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  1. As a follow up to someone that writes about the game, it only seems natural to check with a woman that tells stories through a different medium. Having made her own trek through the minor leagues before debuting in The Show, Melanie Newman can now (or will as 2020 gets underway) call herself a big leaguer. Paving a Path Part 1: Britt Ghiroli The Georgia native has worked as a broadcaster at both the High-A and Double-A levels. She’s been a sideline reporter for Division 1 college athletics, and both MLB and ESPN have employed her directly. Now the long time Red Sox fan joins the Baltimore Orioles and calls a new team home. I caught up with her recently to talk about the journey: Twins Daily: You've been multi-talented and focused on a plethora of sports since breaking into the media scene. When did it become clear that baseball was your calling and that's where you wanted to focus? Melanie Newman: I always knew I wanted to specialize in baseball but also had learned in college that performing as a multi-sport journalist widened my chances of employment. Bob Rathbun sat down with me to review my work and chat soon after graduating and he affirmed to me I needed to give baseball a bigger piece of my attention. So, while I always stayed vigilant in studying other sports right down to cornhole, I've fought the hardest to have just about any role in baseball. TD: Everyone in baseball understands the ladder progression through a system. In your baseball career you've gone from minor league positions to now working with a big-league club. How has that helped to shape your drive, and what challenges does each new level present? MN: I will always adore my time in the minor leagues because it is so unique and a chance to really understand not just the game but the players. You see the sacrifices and the grind at a new level on those 12-hour bus rides. Broadcasters aren't exempt to those conditions. Sometimes the late hours and no days off catch up to you, but once you find your stride (usually the fifth week every season), things smooth out, you adjust to those 3-hour sleeps. If anything, it's proven to me that I DO want to be here and how much I appreciate this world. I also better understand what it takes for a game to even happen, from the sales staff to the groundskeepers, then multiply that immensely at the Major League level! I could not do an ounce of my job without the village of staff who make it happen, including PR, digital media, producers and editors. TD: Now working with a Major League club, do you feel like you need to re-establish yourself all over again, or is credibility built on your brand? As a female, is there an additional sense of responsibility being representative of opportunity beyond just yourself? MN: Breaking into the Majors feels two-fold: I absolutely am not changing who I am, because who I am is why I was hired. If I tried to be like another big league broadcaster, that just creates a duplicate in the industry and the beauty of every single broadcaster in any sport is while we might have similarities, we are each unique because we found certain aspects of how to do the job that speak to us on a personal level more than others. For example, I felt called to the humanizing niche of story telling, why humans are the way they are and how that shapes them into the athlete they are - what makes them laugh, the people in their life who got them here, etc. The second side is that while I am sure of who I am, that doesn't mean I can't develop and improve. I'm lucky to have a good team of peers and mentors to help me better my craft every day. According to the outside world, you are supposed to have more responsibility as a woman. While I am aware that my actions are more heavily scrutinized, I know how I was raised as a person and how I was trained to be a professional, I expect to behave at the same high caliber as every other respectable broadcaster, regardless of gender. TD: We're starting to see a female presence emerge in coaching and gameday operations for teams. You have been a pioneer on the broadcasting scene in multiple different stops. Do you feel like your success has helped contribute to that, and how can you continue using your platform so we can see talent no matter where it comes from? MN: I really would never take credit for females enterprising in the various roles of any sport. I will say it's so awesome that it's becoming more frequent to run into a female counterpart whether in the offices or at the facilities and getting to further pick their brains on how their particular role is unique and why they've pursued it. Going out every day and doing my job at a high level, that's what speaks and engages others to know that no matter their orientation or background, your dreams don't discriminate. It's also important to go out into the community, to engage with younger kids and just be a friendly person, there's no need to have a wall up around children. TD: Knowing that you have Red Sox fandom in your blood, it has to be different working for an organization in a division you grew up getting to know. How exciting is it to learn the Orioles organization from the inside, and what are you most looking forward to when we get back on the field? MN: I am very appreciative of my time in the Boston organization, especially to have grown up with New England family roots. I have had the pleasure of working for multiple organization's and I'm fortunate that a professor taught us to set aside fandoms in job hunting because the wealth of amazing people I've come to know across the entire country fills my heart. Baltimore's