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The Hypothetical 2020 Twins Season, Part 11: Bombing in More Ways Than One

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).

After a nearly perfect week coming off the heels of a rough one, the offense is rolling. Having put up eight or more runs in six of seven games last week, the trend hopefully will continue. It won’t be easy facing the Yankees in New York, but the confidence is there, and the Yankees don’t appear to be the world-beaters of year’s past.

All-Star Update:

After the first week of voting, ten Twins ranked among the top few spots at their positions:

PositionNamePlaceVotesVotes Back
CatcherMitch Garver1st175,415
First BaseMiguel Sano2nd145,017~25,000
Second BaseLuis Arraez2nd137,394~3,000
Third BaseJosh Donaldson1st186,554
ShortstopJorge Polanco2nd142,212~35,000
Center FieldByron Buxton3rd128,292~99,000
Right FieldMax Kepler3rd132,292~8,000
Designated HitterNelson Cruz1st182,424
RelieverZach Littell1st79,670
RelieverTaylor Rogers5th63,410~16,000

Game 55: Minnesota Twins (33-21) at
New York Yankees (28-26)

Ominous Clouds Aren’t Always a Bad Omen

A gloomy day in the Bronx was hopefully not signs of things to come for our surging Twins as they faced off against the perpetual monkey on their backs in the Yankees.

With Buxton reaching second on a throwing error to lead off the game and advancing to third on an Arraez fly out, maybe it was the start we needed. Even with Cruz reaching on a walk, it wasn’t enough as Donaldson would ground into a fielder’s choice to end the top of the first.

Kepler would make sure we would get that run in the second off a solo shot, his 11th, with two away. Then with Garver on first off a single, Buxton would come through a jack of his own to make it 3-0. 

Unfortunately, Berrios would load the bases and give up a grand slam to Chris Iannetta. 4-3 Yankees.

Polanco would tie it up on his own bomb in the seventh to make it 4-4. Buxton would reach again off a slow throw to first and steal second. When Arraez got a single to left-center, Buxton rounded third with his elite speed to try and take the lead, but somehow Brett Gardner’s normal arm beat him to end the inning.

With Berrios tiring, I brought in Romo for two quick strikeouts in the eighth. Well done!

Then down to our last out in the ninth, Garver managed to slap a single to left and Buxton would push him to third on a double. Up to bat cane singles machine, Arraez, who got his second hit of the night and pushed both home for the late 6-4 lead.

Rogers came in and saved the game with a double play and a strikeout to give us the win! 

Ominous skies took the loss today.

Final Score: Twins 6 – Yankees 4

Twins Record: 34-21

Buxton Steal Count: 48 (1st)
Bomba Counter: 88 (3rd)

Game 56: Minnesota Twins (34-21) at
New York Yankees (28-27)

So Much for the Bullpen

After a morale boosting win yesterday, the dugout was popping for another game against the damn Yankees. Looking to bring them down to .500 and hear the musical boos rain down from crowd.

It’d look to be a hot start for the Lefty Mashers after Donaldson slapped a double and Garver a single, but three straight strikeouts ended the threat before anything came to fruition.

Thankfully Polanco would continue to mash against the Yankees by hitting his second homer of the series and giving us a one run lead in the second.

But Maeda would have command issues in the bottom half of the inning and give up two walks and a single to but the Yankees on top 2-1. 

Another two hits from Donaldson and Garver gave Cruz the opportunity to hit a sacrifice deep enough to left to score a run and tie the game at two with only one out.

Then came Sano. With five strikeouts so far in the series, it wasn’t looking great for him at the plate. That was until J.A. Happ left a ball up in the zone for Sano to smash over the right field wall to give us the 4-2 lead.

Maeda would dish one up to Gardner in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-3, but another barrage of hits in the fifth and a Sano RBI-single would push the lead back to two.

Unfortunately, the Bronx Bombers came to play and bashed two more over the wall in the fifth to re-tie the game once more.

Littell and Valdez would throw scoreless sixth and seventh innings bringing much joy to my stressed-out bullpen heart.

Then with two away in the eighth and Adrianza at second, Donaldson hit a clutch single to regain the lead.

Valdez would then struggle in the bottom of the inning giving the run right back and loading the bases. Duffey would be brought in but promptly gave up a two-run single to Gardner making the deficit 8-6.

The bats would fall silent in the ninth and we would fall to the Yankees.

Final Score: Yankees 8 – Twins 6

Twins Record: 34-22

Bomba Counter: 90 (3rd)

Game 57: Minnesota Twins (34-22) at
New York Yankees (29-27)

Dobnak Dazzles

Although a demoralizing loss last night, a day game and blue skies brightened up the mood for the club, and it showed.

While Buxton would single and get a steal to begin the game, nobody was able to drive him home. But it wouldn’t matter early as Adrianza would club a homerun to deep right and make it 3-0 in the second.

Kepler would get in on the action too, clubbing his 12th of the year to right with Donaldson on first making it 5-0 and knocking big money free agent Gerrit Cole out after only 2.1 innings pitched. Progress!

