March 27, 2018

As the regular season nears, a twinge of concern

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Twins have had an excellent offseason and appear to be in good shape for a successful 2018 campaign. But if the Twins really want to move up in the world they have to beat the best in the business, including the Boston Red Sox.

The two teams met Sunday. David Price took the mound for the Red Sox, the Twins countered with Kyle Gibson and it resulted in a 6-1 defeat for the Twins. Price and four relievers limited the Twins to just one run on three hits, while the Red Sox scored six runs on 10 hits. Mookie Betts hit two home runs.

I wouldn’t normally consider this a discouraging loss (it’s spring training after all), except that (1) Gibson didn’t look so good, and (2) neither did Fernando Rodney, which now has me questioning the wisdom of signing a 41-year-old relief pitcher. I have written a lot about Gibson and how he has finally shown improvement as a pitcher, and maybe, just maybe, has finally turned a page in his career.

But Sunday’s loss reminded me of the old Gibson and that’s a problem as the season is set to get underway. Gibson wasn’t terrible Sunday, but it wasn’t a good outing either. He gave up seven hits, including a home run, and three runs (all earned) in two-plus innings, with one walk and two strikeouts. Gibson had rolled through spring training with an ERA under 2.00. That was until Sunday when it rose to 3.55. Still respectable, of course, but disappointing.

Rodney got knocked around pretty good, and looking at the box score, it appears as though the “Rodney experience” was in full swing. In one inning, Rodney allowed two home runs, three runs (all earned), with two walks and one strikeout. By the time that appearance was over, he exited with a 7.71 ERA.

Extra innings…

-The only good news was that Brian Dozier homered off Price in the first inning of Sunday’s game.

-The Twins play one final spring training game against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, then the regular season gets underway Thursday at Baltimore. The Twins have a three-game set with the Orioles, then it’s straight into interleague play with a two-game set at Pittsburgh. Then the Twins come home to Target Field on April 5 for the home opener. That game is sold out. But my son and I will be there because I bought tickets for the game two months ago. Looking forward to it.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

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.