I’ve watched countless veterans get a shot to wake up the echoes of past glory for the Minnesota Twins. In a tale as old as time, those veterans simply didn’t have it anymore, be that “it” talent, youth, conditioning, anabolic steroids, some cocktail of all these things, you name it. I’ve watched Steve Carlton and Sidney Ponson and Rondell White and Butch Huskey and Bret Boone and Joe Crede and Mike Pelfrey and Ricky Nolasco and Ramon Ortiz and Steve Howe and Roberto Kelly and Greg Myers and Pat Borders and Ruben Sierra and Greg Swindell and Mike Morgan and Todd Jones and Mike Fetters and Jesse Orosco and James Baldwin and Phil Nevin.
I’ve talked myself into Brian Fuentes as a possible closer. It feels good to admit this in a public forum. My shame is yours now.
Given all that I’ve learned, and knowing that for every Paul Molitor there are 145 Shane Rawleys, I want you to know what I think about Chris Archer.
I think he’s going to be just fine.
Given all the names I’ve listed without even mentioning John Candelaria, not even once, you are likely wondering why I think Archer will be perfectly adequate.
Because I need it very badly.
I could really use a good, solid Twins season in 2022. I say this knowing extremely well that 40% of the starting rotation are veterans trying to prove something after a bad year or years, 40% are just kids, and 20% is Sonny Gray. It’s challenging to be optimistic!
And yet. It’s going to be alright. Do I have proof of this? Of course not. But the fact remains, I’d really like for it to happen, and it feels like the universe owes us a kindness. Might that feeling just be a breakfast burrito repeating on me? Absolutely.
But this time, it’ll be different.
Kenta Maeda: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, BB, 2 K
Home Runs: Kepler (4), Simmons (2)
Bottom 3 WPA: Rogers -.298, Maeda -.224, Polanco -.149
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Despite some early offensive action, the Twins were plagued by a tough fifth inning and a costly eighth-inning error that eventually cost them the game to Oakland. With a runner on first and one out, Taylor Rogers fielded a grounder and threw to second in an attempt to get the Twins out of the eight with a double-play. Rogers' throw was solid, but was muffed by 3B Josh Donaldson at second base. The ball trickled into CF, allowing baserunner Ramon Laureano to advance to third. Laureano scored the game-winning run two at-bats later on a wild pitch from Rogers.
Coming off two quality starts, Kenta Maeda had one of his shakier starts of the year, plagued by a rocky fifth inning. After only giving up one run through the first four, Maeda gave up four consecutive hits that would lead to a four-run inning for the Athletics.
Maeda now has a 5.26 ERA through his first eight starts of the year. He’ll have a chance to redeem himself when he takes the hill against Cleveland on Friday night. Maeda suffered an April 27th loss in his only other appearance against Cleveland, giving up five runs (four ER) on seven hits in addition to three HR in a 7-4 defeat.
It’s clear that Maeda isn’t off to the same start that landed him second in Cy Young voting in 2020. Still, it’s likely that Maeda will get out of this rut at some point given his reputation for consistency. The righty leveraged a 4.03 ERA through eight starts in 2019, 4.75 in 2018, and 5.08 in 2017. None of these numbers are spectacular, but the point is, Maeda has turned out fine by the end of the year. He’ll be okay, it’s just taking a bit longer.
Fifth Inning Blues
Maeda’s crumble in the fifth wasn’t the sole proprietor to the A’s massive inning. With the bases loaded and one out, A’s CF Ramon Laureano chopped a weak grounder to Andrelton Simmons. Simmons then came home with ball prompting a run down involving baserunner Elvis Andrus and Twins C Ben Rortvedt.
As Rortvedt tracked Andrus back to third base, he prematurely threw the ball to 3B Josh Donaldson, allowing Andrus time to retreat towards home. With Rortvedt in close proximity, Andrus channeled his inner-Lebron James and made contact with the Twins catcher. The play resulted in an interference call, scoring Andrus and prolonging the inning.
Max Kepler has had a lackluster year at the plate thus far. That wasn’t the case on Sunday for the acting Twins CF, who played in a part in five of six Twins’ runs.
Kepler put the Twins on the board in the second with a three-run shot to right-center field, giving the Twins a 3-1 lead. An inning later Kepler skied a bases-loaded pitch to right field to score Jorge Polanco on a bang-bang play.
Kepler added to his big day at the plate with an eighth inning double. He would later score on Andrelton Simmons game-tying home run. Kepler exited the game after the eighth inning for unconfirmed reasons.
The Twins will look to clean up their act when the White Sox come to town tomorrow night. J.A. Happ (2-1, 4.26 ERA) will face off against Dallas Keuchel (2-1, 4.53 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:40p.m. CST.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet