March 9, 2023

Something actually resembling a Twins lineup played baseball this week

A Twins lineup consisting of Joey Gallo, Carlos Correa, Max Kepler, Jose Miranda, Donovan Solano, Kyle Farmer, Michael Taylor, Trevor Larnach and Ryan Jeffers — in other words, a lineup we might actually see during the regular season — took the field this week and won, edging the Baltimore Orioles 7-6 in Grapefruit League action.

Miranda hit his third home run of the spring, which makes me think his “right shoulder strain” is not so bad after all. It was previously announced he was withdrawing from the World Baseball Classic because of it. Is he now back in?

Meanwhile, Jeffers had two doubles in the game, and although the lineup showed some pop, the pitching was not as sharp, particularly starter Kenta Maeda. Maeda walked four batters and balked in two-plus innings of work. He also allowed a run on three hits.

That was on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Twins’ youth movement took the field and coasted to a 7-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. The lineup featured a number of top prospects, including Brooks Lee, who had two hits and stole a base, and Matt Wallner, who doubled in the game.

The win went to Randy Dobnak, aka “The Dobber,” but he didn’t look that sharp either. In two-plus innings he tossed 42 pitches, but only 25 of them landed for strikes. He also walked and hit a batter.

Starter Bailey Ober on the other hand pitched two scoreless innings on 20 pitches, 15 of them for strikes.

Extra innings …

-In split squad action earlier in the week, the Twins dropped a game to the Pittsburgh Pirates — but Miranda hit two home runs in the loss — and beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2.

In the win, Gallo went 3-for-3 with a home run, Kepler went 2-for-3 with a home run and former Miami Marlins pitcher Pablo Lopez — the guy we acquired for Luis Arraez — struck out four in three innings of work.

-Of note in the loss to the Pirates: Jose De Leon, a former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect once coveted by the Twins in exchange for homer-hitting second baseman Brian Dozier, struck out six Bucs over three innings. De Leon signed as a free agent with the Twins in the offseason.

-Early March is always tough on Twins Territory because March 6 is the anniversary of career Twin and Hall of Fame center fielder Kirby Puckett’s death. Puckett suffered a stroke and died in a Phoenix hospital on March 6, 2006. He was 45.

The Star Tribune treated his death as any Minnesota paper would: Two stories and a photo of Puckett were featured prominently on the front page, plus there were three more stories on the sports front, two more inside, including Sid Hartman devoting his column to Puck, and a special section about him.

“No one took the news harder than (Torii) Hunter, who dressed next to Puckett in his first major league spring training camp in 1996, and who has gone to him time and again for advice and laughs,” the newspaper reported.

“I lost more than a teammate and a friend,” said Hunter. “I lost Kirby.”


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.