Twins pitcher Pablo Lopez made his best start of the season on Sunday. He went eight innings, he allowed only two hits, he didn’t walk a single batter and he struck out 14 New York Mets.
And yet he didn’t figure in the decision because after 106 pitches he exited the scoreless game in favor of reliever Griffin Jax, who then proceeded to stink up the place by allowing two runs on two hits and the Twins lost, 2-0.
However, Twins hitters did no favors for Lopez or Jax because they went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. Still, the Twins won the series over the Mets because of the 5-2 win on Friday and the 8-4 victory Saturday.
As of this writing, the Twins have a seven-game lead on the Cleveland Guardians with 19 games left in the season. Outside of an epic collapse, the Twins have got this thing in the bag.
Sonny Gray gets the ball Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Payback is in order because the Rays swept Minnesota in early June 7-0, 2-1 and 4-2.
Extra innings …
-The Twins are 75-68 and 42-30 at Target Field.
-Lopez’s 14 whiffs means he has reached 200 strikeouts in a season for the first time in his young career. Sunday’s total gives him 213. He is also very close to setting a career high in innings pitched.
-On Saturday, Twins pitching got plenty of support. Donovan Solano, second on the team in total hits, drove in two runs, Max Kepler drove in three with a triple, Kyle Farmer had three hits and Willi Castro added three more, including a home run.
-That helped make a winner out of Kenta Maeda, who did just enough by allowing two runs over five-plus innings to improve to 4-7 with a 4.65 ERA.
-On Sept. 9, 1976, the Twins’ Rod Carew hit a pinch-hit grand slam to beat the Texas Rangers, 6-0.
The Minneapolis Tribune lede (for a story with no byline):
“Pinch-hitter Rod Carew’s grand slam home run in the seventh inning eased the pressure on right-hander Dave Goltz and the Twins went on to a 6-0 win over Texas Thursday night.”
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram lede:
“Minnesota’s Dave Goltz, bed-ridden by flu most of the week, shackled the Texans with a three-hit shutout and the Twins rambled to a 6-0 victory and a sweep of the three-game series in front of 3,603 fanatic Ranger fans.”
Advantage: Star-Telegram. The Tribune lede is so ho-hum. I can tell from reading some of the old Star-Telegram coverage that they had no problem calling out the Rangers and their poor play.
Here’s the Star-Telegram lede for a Sept. 11, 1976, loss to the Oakland A’s.
“Somebody must have spiked the drinking water. Sober players just don’t do the goofy things the Rangers and Oakland A’s did Friday night.”
Sources: MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com