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The Hypothetical 2020 Twins Season, Part 4: Are We in A Funk?

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). 

That was not how opening Target Field for 2020 was supposed to go. After getting two of three in Seattle, we completely left our game on the West Coast and were swept against Oakland. But this new part in the series brings a new week and a fresh outlook! 

In all honesty, don’t expect much…we face the 10-0 Indians. 


Game 11: Minnesota Twins (4-6) vs.
Cleveland Indians (10-0)

Give ‘Em a Good Spanking!

It is fitting for Jose Berrios to get the start today. Coming off a difficult and hard-fought win against the Mariners, he avoided any potential confidence in missing the A’s series. 

Buxton got the club out to an early lead through a walk, a stolen base, and two ground outs while Polanco added to it in the second with a solo home run to the Treasure Island seats in right center. 

Things only got better for Polanco in the fourth when he squared up a changeup and hit it almost to the exact same spot as in the second, but this time for three runs. His hit also knocked Bieber, who had a 0.56 ERA coming into the game, out of the game. 

Four straight singles led off the bottom of the fifth plating two more runs and making it a commanding 7-0. Where was this team last week? 

With the lead and Berrios pitching well, I decided to keep him in at only 75 pitches. It also will allow the bullpen to gain some needed rest. However, like clockwork, he gave up a leadoff homerun to Francisco Lindor. Giving up some runs while trying to freshen up the bullpen was anticipated, but I feel like the OOTP program can read what I am typing and messes with me. 

Buxton got the run back in the sixth though by driving in Max Kepler off a single and Rosario pushed it to an eight-run lead by doubling and bringing in Sano. 

We would add a couple more to the score and Zach Littell and Tyler Duffey would combine for a scoreless eighth and ninth to snap our four-game losing streak and bring the Indians back to Earth by handing them their first. 

Final Score: Twins 11 – Indians 1

Twins Record: 5-6


Game 12: Minnesota Twins (5-6) vs.
Cleveland Indians (10-1)

One Step Forward. Two Steps Back.

For 44 degrees, it felt like a mid-summer day with how the last few weeks had been in the Twin Cities. Perfect day to play hooky from work for this Tuesday noon game. 

Odorizzi had a 1-2-3 first on only seven pitches to get the crowd pumped up after their clobbering of the Indians the night before. But he gave up five hits in the second including a grand slam. Great. As the Mandalorians say, this is the way. At least for how our pitching has fared for the most part. 

Odo got himself into another bases loaded jam in the second but was able to force out a runner at home and a tiring Garver threw out the runner heading to first for the 1-2-3 double play.

He pitched well the through 7.1 innings before Matt Wisler and Framber Valdez closed out the eighth and ninth, but the home bats fell silent against Cody Allen who notched nine strikeouts through 7.1 innings.

Final Score: Indians 5 – Twins 0 

Twins Record: 5-7


Bolstering the Pen:

Like I said, I play this game aggressively. Sometimes it works and other times it knocks me flat. 

So here we are, back on the trading block and Trevor Rosenthal of the Kansas City Royals was available! I also was able to swing prospect Tyler Zuber, a relief/closer option too. As my assistant GM, Thad Levine, said, “While not improving us by a lot, this would not really hurt us either.” 

Exactly what I am looking for and what we can afford, Thad.

Unfortunately, that meant parting ways with legendary Twitch streamer, Trevor May, and prospect center fielder Misael Urbina. 

Welcome to the Twins, gentlemen!


Game 13: Minnesota Twins (5-7) vs.
Cleveland Indians (11-1)

Nearly a Maddux. But Not in a Good Way.

Man, this game was a frustrating snoozer for the longest time. 

While Kenta Maeda pitched extremely well, striking out nine over five innings and only allowing a run in the first, the Twins bats were stymied by Cleveland pitcher Zac Plesac.

Plesac was on his way to throwing a Maddux (a complete game while throwing under 90 pitches) while allowing only one hit. That was until the bottom of the eight when Josh Donaldson was able to draw a walk. After a Polanco fly out, Kepler came to the plate.

Kepler has been struggling, hitting only .208, but came through in an important way. With the count 1-0, he made contact with a curveball that hung just enough to get a piece of and he made that ball regret it was ever manufactured.

Tie game at two!

I brought in Tyler Duffey for a hold, and after giving up a double and a single, it was time to see what the new guy, Trevor Rosenthal could do. While he retired the side, it wasn’t without a sacrifice fly to right that allowed the Indians to regain the lead.

With Buxton up to bat to begin the final frame, I signaled for him to bunt and it paid off. Not only did he get the infield single, he also stole second and Luiz Arraez came through in the clutch with a double to drive him in and tie it again!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to win as Cruz, Sano, and Donaldson all failed to mash lefty closer, Brad Hand. Thankfully, Rosenthal went 1-2-3 and held the tie for the bottom of the tenth.

Nothing across for the home boys in the tenth and Chris Martin unfortunately allowed one across in the eleventh. It was looking bleak again with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but Polanco came through again and drove in Sano!

