Rocco Baldelli, working with an updated version of Microsoft Excel, has found himself a winning formula.
The Twins rolled out the same lineup as their Thursday opener, and handily cleaned up against the Kansas City Royals via the same final score, a 2-0 weekend victory that clinches Minnesota’s opening series, and leaves them undefeated across two months of baseball.
It wasn’t the cleanest outing for veteran starter Sonny Gray, who generated a game-leading 7 swings and misses but coughed up plenty of solid contact and walked four, striking out just one Kansas City hitter. The Royals generated some threats throughout, but were held scoreless throughout the afternoon thanks to a combination of timely bear-downs and a pair of double plays spun by the Twin defense.
Meanwhile, aggressive play from Minnesota generated the difference-making runs. A two-out Jose Miranda single plated Byron Buxton in the game’s first inning; Buck had doubled himself into scoring position, sliding awkwardly face-first into his own sunglasses, but shook it off and was ready to cross home a few short minutes later.
#MNTwins 2, Royals 0.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) April 1, 2023
The record: 2-0
The Twins' pitching staff has opened the season with consecutive shutout wins for the first time in club history.
Byron’s baserunning prowess was on full display in the sixth — having raced from second to third on a routine grounder to short, Buxton then scored on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly that didn’t get too far beyond second base. Kyle Farmer was credited with the RBI on what would have been a routine pop-out with almost anyone else on the basepaths; luckily, Buxton’s 30+ ft/sec between third and home doubled the visiting lead.
From there, it was the bullpen’s game, the second in a series of impressive early performances by the touring members of Rocco’s Magical Arm Barn. Each subsequent reliever tossed a scoreless inning, with particular credit due to Griffin Jax (hitting nearly 98 mph at his fastest) and Caleb Thielbar (recording three strikeouts against the heart of the order.)
The nod went to Jorge Lopez for closing duties, after Jhoan Duran took home the save on Thursday. Lopez’s ninth was quick and seamless, much like the rest of the game — shaving fourteen minutes off of the first game’s time, this one clocked in at a brisk 2:18.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’ll take a painless, two-hour Twins win any day of the week.
This series closes tomorrow afternoon, and let me just speak for everyone when I say how nice it is not to have an off-day for another week. Baseball is back, so let it stick around, darn it!
DH Byron Buxton (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B)
C Christian Vazquez (2-for-3, a nice game called)
RP Caleb Thielbar (1 IP, H, 3 K) and the Arm Barners
DUDS: Are you new here? No duds! Twins win!