Twins

Road Report: What We Learned from the Twins Taking Two of Three in Detroit

Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins took two of three games in Detroit against the Tigers, and finished the road trip with a strong 6-4 record. Now, they’ll head home and turn their attention to the visiting Seattle Mariners, but first, let’s take a look back at what we learned over the three previous days at Comerica Park:

The #Bombas will continue until morale improves

No player typifies this more than Nelson Cruz, who has homered in four straight games as the Twins return home. This dynamic was especially true on Sunday at Comerica Park, as the Twins crushed four home runs — one each from Cruz, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario — on the way to the 12-2 win.

For the series, the Twins poked eight home runs and allowed just three — including two to JaCoby Jones in Saturday’s loss — and now the Twins are just one home run off the MLB lead (125).

Seattle leads MLB with 126 round-trippers, but has done so in five more games (69) than the Twins have played (64).

Jake Odorizzi keeps rolling

The righty worked six innings of one-run ball on Sunday, allowing five hits and with eight strikeouts and just one walk on the way to reducing his ERA to an AL-best 1.92. Only NL starters Hyun-Jin Ryu (1.35) and Mike Soroka (1.38) have lower ERAs this season among qualified pitchers.

For Odorizzi, it was the fourth start in a row where he allowed one or fewer earned runs, and the eighth in his last 10 dating back to April 17 versus Toronto. Odorizzi worked up in the zone with fastballs ranging from 91-95 mph, with 11 of his 14 swinging strikes — on 99 pitches, so a solid rate — coming on the four-seam fastball.

Below, you can see how much Odorizzi a. worked up in the zone and b. stayed out of the middle/lower-middle of the strike zone against the Tigers. Working up in the zone is always going to be a tightrope act, but Odorizzi’s terrific command (22 walks in 70.1 innings) has afforded him the ability to work up and keep from giving up tons of home runs (four).

(image credit: Baseball Savant)

In fact, 92 of his 99 pitches were either a four-seam fastball or a cutter, with six splitters and just one single curve.

Matt Boyd is really good

Boyd didn’t beat the Twins on Friday night — heck, the Tigers didn’t even win — but in seven innings he showed why he’s one of the breakout stars of the American League this season.

Boyd fanned eight Twins, walked none and only really incurred damage when he allowed a two-run homer to Mitch Garver in the third inning and a solo shot to Cron in the sixth.

Where Boyd stands out is in a couple of places — first of all, he has above-average velocity for a left-handed starter. He’ll touch 95 mph with his fastball but sit in the 92-93 range, and it’s a really good swing-and-miss offering.

In fact, Boyd had a staggering 20 swinging strikes against the Twins on Friday, with the orange dots below signifying strikes — including many below the strike zone on the lefty’s tremendous slider.

(image credit: Baseball Savant)

Nine of Boyd’s swinging strikes came on his fastball — of which he threw 52 times — and another nine came on the slider with two coming on his curveball.

With an effort like this, it’s easy to see how Boyd is ninth in the AL among qualified pitchers with a 3.08 ERA — just behind teammate Spencer Turnbull (3.01).

Byron Buxton remains completely ridiculous

We could tell you, but why not just show you:

Who’s hot?

  • Cruz – 6 for 13 in the series; three homers
  • Cron – 5 for 13 in the series; one homer, two doubles
  • Buxton – 5 for 13 in the series; one homer and one double
  • Marwin Gonzalez – 4 for 9 in the series
  • Garver – 4 for 9 in the series, one homer and one double

Who’s not?

  • Willians Astudillo – 0 for 4 in the series, sent to Rochester
  • Jonathan Schoop – 0 for 8 in the series

Notes

  • Garver leads MLB with a .400 batting average on the road (min. 100 plate appearances). Strangely, Garver is hitting just .167 at Target Field.
  • In early All-Star Game voting, Jason Castro is third at catcher, Cron is second at first base and Schoop is fourth at second base. Polanco leads all shortstop vote-getters, and Rosario (sixth) and Max Kepler (10) are among the top 10 in the outfield.
  • Cruz’s streak of four straight games with a homer is tied for the second-longest stretch this season. In April, Houston’s Jose Altuve homered in five straight games.

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