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The Hypothetical 2020 Minnesota Twins Season, Part 3: Three’s Company

We are all going a little crazy without baseball. Especially Twins baseball. That is why Banter Lads has decided to have Jack Kewitsch take over the team as both the manager and general manager through Out of the Park (OOTP). 

Splitting a four-game series in Oakland is not the worst start our 2020 Twins could have. While there were some questionable pitching decisions on my part, there is plenty of season left. This part of the series will cover our three-game series against the undefeated Seattle Mariners before heading home for the opener against the Athletics again. 

As previously mentioned, these will be come out frequently to begin with as we catch up with where the season would have been in real life. 

Game 5: Minnesota Twins (2-2) @ Seattle Mariners (4-0)

A Well-Deserved Win for Dobnak

With most fans still entering T-Mobile Park, getting food, and finding their seats, Josh Donaldson went yard to put us up 1-0!

Donaldson moved up to the leadoff spot today as we are facing lefthander Wei-Yin Chen and it immediately payed off for Donaldson’s first home run in a Twins uniform. 

Randy Dobnak got the start and the rotation spot after beating out Devin Smeltzer and Jhoulys Chacin and had a solid outing to begin the game. He pitched 3.2 no-hit ball before getting into some trouble with runners on the corner. But he got out of the jam and pitched a 1-2-3 fifth.

Sano padded the lead with his patented Sano-doubter for two more runs to make it 3-0. Ehire Adrianza, playing in his first game of the year, joined in the fun too by slapping an opposite field triple to drive in Buxton from first after a walk. 4-0 Twinkies with only one out! 

Arraez knocked in Adrianza with a 5-3 groundout to make it 5-0.

I left Dobnak in to start the bottom of the seventh as he was only at 90 pitches, and like clockwork, keeping the starter in got us into a jam. So, I brought in Cody Stashak who got three straight outs while only allowing a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1, but the lead remained intact. 

The Mariners tacked on two in the bottom of the eighth after leaving Stashak in and utilizing Zack Littell to finish off the inning. After leaving Littell in to start the ninth, I brought in Tyler Duffey to get the two-out save with Taylor Rogers needing the rest and he slammed the door shut on any comeback. 

Outside of Dobnak pitching an excellent first start to his year, Miguel Sano has been the best offensive player through the first week of the season. With two homeruns, seven RBIs and batting .455/.478/.773 with a 1.251 OPS, I hope he continues to produce at this monster rate.

Final Score: Twins 5 – Mariners 3

Twins Record: 3-2

Game 6: Minnesota Twins (3-2) @ Seattle Mariners (4-1)

Is the Bomba Squad back?

Berrios was back on the mound for game two of the series. Looking to improve on his first outing which resulted in a loss and a 4.76 ERA, it shouldn’t be too much to ask for our ace. 

A shake in the lineup was also in order as we are scheduled to face another lefty in Marco Gonzalez. Instead of Arraez and Polanco in the top spots, I moved Garver and Donaldson in to force Gonzalez to face the lefty-mashers including Cruz and Sano. 

It didn’t produce any results in the first, but let’s see how the rest of the game plays out.

Berrios seems to have still not dusted off the rust as he gave up consecutive walks with two outs and a two-run double to put the team in an early hole. It appeared he would get out without any additional damage when Tom Murphy hit a single to Rosario who rocketed the ball to Garver only for him to miss the throw and allow Daniel Vogelbach to push the lead to 3-0.

It took 33 pitches, and a re-loading of the bases, but Berrios finally ended the inning on a groundout. 

Thankfully, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco got the team right back into it with back-to-back homeruns to right and left center.

Berrios got himself into yet another jam in the second with runners on the corners, but what is usually a typical sacrifice fly to center was no match for Byron Buxton’s arm, and this time Garver didn’t fumble the ball. Seattle was still able to tack one on and make the lead 4-2 headed into the third. 

Berrios did settle down in the third by only allowing a walk and striking out three pushing him up to over 11 K/9. Buxton led off the fourth with a walk and a steal and was driven home off a Donaldson double to make it a one-run game. Then Cruz did what Cruz does and mashed on to left to put the team up and knocking Gonzalez out of the game. Maybe that extension is coming soon…

Jose continued to struggle, giving up a run in the fifth to tie the game and end his evening and forcing me to bring in Matt Wisler for long relief. But maybe Berrios will still be in line for the win after Arraez and Garver walked to begin the sixth allowing Donaldson to drive Arraez in with no outs. Too bad two strikeouts and a groundout to first ended the inning. 

Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless eighth and I figured to warmup both Rogers and May to hedge my bets, but that was before Eddie Rosario uncorked one to right for three additional runs to make it 9-5. May finished the game with a 1-2-3 ninth to give the team a series win and giving Berrios his first win, albeit a messy one. 

Final Score: Twins 9 – Mariners 5

Twins Record: 4-2

Game 7: Minnesota Twins (4-2) @ Seattle Mariners (4-2)

Sleepless in Seattle

Odorizzi stepped back on the mound for his second start of the season and looking for his first result, hopefully a win, on a beautiful afternoon in Seattle. From first pitch it looked to be a tough outing as he loaded the bases but was able to strikeout two and get a fly out to leave them loaded.

After two outs in the second, Garver drew a walk and moved to second on a Rosario single and was drove in by Buxton on another single for the game’s first run. Then both Adrianza and Donaldson somehow got infield singles to make it 2-0.

Kyle Seager brought the Mariners back to within one in the third with a homerun and a run-scoring double from Higashioka in the fifth to draw even. 

Odorizzi was able to keep it even through 6.1 and Littell made sure that stood at least through the seventh. Then Buxton, who is only hitting .200, sneaked one over the fence for the go-ahead run. 

