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The Hypothetical 2020 Twins Season, Part 18: Dog Days of Summer

Major League Baseball is on its way back! While we wait for Spring Training 2.0 and the season to start up, we will continue to have Jack Kewitsch take over the team as both the manager and general manager through Out of the Park (OOTP) in this simulation-style season. But we will be speeding it up and covering a month at a time as the real Opening Day is this week!!!!


Games 111-113: Cheater Doubleheader and Sweeping Them Into the Trash

It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done against the cheating Astros once again. While our bats seemed to be scorching in each game, the pitching was beyond sub-par. But it managed to get us three more wins.

Maeda struggled in the first game, giving up six runs in six innings. And new addition Julio Urias did too. But with a good smattering of Bombas and hits, we managed to win the doubleheader.

The final game of the series required a comeback in the bottom of the eighth after being down 6-4. Kepler and Cruz made sure we wouldn’t walk away from that one empty-handed.

Scores:
Twins 10 – Astros* 8
Twins 12 – Astros* 10
Twsin 7 – Astros* 6

Record: 83-30


Games 114-116: Power Outage

Mike Clevinger just mowed us down in game one and Berrios was frustrated early while the bats failed to produce anything of note. But a nice performance from Odorizzi in game two helped. Including three scoreless innings from Romo and Martin to finish the game.

As for the third game, a mix of the bats not getting anything going and Maeda being tired alongside a bad Samardzija outing and you have the making of an 8-0 shutout.

Scores:
Indians 6 – Twins 1
Twins 4 – Indians 3
Indians 8 – Twins 0

Record: 84-32


Game 117-120: Pitching Boards the Strugglebus

Our pitching staff is shot to bits for some reason. I haven’t been misusing them, but for some reason everyone is dead tired. Which isn’t good when you need them to, you know, throw half the game.

It didn’t make matters better when Urias went down for two weeks with elbow inflammation in the third inning. Meaning I needed to piecework 5.1 innings with an exhausted pen. If it wasn’t for our bats in the first game, and KC being atrocious, it would have made for an even more tenuous affair.

The second game was much of the same on the mound. We got a good performance from Lance Lynn, but the bullpen was still beat down so it was a struggle to get to the ninth unscathed. We were able to push it to extras though where the bats woke up thanks to Miguel Sano and plenty of others. Scoring six in the top of the tenth.

As for the final game, it was more of our usual selfs. Minus the plethora of Bombas. We would win 6-1 on the back of Berrios who pitched a complete game while allowing only the single run. A well-deserved day off for the bullpen.

The final game provided more excellent pitching. This time from Odo. And while he didn’t go the distance, the bullpen backed him up by allowing only one hit (three total for the Royals) and no runs. Another sweep!

Scores:
Twins 15 – Royals 3
Twins 9 – Royals 3
Twins 6 – Royals 1
Twins 5 – Royals 0

Record: 88-32


Games 121-124: Shipping Off to Boston

Game one got off to a great start! Up 6-1 entering the fifth, Maeda was performing well and struck out six over seven innings. Even though he ended up giving up two more runs, it was still a 6-3 game. However, Samardzija gave up a three-run homer…although two of the runs were earned by Sergio Romo. But we won it in extras thanks to a Kepler triple and Rogers, who almost blew the save, shut the door.

Josh Donaldson also hit his 30th Bomba of the year and has been well worth the investment the Twins made for him. At least in this simulation. An almost 1.000 OPS and 6.3 WAR while also hitting for power and average is amazing.

It was an even better second game. With Dobnak getting his first start back in the bigs since Urias had to be put on the 15-day IL, he needed all the help he could get. Which the offense did. Surging out to a 10-0 lead in the fifth. But Dobnak didn’t even need that much help as he held the Sox scoreless through the first five innings and giving up only three runs in the sixth.

Donaldson and Cruz both went deep twice to add to their league-leading totals and Buxton swiped his 97th bag.

We continued to roll in game three, with Kepler hitting two homers and driving in four while Lynn struck out nine over 6.1.

The sweep came when we scored six runs in the first two innings…all off one single hit. Small ball works sometimes! While Berrios cruised through seven innings.