Of course, we couldn’t get anything else done and Valdez allowed another run in the top of the twelfth and nothing came to fruition in the bottom of the inning. 

Tough way to lose an ugly game with a couple of bright spots.  

Final Score: Indians 5 – Twins 4

Twins Record: 5-8


Game 14: Minnesota Twins (5-8) at
Chicago White Sox (3-9)

Where to turn?

Perpetually looking for a bounce-back, the team felt like this upcoming series was going to be one to assert their dominance. 

It did not start out pretty as Homer Bailey allowed a run in the first, but Adrianza was able to get on base in the third with a double and two passed balls later came across to score and tie the game at one. 

Passed balls impacted Bailey too, who allowed two to score in the third too off a couple of hits and a passed ball. 

An Adrianza single and a Buxton triple brought the deficit back to one in the fifth, but Homer couldn’t help giving up a homer to Edwin Encarnacion and Nomar Marza to make it 5-2. 

Two miscues in the field by Polanco and Donaldson allowed the Sox to capitalize again in the eighth to make it 6-2.

Cruz belted a long home run in the top of the ninth, but Sano, Donaldson, and Rosario failed to muster any extra attempt at producing a rally.

The Sox’s Yasmani Grandal told the media after that game, “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Sometimes we just need to relax.” 

Maybe the team and the fans can do the same for the Twins. 

Final Score: White Sox 6 – Twins 3

Twins Record: 5-9


Game 15: Minnesota Twins (5-9) at Chicago White Sox (4-9)

R-E-L-A-X

The boys must have read the paper at breakfast, because they came out refreshed, motivated, and RELAXED.

Buxton bunted for a hit again, stole second, moved to third on an Arraez single, and scored on a Cruz sac fly. Sano and Donaldson then drew a walk to put ducks on pond and Rosario made the walks haunt the Sox by hitting a grand slam to put the team up 5-0 in the first.

Just like they did in the ‘Dome, walks will forever haunt.

Things continued to roll for the Twins with Donaldson getting a double. But appeared to injure his right knee sliding into second and had to be replaced by Marwin Gonzalez. With the diagnosis pending, we can only hope it’s nothing serious.

Thankfully, Polanco kept his hot streak going and drove in Gonzalez with a single to push the lead to six and knocking the Sox’s starter Reynaldo Lopez out of the game. 

Cruz drove in Sano on a single and Polanco was able to get on as well before Buxton uncorked a bullet over the left field fence to make it a double-digit lead! Time to think about conserving some of our runs for games we need them. If only it was that easy. 

Dobnak pitched out of his mind for a rookie with his current ability, putting together a 7.1 inning, three hit, six strikeouts outing on only 90 pitches to drop his ERA to 1.93. 

Final Score: Twins 10 – White Sox 0

Twins Record: 6-9


Game 16: Minnesota Twins (6-9) at Chicago White Sox (4-10)

Following up on Donaldson’s exit out of Saturday’s game (in case you needed some semblance of what day we are on in this time), it only came out to be a one-day issue with knee soreness. Whew!

As for the game, Berrios took the mound for us and Gio Gonzalez (0-2, 9.0 IP, 9.00 ERA) started for the Sox. We were able to fill the bases off three walks, but Polanco struck out to leave them loaded in the first.

Rosario led off the second with a single and was followed up by Buxton with a double but had to come out. Thankfully, the trainer was able to diagnosis it immediately and it was only back tightness and should be day-to-day for a couple of days. In the meantime, welcome back Jake Cave!

After getting a run in the second, Berrios was rolling until tweaking his hamstring. Thankfully, again, it is only day-to-day for a few days, but these injuries can begin to add up quickly and take major tolls from what I have seen in the past with OOTP. Our bullpen is rested, which is the other positive from this situation and we have Dobnak to thank for that.

With only a one-run lead and four innings to play, I was getting nervous about having to blow through the pen again and impact upcoming games. But Sano made sure to lower my blood pressure a little hitting a home run, his third on the year, to make it 2-0. 

After Wisler got through the fourth and fifth and Littell through the sixth with ease, Littell ran into some trouble with two on and no outs in the seventh. I brought in Duffey and after getting a runner at second, Tim Anderson hit a shallow ball to Kepler who not only made a fantastic diving catch but was able to throw out the tagging runner at home to end the inning with no runs being given up!

Polanco continued to perform, hitting a sacrifice to center that brought Cruz home. Duffey was making short work of the Sox before allowing a home run and bringing in Valdez to finish the eighth.

Rogers saved the game with a 1-2-3 ninth and the Twins are now on a win streak and back in second in the Central!

Final Score: Twins 3 – White Sox 1

Twins Record: 7-9


Week Review and Lookahead: 

Another tumultuous week in the clubhouse and on the field. From roster moves and injuries to wins and losses. This week had it all. With a nice little confidence boost to end the week, the team hopes it carries over to their series south of the border with Toronto (yes, Toronto is farther south than the Twin Cities) who are 10-6. 

It won’t be easy but ending the week with the bottom of the barrel Tigers could prove to be fruitful and solidify our spot in the Central and Wild Card, where we sit two games back early on. 

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