September 4, 2018

‘Opener’ strategy rolls on for Twins

The Twins aren’t done exploring whether the bullpen can actually help a starting pitcher pitch deeper (more effectively?) into games after it was announced that reliever Trevor May will get the ball for Tuesday’s game at Houston.

And once May has worked his way through the top and middle of the order, starting pitcher Kohl Stewart is expected to follow him, according to MLB.com. But instead of having to face the best hitters in the lineup, Stewart will take the mound against the weaker part of the lineup.

That’s the essence of the “opener” strategy, which the Twins tried for the first time in club history on Sunday. Nothing went right in Sunday’s 18-4 loss to the Texas Rangers, but perhaps May is the right guy for the job. Since returning from Tommy John surgery, Northwest native May has pitched well. He is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA and has 22 strikeouts in 14-plus innings pitched.

The Twins might as well explore the “opener” because all is not well. They lost again Monday and are now 2-8 in their last 10 games.

The Twins out-hit the Astros on Monday, but could do nothing after those hits. The Twins were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and struck out 13 times as a team. They also left 11 men on base. The Astros, meanwhile, scored four runs on four hits and beat the Twins, 4-1. Errors helped.

The Twins committed two more errors to give them 84 on the season with about a month to go. Last season the Twins committed a total of 78 errors — second best in the American League and a contributing factor in their 85-77 record and wildcard playoff berth. This season they appear on the verge of committing 100 errors, which is closer to the disaster of 2016.

Extra innings…

-It would be great to see the Twins play competitive baseball down the stretch, but that’s anybody’s guess at this point. It’s an almost entirely AL Central affair to close out the season, except for a home series against the dreaded New York Yankees and a road series at Oakland. The Twins are 30-29 against the central, 16-15 versus the AL East and 9-18 against the AL West.

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.