In easily the wildest game of MLB’s young 2014 regular season, the Minnesota Twins picked up their first win Thursday against the Chicago White Sox. In a game that featured 19 runs, 15 of which came in the last five frames, Minnesota’s bats collectively woke up, and eventually claimed a 10-9 win. While avoiding an opening series sweep, the Twins’ bullpen has struggled greatly so far, and some major offensive contributors have seemingly gone missing. The newly awakened lineup as a whole, however, looks poised to pick up the slack, and is producing some eye-popping early numbers.
New addition Phil Hughes toed the rubber for Minnesota in his first ever start not coming as a member of the New York Yankees. Overall, Hughes looked solid, but a cold, crabby C.B. Bucknor behind home plate forced his pitch count into the high 90s after only five innings. Hughes struck out seven and walked only one, but gave up two homers, surrendering four earned runs.
The Twins’ aforementioned bullpen allowed five runs in the game’s final four frames, with Anthony Swarzak allowing four on his own through only one-third of an inning. The bullpen, which was the team’s undoubted stronghold last season, has struggled so far in 2014. Minnesota relief pitchers have allowed a combined 13 hits, six walks and nine earned runs in only 10.2 innings of work so far.
The real story of not only Thursday’s win, but the entire opening series, has been the emergence of surprise performers within Minnesota’s lineup. Chris Colabello had a career-high six RBI, and Trevor Plouffe continued to look extremely confident at the plate. He finished the day 2-for-4 with two clutch RBI, and has combined with Colabello and Kurt Suzuki to go 16-for-33 with 15 RBI in the young season.
While Brian Dozier remains hitless, Joe Mauer and Oswaldo Arcia each joined the hit-party Thursday, with the fiery Arcia clubbing an eventual game-winning triple in the contest’s final inning. Highly touted catching prospect Josmil Pinto also notched the team’s first homer of the season, a solo shot tying the game in the eighth inning.
Twins fans should feel very encouraged by their team’s surprisingly high-octane offensive start to 2014. The lineup’s surprise performers have team confidence flowing high right now, despite an opening series defeat. Expect the main cogs in Minnesota’s lineup to soon follow suit and continue to produce impressive numbers throughout April.