enthusiasm and the immediate synergy was hard to ignore. I felt like family within an hour of meeting the staff and hoped they felt the same (which I would argue now, they did). I just can't wait to step into Orioles Park at Camden Yards, knowing I am a part of this amazing organization and to see the incredible memories we will get to build together. TD: Baltimore has struggled at the big-league level of late, but have some really talented prospects. As someone who's worked on the minor league scene, how excited are you to be able to cover those stories and monitor that progress? MN: The minor leagues will always hold a special place in my heart and there is a deeper appreciation when you've been in the bottom levels to work your way up. I was fortunate to call games against two of Baltimore's affiliates last year so oddly enough when I was hired, it felt like I was more familiar with more of their minor leaguers than their major leaguers. The work Mike Elias and his team have done to select the best talent out there in building the future is absolutely exciting, the way they are training and honing each player's talents is a multi-level process that is developing both the athlete and the human being. TD: Let's end it with a surviving quarantine question. We all want baseball back and living through this sports-less time for the country has certainly been suboptimal. What have you been doing to keep busy? On off days, how do you give yourself a reset? MN: My days are pretty consistent between Spanish lessons, reading baseball articles and listening to other broadcasts/broadcasters, going for runs and spending family time. It's not flashy or exciting but the consistency of routine has been key! Follow Melanie and check out her work here. Check back in next week for entry number three in this four-part series. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. After a series loss to the Houston Astros, the Minnesota Twins were able to sweep the Baltimore Orioles in another 3-game series with hot bats and solid pitching all around. The Twins were finally able to get an off day after playing 12 straight games before they faced the Orioles for the second, and final time of the season. The Twins just a week prior, and were able to sweep them in a 3-game series after dropping the series against the Toronto Blue Jays. They were able to walk right through the Orioles again and move to 16-9 on the season. The bats continued to stay hot and the pitching really picked up in this series from both the starters and relievers. It started off with Martin Perez on Friday throwing six solid innings while only giving up one run on six hits and striking out four. The bullpen combined for three shutout innings with four strikeouts and only two hits to secure Perez's third win of the season. Just like the last time the Twins played the Orioles, the bats were rolling for the good guys. The Twins got right to work in the first inning, going back-to-back-to-back home runs from Nelson Cruz, Eddie Rosario (of course), and C.J. Cron. Max Kepler was able to add a home run later in the game, and Cruz hit his second of the game to extend the lead to 6-0. The Orioles were able to score one, but the Twins got the win 6-1 in the first game of the series. Jose Berrios was given the start in game two and went straight to work. He dealt six innings and struck out eight, but did give up eight hits which only led to two runs. The bullpen, again, came in and threw three shutout innings, this time striking out six and only giving up one hit. Berrios was able to move to 4-1 and continues to be the ace that the Twins needed. As you can probably guess, more home runs were hit by the good guys in this game as well. This time it was Kepler who picked up the multi-home run game as he homered in back-to-back games. Cron, Marwin Gonzalez, and Jason Castro were all able to go yard in last night's game propelling the Twins to a 9-2 victory. In the series finale, Kyle Gibson was lined up to close out the Orioles, and he did exactly that. He was able to pick up his second win of the season, both of them coming against the Orioles, with a very solid outing. He went seven innings and gave up just three hits and one run while striking out six. Gibson has now gone back-to-back starts without issuing a walk and the lone run was a home run from Chris Davis in the seventh. The runs weren't flowing as much this game, but Kepler, yes again, hit a home run as well as Byron Buxton getting his first of the season. The bullpen came in and did their job in two shutout innings as Blake Parker was able to pick up his fifth save of the year as the Twins got their brooms out in a 4-1 win to sweep the Orioles again. Offense Rosario was able to extend his team high in home runs this series getting his 11th of the season. Max Kepler hit four home runs this series and now has seven on the season. Jorge Polanco was a little cold this series (2-13) but is still batting .337. The teams OPS is still very high sitting at .847 Pitching Twins starters have now gone at least five innings in 14 of the last 15 starts which has been very helpful for the bullpen with how many games they've had/ still have with little rest. The bullpen threw a combined eight shutout innings throughout this series and the starting pitchers only gave up four runs in 19 innings. What's next? The Twins stay at home for a 4-game series with the Astros, who are finishing up a series with the Cleveland Indians tonight. Hopefully this series can go better for the Twins, and they can keep up the pitching and hitting. They then travel to New York to face the Yankees for the first time this season in a 3-game series.
  3. After a disappointing series loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Minnesota Twins swept the Baltimore Orioles three games to zero in two days. The Twins had played six games in a row coming into this series, and were supposed to play three straight, but due to the weather in Baltimore on Friday, the game got postponed, giving the Twins a much needed rest. The rest proved to be exactly what the Twins needed as they came out for the doubleheader and hit 11 home runs. Jose Berrios and Martin Perez both gave six innings before the bullpen came in to finish the game. In the early game, the Twins were able to strike first putting up two runs in the second thanks to back-to-back home runs for Rosario and Astudillo. The orioles answered the next inning, taking the lead 3-2 on two home runs. Rosario kept his power hitting by sending another ball out of the ballpark to tie the game at three and giving him his second home run of the day, and if you thought he was done, you are wrong. A HBP and a couple of hits in the sixth helped extend the lead to 6-3 and that would be all the Twins needed as they won 6-5. Berrios was able to get the win and move to 3-1 on the year while pitching six innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out five. Trevor Hildenberger came in and gave up two hits in only one inning but didn't allow a run. Rogers picked up his second save of the year while giving up three hits, one walk in two innings and striking out five of his six outs. It seemed as though the first game had just ended by the time the second game of the doubleheader kicked off. After the Twins ripped three home runs in the first game, they continued their power right away in the second game. Nelson Cruz and C.J. Cron were the two responsible for getting in going in the first by each hitting a home run as the Twins went up 3-0. The home runs started to come again in the third when Rosario blasted his third home run of the game and fifth in the last three games. After a few other hits, including a Buxton RBI double, Mitch Garver got into the home run spirit and hit a 3-run home run to extend the lead to 10-0 in the top of the third. To make things better, Jonathan Schoop was able to add to the home run total also hitting a 3-run bomb in the fourth against his former team to extend the league again to 13-0. The Orioles weren't just going to watch the Twins hit bombs all day, as they finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth with a 2-run shot. Going into the top of the eighth, not much had happened except another 2-run home run for the Orioles to make it 13-4, but apparently that was too close of a game for the Twins. Garver and Cruz both hit their second home run of the game to make in 15-4. The game was so bad that Chris Davis made his second career pitching appearance for the Orioles in the final inning of the doubleheader. Davis actually has a win under his belt as a pitcher from 2012 when he pitched two innings and gave up no runs. He started out the inning getting Jake Cave to ground out, but bringing Schoop to the plate. Schoop was now facing an ex teammate he used to throw to to get an out, and what better way to say hi then by hitting your second home run of the game and extending the game to 16-7. Martin Perez was able to pick up the win improving to 2-0 on the season giving up six hits, one walk and four runs in six innings and striking out two. Fernando Romero made his first appearance of the season, but only pitched two innings. His pitch count was only at 24, but three runs on four hits. Tyler Duffey came in to close out the game pitching just one inning and not allowing a run. The Twins had already won the series in just one day while playing two games combining for 22 runs on 11 home runs. They also tied their franchise record of home runs in a game with eight. They were then ready to close out the series this morning with Kyle Gibson on the mound. This game was definitely a lot closer and the ball stayed in the park the whole time! The Twins started right where they left off last night scoring two runs in the top of the first to get out to an early 2-0 lead. Gibson pitched well through almost three innings but gave up two 2-out hits which allowed the Orioles to score two runs to put them down 2-3. He was able to settle back in and was able to work through six innings while only giving up those two runs. The Twins were up 4-2 after Gibson exited the game when both Trevors were able to give them shutout innings to set up Rogers for the save. Rogers made it interesting as he found himself in a tight situation after giving up one run, the bases loaded on two outs. He got down right away with a 3-0 count, but thanks to a nice frame by Astudillo for a strike, he got Severino to fly out ending the game and completing the three game sweep. Gibson picked up his first win moving to 1-0 and Rogers picked up his third save. This was a huge series for the Twins after dropping their last one to the Blue Jays. They moved to 12-7 on the season, and have a half game lead on the Indians in the Central. The starting pitchers all were able to go deep into their games, and the bullpen was able to hold the game (mostly). The bats were able to get going throughout this whole series as we saw Rosario continue to power through the ball and leading the team with nine home runs. The Twins get right back into action tomorrow when they travel to Houston to face the Astros in a three game series.