Scores:
Twins 7 – Red Sox 6
Twins 14 – Red Sox 3
Twins 9 – Red Sox 1
Twins 6 – Red Sox 2

Record: 92-32


Games 125-127: Starting Pitching Magic

Odorizzi, Maeda, and Dobnak all dazzled in their starts on the way to another sweep. Odorizzi began the series and performed well, going six innings while surrendering only two runs and striking out seven. But the bullpen underperformed and allowed the Royals right back into the game after being up 7-2. Rogers blew the save, giving up two in the ninth, but managed to win the game…primarily on the back of Polanco who drove in the walk-off run.

Maeda then cruised through five innings, also striking out seven, and Samardzija took it the rest of the way. Throwing four no-hit innings. Yet that paled in comparison to Dobnak’s outing. The rookie scored a 91/100 in game score as he went the distance in a complete came shutout. Striking out nine, allowing only one walk, and two hits. That is a ROY performance. Too bad he hasn’t played all year. That is on me.

Scores:
Twins 8 – Royals 7
Twins 10 – Royals 2
Twins 6 – Royals 0

Record: 95-32


Games 128-129: One Thicc Bih

Lynn failed to make it three innings (2.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER) in the first game of this two-game set. While the bats fell quiet. But the team salvaged a split thanks to Berrios and Kepler. Although Berrios put team back 2-0 early in the first, he was a workhorse from there. Powering through seven more innings and giving Kepler a shot at the walk off. As he clubbed a bomb to right to send the fans home happy.

Kepler is having his best season yet. With 24 HR, 88 RBI, only 69 K to 73 BB along with a .285/.380/.519 slash, he is living up to his One Thicc Bih nickname. He is only projected to hit 30 homers compared to 36 in 2019, but with higher run production and discipline at the plate, this out does 2019.

We are starting to see a few more injuries. Thankfully they haven’t been anything long-term. But Urias has suffered a minor setback and will take more time to rehab and Lance Lynn has yet to be diagnosed after his start.

Scores:
White Sox 9 – Twins 2
Twins 3 – White Sox 2

Record: 96-33


Games 130-132: Young Buck Power Surge

Buxton is en fuego right now! Hitting a Bomba in the first two games of the series. But none was more important than his first one. After we tied the game late, the game went to extras. With the bases juiced, Buxton blasted a grand slam for our third walk-off in two weeks.

But he wasn’t done yet. Starting the second game right where he left off. Just like Kepler, this is easily his best season in the bigs. But it is an even bigger jump than Kepler’s. Having currently played in 130 games, he has 18 HR, 68 RBI, 44 BB, 101 SB while also hitting seven triples. Oh, and that 6.0 War is by far his highest…the next closest is 1.7 in 2017.

We also are the first team to clinch a playoff berth. So even if we lose the rest of our games, we will be playing in October. Our magic number is also only 8. Any combination of us winning and the Indians losing equating to eight games gives us the division. We could clinch by the end of August!

Scores:
Twins 9 – Tigers 5
Twins 10 – Tigers 2
Twins 6 – Tigers 4

Record: 99-33


Games 133-134: Thanks for the Beer, Milwaukee!

Not much to say about this one. We came, we saw, we conquered. Sure we came back and held on to win 7-6 in the second game, but we just tied last year’s win total…in August.

Scores:
Twins 10 – Brewers 4
Twins 7 – Brewers 6

Record: 101-33


Games 135-137: Finishing Strong

Winning the first two games was great! But Rogers gave up three in the bottom of the ninth to lose the sweep for us. Oh well. At least the team continues to hit more Bombas.

Scores:
Twins 10 – Rays 6
Twins 4 – Rays 2
Rays 8 – Twins 7

Record: 103-34


Month Review and Lookahead:

At 103-33 and the Indians at 77-59, our magic number is ONE! And guess who we play to start September…the Indians. One win and we clinch again.

The goal for the month is to win the record for games won in a season. All we need is 14 to break it. At the pace we are at, that shouldn’t be an issue.

We also will be calling up some members of the organization! It’ll likely be Alex Kirilloff and Tyler Duffey. Kirilloff has had a year at Rochester, posting a .304/.341/.509 slash with 18 HR and 78 RBI. It will be an excellent test run to see how he performs at the big league level.

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