April 18, 2022

It was a battle of sacrifice flies until it wasn’t

Does Kyle Garlick really need to pinch hit for Nick Gordon? OK, moving on… 

Through seven innings of Sunday’s game between the Twins and Boston Red Sox, the Red Sox held a one-run lead.

Twins starting pitcher Bailey Ober allowed two unearned runs (both sacrifice flies) over six innings on a very efficient 70 pitches. The Twins countered with a Trevor Larnach sacrifice fly in the seventh inning and then both teams headed to the bottom of eighth, the Twins very much alive and still in the game.

And then just like that they got blown out.

Reliever Caleb Thielbar entered the game and was terrible, giving up four hits and four earned runs in just one-third of an inning. He was replaced by Cody Stashak, who wasn’t much better, allowing two more runs on three more hits. By the time it was over, it was a six-run eighth inning and an eventual 8-1 Red Sox win.

Dylan Bundy gets the ball on Monday. The Twins need a win to earn a split of the four-game series.

Extra innings…

-The Twins are now 3-6 to start the 2022 season.

-During Sunday’s TV and radio broadcast of the game, there was a lot of talk about the Twins’ early season struggles. Some examples: The Twins have so far been outscored 18-3 in the eighth inning and only the St. Louis Browns* and Arizona Diamondbacks — two teams predicted to be terrible — have fewer hits with runners in scoring position than the Twins, who, if you’ll recall, backed up the truck to the tune of $100 million to get Carlos Correa.

-Some more numbers: The Twins have 51 hits through nine games for a team batting average of .182.

-More bad news: Starting pitcher Sonny Gray is on the 10-day injured list after he pulled a hamstring in Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Sox. Gray lasted all of five outs before he exited the game. The good news: Byron Buxton is day-to-day with knee soreness.

-The only guy hitting: Oregon State man Larnach went 3-for-4 on Saturday and had an RBI sacrifice fly on Sunday.

-A check of social media on Sunday showed that Twins Territory is already pretty unhappy with this team. After last season’s disappointing result, it’s clear there is absolutely no patience for losing this season, and many are pointing the finger at manager Rocco Baldelli.

I still think Baldelli is a good manager. I think he understands the Xs and Os of the modern game and speaks well of his team and players, but every team, even the good ones, sometimes need a swift kick in the pants to hold them accountable. I think that was a role much more suited to Ron Gardenhire and Tom Kelly than Baldelli.

-A nice description of former Twins manager Gene Mauch when he was with the Montreal Expos: 

At a time when pitching ruled the game and bunting, stealing and scratching out single runs was a universal approach, Mauch was the small-ball master. During the eight seasons in which he managed either all or most of the year in Philadelphia, Mauch’s teams finished first in the National League in sacrifice bunts three times, second once and never lower than fourth. You could argue that treating outs as precious rather than willingly giving them up is always sound strategy — even during the low-scoring ’60s. But ask those who played for Mauch and they’ll praise their skipper’s extreme attention to detail.

*The St. Louis Browns became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954.


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.