
Apr 03 2017 08:16 PM

Spot on regarding Sano and Polanco!  Making the routine plays means not giving the opponent an extra out or giving away an out on offense.  If the Twins can stay competitive in most games, they will be a fun team to watch this year.

    • glunn and Oldgoat_MN like this
Photo
ToddlerHarmon
Apr 03 2017 08:18 PM

That 6-run inning was a good example of the pressure a great start puts on the other team.  If the Royals have a 3 run lead, they go ahead and take their chances against the top of the lineup.  Very nice to see patience at the plate and let the opposing bullpen implode.

 

    • glunn, gunnarthor, Oldgoat_MN and 2 others like this
Photo
Old Twins Cap
Apr 03 2017 08:26 PM

It helps to open at home instead of on the road, which, because Minnesota is hailing distance to the North Pole, will happen, what, 1 out of 5 years?

 

Don't forget the start in Baltimore, what, 2011, when they get swept, never had the lead the whole series, and were only tied 0-0 for like two innings.

 

We've had some epic fails in season openings, so we'll take this.

    • glunn, Oldgoat_MN and Danchat like this
I was really happy with Santana, he is solid and it was nice to get him a W!
    • glunn, Ryan Atkins, beckmt and 2 others like this
Photo
twinsfanstreif
Apr 03 2017 08:31 PM
Definitely more optimistic than I was yesterday. It should be an exciting year and Castro proved to be way more valuable than I originally thought, I specifically watched him frame several times and he was spot on, I hope he has a positive impact on the rest of the staff!
    • glunn likes this
The Royals lineup isn't going to be compared to the Murderers' Row anytime soon, but getting good efficient innings deep into the game, followed by good innings out of the 'Pen was very refreshing. I feel like I haven't seen a "team" pitching performance like that for a decade (on the Twins side of the ledger).
    • glunn, Oldgoat_MN and ToddlerHarmon like this
Photo
Carneal&Gordon
Apr 03 2017 08:58 PM
Great way to open the season! I didn't know seeing the Twins 1-0 would feel so good.
    • glunn, Oldgoat_MN, Ex-Iowegian and 3 others like this
It was great to see a quality catcher show the impact a good catcher can have on a game.
    • glunn, Craig Arko and HitInAPinch like this
Photo
Joe A. Preusser
Apr 03 2017 10:18 PM
Feels good. Real good. 8 more universe...you owe us. Make it happen.
    • Oldgoat_MN and Tom Froemming like this
Glad my daughter and I won't see the 1st win on April 15 like last year Who needs 13 pitchers when you have starts like that. Hopefully Santiago can keep the ball in the park
    • glunn likes this
Photo
Bill Brown69
Apr 03 2017 10:30 PM

After all the hand wringing and gnashing of teeth we are on pace to go 162-0. 

 

No, not going to happen but neither was the sky falling last week.

 

Remember last year opening day saw us use 5 pitchers? Early season rainouts are common in the midwest and the questions regarding 4 of the starters being able to pitch even some semblance of deep are legit. 13 pitchers for now but if we can average 5 2/3 for the next 4 guys and then,,,,,,,,,,,, Vargas healthy??? Lots of questions but it will play itself out and the roster will change before May. I am convinced the starters will be on a shorter leash this year both because of the new office and because right now either Duffey or Berrios could be inserted in the rotation which is better than almost any #5 guy we have had in years. One of Vargas or Park will be on the team early but they had better perform because we finally have people in AAA that will be. I think the days of speedy light hitting 4th OF or utility IF being a DH 40-50 games a year are over. 

 

Batting order wise there was much of the same but it made sense to me. Regulars all play on opening day. This is what we have until we get down to 12 pitchers. Against righty starters I would expect 1 of the bottom 3 to trade with the DH spot. When either of Park or Vargas is up then put Mauer @ 5 and either DH or Sano at 4.

 

We could have a very poor rotation and still win 75 games like a lot of posters predicted. A half decent rotation means meaningful baseball through August.

    • glunn likes this

2017 Twins Season Game #1

 

Hero #1 E Santana

Hero #2 J Castro

Hero #3 M Sano

 

Goat #1 B Buxton

Goat #2 M Kepler

Goat #3 R Grossman

    • bighat likes this

 

2017 Twins Season Game #1

 

Hero #1 E Santana

Hero #2 J Castro

Hero #3 M Sano

 

Goat #1 B Buxton

Goat #2 M Kepler

Goat #3 R Grossman

Huh? Buxton played great D and Grossman had a key walk.  Kepler had a game changing bunt single.  People here undervalue bunt singles but teams just do not defend bunts very well and it seems to rattle teams and pitchers way more than solid singles do.  No goats here.  

 

    • luckylager, glunn, Jerr and 14 others like this

Two hours and 47 minutes.  Did not miss the 4 pitches to intentionally walk Dozier at all. Also liked the quicker review. Very good pace of play today.

    • glunn, bdodge22, Oldgoat_MN and 3 others like this

Huh? Buxton played great D and Grossman had a key walk.  Kepler had a game changing bunt single.  People here undervalue bunt singles but teams just do not defend bunts very well and it seems to rattle teams and pitchers way more than solid singles do.  No goats here.

