Jump to content
  • Create Account

Twins baseball is back, and that means so too is our season-long Sunday night tradition of reviewing the week that was.

 

Here's a rundown of the highlights and lowlights from opening weekend in Milwaukee, where the Twins took two of three from the Brewers, as well as a look ahead to what's coming in the season's first full week.

Weekly Snapshot: Thurs, 4/1 through Sun, 4/4

***

Record Last Week: 2-1 (Overall: 2-1)

Run Differential Last Week: +7 (Overall: +7)

Standing: T-1st Place in AL Central

Last Week's Game Recaps:

NEWS & NOTES

An opening series victory in Milwaukee brought plenty of glowing positives, but also a familiar feeling of dread as Minnesota's two most critical players – Josh Donaldson and Byron Buxton – still can't seem to stay on the field.

 

Donaldson made it through only one plate appearance before his balky legs acted up once again. A tight hamstring disrupted his stride while he rounded first base on a double in Thursday's opener, and Donaldson was removed before taking the field at third base.

 

The diagnosis is relatively encouraging, in that it wasn't calf-related and the Twins emphasized the "mild" nature of the injury ... but still. This is a gutting development right off the bat.

 

 

Buxton lasted slightly longer before being removed from a game, but not by much. He exited Sunday's contest in the third inning, although fans were able to breathe a big sigh of relief upon learning he was lifted due to non-COVID illness.

 

Donaldson went on the Injured List and was replaced on the roster by Brent Rooker, who made his season debut on Sunday in place of Buxton. Presumably Buck should be back within the next day or two. Still, to have both players already knocked out of games in a season where the big narrative is "What can the Twins do if they keep JD and Buck on the field for any length of time" is almost unreal.

 

What's most unfortunate is that both players looked so good prior to these incidents. Donaldson hit a 112 MPH rocket into the gap in his lone at-bat, and Buxton's been on an absolute tear out of the gates. Which feels like a good place to start the next section.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Before leaving Sunday's game, Buxton ripped a 98 MPH double in his first AB, tallying his third extra-base hit already. The first was a majestic moonshot on Opening Day that should've sealed a win (longest HR of Buxton's career), and the second home run on Saturday broke up a no-hitter by Milwaukee's Corbin Burnes, ultimately proving decisive in Minnesota's 2-0 victory.

 

 

After slugging .534 with 23 home runs in 126 games over the past two years, Buxton is making an emphatic early statement that his power breakthrough is entirely legitimate. His hot start, combined with the injury to Donaldson and unavailability of Nelson Cruz, quickly elevated the center fielder to No. 3 hitter, and Buck looked the part.

 

He wasn't the only one who looked like a natural at a new spot in the order.

 

Luis Arraez batted leadoff in each of the first three games, and it sure seems like he's gonna stick there. He reached base nine times in the series, including five times in Sunday's finale. He's sporting a healthy .600 on-base percentage after three games.

 

 

Although his defense at the hot corner may be somewhat questionable, Arraez is an absolute godsend in the absence of Donaldson, allowing the Twins to replace one of their most crucial players in the lineup with an amazing hitter and essential sparkplug. The team's decision to designate him essentially as a 10th man is already looking very savvy, dramatically lessening the blow of Donaldson's loss.

 

Beyond Buxton and Arraez, there were plenty of other offensive highlights, including Max Kepler's clutch hitting, Mitch Garver's awakening, and some encouraging signs from Miguel Sanó. But the resounding positive coming out of this series is starting pitching.

 

José Berríos was unbelievable on Saturday night, spinning the gem of his career with six no-hit innings and 12 strikeouts. With his fastball pumping 95-96 consistently and his breaking ball giving hitters fits, Berríos retired 18 of the 19 batters he faced, with an HBP the only blemish in his brilliant performance.

 

 

While they weren't quite as overwhelmingly impressive, Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda also deserve credit for high-caliber first turns in the rotation. The fielders behind them weren't always helpful (more on that in a moment), and Maeda especially was not at his sharpest, but both starters were effective, combining to allow just one earned run in 9 ⅓ innings with 10 strikeouts.

