Leading up to today, it had been a tough week for the Minnesota Twins baseball club. Only one-of-three contests went in the win column in Beantown, and then two lackluster losses started this series against the Nationals. The Twins absolutely needed a victory today—if more mentally than standings-wise—and got it when two returning players made big impacts.
With all the Twins’ main starting pitchers (Lopez-Gray-Ryan-Mahle-Maeda) healthy heading into the regular season, Bailey Ober started his season in AAA St. Paul despite a nearly perfect trip through the Grapefruit League. Biding his time and performing well for the Saints, Ober received his opportunity today after the team pushed Maeda’s next start back (taking a laser-beam off the leg will do that).
Ober made the most of his chance today. Despite being a little wild—especially to begin the contest—he settled down and made the big pitches when absolutely needed. The end result: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER. The taller-than-me 6’9” right-hander may be optioned back to the other side of the Mississippi River with Maeda not hitting the IL, but he certainly proved today that he belongs in the Show when a longer-term opportunity arises.
Despite falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, a great leaping grab from Willi Castro kept the damage to a minimum. In the bottom of the 4th, Jorge Polanco (himself just recently returning from an early-season injury absence) cranked a ball directly down the LF line—exactly where you want to hit ‘em at Target Field! A few batters later, Michael A. Taylor took ballpark dimensions out of the equation by absolutely crushing one to straightaway CF to give the Twins a 2-1 lead.
Just an inning later, Polanco again smacked a hard-hit ball for a single, plating Jose Miranda for a 3-1 MN advantage.
That would be the extent of the scoring in this one. The trio of Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Lopez, and Jhoan Duran were flawless for the final 3.2 innings.
Of note: In the top of the 5th inning, the Twins recorded outs on your everyday, run-of-the-mill 1-6-3 double play, and then a pickoff. An unlikely sequence, to be sure—but a lot of fun to see on this oft-defensively challenged club.
Though no April baseball contest is ever a “must win”, this one certainly felt good to put in the left-hand column, what with Round 2 of the annual New York Yankees heavyweight bout starting tomorrow night.
Your final: Twins 3, Nationals 1.
- All the fans who came out to the ballpark in the frigid temperatures the past three days. I will admit to having a ticket for Friday night but wimping out and changing it to later this week when the mercury will at least rise over 40 (most of the time).
- Not today!