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The Hypothetical 2020 Twins Season, Part 13: The Streak Lives On

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).

What a week! 7-0 against two playoff contenders? Can we just put that week on repeat all the way to the World Series? We also jumped from fifth to first in the power rankings. What a time to be alive!

We might be able to this week as we visit struggling Baltimore and floundering Kansas City. Time to get to work!

All-Star Update:

Three weeks have flown by in terms of voting and things are starting to heat up with voters flooding to the online voting booths.

This week, we see seven of our beloved Twins with realistic shots at starting if we keep up this hot streak. It is the perfect week for it.

PositionNamePlaceVotesVotes Back/Up
CatcherMitch Garver1st924,082~140,497 up
First BaseMiguel Sano2nd715,853~193,136 back
Second BaseLuis Arraez1st750,055~74,000 up
Third BaseJosh Donaldson2nd991,988~12,000 back
ShortstopJorge Polanco3rd684,400~186,000 back
Center FieldByron Buxton3rd704,718~422,000 back
Right FieldMax Kepler1st737,115~9,000 up
Designated HitterNelson Cruz1st919,923~140,000 up
RelieverZach Littell2nd354,663~7,000 back
RelieverTaylor Rogers5th311,326~50,000 back

Game 68: Minnesota Twins (43-24) at
Baltimore Orioles (23-42)

Bombas for the Win

I am always nervous when Samardzija is scheduled to pitch. While he has performed better in his games for us than Homer Bailey was earlier in the year, he is still our most inconsistent option.

But today he showed he has gained some confidence and is settling into his role with the club. Over the course of seven innings, he pitched solidly allowing only three hits, a walk, and two runs while striking out six.

While it wasn’t all positive, both runs coming off solo homeruns, he didn’t get rattled when giving up the long ball and was able to settle back in after each.

Throw in two shutout innings from Wisler and Romo and that is a recipe for success on the mound.

It was great to continue to have an above average performance from our starter, and while seven innings of two-run ball are great, the offense is what truly carried this team to the win…especially when they are Bombas.

Sano made sure it didn’t take long to get the lead in this game as he blasted a two-run shot to left in the first and Polanco hit his own two-run homerun in the third for a quick 4-0 lead. The offense didn’t take their foot off the gas, thankfully, even as the Orioles hit their two homeruns in the fourth and fifth to get back to within two as Kepler and Adrianza mashed their own over the fence. Putting the game out of reach.

Eight wins in a row and 20 games over .500 has me feeling great! Oh, and we are a half game up on the Indians. Score!

Final Score: Twins 7 – Orioles 2

Twins Record: 44-24

Bomba Counter: 118 (2nd)

Game 69 (nice): Minnesota Twins (44-24) at
Baltimore Orioles (23-43)

Ninth Inning Explosion

Odorizzi was back on the mound to begin the second game of this three-game set and I thought we would be in for a long night as he gave up a solo shot to Trey Mancini in the bottom of the first.

But that didn’t faze Odo as he would go on to pitch another solid game by going seven full innings while only allowing the one run off three hits and striking out eight. 

However, the bats just couldn’t figure out Baltimore pitcher Keyvius Sampson even as he started the game with an ERA over six and a 1-5 record. Our boys didn’t strike out too much, only going down by way of the K four time and drawing four walks. But only three hits on the ledger wasn’t making this manager all too happy.

We would load the bases in the seventh and a wild pitch by Sampson drew the game even at one, but the Orioles took the lead back in the bottom of the eighth off Valdez. 

Then something clicked in the top of the ninth, or maybe it was just the change in pitcher. Two walks and an error would load the bases yet again with no outs. With Buxton up to bat, I was skeptical of scoring anything meaningful and expecting a double play. That was until he stroked a single to shallow left and scored both Polanco and Garver.

Thinking this was going to end up with a save situation, I started warming Rogers in the pen. But then Cruz singled making it 4-2 and Sano drew the bases loaded walk to make it 5-2. Throw in a Donaldson sacrifice fly to make it 6-2 and it was no longer a save situation and Littell came in and finished the job. 

Final Score: Twins 6 – Orioles 2 

Twins Record: 45-24

Game 70: Minnesota Twins (45-24) at
Baltimore Orioles (23-44)

Battling Through

To be honest, I saw this game coming. Having struggled to get consistent offensive play in the series, a low scoring affair was at the front of my mind. Which was why we needed Berrios to pitch like an ace. 

For the most part he did just that. While he gave up a run in the first and third, two runs are something this team should be able to overcome against last place clubs even when the bats aren’t at their best. 

We opened the scoring in the first off a Jorge Polanco double that brought Sano home and regained the lead after it was tied in the first when Adrianza singled home Arraez. 

