The Twins blanked the Kansas City Royals 2-0 on opening day, then did it all over again on Saturday by the same margin, making it the first time in franchise history that the Twins have started a season with consecutive shutouts.
Oddly enough, the two games were even more identical than that because Pablo Lopez gave the Twins five innings on Thursday and Sonny Gray did the same Saturday, although not as efficiently.
Gray allowed only three hits over five innings, but he also walked four batters, didn’t have a strikeout and was done after 83 pitches. Reliever Caleb Thielbar struck out the side in the eighth and Jorge Lopez closed it out for his first save of the season.
With that kind of pitching, the Twins needed only five hits to push two runs across home plate. Byron Buxton went 2-for-4 with a double and scored two runs, Jose Miranda had an RBI hit and Kyle Farmer a sacrifice fly. Despite hitting a short pop up, the speedy Buxton still scored easily from third base.
In Thursday’s win, starter Lopez was more dominant, fanning eight over five innings with three walks, but only allowed two hits.
Buxton tripled, Oregon state man Trevor Larnach had an RBI hit and “Donnie Barrels” followed suit with his own RBI single. Hard-throwing Jhoan Duran earned the opening day save.
Joe Ryan gets the ball Sunday.
Extra innings …
-Check your box scores because there’s a new addition to them in the form of “pitch timer violations,” and the Royals had two on Saturday. Batter Franmil Reyes was called for one and so was Royals reliever Aroldis Chapman.
-Slugger (?) Joey Gallo has already struck out four times in his first six at bats. I’ll just leave it at that.
-Luis Arraez, the ex-Twin and defending American League batting champion, went 4-for-5 on Saturday.
-Buxton is stealing the spotlight at the moment because of his extra-base hits, but the best hitter on the team is catcher Christian Vazquez with four hits in his first seven at bats.