When the Twins signed Martin Perez this offseason, confusion ensued. Why would the Twins ink a pitcher with a 6.22 ERA in 2018 that had been demoted to the bullpen for the Rangers? Was this just another “cheap Twins” move that would hinder the franchise from taking the next step?
When it was announced that the Twins planned to have Perez become the number five starter in the rotation, many questioned the decision. It seemed that there were a variety of starters on the free agent market that were much more qualified to fill that role. Instead, the Twins claimed that they were going make some adjustments to Perez’s technique and pitch repertoire that would make a significant difference. Many likely gave an eye roll to that statement, thinking of a bevy of veterans that had flopped for the Twins in the past.
Looking at Perez’s track record, all these reactions made sense (and I was certainly guilty of some as well). However, Perez has been nothing short of the Twins best starter through 33 games, and he proved that once again tonight. The lefty tossed seven sublime frames tonight in Toronto, allowing just four baserunners while striking out nine Blue Jays. He also allowed just one Blue Jay to reach second base in his second straight shutout outing.
The Twins offense kicked it back into gear tonight in Canada to pour in some run support for Perez, pounding Marcus Stroman all around the ballpark. Stroman entered the game having not allowed a home run the entire season. Jason Castro changed that in the second inning, sending a 110.5 MPH bomb into the right field seats to make it 3-0 Twins.
The Twins tacked on a couple more in the fourth inning with doubles by Jonathan Schoop and Byron Buxton coming as the key hits in the rally (Buxton’s would have almost certainly been a triple had it not bounced into the stands in right field).
Perez got into a bit of tight spot in the bottom of the fourth, as a Freddy Galvis single and a walk to Justin Smoak brought Vladimir Guerrero Jr. up to the plate with one out. Down 3-1 in the count the Guerrero Jr., Perez got a swing and miss before receiving some help from his defense to close out the inning.
The Twins would proceed to launch another home run off of Stroman in the fifth, as Eddie Rosario took the Jays ace deep to straightaway center for his AL-leading 12th home run of the season.
The Twins weren’t done hitting blasts, as Jorge Polanco decided to join the dinger party in the seventh as he turned around a 97 MPH Daniel Hudson fastball and ripped an absolute moonshot to right center.
The Twins added another run in the ninth on a Rosario sac fly, and Ryne Harper and Matt Magill pitched scoreless innings to conclude to the victory.
- Martin Perez has now gone 15 straight scoreless innings and has allowed just one run in his past 21 innings. He featured his newly implemented cutter heavily again today, throwing the pitch 34 times and generating seven swinging strikes and six called strikes.
- Jason Castro is heating up. All three of his balls in play were hit 95 MPH or above, and he hit his fourth dinger in his past seven games. I haven’t been the biggest Castro fan in the past because of his lack of offensive production, but he is proving the doubters wrong lately.
- The Twins defense was quite solid today. CJ Cron scooped a variety of short hops over at first base, and Marwin Gonzalez continues to impress at third base. I would say that both have outplayed their defensive expectations coming into the season.
- Cleveland got roughed up by the White Sox today, losing 9-1 and giving the Twins a three-game lead in the division. It’s definitely too early in the season to be scoreboard watching, but if the Indians are losing when Trevor Bauer starts (as he did today) and Clevinger and Kluber are out for at least a few more weeks, the time for the Twins to build the lead in the division is now.
Martin Perez: 7 IP, 0 ER, 2H, 2BB, 9K
Wes Johnson/Jake Odorizzi for helping Perez develop his new cutter
Jorge Polanco: 3-4, HR, BB
Jason Castro: 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, HBP
Nelson Cruz: 3-5
Eddie Rosario: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI
NO DUDS TWINS WIN!!!!
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
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