The Bomba Squad flexed its muscles in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader in St. Louis, scoring seven runs in seven innings on the way to a 7-3 victory. Randy Dobnak struggled in the night cap, giving up five earned runs in less than three innings as the Twins lost 6-4.
In Memory of 20
The Twins and Cardinals played a one day double header series with a large ‘20’ etched into the dirt behind second base at Busch Stadium. The symbol was in honor of legendary Cardinal outfielder Lou Brock, who passed away at the age of 81 on Sunday. The ‘20’ was fittingly carved out behind second base, the destination that Brock stole so many times. He swiped 938 bags in his career, second only to Ricky Henderson.
Brock had moments of his career with ties to the state of Minnesota. Before beginning his MLB career, Brock played for the former Chicago Cubs affiliate St. Cloud Rox (now Northwoods League) in 1961, where he won the 1961 Northern League Batting Title. Following his retirement in 1979 Brock served as a spring training baserunning coach for a handful of teams, including the 1987 Twins.
Game 1: 100% Chance of Rain in the Gateway to the West
There was nothing but rain and ‘Sano’ in the St. Louis forecast as the Twins stormed to a 7-3 win over the Cardinals in game one of Tuesday’s twin bill. Josh ‘Bringer of Rain’ Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, and Miguel Sano all homered in a game that featured a return of the ‘Bomba Squad’ and a confident outing from Jose Berrios.
Donaldson got the party started with a three run shot in the 3rd inning. Following singles by Luis Arraez and Willians Astudillo Donaldson punched a 1-2 Carlos Martinez Slider to left field for his first 'pull' homer of the year, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead.
Astudillo and Arraez continued their successful day at the plate in the 4th, as ‘La Tortuga’ doubled to center field and scored on the next play thanks to an Arraez single. Astudillo has hit .439 in 7 at-bats in his short 2020 campaign.
It looked like the floodgates were set to be open in the 5th as Nelson Cruz smacked a leadoff dinger to put the Twins up 5-0. Cruz now has 14 long balls on the year (5 of which have come in double headers), only trailing Mike Trout and Fernando Tatis Jr. who lead the league with 15.
The Cardinals mounted a surge in the 6th, as Kolten Wong walked and Tommy Edman launched a Berrios curveball to right that left the nest, pulling St. Louis within three. Following a single to center Paul Goldschmidt brought the score to 5-3 thanks to an abysmal blocking attempt by Astudillo, a single by Brad Miller, and a wild pitch by Matt Wisler.
Just when things looked like they might crash and burn Miguel Sano came to the rescue with a two run shot to left field to put the Twins up 7-3 for good.
There’s our Ace!
Jose Berrios pitched a rock solid 5 innings, giving up three runs on four hits. One of those runs came while Wisler was on the mound thanks to a 'blockable' pitch that ricocheted off of Astudillo’s gear and a wild pitch that scored Paul Goldschmidt.
Jose Berrios is now 4-3 on the year. Did he look like an ace today? Maybe, but that’s for you to decide. He pitched dominantly, was confident in his breaking ball, and put his team in a position to win, that’s for sure. Add on the solid bullpen performance from Wisler and Sergio Romo and there aren’t too many things to complain about from this game (minus Astudillo behind the dish).
Game 2: Third Inning Thumper
Despite jumping out to an early 2-0 lead the Twins were unable to recover from a fractured third inning in the nightcap of Tuesday’s doubleheader, dropping a 6-4 contest.
Walks will Haunt
Randy Dobnak suffered his rockiest start of the year falling victim to a pitcher's worst enemy: the walk. After a solid first two innings Dobnak couldn't make it through the third, exiting the game after walking four batters and giving up five earned runs in the third inning. Two of those walks were hit batters (Matt Wieters and Tommy Edman), something that Dobnak hadn’t done all season.
In one of the worst innings the Twins have seen all season, Dobnak’s only outs consisted of a Paul Goldschmidt strikeout and a force out at home thanks to a Tyler O’Neil ground ball. Earlier in the inning the Twins had a chance for a putout at home thanks to a Brad Miller ground ball up the first base line. Unfortunately for the Twins, catcher Ryan Jeffers’ foot was not on the plate, and base runner Harrison Hader was ruled safe.
Following Tyler O’Neil’s fielders choice Baldelli made the decision to take Dobnak out for reliever Caleb Thielbar to face Matt Carpenter with the bases loaded. Thielbar walked Carpenter on a full count to bring in the last of Dobnak’s five earned runs.
And while the inning wasn’t pretty Thielbar ended it on a positive note, getting Matt Wieters to pop out in an epic 19 pitch battle.
Rooked on a Feeling
The sky is blue, the grass is green, Brent Rooker is very strong….and Dick Bremer can see into the future. Bremer used his crystal ball in the 2nd inning to predict Rooker’s first MLB home run, which he piped to the left field bullpen off a 2-2 Daniel Ponce de Leon fastball to put the Twins up 2-0.
Rooker’s first homer comes just a day after fellow newcomer Ryan Jeffers hit his first MLB bomb against the White Sox.
Dobnak wasn’t the only sour spot for the Twins pitching staff. The relief staff went through five pitchers following Dobnak’s early exit. Sean Poppen, who came in for just a third of an inning after Jorge Alcala left with a leg injury was the only Twins pitcher to not record a walk. The entire staff issued eight walks in the game, including Dobnak’s two hit batters.
It’s a shame that the Twins' pitching staff wasn’t able to limit the damage not only early in the game, but late as well. Nelson Cruz launched his 15th homer of the year in the 7th inning to tie Mike Trout and Fernando Tatis Jr for the league lead.