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The new rules regarding larger bases, pitch clocks, and banned shifts didn't seem to bother the Twins on Opening Day. Baldelli's bunch pieced together a sparkling 2-0 win behind 5.1 very solid innings by off-season trade acquisition Pablo Lopez. (Although he wasn't the only Lopez who pitched well).

The Twins didn't hit any home runs, they didn't resemble the 2019 Bomba Squad. But they did resemble a team built with depth and bench players who can give you quality, MLB level at bats, and not give them away. 

I will be highlighting my 6-4-3 below, what is it? 6 things or players who stuck out to me during today's game, 4 things I really liked seeing, and updates on 3 former Twins, who have had a pretty good Opening Day!

So sit back, read your 2023 Media Guide (or Twins handbooks from previous years), pour yourself a drink in your Twins Winter Meltdown glass, and enjoy:

6 Things or Players who really stood out to me:

• Pablo Lopez-- It always starts with your starter. When you get a good strong quality start (or better!), you keep your team in the game, and especially on Opening Day, you give your team a chance to get you runs and win, and that's what he did. His line was pretty stellar: 5.1 IP, 2H, 3BB, 8Ks. In a sentence: Pablo shoved. He was in control all day, and when he did get into a jam I'm the 5th, he managed to stay calm and induce your standard 3-2-4 double play. 

• Byron Buxton-- What can I say about this guy that hasn't been said? He is the engine that makes this team go. You saw it when they needed a spark and he hit an oppo triple to RCF thay the KC CF missed and Buxton made 3rd (He later scored on the very next AB on a single up the middle by Larnach, but more on that later). He really makes this lineup longer and better, even as the DH. He was 2-4 today with a single in the 1st and a triple and run scored in the 6th. His run scored put the Twins ahead 1-0, and was the first run scored of the season. More of this all year please!

• Trevor Larnach-- Larnach had maybe the best day of any Twins hitter, as an oft injured player with a very high ceiling, 2023 was seen as a crucial season for him, some even saying a make or break. He drove in Buxton with a single (up the middle, which is great to see him taking the ball back up the middle) giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. After a Buck Farmer walk gave the Twins runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out, newly acquired Donovan Solano came up a single to RF to score Larnach and give the Twins, and Lopez all the insurance and runs they'd need. 2-0. Very encouraging start for Larnach as 2023 is an important season for him and he remains a HUGE bat for the Twins if he stays healthy. 

• Twins infield defense. They got 2 HUGE Double Plays, both off the bat of MJ Melendez, at important times. None moreso than the beautiful Gallo to Vasquez to Gordon, 3-2-4 Double Play to get the Twins and Pablo off the field, and out of trouble, after the Royals had mounted their only threat of the day. If the Twins infield defense, led by Correa, can continue to be solid, reducing errors, mental mistakes and taking advantage of ground balls hit at them(and producing 2 puts from them), that is a HUGE benefit for Twins pitchers this season. It will be something to monitor as the season progresses. 

• Twins Bench-- After Farmer and Solano (combined 2-3 with a walk and RBI) replaced Nick Gordon and Joey Gallo (combined 0-4 with a K) at the plate, the Twins scored their two runs, one coming off the previously mentioned single from Solano. This is the kind of bench depth the Twins have lacked in past years, real, quality depth. Guys who give you good, smart, MLB ABs and don't get overwhelmed by the moment. (See not Jake Cave, Gilberto Celestino, etc, the last few years). If the Twins bench can continue to produce like they did, next man up, so to speak, that will be a big advantage for the Twins, and for Rocco, especially in late inning games when he's going based on match ups. 

• Twins Bullpen-- Just because they're last on the list doesn't mean they're last in my heart. The Twins bullpen was one word today: outstanding! After Thielbar replaced Pablo Lopez in the 6th inning with 1 out, the bullpen went 3.2 hitless innings. That's right, no hits allowed by the pen. They struck out 2. It seemed like whoever Rocco brought in was always in control, and the Twins minimized any damage. This was, to me, the best part of the game today, especially given the issues the bullpen faced last year. The 3.2 innings were thrown between Thielbar, Lopez Jax, and Duran. All of them, except Duran, getting a Hold, while Duran recorded his first save of the 2023 season. 

4 things I really liked seeing:

• Offense never gave up. They were mostly shut out for the first 5 innings by Grienke, but the bats came alive in the 6th and produced 2 runs without a home run. One of them by a non starter (Solano). Good to see. 

• Quality start by Lopez in his Twins debut, 5.1IP 2H, 3BB, 8Ks. Not much to say that I didn't say earlier. Today was his day. 

• Buxton kickstarting the offensive scoring with an opposite field triple. He's such a difference maker for this team. Let's hope he stays healthy.

• Roccos decisions, I liked his call to pull.Lopez at 81 pitches and turn the game over to the bullpen, especially given how good they were (and can be) against a lowly KC team. He also made the right call to pull Gordon and Gallo for Farmer and Solano, which ended up securing the Twins an insurance run!

3 former Twins who had a good day on Opening Day:

• Robbie Grossman (the human OBP machine) hit a big 3R HR in the Rangers game to tie it at 5, and help them later to secure the win after a very shaky start by DeGrom. 

• Spencer Steer-- Former Twins prospect Spencer Steer hit a HR on Opening Day for the Reds, it was his 3rd career big league Home Run. Congratulations, Spencer. 

• Luis Arreaz, in his first AB as a Marlin, he roped a single down the LF line in typical Arreaz form. He later had a run producing 2B and finished 2-4 as the Marlins fell to the Mets 5-3. 

This was a great win for the Twins, a team win. One of the few wins in the last 3 years where I never really felt the Royals were going to make a run or tie the game, or where the Twins would give up the lead. They were in cruise control from start to finish. If the Twins continue this style and level of crisp, solid play, throughout the summer, it will be a VERY fun summer at Target Field. 


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