July 3, 2019

We have a race in the AL Central, folks

The Twins lost, Cleveland won and now the two teams are separated by seven games in the American League Central. A month ago I would’ve said this thing was sewn up for the Twins. Now, I’m not so sure.

The Twins played extremely well through May, stumbled a bit in June and now have lost their first game in July to the Oakland A’s and a trio of old friends: Chris Herrmann, Robbie Grossman and Liam Hendriks.

Herrmann hit a grand slam, Grossman (a player I wish was still with the Twins) went 2-for-2 with a run scored, an RBI and two walks, and Hendriks struck out two batters in the ninth to earn his third save of the season. All of this resulted in an 8-6 win for the A’s.

Twins starter Jake Odorizzi took the loss and fell to 10-4 on the season. MLB.com reports that Odorizzi was hampered by a blister on his pitching hand, but this is also the A’s, the team that practically invented baseball analytics as we know them, including the all-important stat of on-base percentage.

Oakland hitters worked their pitching counts and Odorizzi wound up throwing 84 pitches in three innings with three walks. In all, the A’s got six free passes on Tuesday, compared to just one walk for the Twins.

Kyle Gibson gets the ball Wednesday. The Twins haven’t lost three games in a row all season. If they want that to continue, Gibson needs to pitch well. If not, the lead over the Indians could slip to six games, then five, then…

Extra innings…

-The Twins are 53-31. The club was 15-12 in June, but the Tribe were 17-9.

-When did Herrmann, Grossman and Hendriks play for the Twins? Herrmann, 2012-2015; Grossman, 2016-2018; Hendriks, 2011-2013.

-The A’s hit three home runs on Tuesday, but so did the Twins. Miguel Sano hit No. 13, while catcher Jason Castro hit two to give him 10 on the season.

-The Twins out-hit the A’s, but those hits weren’t quite as productive. The Twins scored six runs on 10 hits, while the A’s scored eight runs on eight hits. That’s what a few walks will do for you.

-And now this… Strib Twins beat writer LaVelle Neal says Odorizzi is headed to the injured list and Zack Littell has been recalled. How about giving Lewis Thorpe another shot?


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.