First Pitch: 6:10 PM CDT
Radio: WCCO 830, TIBN
For the second straight weekend, the Minnesota Twins will be honoring a recent inductee into the Hall of Fame.
This time, it’s legendary slugger Jim Thome.
A 13th-round draft pick in 1989, Thome would hit 10 home runs in his first three seasons, before going on to become one of the game’s most prolific home run hitters. Twins fans will remember him not only as a multi-time division rival (rising to prominence with Cleveland, and later saving the White Sox from TOTAL hateability), but as a fixture in the last division-winning club that Minnesota’s had.
He’s also responsible for perhaps the greatest GIF in Twins history.
There’s not much that can be said about one of the game’s greatest ambassadors that hasn’t already been said, and having claimed Thome as our own for a season and a half will always be a beloved chapter in Twins Territory. With the Twins, Jim Thome played in 179 games, hitting .266/.387/.562 with 37 homers — including number 600 while wearing our uniform.
He was also responsible for the first walk-off homer in Target Field history, a fitting honor for the man with an MLB-record 13 walk-off homers in his 22 years as a major-league baseball player.
He won’t be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame or rewarded with a retired number — today’s ceremony is merely to honor his induction into Cooperstown — but loyal fans will no doubt be showing up this evening to pay tribute to an all-timer and Midwestern hero.
Now...onto some baseball!
Oakland’s Starter: Mike “KAI” Fiers
(9-6, 3.21 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 137.1 IP, 1.8 BB/9, 7.1 K/9, 1.8 fWAR)
I promise, his name is “Fiers,” not “Fers” — though the above pitcher picture may have you thinking otherwise.
After winning a ring with Houston last season, Fiers joins the Athletics by way of the Detroit Tigers in 2018. So far, he’s been able to bounce back from a largely mediocre 2017, lowering his walks and home runs and stranding a lot more runners. Since joining Oakland, Fiers has a 1.47 ERA in nearly 20 innings across three starts.
Armed with five pitches, including an ultra-rare slider that he only throws 1% of the time, Fiers has been able to lower his ERA with the kind of pinpoint control that benefits the kind of guy who sits in the high 80’s with his hardest stuff. Minnesota will need to do some smart hitting to get runs on the board today.
Minnesota’s Starter: Stephen “STOVE” Gonsalves
(0-1, 27.00 ERA, 5.40 FIP, 1.1 IP, 13.5 BB/9, 20.3 K/9, 0.0 fWAR)
Gonsalves enters tonight’s game with a little something to prove.
After making his major-league debut against the White Sox, the best lefty in the system was refreshingly honest in the postgame, in that nerves got the best of him. He couldn’t eat, and battled through a shaky left leg during his time on the mound. There were flashes of what made Gonsalves great in the minor leagues, but his start as a whole was disappointingly abridged.
This time, Gonsalves enters with some experience under his belt. Despite facing a more challenging opponent in the playoff-hungry A’s, Stove will hopefully be more comfortable with his surroundings and his gameplan in his second appearance at Target Field.
GO TWINS GO!!!