  4. After being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles, Schoop went completely in the tank. Through his first 85 games last year he posted just a .720 OPS which was already a significant step back from his 2017 All-Star year. Across 46 games with the Brew Crew he posted just a .577 OPS and tallied a grand total of eight extra-base hits. For a team with postseason aspirations, he became unplayable and then was non-tendered this winter. The hope is that Milwaukee’s loss will be Minnesota’s gain. Obviously with this type of dip in production, we need to explore where things went wrong. Looking at the plate discipline and batted ball profile for Schoop, there are two glaring issues that jump out. First and foremost, the hard-hit rate dropped off the table. After a 36.1% mark in 2017, Schoop fell all the way down to 27.8% last year. The near 10% dip in quality contact is certainly going to show up in other areas, and that can help to paint a better picture. On the surface production faltered with inputs being measurably worse. Schoop’s .261 BABIP was nearly 100 points lower than the .330 mark he put up with the Orioles in 2017. Although the was a slight decline in HR/FB rate (roughly 2%), the greater factor here is roughly a 4% gain in ground ball rate that pulled from both fly balls and line drives. While hitting the ball more softly last season, he was also doing so with more grounders rather than fly balls. Common sense tells us that those instances are much more likely to be adequately fielded by defenders. Knowing what we do about his batted ball profile, it’s also worth looking into plate discipline and deciding what impact that had on the equation. It doesn’t take long to see that there’s a suboptimal shift here as well. After posting a career best swinging strike rate (13.8%) in 2017, that number rose to 15.1% last year. On top of swinging through more pitches, Jonathan also chased 6% more often, ballooning that number all the way up to 43.1%. Given his consistent contact percentages, these two numbers suggest he was being fooled more often at the dish and therefore suffering from offering at less than ideal moments. While not the drastic 50-60% pull hitter than Dozier was for the Twins, Schoop has a heavy pull-side profile as well. His career mark is 45.3% and he wears out the left side of the diamond. This is notable given the way in which he’s been attacked each of the past two seasons. As we can see in the images, his 2017 strike zone saw pitchers coming in on him plenty. The Curacao native was able to turn on those pitches and yank them to the part of the park he felt most comfortable aiming at. Last year though, pitchers seemed to make a concerted effort to stay away from his bat. Targeting the middle and outside half of the strike zone they were forcing Schoop to attempt to pull pitches best sent the opposite way. While betting lines aren’t any sort of indicator when it comes to future production, Schoop’s home run over/under from Bovada got me thinking. He’s set at 22.5 for 2018, and I think that’s indicative about how I feel toward his return to form. I don’t believe he’s the .293 hitter he was in 2017, but a healthy .800 OPS and 25 home runs appears plenty realistic with his profile. Miller Park didn’t help to solve his offensive woes, and while Target Field isn’t Camden Yards, the left field line should treat him well. Settling back in to more of a picky approach at the plate should help the Twins second baseman land somewhere in the middle of his last two seasons. Replicating Brian Dozier’s 42 ding dong campaign of 2016 isn’t something that Rocco Baldelli will ever need from a second basemen. Minnesota’s new manager does need a more consistent level of production though, and betting on Schoop to bounce back could be a great way to achieve that. Homing in on pitches he can handle and/or developing a stronger ability to barrel balls the other way should be some key areas of focus. We’ll see soon enough if adjustments have been made this offseason, but there’s certainly a blueprint here for success.