It didn’t last, with Tyler Clippard on the mound, the Mariners struck for two hits and a hit batsman along with another single driving in two to regain the lead 4-3. 

But with Cruz and Donaldson at first and second in the top of the ninth, Kepler came through with an opposite field bloop single driving in Donaldson and tying it right back up. The top of the tenth appeared to be a winner in the making with Buxton bunting for a single and stealing second and third, but Donaldson couldn’t finish the job and left him stranded at third.

Then with a runner on second, the Mariners struck for a walk-off double. 

Again, pitching is the issue. A lack of control and confidence is putting us into precarious situations. 

Final Score: Mariners 5 – Twins 4

Twins Record: 4-3

First Trades and Roster Moves: 

In need of immediate bullpen help, I decided to be proactive and initiate a trade instead of continuing to hope for a waiver wire or mediocre trading block find. I had been keeping my eye on 33-year old Chris Martin of the Atlanta Braves and, as you can see, he would be a reasonable upgrade over some of what we currently must work with.

With Atlanta asking for 21-year old Blake Enlow who only has a 30-overall potential, I threw in 35-year old Tyler Clippard too to ensure room on the active roster due to his right to refuse a demotion. 

I also moved Alex Avila to the cheating Astros for 26-year old relief pitcher Framber Valdez and moved Cody Stashak down to Rochester and recalling Jake Cave to maintain the 13/13 pitcher/batter split.

Let’s hope this plays out well and maintains leads or ties better than we have. 

Game 8: Minnesota Twins (4-3) vs. Oakland Athletics (4-3)

Early Leads Don’t Always Equate to Wins

The Home Opener! Man, if you don’t know who Mark the Hot Dog guy is at Target Field, you’re missing out. Not only does he put on a show and yell whatever you want on the dog, but he has his own trading cards with his litany list of all the amazing events he’s worked. Go check him out!

As for our simulation goes, we square up yet again against the Athletics after a three-game break. They fared as well as we did in their second series, going 2-1, so maybe we can be record buddies when we aren’t facing off. 

It is also our first game with Valdez and Martin in the pen with the hopes they provide much needed relief. I did investigate additional bullpen and starting rotation help, but this early in the season everyone was asking for too much for an average arm and we still have Michael Pineda and Rich Hill coming back on the horizon.

As much as I would have liked to had Berrios get this start, pitching on three days’ rest this early was a non-negotiable. Kenta Maeda would get the nod instead and hopes to build off a solid first start. 

It didn’t take long for Oakland to cause trouble. Marcus Semien would leadoff with a rocket over Buxton’s head, although a strong and accurate throw cut him down trying for three, and Matt Olson would log his fifth homer of the season two batters later that was a no-doubter. 1-0 Athletics.

However, we filled the bases in the bottom of the inning and a passed ball allowed Donaldson to touch home for the tie with only one out. And we would get two more off a Kepler groundout and a Polanco double. Up 3-1.

Oakland would get one back in the second, but the Twins kept tacking it on with Donaldson’s second of the year which also drove in Arraez. To make it 5-2 going into the third but the visitors would tie it right back up and take the lead after a couple of doubles and a two-run homer by Piscotty and two more in the fifth. 

I finally pulled Maeda down 8-5. It just wasn’t his day. 

Oakland would tack on a few more and we would get two back in the seventh to make it respectable, but it wasn’t enough.

Not how the Home Opener was supposed to go. On the bright side, Valdez pitched lights out in relief.

Final Score: Athletics 10 – Twins 7

Twins Record: 4-4

Game 9: Minnesota Twins (4-4) vs. Oakland Athletics (5-3)

New Day, Same Old Issues

It was announced before the game that Luis Arraez would also be day-to-day with a mild shoulder sprain. Thankfully it shouldn’t impact his spot in the lineup, but I may consider putting in Adrianza and/or Gonzalez for the day.

Once again, we got on the board early. Buxton utilized his speed to leadoff with a bunt single and a steal of second until being driven in by Donaldson. Hopefully, Homer Bailey can put together a decent performance.

And it’s gone. 

A two-run triple by Semien in the second and a two-run bomb by none other than Khris Davis and an RBI double puts us in a hole. 

We were able to load the bases in the fifth, but as seems to be a running theme, didn’t get any runs. I wish this was real life.

The bats remained silent and we went down without a fight. 

Final Score: Athletics 7 – Twins 1

Twins Record: 4-5

Game 10: Minnesota Twins (4-5) vs.
Oakland Athletics (6-3)

What Next?

Looking to bounce back to .500, the game began fairly uneventful. A couple of hits for both teams and both Randy Dobnak and Soira and Fiers of the A’s rendered no runs. That was until the Matt Olson was able to drive in Austin Allen in the fifth to give the visitors the small lead. 

Yet it would grow. Even with Dobnak pitching well again, Piscotty struck and knocked one into the bullpens to increase the deficit to three in the sixth. So, I sat Dobnak down in favor of Wisler to see if he could get us some relief. 

We got on the board with a Sano double that allowed Arraez to cross the plate after a leadoff triple. While Donaldson was able to make it a one score game with a single. 

I brought in Chris Martin for his first appearance and things were looking up after Romo got into a jam. But with two outs, Martin surrender a run-scoring double and Arraez botched a throw to Polanco to allow another to score and make it 5-2 and give the A’s a sweep.

Final Score: Athletics 5 – Twins 2

Twins Record: 4-6

Week Review and Lookahead:

This team is in a funk and needs something to go right. Fast. 

While still somehow holding onto second place in the division, it isn’t looking to get any easier as we go up against the undefeated Indians. They are 10-0 and getting production from all spots in the lineup and their pitching staff is lights out. 

We played spoiler to the Mariners when they were undefeated, but that was more of a fluke start for Seattle than it was on us beating them. 

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