The Minnesota Twins entered play on Monday evening with a magic number of just five. After a nothing-to-write-home-about performance at Great American Ballpark in the season opener against the Cincinnati Reds, the number remains the same.
The first hit of the game didn’t come until the second batter of the bottom of the second inning. By that time, there had already been two walks, a Twins runner reaching on a Reds error, and the exit of Twins shortstop Carlos Correa due to injury after aggravating his plantar fasciitis.
Twins starter Joe Ryan then gave up another hit, which plated the first run of the game. Later in the inning, with runners on second and third, Michael A. Taylor made his presence felt in his first game back after a stint on the injured list by robbing a potential home run off the bat of Will Benson. Instead of a three-run jack, it was a long, loud, sacrifice fly and the Reds led 2-0 after the second inning.
The Twins’ first hit didn’t come until the fourth, when Royce Lewis led off the inning and hit a solo shot to straightaway center field, cutting the Reds’ lead in half.
Cincinnati expanded their lead in the bottom of the frame, however. After a Noelvi Marte walk, Benson outdid his previous long fly ball with one that was impossible for Taylor to bring back, and the score morphed into 4-1. Ryan ultimately managed to complete five innings for the first time in three starts, but the score was the same when he left the contest.
The Twins got to within 4-2 on a solo jack from Alex Kirilloff with one out in the top of the seventh inning, but it was still only the Twins’ third hit of the game to that point.
Dallas Keuchel had come on in the sixth as what effectively ended up being the ‘B’ starter in a tandem with Ryan. He turned in a scoreless first inning while allowing a baserunner on a walk, but the Reds got to him in the seventh.
The home squad went walk, single, single, single before Tyler Stephenson banged into a 5-2-3 double-play. At the moment, the score was still just 5-2, but Joey Votto singled in two more to stretch the lead to 7-2.
The Twins went quietly in the top of the eighth while Keuchel pitched a clean bottom half. Minnesota got one more run across in the ninth on a Max Kepler single and a Kyle Farmer double, bringing the final score to 7-3.
- The Twins finished the game with just five hits but had 12 total bases. The Reds had nine hits and 13 total bases. Silver linings, I guess?
- The Twins only drew one walk while the Reds coaxed five bases on balls off of Ryan and Keuchel.
- Ryan only generated five swinging strikes in five innings, per Dan Hayes. Not ideal.
- On the plus side, the Twins only had to use two pitchers in this one.
- With the Guardians’ loss earlier on Monday the magic number still dropped to five. The earliest the Twins could clinch is Thursday, but sometime over the weekend is far more likely.
- Royce Lewis: 1-for-4, HR
- Max Kepler: 2-for-4, R
- Alex Kirilloff: 1-for-4, HR
- Jorge Polanco: 0-for-4, 2 K
- Matt Wallner: 0-for-4, 2 K
- Dallas Keuchel: 3 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 K