June 22, 2016

Surely the Twins can beat the Philadelphia Phillies…

Update: Well, so much for Ricky Nolasco beating the Phillies. The Twins’ “ace,” who leads the team with three wins, didn’t pitch well enough for his fourth win and lost 7-3. Worse, though, was Kevin Jepsen’s performance. He followed Nolasco and gave up a three-run home run in two-thirds of an inning. Jepsen, who lost the closer’s job earlier in the year, continues to pitch poorly. Frankly, I’m surprised he still has a role on this team.

In better news, Kid Kepler — to quote Strib beat writer LaVelle Neal III — had two hits on Thursday.

Earlier: The Twins banged out 13 more hits on Wednesday to win their second game over the Phils, 6-5. Trevor Plouffe had three of those hits, including a double. Starter Kyle Gibson wasn’t terrible, giving the Twins six innings. But he still gave up eight hits, two home runs and five runs overall, four of which were earned. The bullpen actually showed up tonight and threw three scoreless innings. Lefty Fernando Abad, who shares closing duties with Brandon Kintzler, recorded his first save.

Ricky Nolasco gets the ball on Thursday. Nolasco, who spent eight seasons in the National League before coming to the Twins, has a career 8-6 record versus the Phils with a 3.75 ERA.

Original post: The answer after the first of three games against the visiting Phillies is yes.

But Tuesday’s win was what you might expect from two teams with terrible (Twins) and mediocre (Phillies) pitching: a slugfest broke out, with the Twins finally prevailing 14-10. The Twins scored 14 runs — the most runs scored so far this year — on 14 hits, including a breakout night from catcher Kurt Suzuki. Suzuki went four-for-five and hit two home runs. They also got one each from the surprising Robbie Grossman and Joe Mauer.

In case you hadn’t noticed, this series is a battle of two struggling teams. The data-infused news website, 538, has the Twins pegged at 100 losses this year, with the Phils right behind them at 97. The Twins have the second worst team pitching in the game (the Cincinnati Reds are dead last), and rank 27th (out of 30 teams) in team batting. The Phillies, meanwhile, come to Target Field dead last in team batting and rank 19th in team pitching.

In other words, there’s not a lot to cheer here.

And that played out Tuesday night, at least in terms of pitching. Both starters lasted all of three innings — and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Twins’ Tyler Duffey is about to book a one-way ticket to Triple-A Rochester — and both bullpens were no better. The Twins’ Michael Tonkin surrendered four earned runs in one-plus innings of work. Still, the Twins got the win and new closer Brandon Kintzler picked up his third save.

Kyle Gibson gets the ball on Wednesday.

Extra innings…

-Young slugger Miguel Sano, who has been on the disabled list since the end of May with an injured hamstring, is getting closer to his return, according to MLB.com. Sano is set to begin his rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester this week.

-A few more words on Robbie Grossman: If the Twins were actually winning and in the thick of the AL Central race, I have a feeling we’d all be comparing Grossman to Shannon Stewart’s arrival in 2003.

 

COMMENTS

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.