The Twins lineup gave Kenta Maeda a wonderful welcoming present. Jake Cave hit a grand slam in the first inning before the Twins added five more runs in the second frame, making for a low-stress Twins debut for Maeda.
Maeda: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Home Runs: Cave (1), Cruz 2 (3), Gonzalez (1)
Top 3 WPA: Cave .283, Cruz .102, Maeda .055
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):
The Minnesota Twins took Sunday’s rubber match as an opportunity to declare that they are still the reigning AL Central Champs and don't plan on letting that change easily. That statement was fueled by a good debut by Kenta Maeda paired with an offensive explosion. The headliner being Nelson Cruz and his two home runs, two doubles, and seven RBIs were added to his already excellent numbers against the White Sox.
The 1st inning looked to be headed to a non-exciting end as Josh Donaldson jogged out a bobbled ground ball to Tim Anderson which resulted in the second out of the inning. The Twins were not content with that and went on a 2-out rally to set up a Jake Cave Grand Slam to put the team up 4-0 early.
After Maeda led the game by recording his first strike out as a Twin and going 1-2-3 in the first. The Twins loaded the bases again in the 2nd inning. This time it was Nelson Cruz with a bases clearing double that seemed to fully exercise any batting with the bases loaded demons that may have existed.
Maeda was able to find a good groove after being spotted a four run lead before even toeing the rubber. Before giving way to Lewis Thorpe in the 6th inning, Maeda pitched to the tune of 5.0 IP, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. Really besides Luis Robert’s first career home run, Maeda kept the White Sox quiet throughout Sunday afternoon’s game.
The story of the game feels like it begins and ends with Nelson Cruz’s performance. It is simply amazing and a joy to watch how good Cruz continues to be even after turning 40 as he now sits at three home runs on the young season.
It also seems fitting to celebrate how big Jake Cave has been to begin the season. He has once again performed well in important at-bats and has driven in 6 runs as he fills in for Byron Buxton.
While there is a lot to celebrate there are few developments that cause a level of concern. The Twins have to be hoping that with an off day on Monday that Josh Donaldson will be able to find his bat. It is too early to call this an absolutely bad start to his Twins career, but it would feel good to see that first big hit fly off of his bat.
It was very hard to see Lewis Thorpe leave today’s game with an injury after pitching well and turning in a line of 2.2 IP, 1 hit, 2 walks, and no runs allowed. Hope to see him back out on the mound soon as he continues to be one of the bright young arms that could take a positive step forward in 2020.
The first place Twins will have the day off tomorrow as they prepare to play their first game at home as they open up a series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. The matchup for that first game is currently scheduled to be Carlos Martinez for the Cardinals and Homer Bailey for the Twins.