September 24, 2023

Twins predictably flat after clinching AL Central crown

The Twins won the division Friday night after an 8-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels. And then they partied on the field, in the clubhouse and who knows where the party took them after that, but they probably weren’t in the best of shape to take the field on Saturday.

It certainly showed because the Twins eked out only five hits and were blanked 1-0. It’s somewhat disappointing because Sonny Gray took the loss, but only allowed one run over six innings with eight strikeouts. He’s now 8-8 with a 2.80 ERA.

The good news, of course, is that the Twins are headed to the postseason for the 15th time in Twins history, including the third time in the past five years. They also won the division in 2019 and 2020. But here’s the rub: the Twins haven’t won a playoff game since 2004 and haven’t won a playoff series since 2002. It is high time the Twins put that ugly losing streak to bed.

Joe Ryan gets the ball Sunday.

Extra innings …

-Gray’s effort on Saturday was his 17th quality start of the season. A quality start is three or fewer earned runs allowed over six innings pitched.

-Closer Jhoan Duran was on the mound for the Twins in the closing moments of Friday night’s division-clinching win. Duran is one of the hardest (the hardest?) throwers in the game, but he also rarely seems to pitch a clean inning. Duran allowed a run on two hits with two walks and a strikeout in an inning of work, tossing 34 pitches to earn his 27th save.

Rookie Louie Varland tossed a scoreless inning on 11 pitches in Friday’s win. I’d much rather see Duran work that fast.

-On Sept. 23, 1990, former Twins third baseman Gary Gaetti hit the 200th home run of his career in a 6-4 Metrodome win over Charlie Hough and the Texas Rangers.

The Star Tribune lede:

“Gary Gaetti is 32 years old and in the midst of a season of discontent. But for a brief moment Sunday he managed to find a link between the present and the glories of days gone by.”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram lede:

“Mark this coming Friday on the calendar. That most likely will be the day of Charlie Hough’s last start for the Texas Rangers, coming against the Oakland Athletics at Arlington Stadium. Just one left for the veteran knuckleballer who already has pitched 343 games for the Rangers, the most in the club’s history.”

Advantage: Tribune.

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.