March 8, 2021

Twins starting pitching has been sensational. The bullpen? Now that’s a different story

In games that Twins pitchers Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda, Matt Shoemaker, Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe have started so far this spring — and this is likely to be the starting rotation, give or take Smeltzer, for the regular season — they have allowed a grand total of one earned run. That came on Feb. 28, a 7-6 win over the Boston Red Sox in which Smeltzer allowed a run over two innings.

In those same starts, however, the Twins bullpen has allowed (by my count, anyway) 36 runs, including 14 runs at the hands of the Boston Red Sox on March 3. But at least the starting pitcher has remained sharp, including on Sunday, a Twins win for a change, after Thorpe pitched a scoreless inning and struck out the side.

Although the bullpen surrendered four runs in the Twins’ 8-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, at least two of those relievers showed improvement. Alex Colome and Glenn Sparkman, both of whom got roughed up in that lopsided loss to the Red Sox on March 3, each pitched a scoreless inning on Sunday.

The other good news is that the bats finally woke up. Josh Donaldson hit a three-run home run, outfielder Keon Broxton did the same and Kyle Garlick, who is fast on his way to becoming the greatest waiver pickup in the history of waivers, had two more hits, including a double.

Alex Kirilloff, who went hitless on Sunday, had two hits, including a double, against the Rays on March 4.

And then there was this…

Extra innings…

-Thorpe struck out the side on 13 pitches Sunday.

-Is Byron Buxton’s job in jeopardy? Buxton is hitting .100 while Broxton is hitting .625.

-The Twins’ 5-2 loss to the Rays on March 4 was ugly. Both teams committed three errors and clutch hitting was abysmal. The Twins were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. The Rays weren’t much better at 1-for-8, leaving eight men on base.


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.