 

The path to a 100-win season for the Twins this year lies in getting consistently strong starting pitching, day in day out, and letting the rest take care of itself. So far, so good on that front.

 

LOWLIGHTS

The Twins revamped their roster during the offseason with a clear objective in mind: upgrade to a world-class defense that can uplift the pitching staff and cut down on costly miscues. So far, not so good on that front.

 

The series in Milwaukee featured a medley of gaffes and blunders. Andrelton Simmons dropped a force-out thrown right into his glove. Jorge Polanco muffed a routine grounder. Alex Colomé committed a mental and physical error with a wayward throw to second on Thursday. Later that inning, Kepler failed to secure a deep drive to right despite getting leather on it.

 

Certainly not the hallmarks of a stalwart defensive club, although it's wise not to overreact at this stage, and there were some nifty plays mixed in as well.

 

The disappointing glovework, and Colomé's ninth-inning meltdown in the opener, were really the only significant rough spots in this series, since the Twins outplayed Milwaukee quite thoroughly otherwise.

 

TRENDING STORYLINE

We've gotten past the known commodities in the Twins rotation. Maeda, Berríos and Pineda all looked good, but that's nothing new. They powered this starting staff to stellar results last year.

 

Now, we'll get a look at the new guys. Matt Shoemaker is set to make his Twins debut on Monday, followed by J.A. Happ on Tuesday. Shoemaker will be looking to shake off a rough spring, where he posted a 6.57 ERA and allowed four homers in 12 ⅓ innings, while Happ will be looking to go as deep as he can following a COVID-shortened ramp-up.

 

Expect to see some Randy Dobnak in the days ahead, and possibly some roster moves (position player out, pitcher in?) as the Twins aim to keep fresh arms stocked while escaping from NL rules.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

With interleague play in the rearview (for now), the Twins will welcome Cruz back to their starting lineup on Monday in Detroit, where they kick off a three-game series against the worst team in the division. Of note: in an early-season scheduling quirk, all three games at Detroit are noon starts.

 

On Thursday, Target Field will welcome back fans for the first time in 18 months. It promises to be a very special occasion.

 

With six games on tap against two of the worst teams in the league, this should hopefully be a chance for the Twins to flex their muscles a bit.

 

MONDAY, 4/5: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Matt Shoemaker v. RHP Jose Urena

TUESDAY, 4/6: TWINS @ TIGERS – LHP J.A. Happ v. RHP Casey Mize

WEDNESDAY, 4/7: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. LHP Matthew Boyd

THURSDAY, 4/8: MARINERS @ TWINS – LHP Marco Gonzales v. RHP Jose Berrios

SATURDAY, 4/10: MARINERS @ TWINS – RHP Yusei Kikuchi v. RHP Michael Pineda

SUNDAY, 4/11: MARINERS @ TWINS – RHP Chris Flexen v. RHP Matt Shoemaker

 

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY

— Latest Twins coverage from our writers

— Recent Twins discussion in our forums

— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

 

Click here to view the article

Link to post
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

Unfortunate this team gave away Game 1 - they dominated that game in every way, should have easily gone 3-0 on that trip.

 

This team is going to need Donaldson and Buxton if they want to compete against teams like the White Sox, NYY, Houston, Toronto, TB, Oakland, and so on.

 

Great starting pitching so far.

 

Simmons looks good - I have a feeling his error on opening day will be the only one we see for a long time. He can hit at the bottom of the lineup, too. Looks like a nice addition!

 

Arraez is the story on offense so far.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Unfortunate this team gave away Game 1 - they dominated that game in every way, should have easily gone 3-0 on that trip.

 

This team is going to need Donaldson and Buxton if they want to compete against teams like the White Sox, NYY, Houston, Toronto, TB, Oakland, and so on.

 

Great starting pitching so far.

 

Simmons looks good - I have a feeling his error on opening day will be the only one we see for a long time. He can hit at the bottom of the lineup, too. Looks like a nice addition!

 

Arraez is the story on offense so far.