  5. Through the first weekend of the 2018 Major League Baseball season, the Twins have experience both heartache and jubilation. From a walkoff loss to a pair of dominating wins, the emotions have run the gambit. While not trying to analyze everything from such a small sample on a granular level, there's been a few things that have stuck out across the first trio of games. Having now just left Baltimore and embarked on Pittsburgh, everything Minnesota has accomplished thus far has come in the same city. Even in such a small sample, there's a few things that have taken place, and a few more worth monitoring as the season draws on. Here are a couple of the highlights: Lost in the walkoff lost, Jake Odorizzi was exceptional. He gave up just two hits, displayed the very strong spin rate that was part of his calling card, and sent seven Orioles hitters back to the bench. Using Fernando Rodney in a second inning after sitting through the offensive side was a curious move, and putting Addison Reed in during an incredibly low leverage spot seems to diminish his value. Kyle Gibson followed in Odorizzi's footsteps well, but the results weren't quite as indicative as the process. Sure he allowed no hits through six, but the five walks highlighted a bit of a command issue. At the end of the day, that's a strong debut in 2018 for Gibson, and substantiating his second half in 2017 remains key. Miguel Sano already has back-to-back homer games, and that's probably going to happen often this season. Unfortunately he also leads the league with eight strikeouts in 14 at bats, and is on pace for an incredible 432 whiffs over the course of the season. While there's no way that pace continues, the Twins need him to be a bit less feast or famine. I'm near certain Sano hits 30 homers, and 40 should be well within reach also. He's got to be an OPS monster though, and that will require a bit more plate discipline than he's shown early on. Brian Dozier has a 1st pitch homer to lead off a game. I'd imagine that's something we'll be repeating plenty as well. Jose Berrios missed a Maddux in his first start by eight pitches. His dominating performance against the Rockies may have been a bit more sexy due to the 11 strikeouts, but there's something to be celebrated in a complete game shutout. Entering 2018 and making the team as somewhat of a surprise, Ryan LaMarre had a 2-37 output in the big leagues. He's now 2-2 with the Twins in a pair of pinch hit opportunities. Coming off the bench as a bat, he's continuing to do his job early. With a few hits to his credit already, Byron Buxton has gotten off to a better start than in previous seasons. Opposing pitchers are still have some success making him chase sliders low and away. Either letting them go, or sitting back and driving them to right field would be a strong approach for the Twins centerfielder. For a team with Postseason aspirations, and one looking to close the gap on the Indians in the AL Central, beating the clubs you're better than is a must. That's started out well with a series victory in Baltimore. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz.
