The Twins got a series win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, getting key contributions from three new faces: catcher Sandy Leon, who drove in two runs and had the only extra-base hit for the Twins, and relievers Michael Fulmer and Jorge Lopez.
Fulmer pitched a scoreless sixth inning and Lopez locked down his 20th save of the season on seven pitches in the 4-1 Twins win. As good as the pitching looked on Wednesday, I also found myself wondering: Can this team hit?
The Twins are still dealing with a lot of injuries — Miguel Sano, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach are still on the injured list — plus Byron Buxton seems to be playing every other day so that he doesn’t make an ailing knee any worse. All of this means that the Twins have a very weak bottom of the order with Jake Cave, Leon and Mark Contreras. Yes, the pitching has been improved, but can that lineup go toe-to-toe with the Toronto Blue Jays?
The Tigers are one thing, but the Blue Jays are quite another matter because they have the No. 2 run-scoring offense in the American League. If the Twins can hang with the Jays over the next four days, they’re probably in good shape the remainder of the season. It helps that right fielder Max Kepler is about to return to the lineup from the injured list.
Sonny Gray gets the ball on Thursday.
-Joe Ryan did bounce back from his previous start on Wednesday, allowing one run over five innings with nine strikeouts. And yet manager Rocco Baldelli stuck to his script — a script that many in Twins Territory find frustrating — and lifted Ryan after 78 pitches in favor of the bullpen. The bullpen allowed one hit the rest of the way.
-On Aug. 3, 1969, the Twins’ Rich Reese hit a pinch-hit grand slam off the Baltimore Orioles’ Dave McNally, halting his winning streak at 17 games. The win in the Twins’ 5-2 victory went to Jim Kaat.
“It wasn’t anything hard to decide,” said Twins manager Billy Martin to the Minneapolis Tribune about his decision to use Reese. “My choices were pretty much Reese, Graig Nettles and Charlie Manuel. They’re all left-handed hitters and Reese is the best hitter.”
And last but not least… RIP, Vin Scully.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 3, 2022
Watched and listened to a lot of Scully’s most famous moments on Wednesday. My personal favorite is his call of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965. You can hear it here.
Sources: MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com