Evaluating the Minnesota Twins’ success with the opener strategy
By Matt Smith
Game 5, September 17: 6-1 win against the Detroit Tigers
|Kohl Stewart, W (2-1)||6||3||1||0||3||5||0|
The most successful game with an opener to date for the Minnesota Twins. Moya started things off right by pitching a scoreless first, then Stewart pitched very well for the next 6 innings, giving up 1 unearned run. Quiet innings from Duffey and May topped off the Twins’ best opener game of the year, bumping their opener game record to 2-3.
Game 6, September 19: 8-2 win against the Detroit Tigers
|Stephen Gonsalves, W (1-2)||6||1||0||0||1||4||0|
The Twins were treated to a fantastic opener/primary combo in their 6th attempt at the strategy. Moya, now settling in comfortably in the opener role, pitched a quiet first inning before Gonsalves took over and pitched the best game of his season with the Twins this year. 1 hit, 1 walks, 4 strikeouts, and most importantly, 0 runs gave the Gonsalves and the Minnesota Twins a great opportunity to win a ballgame. The bats obliged, giving the team more than enough runs to survive two 9th inning runs allowed by Busenitz, moving the team’s opener record back to .500 at 3-3.
Game 7, September 25: 2-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers
|Trevor Hildenberger, BS (4), L (4-6)||0.1||3||4||4||1||1||0|
Game 7 with an opener for the Minnesota Twins was successful, but ended in an unfortunate loss. Moya and Stewart teamed up for 7 fantastic innings, allowing just 2 hits and no runs before Hildenberger allowed 4 runs to cross in just one third of an inning of work. May and Oliver Drake calmed things down for the last inning and two thirds, but the damage was done, the bats were quiet and the Twins took a loss. The opener record falls back under .500 to 3-4.
Game 8, September 27: 9-3 win against the Detroit Tigers
|Stephen Gonsalves, W (2-2)||3.1||3||2||2||4||2||0|
|Matt Magill, H (6)||1.2||1||0||0||2||2||0|
In the final opener game of the year for the Minnesota Twins, things didn’t go as well as desired. It was a slight improvement over the first few opener games, but a departure from the previous 4 successful opener/primary pairings. Still, it wasn’t bad. Moya gave up 1 run in the first, and Gonsalves’ control issues led to 4 walks and 2 runs in 3.1 innings. The bullpen shut things down after that, combining for 4 and two thirds scoreless innings, and the bats exploded for 9 runs. The 2018 Minnesota Twins’ opener game record ended at 4-4.