Twins manager Rocco Baldelli unveiled the real deal on Sunday, using a lineup that we can probably expect to see a lot during the regular season. All the familiar names were there: Max Kepler, Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Andrelton Simmons and Brent Rooker, who played in left field.
And when you stand back and gaze at those names it’s clear the Twins still have quite a formidable lineup. Add pitcher Kenta Maeda, who got the nod on Sunday, and this team is going to win and win often.
Maeda no-hit the Boston Red Sox over four innings with five strikeouts and the lineup paced a 13-hit attack, including four doubles and a home run from Buxton.
All was as the world should be until Maeda exited the game. Baldelli then brought in newly signed reliever, Hansel Robles, and he promptly served up two home runs. He was followed later by Ian Hamilton who did the same, allowing a three-run bomb. So what appeared to be an easy shutout victory for the Twins, turned into a 5-5 tie. Robles and Hamilton gave up five earned runs.
-J.A. Happ makes his spring training debut on Monday. Remember him? The starting pitching has been so good — Jose Berrios, Maeda, Matt Shoemaker, Michael Pineda, Lewis Thorpe and Randy Dobnak have pitched so flawlessly this spring that I had completely forgotten about the ex-Yankee. One reason for that is Happ tested positive for COVID-19, although he was reportedly asymptomatic.
Here’s a bold (or crazy) thought: Do they even need him in the rotation? I suppose they do, although the way the bullpen has pitched this spring, and to be fair it hasn’t been completely terrible, perhaps Happ makes more sense for long relief. That might be a hard sell, seeing that the Twins agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal to get him. Let’s see how he does on Monday. He gets the ball against the always-tough Atlanta Braves.