The Minnesota Twins hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates at Hammond Stadium on Sunday. The Twins were coming off of a high-scoring affair against the Blue Jays, which ended in a 13-8 Toronto win.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) March 4, 2018
Twins Start Well
The Twins got off to a hot start, with second-baseman Brian Dozier slapping a sharp shot down the third baseline resulting in a double. A miscontrolled pitch then sent Dozier to third with no outs and Joe Mauer at the plate.
Mauer, who’s heading into his 15th season with the Twins, did what he does best and brought Dozier home with a sac-fly to left.
The Twins tacked on two more in the next few innings; one in the third, with Mauer bringing in Mitch Garver with a groundout to first. Then in the fourth, Byron Buxton scored off of a Max Kepler line-drive single into center.
However, the Twins’ fortunes soon took a turn for the worst. Their bats went cold, and their pitching took a hit; well, several.
Twins’ Inconsistent Pitching
Twins starter José Berríos had an impressive showing in his 2 1/3 innings pitched. While he allowed three hits, he pitched his way out of trouble and struck out two batters. In the top of the third, after giving up back-to-back singles with one out, the Twins put DJ Baxendale in to pitch, who subsequently struck out the only two batters he faced.
The real problems began in the sixth, when veteran Aníbal Sánchez came in to deal. While Sánchez had a number of successful years with the Marlins and Tigers, he’s struggled in recent times, going 3-7 last year with an ERA of 6.41. This game was no exception.
The Pirates scored one in the fifth to bring the score to 3-1. In the sixth, Sánchez gave up three straight singles to his first three batters faced. The third single brought home a run and left runners on first and second. Then, with a 2-2 count against him, catcher Elias Díaz blasted a three-run home run to left-center field. Sánchez retired the next two batters, but the damage had been done.
Twins’ Hitting Struggles
The Twins’ hot start at the plate was short-lived. The Pirates were able to retire 16 of the last 17 Twins batters, with a run of 14 consecutive outs.
The bright spark at the plate for Minnesota was Dozier, who hit two doubles and scored one run. Otherwise, it was a forgettable day for most everyone else.
The Twins mustered a total of four hits, while the Pirates got 14. The Pirates had a big second half to the game, scoring four in the sixth, two in the eighth and two in the ninth, resulting in a 9-3 victory.
The Twins are traveling to Clearwater to take on the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday. The game starts at 1:05 p.m.