Michael Pineda’s offspeed pitches didn’t exist, the Twins were decked by another big inning and a week that seemed promising at the outset is looking like a big missed opportunity.
Toronto turned back the Twins 7-4 on Thursday, which enabled the Blue Jays to take three games of the four-game series at Target Field. The Blue Jays were picked to finish near the bottom of the AL East. Baltimore, the Twins’ next opponent, is picked to be one of the worst teams in baseball. The week was set up for the Twins to fill up the win column.
Some have joked that the Blue Jays would have trouble beating their Class AAA Buffalo affiliate because can’t-miss super prospects Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are there.
Those two weren’t needed this week, as Toronto put up crooked-numbered innings in all three of their victories. On Monday, the Blue Jays scored four runs in the eighth to rally for a 5-3 win. On Tuesday, they scored four runs in the sixth inning and held on for a 6-5 win.
After the Twins won Wednesday night’s rain-delayed game 4-1, on Thursday, they handed Pineda a 3-1 lead in the second. Eddie Rosario hit the first of his two home runs on the day, Jonathan Schoop hit an RBI single and a third run scored on a fielder’s choice.
The big righthander, however, didn’t have his offspeed pitches and tried to get by with more fastballs.
It caught up with him in the fourth inning. Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer to the flagpoles behind the right field seats and Eric Sogard ripped a bases-loaded double to right that cleared the bases. Both came off fastballs. Toronto took a 6-3 lead and never looked back.
That ended Pineda’s day. In 3â innings, he gave up six runs on seven hits and a walk, with one strikeout.
Much has been made about inconsistencies of the Twins bullpen, and that was evident in this series. But the team could use another starter to pitch into the seventh inning once in a while. Jose Berrios has done it three times. No one else has done it. They were fortunate on Thursday that Ryne Harper pitched 3â innings of scoreless relief when Pineda was pulled.
Twins hitters can take some of the blame as well. They batted .219 in the four games, scored more than four runs just once and, on Thursday, were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.