Well, we’re four games into the season. The first game was…disappointing. Donaldson made it through his first at-bat, but not his first time rounding first-base. The bullpen blew it, errors and misplays, and all in all, it was the Twins of most of the 1990s. But then, starting on day two, things immediately improved. Berrios pitched six innings of no-hit almost perfect baseball. On day three, the Twins offense came to life, and Arraez continued to show that putting him in the lead-off spot is the right thing to do.
So, after the ugliness of game one (despite a Buxton home-run and some good moments), the Twins turned it around on a dime, and as I write this…they sit at 3-1 and all is mostly well.
But I’m not a glass half-full kind of guy. After all, I’m a Minnesota sports fan, so waiting for things to go south is not just pessimism, it tends to be borne out as simple realism. Buxton got “sick.” Ok, but…he missed the next day too. As usual, he’s now played in half of the Twins games. Donaldson….I mean….come on. It’s just sad at this point.
As I’ve written before, I don’t blame players who injure themselves….life sort of happens to all of us…but hamstring pulls, and other strains seem to linger for some, much longer than they do for others. Will Donaldson ever be close to dependable? Then, just when I think Arraez can carry us for a few games, out come the trainers. But he stayed in, drew the walk, and we all held our collective breaths and then, next at-bat it was Astudillo instead. To be fair, Rocco had a 6-0 lead for Astudillo’s at-bat, so perhaps Arraez will be perfectly fine, and all of it was simply cautionary, after all the Tigers weren’t offering much resistance on Monday.
But come on! Four games, and three starters are already out…one for at least ten days, the second for at least two, and who knows about Arraez at this point. At this rate, we’ll be watching the St. Paul Saints by Memorial Day…..is it that cold out? Milwaukee had the roof closed the first two days. It looked fairly nice in Detroit….are we….jinxed? Is it something Minnesota said?
I know last season was an aberration in so many ways, so we need not put too much stock in it, but still, it counted, and Donaldson got hurt. To get hurt literally rounding first base on one’s first at-bat of the season, is just so “Donaldson” so far in his Twins career. He’s a great player, but if he can’t play, then he’s no more valuable everyday than Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, or other former greats who can impart their wisdom onto those that are playing, but who we don’t expect to get on the field.
But we’re 3-1 and Donaldson hasn’t been a factor, and Buxton was brilliant and then was out…we’ve already been Donaldsoned….and Buxtoned…..even the most negative of us thought both of them might last the first series…but, they didn’t. I’m not giving up, both Donaldson, and certainly Buxton can have brilliant seasons to come….it’s been four games after all…but then again, why would we expect now well established history not to repeat? Why?
So, we clearly need Arraez to maintain his early season brilliance, HE cannot get seriously injured, and the starting pitching to continue to be very good to excellent. Cruz blasts a grand slam, and then another homerun. HE cannot get hurt. Sano hits a homerun. The bullpen (with the exception of day one) has also been outstanding.
So, all in all, it’s been a good start, there are many reasons to be happy. But I’m not going to be suckered into thinking Donaldson is going to last most of the season, or Buxton more than half of the season, I’m just not buying into it. I’m hoping for it, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Winning will once again mean overcoming injuries and adversity…not only have we been Donaldsoned….and Buxtoned….we’ve been Minnesota’d. Why do the sports gods forsake us so? I don’t know, but I do know that job security for Minnesota Twins trainers is rock solid.
Tomorrow, I suspect we won’t see Arraez. Maybe we’ll see Buxton. Donaldson will remain on the Injured list and while I hope it’s not the case, I won’t be surprised to see those ten days stretch into a few more. So, adversity is already ours. This particular marathon has us feeling cramps at the 2-mile marker and, while our pace is excellent, I don’t know if we’re going to make it to the end.
I’m all in, I’m hoping for the best, I’m a believer in Arraez and Cruz and the pitching long term….but I’m not going to be Donaldsoned and Buxtoned again….fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice….well, I’m no President…but there should be a new saying in Twins Territory…and Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend said it best “I won’t get fooled again. As with all things I write, I’m fully prepared to eat these words and apologize to all, when Buxton and Donaldson end up playing 140 games each…. but until then, they are like expensive options on a nice car, it would be great to have them and they certainly add value, but the car is going to have to get us where we need to go, even if the heated seats don’t heat, and the sunroof won’t open.