April 9, 2016

Same as it ever was: Twins off to yet another slow start

Just when you thought it was safe to identify encouraging signs about the Twins during Spring Training, the regular season gets under way and nothing goes as it appears it should.

That’s because the Twins, who won 19 games in March, are once again off to a slow start. They haven’t won on Opening Day since 2008 and continued that streak by getting swept on the road by the Orioles. They also have dropped the first game against the Kansas City Royals, the defending champs.

The result is four losses in four games and last place in the American League Central.

No need to panic, right?

Easy for you non-Twins fans to say, but yes, that’s correct. It’s April, it’s the first week of the season and after a slow start last year, the Twins reeled off a 30-19 record.

So, what gives?

Well, the temperature fell about 30 degrees between Florida and Maryland, which might explain the alarming number of team strikeouts to start the year, including 13 on Wednesday. And when you’re striking out so much you’re not getting many hits, other than Joe Mauer, who also has hit his first home run. Korean slugger, Byung Ho Park, hit his first on Friday night to help the Twins take a 3-2 lead late in the game against the Royals, but the bullpen gave it right back and the Twins lost, 4-3.

The bullpen didn’t have a great spring and that has continued into the first week of the season. Setup man Kevin Jepsen already has two losses.

Starting pitching has been OK, with Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana pitching well enough to have won. But Kyle Gibson’s start was not good, and once again was disappointing after he appeared to pitch well in March. Gibson walked five in five innings and gave up four earned runs and exited the game with a 7.20 ERA.

Silver lining: So far all of the games have been low-scoring, close affairs, with no blowouts. The pitching staff, for the most part, has done its job — they just need to be backed by a few more runs.

And nobody’s hitting all that well. But they will hit. In time.

But, for the moment, the Twins are 0-4.

April 3, 2016

So this is it: Where will the Twins finish in 2016?

The Twins wrapped up Spring Training with a loss on Friday to the Nationals and an 8-8 tie against the same team on Saturday to finish 19-11-2 before the regular season begins Monday at Baltimore. Game ends in an 8-8 tie, closing the Twins' spring schedule with a 19-11-2 record. Opening Day is 48 hours... Continue Reading »

March 28, 2016

Here’s what I’ve learned about the Twins after the fourth week of Spring Training

The Twins improved to 15-10-1 through Sunday (March 27), showing signs that this team is set to advance on the progress they made last year. The starting pitching has been solid, the offense has clicked — particularly from key players, such as Byung Ho Park, Miguel Sano and Trevor Plouffe — and the bullpen, while... Continue Reading »

March 25, 2016

Remembering Calvin Coolidge Ermer, baseball manager

Calvin Coolidge Ermer, who managed the Twins for part of 1967 and all of 1968, is one of 991 players in major league history to appear in one game, according to Baseball-Reference.com. That moment for Ermer, better known as a “cup of coffee” in baseball terms, came on Sept. 26, 1947 with the Washington Senators.... Continue Reading »

March 20, 2016

Here’s what I’ve learned about the Twins after the third week of Spring Training

The Twins returned to winning form through Saturday (March 19), finishing the week with four wins and a loss to improve to 9-7-1 overall. Most notably, the offense stepped it up, getting blowout victories over the Orioles and Red Sox. Byung Ho Park, Miguel Sano, Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe continue to hit, as do... Continue Reading »

March 13, 2016

Here’s what I’ve learned about the Twins after the second week of Spring Training

After the Twins started Spring Training with a record of 3-1-1, the team slipped to 5-6-1 through Saturday (March 12). Despite the losing record — it’s Spring Training, right? — there still have been encouraging signs for the upcoming regular season. Here’s what I noticed: -Byung Ho Park: Park’s signing is beginning to look like... Continue Reading »

March 7, 2016

Here’s what I’ve learned about the Twins after the first week of Spring Training

The first week of Spring Training is in the books — the Twins started play on Wednesday — and the Twins finished the week with a 3-1-1 record. Not that Spring Training records mean a hoot, but as a fan I’m encouraged by any signs of a potentially winning regular season. Here’s what I noticed:... Continue Reading »

February 29, 2016

Even a longtime Twins fan can learn something new about the Twins

I’ve been a fan of the team since the early 1980s, but I had no idea until today that Twins Hall of Famer Rod Carew collected his 3,000th hit against the Twins — the same team that was his home for 12 seasons until he was traded to the California Angels in exchange for four... Continue Reading »

February 21, 2016

Nick Punto, the most celebrated utility infielder in Major League Baseball history, retires

Nick Punto, he of the shredded jersey, the head-first slide into first base, the “piranhas” and who spent seven of his 14 seasons in baseball with the Twins, announced his retirement last week. Punto leaves the game with a career batting average of .245. It hardly matters, though, because Punto endeared himself to teammates, fans... Continue Reading »

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Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.