Twins Notes: 3/29/2018

It is Opening Day today and based on feedback, I have decided to continue the note posts I started this Spring (you can find them all here), during the season as well.  The last time I seriously attempted something like that was 5 years ago, with the once weekly and unfortunately named Random Tuesday Twins Thoughts and Tidbits (you can find all the posts of that series here).  These notes will be at irregular intervals, since I would like them to be somewhat substantial in content; however hopefully frequent, pretty much like the Spring Training ones were.  I would love to hear feedback and whether there are certain things you would like to see or not see.

Here is the latest installment of Twins Notes:
  • The 2018 season started with a bang, when Cubs' lead off hitter Ian Happ hit the first pitch of the season from Marlins' starting pitcher Jose Urena for a home run to the right field (video link.) Last time that happened was in 1986 when Boston's Dwight Evans hit a home run off then Detroit (and in 1991 Twins') starter Jack Morris in 1986
  • The MLB celebrated Opening Day (which was the earliest ever and the only one that all 30 teams had scheduled games; the ones in Cincinnati and Detroit were rained out) with special bases
  • Opening Day Twins Trivia: This was be the 118th Opening Day for the Twins franchise. The first one ever was also against the Orioles on 4/29/1901 in a game the Senators won 5-2.  The Twins franchise Opening Day record against the Orioles after today's game is 5-2, 2-1 since the move to Minnesota.  The only AL team that the Twins franchise teams have not faced on an Opening Day is the Houston Astros. On the other hand they faced the Athletics (both Philadelphia and Oakland) a record 28 times (won 18).  The Twins franchise record on Opening Day is 63-55 after today.
  • The Twins needed extra innings in their 2018 Opening Day at Baltimore.  The last time the Twins had an extra inning game in their season opener was in 2004 when they beat Cleveland 7-4.
  • Starting RHP Jake Odorizzi struck out 7 Orioles in 6 scoreless innings.  Refreshing to see a Twins pitcher induce swinging strikes by throwing pitches outside the zone and throwing high fastballs, after years of futility with having everyone in the organization force-throwing sinkers and pitching to contact.
  • LHP Zach Duke struck out 4 men in the 7th inning, but allowed 2 runs, moving runners with wild pitches (including one who struck out), a walk and a hit that scored both.   RHP Addison Reed, probably the best pitcher in the Twins' pen, pitched a perfect 8th and 9th, striking out 2.
  •  If you cannot throw strikes against little leaguers, minor leaguers or in Spring Training, there is no reason to believe that you can throw strikes in the majors when games matter. RHP Trevor Hildenberger who came in the bottom of the tenth and walked two hitters is hurting the Twins and needs to be demoted until he can find the strike zone.
  • Thankfully RHP Fernando Rodney and brilliance by manager Paul Molitor to play with 5 infielders (having Eddie Rosario as an extra) paid off with a double play after the bases were loaded in the 10th.  Unfortunately Rodney was the goat today, allowing the losing HR to the Orioles' Adam Jones with his first pitch, a 92 mph fastball in the middle of the plate, on the bottom of the 11th.
  • The Twins bats were silent in the first 8 innings, having the Orioles with 96.3% probability of winning the game in the top of the 8th when Molitor's moves having PR Ryan LaMarre in place of DH Logan Morrison and having OF Robbie Grossman pinch hit for CF Byron Buxton, and drive two runs to tie the game, proven also brilliant.  Molitor was definitely on a roll today, other than trusting Hildenberger.
  • 1B Joe Mauer has just passed Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew for most Opening Day starts in Twins history with 14.
  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune had a live Twins' Opening Day blog with live Twitter input here during the whole day.  I hope that they continue this at least on special occasions throughout the season.
  • Here is a picture of all the Twins' players on the Opening Day 25-man roster.  Can you name them all?   
  • Also the best pictures of each of the Twins' 25-man roster players from Spring Training by Twins' team photographer Brace Hemmelgarn is here.  A must see.
  • RHP Lance Lynn finished his last Spring Training tune up in a AAA game against the Red Sox' AAA team with mixed results.
  • The Twins are admitting that unfortunately RHP Ervin Santana is behind schedule on his rehab from a finger surgery.  
  • On the other hand, RHP Phil Hughes is "making enough progress" to be available to potentially start the April 11th game against the World Champions Houston Astros.  This would likely mean that either one of the Twins' relief pitchers with options will get demoted or Rule 5 draft pick Tyler Kinley will be returned to the Miami Marlins.
  • The Twins had not published extension talks with 2B Brian Dozier, which seem to broke down very recently.
  • OF Byron Buxton revealed that he is facing a continuous struggle with migraine headaches
  • One Twins player made it to number 25,  and a surprise another one to number 95 in the mlb.com list of the 100 people who will influence the 2018 season the most.  
  • The second player mentioned above, who is not currently on the Twins' 40-man roster, was also picked as the 2018 breakout player (need to scroll down) by Ryan O'Hanlon, Senior Editor of The Ringer.  
  • Three Twins' players made Jon Heyman's list of Top 60 MLB 2018 breakout stars.
  • In case you missed it, here is my analysis of the team and prediction for the Twins in their 2018 season.
  •  There were a couple of rounds of minor league cuts last week. Links to the two stories here and here.
  • You probably did not know (I did not) that fifty years ago the Twins' opening day game, a few miles south of where they are today, at Washington was postponed due to Martin Luther Kings' assassination.
  • Edward McClelland of the Slate, has a great article on fans who root for franchises that left their hometowns, partially based on his dad, a Washingtonian Twins' fan.
  • Nicole Russell wrote an interesting Twins-centered article on baseball and politics in the Washington Examiner.
  • Alexandra Desanctis of National Review wrote a piece on Baseball Season's Opening Day that always feels like a homecoming.  
  • There was an emergency at Rays' Tropicana Field that required firefighter intervention today. 
  • Today's parting video is a video by the American Heart Association, regarding Twins' great Rod Carew's return to the 2018 Spring Training:

You can find all the installments of the 2018 Twins Notes series here.  As always feedback is more than welcome.

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