The Moment: Once again, the Twins expanded upon their lead in the 7th inning. Today, the Twins had already taken the lead by that point, when Miguel Sano drove Robbie Grossman in to take the lead. Grossman, unlike in the first three games of the season, was on base because of a hit instead of another walk. This was his second hit of the game. He’s bustin’ out!
The Hero: Phil Hughes was hardly impressive, only hitting 90-91mph on his fastball, only striking out three and scattering 5 hits. It was hardly impressive, that is, until you realize that this was his first start since having an entire rib surgically removed.
The Goat: If I told you that a Twin would also earn the Goat, you would be justified in thinking it was Byron Buxton, who had a Golden Sombrero, but Eddie Rosario, even though none of his outs were strikeouts, was retired 4 times as well. His double play in the third inning was the highest leverage outs of the game. That was enough to make Rosario the Goat by .001 of a WPA point.
The Soundtrack: Faint – Linkin Park – This is what happened when someone found out about the Twins starting the year 4-0. Not “Fainted”, they blasted commercialized rock-pop out their HP speakers (but not too loud because his wife had a tough day).
The Story – The Twins, as you may have heard by now, have started the season 4-0, a feat not accomplished by a Twins team since 1987. For those not old enough, 1987 was the first time the Twins won the World Series. I was 4. It was terrific.
The Twins are doing it thanks to their defense and pitching. I think it’s important to note how closely those two concepts are tied together. Phil Hughes only allowed three hits, but if we were starting the season with, I don’t know, Miguel Sano and Danny Santana in a couple of the outfield positions instead of Buxton and Max Kepler, it’s not difficult to imagine the outcome of this game being very different. For all the conversation about a pitching overhaul, they sure were leaning on pitching to contact. The concept really only works with a defense as good as this one, and the defense hasn’t been within a mile of good for several years.
The offense was the part of the team that nobody was concerned about ahead of the season was the offense. Before tonight, the engine on offense was Jason Castro and his plate patience, which seemed to have spread to other members of the team. Well, Castro was given the night off tonight and Chris Gimenez got his first start. All he did was go 2/4 with an RBI and ZERO walks. The Twins only walked twice, in fact, which is fine because they connected their 6 hits together in an extremely timely manner.
All right, yeah, maybe they got lucky tonight. They strung together their hits at just the right time. Teams need a few wins like, and frankly, last year we grew accustomed to not getting them.
Back in 1987, the Twins ultimately went 85-77. That meant the team only needed to go 81-77 for the rest of the season after their hot start. It’s easy to say that their 4 game start doesn’t mean a whole lot, because there are 158 games left in the year, but at the same time, it’s pretty easy to say that this white hot start could end up being pretty damn important.