Next time, it counts.
That’s the mantra after a sleepy 4-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
Twins’ No. 5 starter Homer Bailey lived up to his given name, unfortunately, giving up three home runs in three innings, including a two-run shot by Anthony Rizzo and a pair of no-doubters to Willson Contreras.
The Twins offense was quiet throughout, with Eddie Rosario’s second-inning double the only extra-base hit logged by the visitors. Minnesota scattered four other harmless singles throughout the game, getting one from Rosario to go along with his two-bagger and one each from Josh Donaldson, Ehire Adrianza, and Luis Arraez.
Minnesota’s first two runs came after Max Kepler took a one-out walk against Cubs starter Jon Lester, who was replaced by Dillon Maples, a fringy member of Chicago’s ‘pen. Indeed, Maples and his battery-mate, Contreras, struggled to stay on the same page. After an Adrianza single, a series including two passed balls and a wild pitch allowed two runs to score, but Mitch Garver and Nelson Cruz sandwiched strike-outs around a Donaldson walk and the Twins still trailed 4-2.
The Good Guys scored another run in the seventh inning on a bases-loaded ground ball by Jorge Polanco. He beat out the relay throw to first, keeping the inning alive and allowing Alex Avila to cross the plate and bring the Twins within one.
The silver lining of this game was the bullpen. Five Twins relievers pitched an inning apiece and gave up a total of one hit and one walk. Jorge Alcala was the most impressive of the bunch, touching 99 miles-per-hour and flashing an 89 mile-per-hour breaking ball while picking up a strikeout in an electrifying inning of work.
And after all that, the Twins scored three runs on not only zero homers, but without any RBI base-hits at all.
But this one didn’t count. On Friday, however, the Twins will be on the south side of town to take on the Chicago White Sox. Wouldn’t it be nice to put them in their place on Opening Weekend?
- Lineup/injury news: Adrianza started at second base and was replaced by Arraez midway through the game in what was clearly a plan to get them each a couple of at-bats and minimize risk. Miguel Sano played the whole game, and Byron Buxton was still at Target Field doing rehab work, according to Dick Bremer and the Twins telecast.
- Bailey wasn’t sharp, needing 68 pitches to get through three innings. He gave up five hits, and three of them were home runs. One wonders how long of a leash he’ll have this season in general, with the trio of Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, and Lewis Thorpe waiting in the wings.
- The bullpen continues to look like a strength, considering they threw five scoreless without any of their top four options (Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, and Sergio Romo) needing to take the mound.
- Eddie Rosario: 2-for-3, 2B
- Josh Donaldson: 1-for-4, BB, one great play in the field
- Jorge Alcala: IP, K
- Homer Bailey: 3 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 3 HR, 2 BB, 3 K
- Jorge Polanco: 0-for-4, 2 K