Notebook: King Kenta Returns; Lou Gehrig Day
Image courtesy of Ken Blaze-USA TODAY SportsDefensive miscues and stranded baserunners plagued the Twins Thursday afternoon as the ball club dropped a 5-2 contest to Tampa Bay. Even though both teams recorded three errors, the Twins’ share just happened to occur accordingly with Rays’ runners in scoring position. In addition, Minnesota left a total of 12 men on base, including nine in scoring position.
FINAL: Rays 5, Twins 2 (7 innings)
Box Score | Baseball Savant
Mountains and Valley’s of Pitching
The Twins saw both bright and dark spots on the pitching spot on Thursday afternoon at the Fort. Ace Kenta Maeda made his 2021 debut and was nothing short of stellar. The righty was perfect, tossing two scoreless innings with zero hits and three strikeouts. It will be interesting to see if King Kenta’s stupendous 2020 season translates to a full 162-game 2021 season. Nonetheless, Maeda started 2021 out with a bang and there’s nothing to indicate that his dominance is stopping soon.
On the other hand, Hansel Robles had a rough outing in his second spring training appearance. The 30-year-old gave up three runs on four hits in the third innings of the game. The heat-hurler has yet to strike out a batter in his young career with the Twins. However, not all of the blame can be placed on Robles, as the last of his three runs was due to a throwing error by Ryan Jeffers in which nobody covered second base on a stolen base attempt. Still, the new Twin has been south of impressive and hopefully, he will be able to hit his stride down the road in Fort Myers.
Highly-touted Twins prospect (if we can still call him that) Alex Kirilloff did not disappoint in his third spring training game of the season. Kirilloff smacked two hits on Thursday, included a double to right field in the second inning (to Red Wing, Minn. native Ryan Bolt). The Plum, Pa. native has a greater chance to start the year on the grass of Target Field given the recent announcement that minor league play has been suspended a month. Today’s performance doesn’t hurt that cause, to say the least.
Getting the Call Up
With the bases loaded and Keon Broxton at the plate with a chance to tie the game, Twins skipper Rocco Baldelli made an interesting yet delightful move. Second base occupant Alex Kirilloff was removed from the game for pinch runner Frankie Padulo, one of the Twins’ advanced scouts. Nothing came to fruition, as Broxton grounded out to end the game. Yet the move was a fun reminder of how unique baseball can be. Padulo played college ball at Cornell and fulfilled the role with perfection. The Los Alamitos, Calif. native made sure his jersey was tucked in, got a solid secondary lead, and didn’t get picked off. Not a bad MLB debut!
In all seriousness, what a cool moment for someone who has dedicated his life to growing the game of baseball. Spring training may not have the intensity and significance of regular season baseball, but it sure creates an opportunity for some life-changing moments!
Around the League
Thursday was a monumental day for the league more so off the field than on. Major League Baseball announced that going forth, June 2 will be recognized as Lou Gehrig day. One of the greatest to play the game, Gehrig suffered and passed away from ALS in 1941 at the age of 40. The “Iron Man” join the ranks of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente as the only players to have a day of the season dedicated to them and the impact they had on the game.
How does this pertain to the Twins? Twins president Dave St. Peter was one of the trailblazers of the league who helped make the milestone possible. St. Peter sent an email this past fall to all teams who hadn’t already jumped on board the cause.
The email included the following quote.
"This disease chose baseball. When you think about it, I think we have a responsibility and an obligation to continue to pay it forward. I can't imagine there's a franchise in the game that hasn't been touched by ALS. For us, it's personal. Other teams share that view. Certainly, we all share the connection to Lou Gehrig and what he stood for and represented. Finding a way to celebrate his legacy and the class and dignity he found in his darkest hours is something that's truly worthwhile."
Bravo Dave. St. Peter’s efforts prove another example of why the Twins have some of the finest leadership in baseball, both on and off the field.
JBJ to ‘Sconnie
Former Red Sox standout Jackie Bradley Jr. has found his next home. The slugger and stellar outfielder signed a two-year, $24 million contract with the Brewers on Thursday.
Bradley is a career .239/.321/.412 hitter who had a stellar 2020 season. Brewers’ skipper Craig Counsel stated that Lorenzo Cain will remain the club’s CF. Yet there’s no doubt that the addition of Bradley Jr. as a corner outfielder will beef up the Brew Crew as they look to knock the Cardinals off the NL Central pedestal.
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