Thankfully for us, Yankees manager Aaron Boone decided to bring in left hander Tyler Lyons. Cruz made him pay with a two-run show of his own in the fourth with another two scoring in the inning.

The pitch-to-contact approach worked for Dobnak too. Getting through five innings with no one scoring on 62 pitches. While he did load the bases with no outs in the fifth, he managed three straight infield flies to keep the game at 9-0.

Although Romo would give up a lead-off homer to Tauchmann in the eighth to make it 9-1, he would get through the inning and the first out of that ninth with Littell getting the last two to secure the series win.

Coming into Yankee Stadium is daunting no matter who you play for, but especially for the Twins. To come out with only one loss that could have been a win is a major victory for the club this early in the year.

Final Score: Twins 9 – Yankees 1

Twins Record: 35-22

Buxton Steal Count: 49 (1st)
Bomba Counter: 93 (3rd)

Game 58: Minnesota Twins (35-22) at
Chicago White Sox (26-31)

Offense Keeps Rolling

While initially scheduled to be played on May 29th, it was cancelled due to heavy rain leading to our first double-header of the year. This may come as a surprise to many as we have become accustomed to a healthy smattering of them early in the season since moving into Target Field in 2010. But I guess Mother Nature has been on our side recently and held off until late May to test us.

Beginning the game 6-1 in games against the Sox it should be a great series to bolster our positioning in the standings. We would begin by loading the bases in the first, but not push anything across. But it ultimately wouldn’t bother me too much as Cruz would crush a ball to deep left center for his 17th homerun on the year with Arraez on first to take a 2-0 lead.

We’d tack on another in the fourth as Arraez hit a line drive triple that drove in Buxton who had just stole second and third. 

After adding four more runs over the course of the sixth and seventh, things would get dicey. Odorizzi had been pitching lights out up until then when he issued back-to-back walks and a two-run triple along with another walk before I pulled him. It didn’t get better as Trevor Rosenthal immediately gave up a three-run shot to make it a 7-5 game. 

But two more stolen bases by Buxton and an Arraez single would make it a three-run lead in the eighth.

I started warming up Rogers in case a save was needed, but Kepler made sure it would not be the case to start the bottom of the ninth by clubbing a two-run homerun of his own in the top of the inning. 

Rogers was not needed as Valdez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and gave us the start to the series we expected. 

Final Score: Twins 10 – White Sox 5

Twins Record: 36-22

Buxton Steal Count: 53 (1st)
Bomba Counter:  96 (2nd)

Game 59: Minnesota Twins (36-22) at
Chicago White Sox (26-32)

Early Deficits

The Sox jumped out to an early lead in the first after a throwing error and a homerun put them up 3-0. Not the start you want to see against a middling team, and it may be an early exit for Samardzija doesn’t get it together.

Chicago would add two more runs in the fifth and eighth as we would try to claw back with two of our own in the seventh and eighth, but it wasn’t enough to nab both games of the double-header.

Samardzija would eventually settle down and strikeout seven over six innings, but the early hole he put us in was too much to handle after knocking the Southsiders around earlier in the day.

Final Score: White Sox 5 – Twins 2

Twins Record: 36-23

Buxton Steal Count: 55 (1st)
Bomba Counter: 97 (2nd)

Game 60: Minnesota Twins (36-23) at
Chicago White Sox (27-32)

All down to the rubber match.

Fans of great pitching were not going to want to miss the rubber-match of this three-game set. With the White Sox trotting out Lucas Giolito and the Twins, Jose Berrios, it looked to be a game all about defense.

It did not disappoint for the most part. With both rendering few hits outside of a Garver homerun in the third and an against the shift run-scoring double from the Sox, the 1-1 game had the makings of an instant classic.

That was until the fifth. With Polanco drawing a walk to lead off the inning, Kepler hit a longball 438 feet to right center and giving the Twins a 3-1 lead. It would nearly spell disaster for Giolito as he ended up loading the bases with only one gone, but somehow managed to escape without any additional scarring. 

Yet Berrios couldn’t manage to maintain his composure. Giving up a three-run jack to Jaycob Brugman to give the Sox a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the frame.

Unfortunately, that is all that would be written of the game as the bats continued to fall silent when it mattered most, and the Sox took the series two games to one. 

Final Score: White Sox 4 – Twins 3

Twins Record: 36-24

Buxton Steal Count: 56 (1st)
Bomba Counter: 99 (2nd)

Week Review and Lookahead:

While it was just about the record we expected to achieve this week, the losses came to the wrong team.

Don’t get me wrong, taking two of three from the Yankees in New York is a great accomplishment for this club and their ridiculous history against the Bronx Bombers. But to go and lose two of three to the White Sox isn’t the look we were going for having taken the first two series of the year against them.

Do not fret though. We still sit pretty atop the AL Wild Card standings and are only three back of the Indians in the Central.

We come home for a seven-game stand in the coming week so a refreshed club and happy kiddos could benefit our record, but we do face off the AL East and West leaders in the Tampa Bay Rays (32-29) and Los Angeles Angels (37-21).

On a positive note, the Rays are struggling in their last ten games going 3-7 and the Angels aren’t world-beaters going 6-4.

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