Tied at two going into the fifth, Adrianza came through again. This time with a one out homer that traveled an astonishing 424 feet for a guy like him. 

That was all we needed as Berrios shut down the Orioles with the help of a hold by Duffey and Rogers’ 13th save of the year and getting us the sweep.

Final Score: Twins 3 – Orioles 2 

Twins Record: 46-24

Bomba Counter: 119 (2nd

Game 71: Minnesota Twins (46-24) at
Kansas City Royals (29-40)

Extra Innings Slog

Rich Hill was eligible to come off the IL today so that means I needed to make a tough decision about how to get the 40-year old into the rotation. Not wanting to drop down players who are contributors but with minor league options left, I decided to shop Matt Wisler around. 

What I found was that the Diamondbacks were willing to trade minor league relief pitcher, Jon Duplantier, for him. Thad didn’t like this idea, but he doesn’t seem to like a lot of trade options unless we are fleecing a team. 

Looking at both players potential and contributions, Wisler is on the decline while Duplantier can grow and bolster the pen in the coming years. It wasn’t a popular fan decision, but I am not here to stroke the feelings of our fanbase. I am here to win the whole damn thing. It was not an ideal situation, but it is one I got myself into and being up 22 games over .500 we need to keep pounding away.

As for the game, it was something out of my nightmares. 

While we would get out to a 1-0 lead in the first after Buxton reached on an error and stole second and third, the lead wouldn’t last as the Royals tied it right back up in the bottom of the inning.

It would remain that way until another run scored off Maeda in the sixth for a Royals 2-1 lead. We would regain the lead in the eighth, however, as Donaldson would club a two-run shot.

As Maeda was starting to tire, I brought in righty-specialist Sergio Romo to hold the lead until I could get Rogers in to save it. Alas, that would go right by the wayside as he gave up two runs and put us down 4-3.

Thankfully, Buxton would come through again and hit a monstrous homerun in the top of the ninth to tie it back up.

Diving into extras, I was pissed I was having to utilize most of the bullpen against a bottom tier team in the first game of the series. I even went into the hallway leading to the dugout and wept quietly for a moment. Even after we would take a one-run lead in the 13th only for Rogers to blow another save. His fourth. 

Then the top of the 15th happened and the Royals’ manager made a crucial mistake against this lineup. Leaving a reliever in so long that his arm is practically falling off. 

We took full advantage and loaded the bases allowing Cruz to break out of a small cold streak and hit a grand slam making it 9-5. We would even fill the bases again but to no additional run support. 

I left Valdez in for the bottom of the inning and he did his job finishing it off for the frustrating win.

Final Score: Twins 9 – Royals 5

Twins Record: 47-24

Buxton Steal Count: 64 (1st)
Bomba Counter: 122 (2nd)

Game 72: Minnesota Twins (47-24) at
Kansas City Royals (29-41)

Late Inning Drubbing

Exactly the start I wanted out of a 40-year old coming off an injury! Rich Hill warmed back up to pitching with a great performance, all things considered. 

It was a close game headed into the later innings with the team up only one run, but Hill was holding strong even while only striking out two over seven innings and only giving up a single run to start the eighth. 

On offense, we would finally come to life in the eighth with our second grand salami in as many nights. This time it was Donaldson’s turn to get the four easy RBIs with some additional run support coming from Garver and Buxton. 

The offensive output didn’t end there either as we would score four more in the ninth, this time with a Kepler three-run blast and a Rosario run-scoring double. 

Happy campers all around.

Final Score: Twins 12 – Royals 1

Twins Record: 48-24

Bomba Counter: 124 (2nd)

Game 73: Minnesota Twins (48-24) at
Kansas City Royals (29-42)

Holding on for dear life

Oof. This was a game.

It wasn’t stressful to begin with as we went up 6-0 after three-run innings in the top of the second and third thanks to the help of some Kepler RBIs in both innings.

Dobnak pitched…okay.

While he did make it through seven full innings, something we desperately needed after the start to this series, he still gave up nine hits and four runs, with three to start the eighth, before I yanked him.

Not ideal. 

But we managed. Martin gave up only one more run to make it a sweat-inducing one-run affair, but Duffey made quick work of the ninth and kept the wins coming.

Final Score: Twins 6 – Royals 5

Twins Record: 49-24

Week Review and Lookahead:

The wins keep racking up, but so do the Indians’. One would think two straight weeks of no losses would catapult us to a decent lead in the Central. But, no. The Indians have kept chugging along and are only a game back.

It isn’t all sunshine and roses with them breathing down our necks. But we can’t stop now. 

The next week isn’t daunting to begin with as our neighbors in the Brewers come to town for a two-game set. Then the Yankees come to town. While we disposed of them in our meeting in the Bronx earlier this season, there are never any gimmes with them.

Let’s keep the streak alive!

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