April 30, 2023

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Twins have no business losing to Royals

The Kansas City Royals, one of the weakest teams in all of baseball, edged the Twins 3-2 on Saturday by hanging around just long enough to finally tie the game and then took advantage of some miscues late as served up Twins’ closer Jhoan Duran.

But it never should have been that close because Royals starter Brad Keller couldn’t find the strike zone. He tossed 92 pitches, but only 49 of them landed for strikes. In the process, he threw two wild pitches and walked five batters in five-plus innings. All Twins hitters had to do was stand there and rest the bat on their shoulders, but not enough of them did that. Instead, they chased too many pitches out of the zone and wound up 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.

Unfortunately for the Twins, after Keller’s display of wildness, the Twins’ Duran returned the compliment and walked three batters in one inning. He also had a wild pitch and a pitch-timer violation that resulted in a ball four count.

The Twins can still win the series with a victory on Sunday. Sonny Gray gets the ball.

Extra innings …

-It’s time to have a serious conversation about pitcher Kenta Maeda and his future with the Twins. Maeda is back on the injured list (this time for 15 days) because of a right triceps strain, according to MLB.com. But that really doesn’t matter because here’s the reality of the situation: Maeda is a 35-year-old pitcher, attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery, who is in his 15th year of professional baseball if one includes his time spent with the Hiroshima Carp. In other words, he is very much in the twilight of his career, who also happens to be winless to start the 2023 season with an ERA of 9.00. With pitchers Bailey Ober, Louie Varland and Josh Winder waiting in the wings, the Twins have some decisions to make.

-Ober got the nod on Saturday and pitched well. He allowed a run over five-plus innings with two walks and six strikeouts.

-How about those Pittsburgh Pirates? Manager Derek Shelton, the Twins’ former bench coach, has them playing well, including a doubleheader sweep of the Washington Nationals on Saturday. The second game was especially good, the Bucs beating the Nats 16-1. The Pirates are an NL Central best 20-8. They lead the Milwaukee Brewers by 1.5 games.

-On May 1, 1984, New York Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden became the first teenager since the Twins’ Bert Blyleven to strike out at least 10 batters. Blyleven, who was 19 in 1970, struck out 12 Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 4, 1970. He allowed two runs on seven hits with a walk and 12 whiffs to beat the Brew Crew 5-2.

COMMENTS

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.