Buxton went 0 for 5 with 3K's and 6 runners LOB.
Kepler did execute a sacrifice - but he is supposed to. Otherwise he was 1 for 4 with 2 K's and 5 runners LOB. When his team needed him to deliver in the 2nd, 4th, and second at bat in the 7th, he failed.
Grossman did execute a sacrifice - but he is supposed to. In the 3rd and 8th, each time with a runner on 1st, he struck out.
Santana, castro and Sano WON the game for the Twins; the Royals' bullpen LOST the game for them.
    • bighat likes this

I'll just disagree with you. Grossman and Kepler executing bunts because they are supposed to is like saying Sano shouldn't get credit for his home run swing because he is supposed to hit home runs.  Its to their credit that they did execute it.  Castro only got a chance to deliver because of what Kepler and Grossman did. No goats in a win because you never know what play turns things.  For example if Kepler's first bunt attempt had been just fair instead of just foul there is a double play and the whole game is changed.  Then you can talk about him being a goat but instead he executed a great bunt which believe me is no gimme in the big leagues as you imply. Buxton making two great plays also could have changed the game dramatically if they had not been made.  Not saying these guys played great but they all certainly contributed to the win.  

    • luckylager, glunn, Oldgoat_MN and 7 others like this
Photo
HitInAPinch
Apr 04 2017 01:54 AM

Hope springs eternal.

I recognize and accept the contributions of both Grossman and Kepler in successfully executing sacrifice bunts when called upon to do so as being above the call of duty and both were game changers. Also the defensive contribution of Buxton is not to be taken lightly. I can back off a bit in creferring to the 3 as goats. That said, their lack of offensive contribution in other portions of the game made their 7th inning bunts important. Had they delivered hits when called upon on other occasions, those bunts would may not have been necessary. Take another look at the cumulative game statistics of the first 4 in the Twin's lineup.
    • glunn likes this
Santana was in mid season form, the Sano bomb was impressive, and the defense better than last year. Even the bunts were in fair territory this year! An oddity indeed. But I do wonder how the analytically savvy Falvine will take the the bunt happy approach of their manager? As for RG, there is absolutely no way I would offer him four pitches out of the strike zone. To his credit he has a fine eye. Which is important if you can't hit. Watching him DH is gonna take some getting used to, but I guess it's better than him wearing a glove! :).
    • bluechipper, rghrbek and Vanimal46 like this

Man, I hope this thread can make it to the 18 or 2000 pages that the one criticizing the roster did.  Winning is fun, but maybe not as fun to talk about?  I dunno.

 

Quick overreactions:

 

I feel a new, calm sense of confidence when Rosario comes to the plate.  I think he's grown up.

 

Polanco is good.  Hitting wise, he's going to be among the best SS.

 

Scrolling through the gameday summary of plays, I noticed in the one half-inning, Sano fielded all three outs.  Routine or not, that is cool.  He then promptly hit the bomb.  Coincidence?

 

Santana striking out the last three batters...his first 3 K's of the day?  Did I get that right?  Can pitchers do that?  Just flip a switch from letting the defense work, to K mode?  

 

Kintzler's comments about Belisle's pregrame speech.  Apparently he's a great speaker, and makes Kintzler want to storm the beach.  Some call it corny, some snicker at chemistry and veteraness, but I don't take the idea lightly.  Between him and Castro, the FO needs to be given a pat on the back.

    • Loosey, bluechipper and bighat like this
Photo
Brock Beauchamp
Apr 04 2017 06:14 AM

If Santana is able to put together another good season, that puts the Twins in a good position going into the break. Either he helps them win ballgames and hang in the race or the Twins have a *very* nice trade piece at the deadline.

    • ChiTownTwinsFan, Seth Stohs, USAFChief and 6 others like this

Fantastic work by Santana.  Sano with the bomb!  Polanco, doing his thing on offense and making the defensive plays he needed to.  Jorge's bat is going to become too valuable to put in the 7th spot and maybe he'll switch with Buxton by the end of April. 

 

The Twins didn't pound the crap out of the ball - but they took what the Royals gave them.  A win's a win and like most of you, I'll happily take it! 

    • bluechipper likes this
Photo
ChiTownTwinsFan
Apr 04 2017 07:02 AM

 

Kintzler's comments about Belisle's pregrame speech.  Apparently he's a great speaker, and makes Kintzler want to storm the beach.  Some call it corny, some snicker at chemistry and veteraness, but I don't take the idea lightly.

Where was that mentioned? STrib article?

 

2017 Twins Season Game #1

 

Hero #1 E Santana

Hero #2 J Castro

Hero #3 M Sano

 

Goat #1 B Buxton

Goat #2 M Kepler

Goat #3 R Grossman

Kepler's bunt single was the key to the 6-run rally. I know that he did poorly in his other ABs, but that single was key. And that bunt only turned into a single because he ran full speed down the baseline to try to beat it out. If he had slacked off on that play he would've been out & the rally would not have happened.

 

I don't get all the excitement about Buxton's dive when he mis-played the ball. He should not have had to dive. He only had to dive because he took a step back before coming in. A poor defensive OF could've made the play without diving by not stepping back first. It's great that Buxton has enough speed to recover from his mistake, but it should be noted that he only had to dive because of his mistake at the start of the play. That play should not be viewed as a "great" defensive play. The first dive was a great defensive play.


Similar Articles


by Tom Froemming , Yesterday, 09:11 PM
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 18 Sep 2017
Photo


by Nick Nelson , 17 Sep 2017
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 17 Sep 2017
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 15 Sep 2017
Photo