What is now over was still awfully fun.
The Twins’ 8-3 loss to the Royals Friday night ended their four-game winning streak and six-wins-out-of-seven run. Through those seven games, some new names in Minnesota emerged while others stepped back into the spotlight. Looking back over the week, here are the highlights from the seven games and the key players that contributed to them.
May 20 — Twins 6, Angels 3: In Game 2 of a doubleheader, Miguel Sanó’s first-inning grand slam provided all the runs the Twins would need. Mitch Garver and Trevor Larnach added solo shots.
May 21 — Twins 10, Cleveland 0: The Twins rampaged during a nine-run fourth inning, a frame extended by a missed strike three call on Josh Donaldson. Rob Refsnyder hit a homer for the team’s only non-fourth-inning run, while Randy Dobnak pitched six shutout innings.
May 22 — Cleveland 5, Twins 3 (10): At this point, the Twins had not yet won an extra-inning game in 2021. That continued pro tempore, as Minnesota failed to score in the 10th while César Hernández socked a walk-off homer off Alex Colomé two pitches into the bottom of the frame.
May 23 — Twins 8, Cleveland 5 (10): Although Cleveland spoiled Hansel Robles’ attempt at a save, Kyle Garlick socked a three-run homer in the top of the tenth to give the Twins their first extra-inning win of the year. Minnesota’s other five runs came in the top of the fourth, keyed by Max Kepler’s three-run shot.
May 24 — Twins 8, Orioles 3: Entering the bottom of the eighth down 3-2, the Twins strung together a six-run inning to put the game out of reach of Baltimore. Matt Shoemaker pitched six one-run innings, while Larnach and Garlick each went yard for a run apiece.
May 25 — Twins 7, Orioles 4: Refsnyder went 3-4 with two doubles and a dinger as the Twins took the lead in the bottom of the second and never gave it up. Jorge Polanco also added a homer for Minnesota.
May 26 — Twins 3, Orioles 2: The Orioles scored in the first and last innings while outhitting the Twins five to four, but Sanó launched a three-run homer with two outs in the sixth to lead the Twins to a win. Michael Pineda, just returning from the IL, earned the win with six one-run frames.
Then a day off and an off day put the stretch to an end.
Said stretch, however, featured several key contributors, both the expected and surprising:
Mitch Garver, C: Garver’s power has re-emerged after a slow start to the year. Appearing in five of the seven games, he slashed .375/.545/.750; despite a high strikeout rate (7 K’s in 22 PAs), Garver also walked six times and tallied four extra-base hits.
Rob Refsnyder, CF: The journeyman has emerged as a player to watch following Byron Buxton and Jake Cave’s injuries, having slashed .320/.393/.640 over the stretch with two doubles and two homers. Additionally, Refsnyder has been playing center field, a position he has never played in his MLB career; despite one error, he has not looked out of place.
Max Kepler, RF: In six games, Kepler quietly pummeled the ball, slashing .292/.370/.625 with three doubles, a triple, and a long ball. While his season also started quietly, this recent set of games has made for a nice string.
Kyle Garlick, RF: Garlick appeared in just three of the seven games, starting only once. Here’s what he did during them.
- 5/21: Defensive replacement.
- 5/23: Late-game replacement, hits tiebreaking home run in sole at-bat.
- 5/24: 2-5 with a double and solo shot.
Taylor Rogers, RP: During the string, Rogers appeared in four games, saving one, allowing no runs over 4.1 innings while striking out five and allowing just five baserunners.
Tyler Duffey, RP: Similarly, Duffey appeared in three games with a save, no runs allowed over three innings, four Ks, and three baserunners allowed.
I could keep going (starters throwing well, Miguel Sanó hit two key homers, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach look like studs) but it’s clear that a lot of players have to be doing a lot of things correctly in order for a team to win six out of seven games.
And after Friday’s loss, perhaps the Twins could start such a streak again. After all, they just came off one.