Week in Review: Next Man Up
Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/17 through Sun, 6/23
Record Last Week: 3-4 (Overall: 50-27)
Standing: 1st Place in the AL Central (8.0 GA)
Willians Watch: 4-for-13 with a HR since rejoining the Twins
La Tortuga is back! Because of all the injuries, Willians Astudillo made his way back to Target Field and he wasted little time making his presence felt. In his first plate appearance and on the first pitch he saw, he clobbered a home run into the outfield bullpen.
To replace Buxton on the roster, Jake Cave was recalled from Rochester. He had been destroying the baseball at Triple-A to the tune of a .926 OPS and 19 extra-base hits in 34 games. Astudillo took the spot occupied by Gonzalez. Blake Parker was placed on the family medical leave list, allowing Sean Poppen to make his big-league debut. Kohl Stewart would take the place of Poppen and join the Twins for their weekend series in Kansas City. Stewart provided some solid relief innings and he was sent back to Rochester when Parker was activated.
Early in the week, Jose Berrios was dominant against a playoff-tested Red Sox lineup. He surrendered three straight hits in the first inning, but then he settled in from there. Berrios got 19 men in a row at one point. It was the first time since Opening Day where he recorded double-digit strikeouts and his 78 Game Score was his second-highest of the year. His last pitch of the night might have been his best and it came against the reigning AL MVP. It was the eighth time in his career with 10 strikeouts and that ties him for ninth all-time in Twins history.
Minnesota was able to win a marathon of a game on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. Max Kepler played the hero as he became the first batter since May 1991 to have a tying hit and a go-ahead hit, both in the 13th inning or later of the same game. The more amazing thing might have been that Kepler wasn’t even supposed to play in the game. He only entered after Gonzalez left with an injury.
While Kepler was the biggest story in the marathon game, the much-maligned bullpen came through in a big way. Every bullpen arm got into the game and the relievers held Boston to two runs on 12 hits in 11 innings of work. This included 12 strikeouts and only one walk. Zack Littell was credited with his first big-league win as he pitched two scoreless frames to end the game. Seth caught up with Littell and discussed his new role and the change in mindset that comes with being a relief pitcher.
Even in a down week, there were some impressive offensive numbers compiled by Twins hitters.
- C.J. Cron really wants to be the AL starting first baseman in the All-Star Game. Entering play on Sunday, he had hit .407/.484/.667 (1.151) over the last week. He had two home runs, a double, and three walks.
- Luis Arraez continues to prove he can handle the big-league level by getting on base over 50% of the time. He went 4-for-11 at the plate, drawing two walks and scoring a pair of runs.
- Eddie Rosario found himself as an All-Star finalist in the AL outfield. He will have some tough competition with the likes of Mike Trout, George Springer, and Mookie Betts. He collected four doubles throughout the week and hit .333/.333/.467 (.800).
It was a rough week for Miguel Sano at the plate and he became a punching bag for flustered Twins fans on social media. From Monday through Thursday, he went 0-for-14 with 10 strikeouts. It wasn’t that he was just striking out, it was the fact that he looked utterly lost at the plate. Pitchers were beating him with low-90s fastballs. Over the weekend, he collected a pair of home runs to silence some of the critics, but he also struck out four times in one of those games.
Minnesota’s rotation hit a few rough patches last week. Jake Odorizzi had won 10 straight decisions, becoming the first Twins player to do so since Johan Santana. However, that streak came to an end on Thursday. He struggled for the first time since the beginning of April as he allowed four runs on eight hits over four innings.
Kyle Gibson couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning in his start. Boston jumped on him for six runs in 4 1/3 innings. In two of his last three starts, he has allowed five runs or more. Martin Perez continued his recent rough stretch by allowing four earned runs for the third consecutive start. Luckily, Minnesota has still been able to pick up the victory in four of his last seven appearances.
Tom also made a quick-hit video about some of the Twins' other recent struggles. Sloppy defense and bad base running have hurt the team in more than one game over the last couple weeks.
One of the biggest stories surrounding the Twins was the signing of former Cleveland closer Cody Allen to a minor-league deal. Allen had signed with the Angels this offseason but he had struggled by allowing 16 earned runs in 23 innings. One of the biggest concerns involving Allen has been his decrease in velocity in recent years.
Derek Falvey knows Allen well from his days in Cleveland so maybe he can be the pitching whisperer. The Twins think they might be able to change some things with Allen. Twins Daily’s Parker Hageman thinks they could work with Allen in the release point of his fastball and his curveball. Last year, he released both pitches at nearly the same spot. This season, there is a noticeable difference.
DOWN ON THE FARM
Brent Rooker has been a bad, bad man to baseballs in the International League. Rooker played seven games for the Red Wings this week, hitting .429 (9-for-21) with two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBI, four walks and a 1.488 OPS. This isn’t a fluke either. For the month of June, he’s batting .406/.553/.725 (1.278) with five home runs and seven doubles in 22 games. He’s not on the 40-man roster, but the front office must be considering a call-up at some point this season.
Royce Lewis, Minnesota’s top prospect, had a big game in Fort Myers on Wednesday as he hit two home runs including the walk-off winner. His second homer of the day doubled his home run output for the entire season. Entering play on Sunday, Lewis had gone 11-for-33 in his last eight games with three home runs and seven RBIs.
Jhoan Duran tossed a magnificent game for the Miracle on Tuesday. After Adalberto Mejia served as the opener, Duran was masterful over the next five innings. He allowed one run on two hits with three walks and 11 strikeouts. For Duran, it was his fourth straight game where he allowed one earned run. He changed his wind-up three starts ago and the results have been clear.
Following Monday’s off-day, the Twins will open up a three-game home series against Tampa Bay. Minnesota won’t get much time to lick their wounds as last year’s AL Cy Young winner, Blake Snell, will take the Target Field mound on Tuesday. Snell hasn’t pitched nearly as well this season (4.40 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP). Over their last 10 games, Tampa is 4-6, which has dropped them to 4.5 games behind New York in the AL East.
Minnesota will end the week with a trip to the south side of Chicago. The White Sox have been stronger at home than on the road (20-17 home record). Over their last 10 games, Chicago is 5-5 and they sit 13 games behind the Twins in AL Central. Right now, the Twins are scheduled to face off with Lucas Giolito on Sunday. For most of June, he had been lights out, but he allowed six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Cubs in his last time out.
TUESDAY, 6/25: RAYS @ TWINS – LHP Blake Snell vs. RHP Kyle Gibson
WENDESDAY, 6/26: RAYS @ TWINS – RHP Charlie Morton vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi
THURSDAY, 6/27: RAYS @ TWINS – TBD vs. LHP Martin Perez
FRIDAY, 6/28: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Jose Berrios vs. RHP Odrisamer Despaigne
SATURDAY, 6/29: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Michael Pineda vs. RHP Ivan Nova
SUNDAY, 6/30: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Kyle Gibson vs. RHP Lucas Giolito
Catch Up on Twins Daily Game Recaps
- Game 71 | BOS 2, MIN 0: Offense Squanders Berrios’ Gem
- Game 72 | MIN 4, BOS 3: Twins Win in 17th Inning, Get First Walk-Off
- Game 73 | BOS 9, MIN 4: The Red Sox Bats Were Poppen Tonight
- Game 74 | KC 4, MIN 1: Odorizzi, Offense Come Up Short
- Game 75 | MIN 8, KC 7: Losing Streak Snapped Again
- Game 76 | MIN 5, KC 3: Twins Win Nail-Biter in Extras
- Game 77 | KC 6, MIN 1: Bad Inning Spoils Awesome Uniforms
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