Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/5 through Sun, 4/11
Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 5-4)
Run Differential Last Week: +14 (Overall: +21)
Standing: T-2nd Place in AL Central
Last Week's Game Recaps:
- Game 4 | MIN 15, DET 6: Cruz Leads Trouncing of Tigers
- Game 5 | DET 4, MIN 3: Twins Fail to Execute in Extras
- Game 6 | MIN 3, DET 2: Colomé Holds on for 6-Out Save
- Game 7 | MIN 10, SEA 2: Twins Treat Returning Fans With Dominant Victory
- Game 8 | SEA 4, MIN 3: Another Loss in Extra Innings
- Game 9 | SEA 8, MIN 6: Mariners Score Eight Unanswered Runs
NEWS & NOTES
It's been a rough go for Brent Rooker. The slugging prospect looked quite good upon arriving in the major leagues last year, but broke his arm on an HBP in just his seventh game.
This spring he missed out on a roster spot that many expected him to claim, with left field open, but quickly got his chance when Josh Donaldson went down in the opener. Unfortunately, Rooker just never looked right, going 1-for-11 with six strikeouts before being placed on the Injured List with a cervical strain ahead of Wednesday's game. Brandon Waddell replaced him on the roster, adding a 14th reliever.
It is all coming together for Byron Buxton. We've seen torrid stretches from the center fielder before, but never in his career has he been so visibly confident, casual, and carefree while straight-up obliterating the competition.
He looks like a fully-realized Neo in The Matrix right now, seeing ones and zeros. It's magical. Last week Buxton went 10-for-19 with three home runs and three doubles, lifting his seasonal hitting line to a hysterical .481/.548/1.185 while cementing his status as bona fide cleanup hitter.
Meanwhile, Nelson Cruz continues to be an astounding offensive force as he approaches age 41. Finally joining the starting lineup with the Twins escaping NL rules, he launched two homers, including a grand slam, in his first start of the season in Detroit. He added another the following day and then went deep on Saturday at Target Field, totaling 11 hits and nine RBIs in six starts for the week.
Buxton and Cruz are leading the charge for a lineup that has been locked in and routinely destroying the ball. There have been plenty of promising early signs suggesting the offensive powerhouse of 2019 has returned – in the past week alone, the Twins recorded more runs in a game (15 against Detroit on Monday) and more hits in a game (16 against Seattle on Thursday) than they ever did during the 2020 season.
In the early going, these boys are hitting the ball HARD.
Pitching continues to be a tremendous positive overall, albeit one that hit a snag with the unraveling midway through Sunday's game. Prior to that, the unit had been nothing short of incredible. Minnesota entered Sunday leading the American League in ERA (2.20), and trailing only Boston and New York in FIP (3.19). The starting pitching especially was exemplary, with an MLB-leading 1.88 ERA.
Kenta Maeda, José Berríos, and Michael Pineda all contributed last week with strong showings, and Matt Shoemaker had allowed only one through 11 innings before things went south in the sixth on Sunday.
We'll get a couple of looks at J.A. Happ in the week ahead, but so far this rotation has been highly impressive and even better than advertised. Excellent work from Wes Johnson and all involved.
Alex Colomé is a problem.
The centerpiece of Minnesota's offseason bullpen overhaul has now been directly responsible for two of their four losses. While the blown three-run save in the season opener could be chalked up in part to defensive lapses and bad luck, there's no sugarcoating the meltdown that took place in the ninth inning Sunday, which cost the Twins a game and series against Seattle.
Colomé looked flat-out brutal. He faced five hitters, induced zero swinging strikes on 17 pitches, and gave up contact of 99.9+ MPH on three of four balls in play. That includes Kyle Seager's game-winning home run, on a pitch very similar to the back-breaking Christian Yelich drive in Milwaukee: a 90 MPH cutter in the heart of the zone that basically grooved right into the sweet spot of the bat.
It was the second consecutive day where Colomé surrendered a late-game lead. On Saturday he gave up a go-ahead single to Seager, on yet another crushable meatball right over the plate. These are frankly inexcusable pitches in key spots and he's been serving them up continually.
Of all the front office's offseason moves, the Colomé signing was the one that gave me most pause. As good as his numbers on looked on paper, it was hard not to feel apprehensive about the fact that the White Sox – who watched him achieve near-perfection as closer in 2020 – spent $50 million for his replacement while seemingly making no effort to retain him. Likewise, the rest of the league showed lukewarm interest at best in Colomé, who ended up signing for less than almost anyone expected.
It feels like we're quickly seeing why.
When will Donaldson return? From the sound of it, his activation from IL could be imminent. The Twins described his hamstring strain as "minor" from the start, and sure enough, he was running on treadmills and testing his legs just days after being placed on the shelf. On Sunday he went through a full battery of live baseball activities at the alternate site in St. Paul and reportedly came out of it feeling fine.
It sounds like there's a very real chance he'll rejoin the team this week, if not on Monday. With Miguel Sanó, Jorge Polanco, and basically everyone who sets foot in left field failing to do much offensively, the lineup could use JD's boost.
The first full-slate week of the season is on tap, with seven games in seven days. First, the Twins will welcome the Red Sox for four at Target Field. Then it's off to Southern California for three against the Angels. It's unclear whether Shohei Ohtani, who missed his last start with a blister, might be ready to take the mound in one of those contests.
MONDAY, 4/12: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP Martin Perez v. LHP J.A. Happ
TUESDAY, 4/13: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Nathan Eovaldi v. RHP Kenta Maeda
WEDNESDAY, 4/14: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP Eduardo Rodriguez v. RHP Jose Berrios
THURSDAY, 4/15: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Garrett Richards v. RHP Michael Pineda
FRIDAY, 4/16: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Matt Shoemaker v. TBD
SATURDAY, 4/17: TWINS @ ANGELS – LHP J.A. Happ v. TBD
SUNDAY, 4/11: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. TBD
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums