March 13, 2021

Despite a losing record, Twins starting pitching remains sharp this spring

The ball isn’t flying into the outfield stands at a rate we’ve come to expect from the Twins, but it certainly is sailing well off the mound based on the low number of earned runs starters have allowed this spring.

And it continued Friday after Michael Pineda gave up only one earned run over two-plus innings while striking out six in an 8-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The Twins got two doubles from Luis Arraez, two hits from Nelson Cruz and a hit apiece from Kyle Garlick and Keon Broxton in the loss.

The bullpen, which got off to a rough start, has shown improvement the past week, but Friday was another long afternoon after Tyler Duffey and Glen Sparkman allowed five earned runs. Duffey’s earned run average is elevated (to put it nicely) but Sparkman’s ERA has been absolutely stratospheric. I don’t see how he makes the team.

Pineda’s performance was preceded on Thursday by Matt Shoemaker, who also allowed only one earned run over four innings in another loss, 5-4, to the Boston Red Sox.

Before the two-game losing streak, Jose Berrios, who definitely looks ready for the regular season (all the starters look ready), struck out four over three innings in a 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Berrios matched Kenta Maeda’s performance because Maeda did the same on Tuesday, striking out four over three innings. The bullpen was just as sharp: Alex Colome struck out the side and Taylor Rogers, Duffey, Luke Farrell and Brandon Waddell (any relation to Rube?) made scoreless appearances in the 1-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Extra innings…

-The Twins are 5-6 through Friday.

-Alex Kirilloff, who made his major league debut in last year’s postseason, isn’t hitting real well, but he does have a home run to his credit. He hit it in the 5-4 loss to the Red Sox.

-The 6-2 win over the Rays was powered by cult figure Willians Astudillo and Rob Refsnyder. La Tortuga and Refsnyder drove in four of the Twins’ six runs.


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.