Nick Gordon homered and tripled, lefty Devin Smeltzer pitched four scoreless innings to earn his second win of spring and the Twins rolled the Tampa Bay Rays 8-2 on Saturday to improve to 7-9 in Grapefruit League action.
The Twins continue to hit and pitch well, and if that continues… well, that’s the name of the game, right? They certainly appear ready to put 2021 behind them and make the new season a much more successful campaign.
Shortstop Gordon was the big bopper with a 3-for-3 day, including a three-run home run and a triple. He also scored two runs and drove in five more.
Lefty starter Smeltzer improved to 2-0 and reliever Caleb Thielbar struck out the side in his appearance. The Rays allowed eight runs, but only five were earned because of three errors. Defense matters.
On Friday, it was the Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa show. Buxton hit two home runs, Correa added one more and the Twins held off the Atlanta Braves, 8-7. Newly signed pitcher Chris Archer got the start in Friday’s game and, reading the MLB.com coverage of his start, earned a lot more praise than his pitching line would suggest. Archer allowed three runs on five hits over two-plus innings with one strikeout.
-The Twins announced this week that pitcher Joe Ryan will get the ball on opening day, the first Twins rookie to pitch on opening day since Tom Hall on April 8, 1969.
On that date, the Twins were on the road to play the expansion Kansas City Royals before about 17,000 fans on a 68-degree day, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Hall pitched pretty well, allowing only one earned run over five-plus innings of work of what would eventually be a 12-inning, 4-3 Royals win.
But manager Billy Martin, making his Twins debut, didn’t see it that way, according to the Minneapolis Tribune coverage of the game on April 9.
Although Harmon Killebrew committed an error and catcher John Roseboro allowed two passed balls, Martin blamed Cesar Tovar and Hall for the loss. After the game, Martin said Tovar should never have called off another fielder if he couldn’t make the play (the ball fell for a double) and Hall apparently ignored Martin’s coaching instructions.
When the Royals’ Jim Campanis came to the plate, Martin rushed out to Hall and told him to throw nothing but breaking balls to Campanis. Instead, he went with a fastball and Campanis singled.
“Hall’s fast ball was the pitch that lost the game for us,” said Martin to the Tribune, the paper noting that Martin’s “frankness unusual in Minnesota managers.”
-Hall would pitch for 10 seasons, compiling a 52-33 record with a 3.27 ERA. In 1972, he went 10-1 with eight saves for the Cincinnati Reds.
-The Royals’ Lou Piniella went 4-for-5 at the top of the order in the 4-3 win.
-Former political columnist and humorist Molly Ivins, who made a stop in the Twin Cities early in her reporting career, had two bylines in the Tribune on April 9, 1969, including a story about a Minneapolis man killed in Vietnam.
Buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, her story about Sgt. Darrell Anderson reported that his death had pushed the Vietnam War beyond the 33,629 Americans who had died in the Korean War, making the conflict in Southeast Asia the third bloodiest foreign war in U.S. history.
“Darrell Eugene Anderson may well have been the mark of excess in Vietnam: 33,630,” Ivins wrote.
-And then there was this…
Kirby hit .393/.407/.405 in his first 20 games when he debuted in 1984. #MNTwins pic.twitter.com/Bx8uW7wpHN
— Jeff (@MNTwinsZealot) April 2, 2022