It looks like the Twins were hungover Saturday afternoon after their Opening Day win. They fell to the White Sox 10-3 in the second game of their three game series.
While going down 2-0 early didn’t help, only registering one hit through the first five innings made it an uphill battle. Although there are more negatives than positives from this game, the team is still likely dusting off some rust. Keep in mind the Twins only played three games against teams that aren’t their own via scrimmages.
DOBNAK SHOULD START
Randy Dobnak was solid in his first start of the year especially for someone who wasn’t originally supposed to start Saturday. After original starter Rich Hill was scheduled to start, manager Rocco Baldelli moved Hill’s start back to Wednesday of next week. This is no reason for alarm, Baldelli is trying to keep Hill more in-line with his normal rest schedule. It did however mean throwing Dobnak into the fire likely earlier than he anticipated.
Even with the late starting switch, he only gave up one run through four innings. It’s hard to fault him for that considering Dobnak was making only his sixth career regular season start. He kept the team in the game when the offense was anemic. That is a reason I placed him as the top prospect that can make an impact for the Twins in 2020.
CRUZ STILL HAS IT
At 40 years old, Cruz’s performance was a relative question mark. Even though he hit 41 home runs and 108 RBI with a .311 average, there were still questions as to how much he has in the tank. But it appears he has plenty. Cruz drove in the team’s only runs of the game on a three-run Bomba to left in the sixth.
Year 40, Nelson Cruz stays hitting bombs pic.twitter.com/On6HtnDNZ3— Starting 9 (@Starting9) July 25, 2020
Not only should Twins fans love the mentorship he has brought to the younger players, but his play is still elite. Cruz is a definite cornerstone for this team to build off of in 2020.
BATS GO COLD
Now the bad part of the day which was the offense. This wasn’t the Bomba Squad we have all come to know and love. While Cruz did hit that three-run shot, it only brought the Twins back to within two at 5-3. The runners on accounted for only the second and third hits of the day.
The lack of production outside that may raise some concerns. It was a similar outing to the one the team put together in their exhibition against the Cubs on Wednesday.
Although facing a a tough test in Dallas Keuchel, that is nothing new to the Twins. They still made plenty of contact despite the loss. Keuchel was only able to strike out one Twins batter over 5.1 innings.
Hot start for the Hogs on the South Side.— Ryan Folkes (@RyanFolkes) July 25, 2020
Keuchel: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Win
McCann: 3-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR
📽️: Keuchel strikes out a former Auburn Tiger + McCann goes oppo-taco. #ProHogs pic.twitter.com/x9BQNtj59X
For a club that leans more towards the offensive side of the plate, it will be rare for them to win games without out-slugging their opponent. This was on full display in their Opening Day win.
While Dobnak kept the score close through his four innings of work, the Twins bullpen was not what fans saw during Opening Day. Instead of shutting down the Sox, they gave up eight runs. Many coming off long balls.
Zack Littell in particular was a sore spot in the game. He gave up three home runs in the fifth inning alone which put the team down 5-0 in his only inning of relief.
zack littell gave up 4 home runs last year— Luis Arraez Supporter (@primearraez) July 25, 2020
he’s given up 3 so far in one appearance
Baldelli then had rookie Devin Smeltzer throw two innings while giving up five runs. Four of which came off two home runs. This lead to questions about Baldelli’s decision making.
WHAT WAS BALDELLI THINKING?
While Baldelli has shown he likes to have relief pitchers not pitch on consecutive days, it was puzzling to see him stick with Smeltzer as long as he did. With an off day on Monday, you have to question why more bullpen arms weren’t used.
It’s understandable that Baldelli wants to see what Smeltzer can do in a longer relief appearance. But even though Smeltzer is a starting pitching prospect, he only showed moments of promise. He mostly just put the offense deeper in a hole.
The hell is up with Baldelli’s decision making today? #mntwins— Jack Kewitsch (@jack_kewitsch) July 25, 2020
Baldelli showed poise with his moves last year, but has seemed phased and out of touch with how to attack the White Sox lineup through the first two games. The White Sox have a lineup that shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the Twins including a slew of prospects making their first big league appearances. Friday’s season opener proved that with the bullpen shutting the Sox down after the game was tied at five.
Don’t worry too much. The 2019 Twins lost their second game of the year after winning their opener. While this season is different with only 60 games instead of 162, it’s still early and the team is finally facing competition that isn’t their own team in scrimmages.
The rubber match of the series will feature Kenta Maeda getting his first start with the Twins. While the White Sox will trot out Reynaldo Lopez. The first pitch is 1:10 pm, so plan your Sunday accordingly!
In the meantime, take deep breaths. The world isn’t ending and a reminder that more than half the teams in the league make the playoffs this year. It’s just too bad the ’60-0′ shirt has already lost all of it’s meaning.
Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan