The Twins began Wednesday night’s game against the Nationals with only three players from their regular, “A” lineup starting in their Opening Day positions: Jorge Polanco at shortstop, Jonathan Schoop at second base, and Nelson Cruz at designated hitter.
Jason Castro was the starting catcher on Opening Day but has ceded the regular starting role to Mitch Garver and Eddie Rosario was the left fielder but was in right field on Wednesday out of necessity.
The attrition is real, ladies and gentlemen.
Sure, the Cleveland Indians have had their share of injuries, but the combination of all the minor ailments of late on top of Michael Pineda’s suspension and the announcement that Byron Buxton is out for the season have only compounded things.
On Wednesday, the Twins ran out their extremely-mid-September lineup against the fantastic Stephen Strasburg, and things didn’t go well.
The Nationals struck immediately against Martin Perez, who has been decidedly up and down of late. Washington strung together a series of singles and plated two runs in the first inning before the Twins even came to bat. Also, prior to making the final out of the top of the first, Brian Dozier received a nice ovation from a relatively sparse Target Field crowd that braved a gloomy and wet evening in downtown Minneapolis. So that was nice.
Luis Arraez singled in each of his first two at-bats but the Twins didn’t manage to do much else until Jorge Polanco’s two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning with Arraez aboard.
After cutting the lead to 5-2, the Twins had a chance to pull within one or tie the game in the fourth inning. With two outs, LaMonte Wade walked and Jonathan Schoop doubled off the right field wall. Jason Castro ran the count full with first base open but was called out on strikes on a borderline pitch that allegedly clipped the black on the outside corner. That left Arraez, who was 2-for-2 in the game to that point, in the on-deck circle as the potential go-ahead run.
The Twins never seriously threatened again as Strasburg buckled down and the Nats’ bullpen was quite good. Trea Turner knocked a home run out to left-center in the top of the ninth off of Randy Dobnak, and despite getting two runners on with two outs in the bottom of the final frame, Polanco grounded out to end the game.
- The Twins’ bullpen was solid after Perez only managed to go five innings while giving up five earned runs. Zach Littell, Brusdar Graterol, and Fernando Romero each pitched a scoreless inning before Dobnak surrendered the solo homer to Turner in the ninth.
- In case you hadn’t noticed, the Twins offense is significantly less daunting without the likes of Max Kepler, Miguel Sano, and Mitch Garver. Even some combination of Marwin Gonzalez, C.J. Cron, and Jake Cave would have made an impact on a night like this one.
- Cleveland hung on to beat the Angels on Wednesday, dropping the Twins’ lead in the A.L. Central to just four games.
- Luis Arraez: 3-for-5, R
- Jorge Polanco: 2-for-5, 2 RBI, HR
- Zach Littell, Brusdar Graterol, Fernando Romero: Combined for 3 IP, 3 K, 0 BB, 2 H
- Martin Perez: 5 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K
- Ehire Adrianza: 0-for-4, 2 K
- Willians Astudillo: 0-for-4, K