Idk, the white sox looked like hot ass over the weekend. Angels dominated them. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Don't take the Tiggers lightly, they looked great against Cleveland and I'm not sure I'd call them the worst team in the Central. Mize is going to be a stud and Boyd always seems to give our bats fits.

Im more worried about KC. It could be Texas is just that bad but they looked like they had no problem scoring runs. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

You mention the errors which were bad, but Simmons also made some great plays that he made look easy to save some runs too.  Yes he messed up once, but overall he is looking great on defense.  He also doing just fine at plate.

 

I would like to point out, much like Dick has, how much the Twins are driving the ball up the middle to other way.  This looks like a plan they have and I like it.  Also, many people were down on Kepler due to bad spring numbers.  He reportedly said he was tweeking his swing to see if he could do better, but once spring numbers were not there he went back to old way, so far so good.   

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Im more worried about KC. It could be Texas is just that bad but they looked like they had no problem scoring runs. 

Considering their opening day starter was Kyle Gibson, I think Texas really is that bad... but it's also not unfeasible that KC could be a .500 team this season.

Link to post
Share on other sites

KC has good offense while Detroit has some pitchers that will make big noise in the next 2-3 years. Good to see Sano go opposite field and lay off the 2 strike curves breaking away. If we can keep the overall strikeouts down, the offense will be great. Nice to see Kepler off to a good offensive start.

 

Surprised they are going with Shoe vs Dobnack but we'll see how the long run plays out. GO TWINS.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Luiz Arraez could have played professional baseball in ANY era.

 

He consistently gives a master class in hitting approach.

 

Soooo fun to watch (I believe the prior FO gets the credit for him ;)

 

For the current FO Kudos, besides the obvious in Maeda, Alcala is looking pretty legit!

Arraez signed with the Twins in 2013 so the previous front office definitely gets some credit for him.
Link to post
Share on other sites

The Berrios/Burnes matchup on Saturday night might have been the pitching duel of the year. Haven't seen 2 starters go toe-to-toe with no-hitters through 6 like that in a long time (there probably are a few but I haven't seen them). It made watching every pitch really fun. Great game.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Arraez signed with the Twins in 2013 so the previous front office definitely gets some credit for him.

 

Agreed. The previous FO left this one pretty well stocked. All of these guys were in the system when Falvey & Levine signed on:

 

Sano;         Kepler;       Berrios;       Buxton

Polanco;     Duffey;       Garver;      Arraez

Balazovic;   Kiriloff;      Rortvedt;     Blankenhorn

Thorpe;        W. Javier

 

When you think of how much turnover there can be, year to year, that's a pretty good nucleus.

Also had some mature talent dealt for current talent/prospects such as Alcala, Smeltzer, Jhoan Duran, Celestino.

Top prospect Brusdar Graterol was dealt for Maeda.

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

For being the " worst team in the division" Detroit got off to a nice start against Cleveland.

I expected the Tigers to have good stats for those three games, since I wasn’t able to watch. 

for the series:

hitters wRC+

Tigers 75

indians 103

 

pitching:

Tigers: 4.33 ERA, 6.06 FIP, 6.20 xFIP, 15 for K%, 11.5 BB%

indians: 3.96ERA, 4.27 FIP, 4.59 xFIP, 27.9 for K%, 12.5 BB%

 

No good stats, just pure luck and luck will run out real quick if they keep pulling those numbers. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure we can take a lot of speculation for 3 games, now 4, but everything so far has looked very encouraging.

 

While only ONE Game not going to lie that blowing the opening game with some Keystone Cops play doesn't stink. Giving a game away is never a good thing, but knowing you coulda/shoulda won and would most days is a tiny moral victory.

 

Glad to see Colome come back. Glad to see Robles get off to a good start. I've said for months now he could be a real key to the pen. Forget 2020 and look at his career before that. THAT GUY is really good and should give us a really nice back end to the pen. Alcala's stuff looked good to wicked. Imagine how good and how important he could be to the pen a couple months from now when his confidence groes?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...