Minnesota Twins Wrap Up Spring Training With 2 Games in Washington
After beating the Red Sox Thursday to win their 8th straight Grapefruit League game, the Minnesota Twins pack their bags and say good-bye to Ft. Myers, Florida.
While the next two games still don’t count in the standings, they will take place in a big league ballpark, Nationals Park in Washington, DC. Plus the Twins will get accustomed to a regular season schedule with batting practice, team hotel, and eating/socializing on the road.
Two of the winningest teams this Spring, the Twins were 19-10 and the Nationals, 18-4. The Twins played 7 more games due to split squads and the Twins avoiding more rain-outs.
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On a winning streak, the Twins would like to keep up the positive momentum going into next Monday’s Opening Day against the nearby Baltimore Orioles.
Friday Night Game
5:05 PM – Nationals Field
Saturday Day Game
Ricky Nolasco vs TBD
11:05 AM – Nationals Field
Washington: The Washington Nationals have been riding high all Spring. One of the best winning percentages of all time (.818) for games that don’t matter, or do they? Last time a team won at least 80% of their Spring Training games was the Florida Marlins in 1997 who went on to win their first ever World Series that Fall. The Nationals look to repeat that.
Offense: Led by reigning MVP, Bryce Harper, the Nationals have outscored their Grapefruit League opposition by 81 runs. Former Twin, Ben Revere leads the hit parade (has hit over .300 last 3 seasons) and now mans center field for Washington, supplanting another former Twin, Denard Span.
The Nats offense has been streaky, with a downturn at end of last season that kept the pre-season favorites out of the playoffs. Harper was only player with more than 20 home runs, slugging 42.
Player to watch: Michael Taylor. On fire this Spring, the backup outfielder was hitting .458 with an amazing 1.333 OPS. Taylor is listed as the primary backup at all 3 outfield positions on the Nationals depth chart.
Pitching: Their rotation is top-heavy, with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez the Nats top 3 starters. All 3 are former All-Stars, with Scherzer also winning the AL Cy Young in 2013. Twins likely to face the number 4 and 5 starters, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross. Combined, they were 9-12 last year.
Player to watch: The aforementioned Tanner Roark. Has only allowed one run in 14 innings during Grapefruit League play.
Twins: They too are itching to start playing games that count, leaving Ft. Myers on an 8 game winning streak. There’s been stellar starting pitching by players who made the final rotation, led by Opening Day starter Ervin Santana (2-0, 1.77 ERA). Trevor Plouffe looks to break out this year, after a solid 2015. He led the team in home runs, RBI, and batting average in March.
Notes: Active rosters must be set by Sunday at 2:00 PM CDT. Twins minor league prospect, Nick Burdi, was placed on the disabled list with a forearm injury. Burdi experienced tightness, and the Twins medical staff shut him down. The bad news is that Burdi looked great this Spring, and forearm injuries have a tendency to be the first symptom of a damaged ulnar collateral ligament, which leads to Tommy John surgery. Will know more after Burdi rests the arm for two weeks.