The Minnesota Twins went to Toronto knowing they’d need a sweep to win the season series. And while things like that aren’t of the utmost importance, piling up wins are — and that’s exactly what the Twins did.
There’s putting the pedal to the metal and there’s stepping on an opponent’s throat and leaving no uncertainty about which team is the superior one.
The Twins did just that, sweeping the three-game set by an aggregate score of 20-1 while not allowing that single earned run until late in the final game of the series.
Here’s what I saw:
The turning point(s)
Jason Castro’s homer in the second set the tone for the game to come, but really the credit goes to Martin Perez here. Perez twirled seven brilliant innings with nine strikeouts, two walks and just two hits, and the offense jumped Marcus Stroman for five earned runs in just 4.2 innings.
Castro’s homer was the first Stroman had given up all season, and Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz each had three-hit games while Byron Buxton added yet another double to his season total.
This game was “closer” by score, but never really felt like it was in danger as Jose Berrios was dominant throughout. Berrios fanned five batters and walked none in seven innings, and scattered four hits with 65 of his 92 pitches going for strikes.
Aaron Sanchez matched Berrios with seven innings pitched, but his trademark spotty control led to a run walked in during the first inning, and in the seventh, the red-hot Mitch Garver got to him for a two-run homer that gave the Twins some much-needed breathing room late.
Taylor Rogers came in and got the save, and the win pushed the Twins into a tie with Tampa Bay for the best record in baseball at 22-12.
Kyle Gibson was absolutely brilliant, but the Twins took hold of this one early on offense with seven runs in the first three innings. Trent Thornton simply didn’t have it, and didn’t get past the second inning before giving way to his bullpen.
Polanco spanked five hits — including his seventh homer of the season and second of the series — and C.J. Cron added four, including his seventh homer, as well.
Gibson tossed six innings of one-run ball with two hits, 11 strikeouts and just one walk as Twins pitchers fanned 30 batters against just four walks in the series.
The win gave the Twins a 4-3 victory in the season series with Toronto, and gave the Twins a four-game lead in the AL Central heading into the off day.
The Twins offense hit a blistering .333/.353/.636 in the series, with Polanco picking up an astonishing nine hits in 12 at-bats with a pair of walks. That’s a .750/.786/1.417 line for the series.
Jonathan Schoop, Cron, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Garver each had four hits in the series as well.
Twins pitchers had a staggering 0.33 ERA in the series, and as previously noted a 30-4 K/BB ratio in the 27 innings played.
Ryne Harper was the only pitcher to work multiple appearances in the series, as Twins relievers combined for seven innings of shutout ball wit hfive strikeouts and a walk.
Buxton scuffled a bit in the series, going 2 for 12 with a double, while Marwin Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz were held to .222 and .200 batting averages, respectively. Gonzalez walked three times for a .417 OPS, while Cruz hit a flat .200/.200/.200 for the series (3 for 15).
- This was about as dominant of a series as I’ve seen the Twins play since they shut out the Kansas City Royals three straight times back in….something like 2004 or 2006 off the top of my head?
- Willians Astudillo is eligible to return from the disabled list and it sounds like Miguel Sano isn’t far off either. With Addison Reed making some progress at Rochester as well, this roster could look very different when the Twins hit the road in a week or so.
- This offense is absolutely stunning in its ability to drive the baseball.
The Twins welcome the Tigers to town for four games over three days, as a split doubleheader on Saturday will be the makeup game for a rained-out one earlier this season.
Here are the probable pitching matchups:
- Friday: Tyson Ross (5.34 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (2.78)
- Saturday: Undecided vs. Michael Pineda; Undecided vs. Martin Perez (possible Kohl Stewart starts one of these games)
- Sunday: Daniel Norris vs. Jose Berrios
The Twins are off Thursday before opening the homestand, which will also feature games against the Los Angeles Angels.
- Polanco’s nine hits from Monday to Wednesday were easily the most in baseball. No other hitter in baseball had more than six. He’s fifth in MLB in batting average at .344.
- Polanco’s well-hit average of .303 is third in baseball.
- Polanco is sixth in baseball with eight hits against changeups, and ninth with 18 hits off fastballs.
- Rosario has homered in 9.1 percent of his plate appearances. Only Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich (11.2 percent) is higher.
- The Twins lead MLB with a .495 team slugging percentage. Houston is second at .493.
- The Twins are fourth in MLB with 64 homers.
- Over on the pitching side, Minnesota is seventh in ERA (3.80). Starters are sixth (3.50) and relievers are 18th (4.36).