Minnesota Twins look good heading into Pittsburgh to face the Pirates
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins had a mostly positive opening weekend in Baltimore. The team looks ready to continue winning as they head to Pittsburgh.
The Minnesota Twins came away from their 2018 opening series in Baltimore with a 2-1 record after dropping their Opening Day game after an Adam Jones 11th inning home run. The negative of the series is the Twins could have walked away with a 3-0 sweep if it wasn’t for a questionable Zach Duke bullpen move for a string of lefty to righty matchups in the 7th, missed opportunities with runners in scoring position, and a misplaced Fernando Rodney pitch.
There were lots of positives as well. At the top of the list has to be a starting trio that put together three impressive starts to start their seasons. The Twins lineup also seemed to find its groove giving Orioles pitchers whiplash after going home run happy in the final two games. While the Twins have lots of optimism off of their opening series, so do the 3-0 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Pirates Hot Start
After an offseason of head scratching from players and fans as the Pirates seemed to begin a half-way rebuild. Signalled most by the trade of staff ace Gerrit Cole and franchise cornerstone outfielder Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates still have been able to start 2018 with a series sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Even though the Pirates will be on short rest after playing a doubleheader in Detroit Sunday. The Bucs will still come rolling in for their home opener with plenty of positive energy.
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The Pirates got a good pitching performance out of Trevor Williams on Sunday as he tossed 6.0 innings of shutout baseball. Many of Pittsburgh’s bats have also started off on the right foot to their 2018 season. Josh Bell, Josh Harrison, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco have all begun the season hitting over .300. With the luxury of playing an American League team and utilizing a designated hitter, the Pirates were able to fit Adam Frazier into their lineup who also collected four hits and a walk in his 11 plate appearances over the opening weekend.
Can Twins build on early success?
This will be an interesting series for the Twins. Yes, the Pirates are 3-0 but those wins came against what is expected to be a bottom dwelling Tigers team. It will be a good chance to see what Lance Lynn has in his first start of the season. Also to see if Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson can build off of their solid first starts of the season. The Pirates lineup has some bats that need to be respected but doesn’t seem quite as scary as the Orioles lineup in their home run friendly confines in Baltimore.
It will be interesting also to see if the Twins lineup can find success against the Pirates pitching staff. A key to this season will be the Twins continued ability to score runs. While James Taillon isn’t a pitcher to overlook. The Pirates are clearly missing firepower in their starting rotation minus Cole. It should be a good opportunity for some of the Twins bats to continue hitting and for Logan Morrison and Eddie Rosario to get locked in for the season haul.
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A series win in Pittsburgh puts the Twins in line to be the American League Central leaders coming into their home opener. While it doesn’t mean much for the 162 game grind of the MLB season. A division lead in the home opener is always a welcomed sign.