Coming off a convincing series win over the Kansas City Royals, the Twins seemed poised to keep on winning in Chicago against a White Sox team that has accomplished little so far this season.
But after two games, it is the White Sox celebrating their first series win of 2023, while the Twins’ two losses are raising more questions. Among them: Is this club really that much better than last season? I’m not sure it is.
The Twins got a recent season series win over the New York Yankees, lost a series to the Washington Nationals, took the series against the Royals and are now trying to avoid the sweep in Chicago, all of which reminds me of last year’s team, a team that couldn’t quite put together extended winning streaks.
One encouraging note is that starting pitching has gone deeper into games; less encouraging is that the same group of relievers is struggling to close out games.
Starter Louie Varland got into trouble early in Wednesday’s game, but he hung around long enough for the Twins to tie it at 4-4. But reliever Griffin Jax served up the go-ahead run and Jovani Moran allowed the insurance run and the Twins lost 6-4.
The bullpen meltdown was worse on Tuesday. Starter Joe Ryan was nearly perfect over six innings, allowing just a hit, but once he stepped aside, reliever Jorge Lopez gave up a home run, Brock Stewart walked the bases loaded (but somehow escaped the inning unscathed) and Caleb Thielber served up the game-winning hit in extra innings and the Twins lost 3-2.
Pablo Lopez gets the ball Thursday.
Extra innings …
-After Tuesday’s 10th inning loss, the Twins are now 21-25 in what Twins radio guy Kris Atteberry calls the “Manfred Man” rule of extra innings, in which a runner starts the extra frame at second base. For purely selfish reasons, major league baseball needs to kill this rule. Why? The Twins suck at it.
-Don’t blame Nick Gordon for the Twins’ two losses. He hit a game-tying home run on Tuesday and smashed the go-ahead dinger on Wednesday.
-Carlos Correa, the big man on campus with the big paycheck, needs to step it up and start making those clutch hits. He came to the dish in the seventh inning, with the bases loaded and nobody out, and grounded out. Byron Buxton did the same and Trevor Larnach struck out. A major missed opportunity.