After opening weekend in Major League Baseball, one may notice that every team in the American League are either 1-2 or 2-1. This is the first time in 60 years that not a single team in the MLB has started 3-0 on opening weekend. With this, it is difficult to pick a team that stands out as the records mesh together through the season’s small sample size.
However, one team that stands out is the Minnesota Twins, tied for MLB’s leader in runs scored (33 with Tampa Bay Rays)
The Twins opened on the road against AL Central division rival Chicago White Sox. Friday night, they teed off on White Sox’s starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, driving in seven runs in four innings including a four-run first inning. Outfielder Max Kepler hit two home runs, outfielder Jake Cave and shortstop Jorge Polanco each drove in two runs. The Twins would win 10-5.
Saturday’s game saw the Twins get crushed 10-3 as newly acquired pitcher Dallas Kuechel won his White Sox debut. The Twins’ bullpen was gashed as relievers Zack Littell and Devin Smeltzer gave up a combined nine runs. All the Twins could muster was a three-run home run by Nelson Cruz.
The Twins would more than make up for this by completely dominating the White Sox 14-2 on Sunday, taking the series victory, which becomes more significant in a shortened season. Cruz hit two more home runs and notched two doubles, driving in a total of seven runs. Cave also drove in four runs, bringing his RBI total to six on the season.
While the Twins didn’t sweep the White Sox, this start should encourage Twins’ fans as their high-octane offense is already in rhythm.
Despite being 40-years old, Cruz still has a lot of firepower in his swing. He is the only player to hit three home runs on opening weekend and leads the MLB in RBI with 10 (the next closest is San Diego Padres’ first baseman Eric Hosmer with seven). Cave’s hot start is also promising as he adds production to an already loaded lineup. Last season, he batted in 25 runs in only 72 games. Four games into this season, he has batted in six runs.
The Twins have not just relied on Cruz and Cave for production as, over the weekend, eight different batters drove in runs for the Twins. Last season, the Twins were swept by the New York Yankees in the ALDS and a big reason for that was the bats going quiet at inopportune times and the pitching could not keep up. Based on the early, small sample size, the Twins may possibly bring out a lineup even deeper than last season, especially with the addition of third baseman Josh Donaldson. While he has started 1-for-10 for the Twins, he is still a legit threat in the lineup when he is at his best.
As for pitching, the rotation is off to a promising start as the second and third starting pitchers, Randy Dobnak and new pitcher Kenta Maeda combined to give up three earned runs in their two starts over the weekend. Having a rotation that is three-deep is huge and if these two starts are any indication of their season form, then ace Jose Berrios will have less pressure on him than last season. With the bullpen’s demolition on Saturday, acquiring some bullpen help might alleviate concerns that came from this weekend.
The Twins’ offense got off to a blazing start, a promising sign for the Twins to repeat as AL Central division champions. It will be intriguing to see if Cruz can maintain solid production at his age and how the depth of the rotation holds up.