The Twins withstood a first-inning challenge from the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, then poured it on with 14 hits to get an easy 10-3 win before about 28,000 fans at T-Mobile Park. Although the sweep is gone, a series victory is still a possibility if the Twins can win Wednesday and Thursday.
The sweep is a moot point because the Twins lost 7-6 on Monday, although the outcome may have been very different had manager Rocco Baldelli not stuck with Sonny Gray into the sixth inning.
Gray allowed four runs in the fifth inning, and as soon as the inning ended, I was certain, as I sat there with my father and son, that he was done for the day and would not return for the sixth inning. I was shocked when he did, then frustrated when he allowed one more run before finally being removed from the game.
In that moment, I was curious about the dynamic between Gray and Baldelli. Gray has been a proponent of pitching deeper into games, but I really think Baldelli should have put his foot down at the end of the fifth inning and gone to the bullpen.
The one additional run was the difference in the game. If Gray exits allowing only four runs, Max Kepler’s three-run homer in the ninth inning would have tied the contest at 6-6.
Kenta Maeda gets the ball Wednesday.
Extra innings …
-The Twins are again two games over .500 at 49-47 and still retain a slim 1.5 game lead over the Cleveland Guardians in the AL Central.
-Twins pitching got back on track with the one thing the rotation has been known for this season: the quality start. This time it went to Bailey Ober, who improved to 6-4 with a 2.74 ERA.
-Nine of the Twins’ 14 hits on Tuesday were delivered by Eddie Julien, Alex Kirilloff and Willi Castro. Julien and Kirilloff have been on fire over the past 15 games, according to MLB.com data. Julien is slashing .462/.500/.846 with 18 hits, while Kirilloff has slashed .373/.431/.588 with 19 hits.
-Designated hitter Byron Buxton got the night off Tuesday, and that’s a good thing because he is really struggling at the plate. Buck is hitting .034 over the past week with 15 strikeouts in 29 at bats.
-Me, my father and son made our annual visit to Seattle to see the Twins play on Monday. The weather was picture-perfect and the game was a good one, despite the 7-6 loss. Some observations: Twins Territory was not well represented this year in terms of seeing other fans in their Twins hats and jerseys.
About 26,000 fans turned out for a Monday night game, which was a surprise, but many of them sat in the 300 level of the ballpark, otherwise known as the cheap seats. That did not surprise me because the cost of a ticket and food at T-Mobile Park continues to be outrageous. I paid for club-level seats this year ($210), but I’m strongly considering the bleachers for when we see them in 2024.
Some more pictures: