July 3, 2023

After Braves’ sweep, Twins respond with series win at Baltimore

The Twins lost on Sunday to the Baltimore Orioles, but the overall message should be this: They took two of three games from one of the better teams in baseball after one of the best — perhaps the best team in baseball, the Atlanta Braves — dispatched them with ease.

The Twins responded with a players-only meeting, which apparently hashed out new player incentives, and promptly beat the O’s 8-1 on Friday and blanked them 1-0 on Saturday before Sunday’s 2-1 loss.

Twins closer Jhoan Duran absorbed the loss and blown save after he hit a batter with the bases loaded to score the go-ahead run on Sunday.

So the offense went quiet again on the Twins, but the one constant for the team — excellent starting pitcher — continues to roll on. Pablo Lopez, Bailey Ober and Sonny Gray all made quality starts in the series, but Ober was the best, allowing only two hits over seven innings with eight strikeouts. He is now 5-4 with a 2.70 ERA. Lopez won for the first time in a month.

Joe Ryan gets the ball Monday against the Royals.

Extra innings …

-The Twins are 42-43 and still have a half-game lead over the Cleveland Guardians in the division.

But if they want to make a big move in the AL Central, now is the time to do it because the Twins face a lot of weak competition in July. And it starts with three games at home versus the Royals, three at home against the Orioles, and then immediately after the All-Star break, the Twins hit the road to play the Oakland A’s, the worst team in baseball.

If they drop a game to the Royals or A’s, I’ll be ready to declare the season over for the Minnesota Twins.

-One quibble about Sunday’s game: Why was Duran asked to intentionally walk a batter? I understand the strategy of making that move, but if you’ve got your best reliever on the mound, a guy who throws more than 100 miles per hour, do lefty/righty matchups really matter at that point? Let the guy pitch, Rocco.

-Don’t feel too bad about losing to the Braves, Twins fans, because right after the Twins, the Braves hammered the Miami Marlins Friday night, 16-4. They scored their 16 runs on 15 hits, getting one triple, three doubles and six home runs.

-On July 2, 1972, the Twins’ Jim Kaat improved to 10-2 after a 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox in Game 1 of a doubleheader in which Kitty broke his pitching hand.

He came out of the game, but was still credited with the win, improving to 28-10 versus the South Siders for his career.

“I know this club has been good for me,” Kaat told The Minneapolis Tribune.

He then ticked off his personal accomplishments against the team. His first Twins tryout was at Comiskey Park, first major league start, first shutout, first home run and he earned win No. 20 against the Pale Hose in 1966.

Sources: MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com

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.