Minnesota Twins vs Baltimore Orioles Opening Series Preview
Minnesota Twins Open Season With Series at Baltimore
The Minnesota Twins open the 2016 season with a day game in Baltimore, a team they beat 7 times out of 7 tries last year. A four game sweep at Camden Yards late last August vaulted the Twins into the playoff race, while also dashing the hopes of the Orioles.
A quirky stat from the 2015 series is that not one, but two Twins each got a win and a save against the Orioles last year, Glen Perkins (not unusual) and Tommy Milone, who started and won a game in July and then got his first-ever save in an extra-inning win (Perkins) in the last meeting between these two teams.
Spring Training records will be thrown out after today, the Orioles finishing up at 12-15 and the Twins at 19-11.
Both teams signed a KBO player in the off-season, the Twins signing DH/1B Byung-ho Park and the Orioles signed OF Hyun Soo Kim. While Park struggled some at the plate, he hit well enough (3 HR, 13 RBI) to easily justify the Twins’ signing him.
Monday Day Game (weather permitting)
Ervin Santana (7-5 in 2015) vs Chris Tillman (11-11)
2:05 PM – Camden Yards
TV – Fox Sports North
Wednesday Night Game
Kyle Gibson (11-11) vs Yovani Gallardo (13-11) w/Tex
6:05 PM – Camden Yards
TV – Fox Sports North
Thursdays Night Game
Phil Hughes (11-9) vs Ubaldo Jimenez (12-10)
6:05 PM – Camden Yards
TV – MLB-Network
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Baltimore: Hyun Soo Kim started off terribly in Spring Training (0-23 at the plate) and recently the Orioles tried shipping him to the minors to get regular work in before bringing him back up. Kim’s contract allowed him to refuse the option, and now the Orioles uncomfortably brought Kim with them to Baltimore to open the season. It should be noted that the Pirates’ Jung Ho Kang struggled early last year, before righting himself enough to finish third in the NL Rookie race.
Offense: Led by the middle of their lineup, Chris Davis and Adam Jones. Davis led the majors in home runs last year with 47, and was 2nd in the AL to MVP Josh Donaldson with 117 RBI. Manny Machado had a breakout 2015, slugging 35 HRs and driving in 86, while also playing stellar defense at third base. Adam Jones, a Twins-killer in the past, hit 27 HR / 82 RBI in 2015.
Player to Watch: Is also the match-up to watch. Davis is .179 lifetime versus Ervin Santana with 11 K’s. Of his 5 hits in 28 ABs, 3 are for home runs. All or nothing is Davis’ style, but against other Twins’ pitchers he’s fared well over the years. Against current Twins pitchers, he’s hitting .260 / .949 OPS, with a home run every 10 at bats.
Pitching: Baltimore lost arguably their best pitcher, Wei-Yin Chen, to the Florida Marlins in the off-season. The made a late signing to nab Yovani Gallardo, but his physical turned up injury concerns modifying his contract, plus the Orioles sacrificed the 14th overall pick in this year’s draft. Baltimore recently released Miguel Gonzalez, their #4 man, after a poor Spring. Twins will face Chris Tillman making his 3rd straight Opening Day start, Gallardo (whose Grapefruit League ERA was 10.38), and veteran starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who had an even worse Spring (12.27 ERA / 2.45 WHIP).
Player to Watch: Chris Tillman. While he struggled this Spring with his control (10 BB’s 19 H’s in 13.2 IP), Orioles coaches picked the veteran Tillman over young arms Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson for his veteran poise, and his record versus the Twins. While he may be struggling this Spring, the Twins have always been the cure that ails Tillman. Current Twins bat just .258 with no home runs versus Tillman. The Twins have only hit 3 XBH (all doubles) in 62 career at bats, though Mauer and Suzuki are the only two with more than 10 ABs against him. Minnesota looks to change those numbers starting today.
Twins: Ervin Santana earned his first-ever Opening Day start with a Spring Training to remember. Santana was 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA. He was dominant his last two times out, and will look to continue that against the Orioles. Twins starters against the Orioles combined for a 6-1 record this Spring, versus 2-3 combined records for the O’s starters.
Next: Puckett's Pond Pre-season Staff Predictions
Notes: Byron Buxton will make his first Opening Day start in CF, batting 9th. Byung-ho Park makes his MLB debut at DH today, batting 6th. The lineup will be what the Twins have played often in the later stages of Spring, with Dozier, Mauer, Sano, Plouffe, Rosario, Park, Escobar, Suzuki, and Buxton. We’ll keep track of how many times that lineup will the one manager Paul Molitor will trot out.