The Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 5-3, completing a three-game sweep — their first Opening Series sweep since 2007. Last year the Twins only had two three-game sweeps and only beat the Royals three times total. Taylor Rogers go the win, Brandon Kintzler got the save and the locker room was packed full of players and media after the game.
“It’s fun. You talk about perspective a lot, but obviously you come out and you’re able to beat a good team three days in a row to start your season, it makes you feel pretty good,” said manager Paul Molitor.
“I don’t want to make too much of it. It beats the alternative, as we know all too well from just a year ago. Getting a couple of wins under our belt really has gotta make those players feel awful good about what they’re doing, and we’re gonna try to carry it over to our road trip.”
At home, it's @Twins 9th 3-game sweep to start a season, 1st since 2007. 5th time they done it at home, Met-1, Dome-3 & now at Target Field.
— TwinsRadio (@TwinsRadio) April 6, 2017
It’s a bit of a surprise, if only because the Twins didn’t overhaul their roster in the offseason. But their big acquisition, Jason Castro — known more for his pitch framing than his bat — went 1-for-3 and knocked in the go-ahead run on an RBI double in the 7th inning that scored Miguel Sano from first base.
“He hit it in the right spot. They’re playing him the opposite way out there in the gap in left-center, and he hit it to the deep corner in right-center, and I don’t know, Sid might have scored on that one,” said Molitor, referring to Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman, who was standing right next to him in the post-game media scrum.
“It was well-placed, it was well-hit. He’s had good at-bats for all three games, with the walks and the pace that he’s produced already. He’s made a big difference here in the first series.”
Kyle Gibson, a longtime Twin who was selected in the first round of the 2009 draft, was solid through four innings before giving up a home run to Salvador Perez and a double to Alcides Escobar in the fourth, and then a homer to Mike Moustakas in the sixth.
He was pulled from the game after giving up a single to Lorenzo Cain, the next batter, finishing the game with five hits and three earned runs in 5.0 innings pitched.
“Of the pitches that cost him in terms of runs, it was the offspeed pitch to Escobar that he hit over [Danny] Santana’s head. Moustakas, it was a changeup that was down, I don’t know if it was down-middle. It wasn’t a terrible pitch, he just kinda had seen enough changeups where he made a nice adjustment,” said Molitor.
“There was a lot of good things about how Kyle threw the ball today.”
— Twins Daily (@twinsdaily) April 6, 2017
Santana, a utility player who was in left field today, may have cost Gibson a run on the double. He threw to second base, rather than hitting the cutoff man, and Brian Dozier had an errant throw home that allowed Paulo Orlando to score.
“I can’t overly fault him. We had speed going to third, but a good throw at second has a chance, and then we got a little bit tangled at the base, which inhibited Dozier’s ability to finish the play,” said Molitor.
“Danny, as quick as he played the carom, I didn’t have a problem with that. He’s lining up to second base, he can make that cut and start that run off.”
Dozier said that Santana made the right play, and that if the ball had arrived only a few seconds earlier, Escobar would have been out.
It all didn’t matter in the end. Castro drove in Sano in the seventh, and Jorge Polanco, who had an RBI in the 2nd inning, knocked in an RBI to seal the game.
“It was just a nice way to finish off the series,” said Molitor, who saw a 2-0 lead fade in the fifth and a 3-2 lead eclipsed in the sixth. “After they came back to us, we found a way to score more at the end.”
It’s one series, but as evidenced by the videos below, the locker room and the whole feel around the team is significantly different from last year.
Here is the Fox Sports North feed of Molitor’s press conference:
Thad Levine provided an injury update on Glen Perkins and Ryan O’Rourke:
Kepler, who has a hit in each of the three games this season and put the Twins up 3-2 with a double in the 5th inning, said he’s curious to see how the team reacts to its first loss.
Dozier said this team has a different feel to it, and he doesn’t want to hear the words “last year”:
Castro discussed his production at the plate and being on a new team this year:
- Ryan Pressly got the Twins out of a jam when he entered the 6th inning with the bases loaded and one out. “I think that we saw a little bit of more scatteredness of his command of his fastball that was something that we kinda tweaked a little bit of his mechanics to get him back online,” said Molitor. “I kinda wanted to see it play yesterday a little bit in that situation, but it added to my confidence to bring him in today.”
- Molitor had a hunch Castro would start out hot. “We saw a lot of good signs in camp about the way he was approaching his at-bats,” he said. “He’s had years where he was a good offensive player in addition to being one of the better defensive catchers in the game.”