  6. This is an except of a post that originated at Zone Coverage; please read the entire thing here. The 2016 season opened with a walk-off loss for the Minnesota Twins in Baltimore. Then again, it also began with Miguel Sano playing right field, so the parallels probably stop there. But the Twins opened the 2018 season in stunningly similar fashion to two years ago, when the wheels fell all the way off on the path to a 103-loss season, the No. 1 overall pick and the bouncing bundle of prospect joy that is Royce Lewis. This team is probably just a bit more well-prepared to stomach such a loss, even without Ervin Santana for probably the next six weeks. Santana started that fateful game against the Orioles in early April 2016, but both he and Chris Tillman were bounced early after a nearly two-hour rain delay. Another delay two innings later meant the teams spent almost six hours at the ballpark with under three hours of game time to show for it. It’s hard to come up with a better metaphor for the 2016 season, but either way, we’ll save that for a rainy day. The weather was just fine as the Twins again fell 3-2 on Opening Day to the Orioles, this time off the bat of Adam Jones instead of Matt Wieters. Jones attacked the first pitch he, or any hitter for that matter, saw from Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the 11th, ambushing a 92 mph two-seam fastball and driving it deep into a sea of orange. For the first six innings of the game, the attention was on the starters. Dylan Bundy kept the Twins in check as he tossed seven shutout frames, while Jake Odorizzi did the same through six before handing things off to Zach Duke. That’s where things got dicey. Trey Mancini struck out swinging, but Jason Castro was unable to corral the third strike. Mancini reached first, then took second on another wild pitch before Duke eventually fanned Tim Beckham. Former Twin Danny Valencia pinch-hit for designated hitter Pedro Alvarez, and was intentionally walked to set up a possible double play off the bat of Craig Gentry. Earlier in the game, Gentry had robbed Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario of a home run with a terrific leaping catch at the fence in right-center. Gentry struck out swinging, but with two outs, No. 9 hitter Caleb Joseph stroked a first-pitch triple into the right-center gap, bringing home both Mancini and Valencia to give the O’s a 2-0 lead. Duke recovered to strike Chris Davis out looking for the rarely-seen fourth strikeout of the inning, something he told reporters afterward he’d only ever done before in high school. According to Baseball Almanac, that’s the fourth time in Twins history that a pitcher has fanned four batters in an inning, though all have happened in the last decade. Scott Baker (June 15, 2008), Francisco Liriano (June 5, 2012) and Tyler Duffey (May 8, 2016) were the first three. Both Twins runs came in the ninth off interim closer Brad Brach, who is filling in while Zach Britton recovers from a ruptured Achilles. Sano struck out swinging, and Rosario followed with a grounder to first that Davis couldn’t handle — which was somehow ruled a single. Rosario took second on a wild pitch, and Logan Morrison walked with Ryan LaMarre coming in to run for him. After Eduardo Escobar struck out on a full count pitch down in the zone, Max Kepler set the standard for best plate appearance of the year early, as he fought off multiple tough pitches before taking an 11-pitch walk to load the bases. Molitor made the second — or third, depending on your mileage — decision of the day that left some fans scratching their heads as he had Robbie Grossman pinch-hit for Byron Buxton, but it paid off as Robbie’s flare into left-center landed just beyond the glove of Orioles shortstop Manny Machado to tie the game. However, that was all the Twins offense was able to put together, with Jones sending the hometown fans happy after a couple innings of bonus baseball.
  7. http://www.vintagecardprices.com/pics/1830/166907.jpg After making his debut as an 18 year-old for the Baltimore Orioles in the final game of 1963, right-handed pitcher Wally Bunker earned a spot in the Orioles starting rotation in May of 1964 and pitched a 1-hitter in his first start of the season. The teenager from San Bruno, California surrendered no earned runs in his next start and a single run in the next (all complete games) eventually extending his winning streak to six consecutive starts before losing to Camilo Pasqual and the Twins on June 7th. Blessed with outstanding run support on the season, (The O’s scored 5.11 per game in Bunker’s starts, 3.99 in all others), Bunker’s tidy 2.69 ERA translated to 19 wins and only 6 losses in 29 starts, pacing the American League in win percentage. While not an overpowering thrower, (4.0 K’s per 9) Bunker still limited opponents to only 161 hits over 214 innings in 1964, translating to a .207 batting average against. Unfortunately for Bunker, the Twins' Tony Oliva was also a rookie in 1964 and Wally finished a distant second in Rookie of the Year voting to Oliva, the American League batting champion that year. Bunker also received votes in the MVP balloting, finishing 12th behind teammate Brooks Robinson. Bunker became (and remains) the youngest player to ever receive MVP votes.
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