Never mind that the Twins beat the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday — which is all fine and well, of course — because I’m more interested in the experiment that keeps on giving. Once again I’m talking about the “opener,” in which a reliever starts a game to tee up the primary pitcher for an effective outing. The experiment got off to a rocky start this month, but has now found its groove, particularly on Tuesday.
That was Game 1 of a three-game series with the Tigers. Reliever Gabriel Moya got the start. He pitched a scoreless inning of baseball, then turned the ball over to rookie Kohl Stewart who went six strong, allowing only two hits with five strikeouts. Stewart, since pitching in the opener format, has lowered his ERA to a very respectable 3.68. Through seven innings, the Twins held on to a 1-0 lead until reliever Trevor Hildenberger was blasted for four runs in the eighth.
But the Twins got back on track Wednesday with an 11-4 victory over those Tigers. Jake Odorizzi did not pitch well, but the bullpen did and they were backed with 11 runs on 14 hits. Internet sensation, Willians Astudillo, led the way with three hits and a .350 batting average, while Jorge Polanco, Robbie Grossman, Johnny Field and Chris Gimenez had two hits apiece. Field’s two hits were two home runs, and former New York Yankee, Tyler Austin, hit his 17th dinger of the season. After Odorizzi’s exit, five relievers pitched six innings of scoreless baseball.
Moya will get the ball Thursday.
-The Twins have one more game with the Tigers and then the South Siders come to town for the final four games of the season.