Time: 5:10 Central
Weather: Low 60s, mostly cloudy, low winds, and dry
Opponent’s SB site: Covering The Corner
TV: Bally Sports North
Twins 19-14, Guardians 14-18; Season series: 1-0 Twins
Last Time Out:
The Twins beat Cleveland 2-0 yesterday behind a stellar 7-inning outing from Bailey Ober, two good bullpen outings by Jorge López and Jhoan Durán, and one good swing by Max Kepler (and almost no other good swings from anyone else the rest of the game, on either team).
One of the best things about sports, and baseball in particular, is that every single game creates a new chapter in the history of the game. The nearly daily grind of baseball, 162 games over six months, has a rhythm that can become rote and sometimes mindless in the aggregate. It’s easy for attention to wander when it's game after game, day after day; but every game offers, should we take the time to look attentively, moments that will stick with someone, memories, and achievements that will be logged for posterity. Such is the nature of the sport that each day at the ballfield is an opportunity for someone to do something that might be unique, for the first time, in the best or worst way they ever have, or perhaps for the last time.
The last time the Twins played Cleveland on May 6 was during the 2014 season, also on the road at Progressive Field. The Twins lost that contest by a 4-2 score, with right-handed soft-tosser Josh Tomlin defeating the occasionally “effectively wild” Samuel Deduno of the Twins, who was making a spot start for an injured Mike Pelfrey. Long-time rubber-armed reliever Bryan Shaw closed things out for the victors. Cleveland scored two runs in each of the first and second innings and made those four runs hold up in a quick, 2-hour, 28-minute affair that would be right at home in the fast-paced environment of 2023.
A 4-2 game in early May isn’t particularly notable in the grand scheme of baseball history. Those Twins would finish 70-92 and in last place in the division, 20 games behind the division-winning Tigers and the AL pennant-winning Royals. But a second look at the box score of this contest brings to light some stories worth recalling.
The 2014 Twins, as analytically inclined as they were at the time, had Sam Fuld and his .307 career on-base percentage batting second and Chris Colabello, who homered off Tomlin in the 7th inning in this contest, batting cleanup. To be fair to Fuld (now the General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies), he did have a .370 OBP over 53 games for the Twins in 2014.
More memorably, though, is that this was the season Colabello started out hot, hitting .295/.343/.484 (.363) with 3 homers, 9 doubles, and a club record 27 RBI in March/April (besting Kirby Puckett’s 26). He slumped horribly in May, perhaps owing to a significant thumb injury that he opted to try to play through, and the homer he hit this day in Cleveland was the last extra-base hit he’d have in the month. He was optioned to AAA before the end of May to try to find his swing, returned in July without faring much better, and was ultimately claimed on waivers by the Blue Jays the next offseason.
Also of note for Minnesota this day was the major league debut of left-hander Logan Darnell, who worked three perfect innings of relief behind Deduno, striking out one. That outing would go down as easily the best of Darnell’s brief major league career. Darnell’s entire MLB career was only slightly more than a cup of coffee and consisted of 7 MLB appearances (4 starts) for the Twins in that 2014 season. He pitched to an unsightly 7.13 ERA across 24.0 innings, sure, but he also threw three perfect innings in his debut. I’d bet that he, and those close to him, remember this game very well.
Notable on the Cleveland side is that now franchise cornerstone third baseman José Ramírez was a rookie eligible #9 hitting second baseman playing in just his fifth game of that season (and just the 20th of his career) after he didn’t break camp with the big club. Ramírez went 0-3 in this one and Cleveland’s runs came from RBI singles by Michael Brantley and Nick Swisher, an RBI double by Yan Gomes, and a Colabello error that allowed a run to score. That Cleveland team finished 85-77, five games back and in 3rd place in the division.
While the 2014 versions of these two clubs weren’t in intense playoff contention, the 2023 versions figure to be. The club that ultimately comes out on top in the AL Central will potentially do so thanks to their performance in the thirteen head-to-head matchups against the other, which makes each of them critically important (in addition to being an opportunity for someone to author another piece of baseball history or make a memory they’ll be able to forever keep.)
Below are today’s lineups. The Twins are rolling with their right-handed hitters today against Guardians’ rookie lefty Logan Allen (who is a different Guardians’ left-handed Logan Allen than you might recall from the past few seasons.) This Logan Allen is a well-regarded prospect who has made two strong starts to begin his career. As the Guardians do, Allen was drafted out of college as a command and control lefty working 88-92 mph and immediately added a couple of ticks of velocity once he got into Cleveland’s pitching development system.
Somewhat like some Twins’ young arms, Allen’s fastball punches above its weight due to his release, spin direction, and extension giving it above average ride and a flat vertical attack angle that he maximizes with outstanding command. His best pitch is a split-changeup that he’ll throw to hitters on both sides, and he’ll handle lefties well because of his three-quarters arm angle even though his breaking stuff is just average. Given the way the Twins have been swinging through high fastballs this week, this matchup should be an interesting task for the hitters.
Minnesota also announced a roster move, sending Josh Winder down to AAA and recalling right-hander Jorge Alcalá. This probably makes good sense with the late-inning right-handers being worked hard this week and another long-man already on the roster in Dereck Rodríguez. Enjoy the game!