Minnesota Twins starters continue to stay hot while bullpen and offense struggle during week two of regular season action.
It’s fair to say the Minnesota Twins would not be where they are today without a strong start by the pitching staff. The starters have been able to go deep into games and, for the most part, the bullpen has been able to finalize those games.
The Twins’ turnaround in terms of the starting rotation for the first two weeks of the season has been nothing short of miraculous. The Twins will enter week three of regular season play with a 7-5 record, but before we look ahead lets look back at the week that was.
The Minnesota Twins were 5-1 heading into week 2 of the baseball season, but series’ against the Tigers and White Sox didn’t help their quest for the top of the AL Central.
We’ll start with Hector Santiago as he was the only starter to pitch multiple games last week. Hector took a tough loss in Detroit on Tuesday pitching 6 1/3 innings, while allowing only 2 runs on 3 hits. Santiago allowed a two run homer to James McCann in the 2nd, and that would be all the run support the Tigers needed to win this one
Santiago took the mound again on Sunday afternoon, this time against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field. Santiago pitched 7 strong shutout innings allowing 6 hits and striking out 6 White Sox.
Santiago turned the ball over to Matt Belisle in the 8th with the Twins up 1-0. Belisle was unable to hold the lead for the Minnesota Twins. The White Sox were able to take the lead on an Avisail Garcia two run homer off of Ryan Pressly in the top of the 10th.
Santiago sports a 1-1 record with a 1.47 ERA in 3 starts to start the 2017 campaign.
Kyle Gibson continued his rough start to the season on Wednesday in Detroit. After a very promising spring training, a lot of people were looking forward to Gibson possibly putting it all together for an entire season.
However, Gibson lasted only 4 innings allowing 5 hits and 5 runs. On a brighter note, Tyler Duffey and Craig Breslow were able to stop the bleeding. They combined to throw 4 shutout innings, but the damage had been done and the Twins dropped the game 5-3.
In 2 starts Gibson has an 0-1 record with a ERA of 8.00.
Phil Hughes had an easy job this week as he had the benefit of an 11 run outburst by the Twins offense. Hughes and the Twins were able to avoid a sweep at the hands of Detroit as he went 5 2/3 innings allowing 4 earned runs on 5 hits.
It would’ve been nice to see Hughes go a little deeper into the game as the Twins were in control throughout the afternoon, but he ran into trouble in the 6th inning and Justin Haley was called upon to get out of the jam. Haley went 3 1/3 innings allowing one run en route to picking up the first save of his MLB career.
Hughes is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA after 2 starts.
After a tough outing in his first start of the season, Adalberto Mejia drew the White Sox once again for his second start. This time out, Mejia was in much better control of the game and posted a line of 5 innings and 1 run on 4 hits.
It was nice to see Mejia bounce back after his first start lasted only 1 2/3 inning against the same Sox lineup. Mejia has shown good stuff and we’ll get to see him against arguably the best offense in the division this week when the Indians come to Target Field. We’ll know much more about what kind of pitcher Mejia will be in the coming weeks.
Mejia is 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA two starts in this season.
Last, but certainly not least, is Ervin Santana. Santana has been nothing short of brilliant to begin the 2017 season for the Minnesota Twins. Santana was tasked with pitching against Sox ace, Jose Quintana on Saturday afternoon.
The Twins struck quickly scoring 5 runs in the bottom of the first inning and Santana never looked back on his way to a complete game shutout. Santana allowed only one hit, to Sox catcher Omar Narvaez, and struck out a season high 8 batters.
Santana is off to a hot start posting a 3-0 record in three starts with a 0.41 ERA.
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The bullpen was also quietly solid once again this week, with the exception of Ryan Pressly. Pressly was 0-2, pitching 2 2/3 innings allowing 3 runs on 4 hits. Pressly fell victim to the deep ball twice, allowing solo homer on Friday and a two run shot on Sunday. Both home runs given up were the nails in the coffin to a disappointing 2-4 week for the Twins.
Pressly will be much better in the weeks to come. This is probably just an off week, as opposed to a sign of things to come for the middle reliever.
If the Twins rotation is able to continue to consistently go 6-7 innings into ballgames, I believe they are going to force the front office to cut the bullpen down to 8 guys.
Taylor Rodgers didn’t see the mound at all this week after the bullpen only had to account for 14 1/3 innings in six games. It will be interesting to see what the response is to the rotations hot start.
We’ll know a lot more about the state of Minnesota Twins pitching next week after a 4 game set with the Indians and a weekend series against the Tigers.